If week 2 has been a tough one, motivation-wise, week 3 of Project 365 was the opposite. Thanks to a couple of late visits to catch temporary exhibitions that were closing, I found myself allocating some extra time before hand to grab some night photos. I also discovered unlikely photography spot from the very building I work in (!!!) and of course, there was the snowy weekend to round it up prettily.
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14 Jan: It was the final evening of Bohèmes at the Grand Palais. Really, you’d think with a Sésame+, Frédéric and I would have seen this a couple of months back. But no, we kept delaying it. Frédéric even went to see Hopper thrice in the mean time. Just before joining the queue, I hied myself over the Pont Alexandre III to see if I would get a decent photo of the Grand Palais by night. Not bad, right?
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Paris remained magical on Sunday morning. In fact, even more so in comparison to Saturday. Throughout the day, snow continued to fall all over the city (and other parts of the country), depositing layers of powdery ice over everything as well as everyone who ventured out from their cosy apartments.
Frédéric and I went out for an impromptu date morning, but first up, after seeing Carina’s blog post, he requested if we could stopped by at the Louvre before heading up to Montmartre, my destination pick. Of course! After we wrapped ourselves well, we were out the door.
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Yet another long weekend in Paris (it’s a public holiday today in commemoration of Armistice Day) and coincidentally it’s a binary day today (of 11.11.11). I had every good intention of wanting to go out and grab a photo at 11.11am but the continuous drizzle through the day hasn’t been particularly helpful. And I slept badly last night too, so that’s my sleep-in plan ruined.
I took myself up to Montmartre for a little bit of wandering about when I came across this small art gallery not too far away from Abbesses. Nude still lives. I think it’s rather brave for someone to bare it all like this to be painted. Art classes aplenty has such programme. Once upon many moons ago when I was in my “I’d like to do random stuff” phase, I did consider modelling for an art class, when decided that will be too risqué, not to mention, very much out of my comfort zone.
After all the temple overload, here’s a change of image. I was up at Montmartre and spotted this church just across from Abbesses métro station – the Église St-Jean-de-Montmartre. Many would also call it Église des Abbesses, given its location, which makes it confusing for non-locals. Initially, I was wondering myself if the two names refer to the same church.
I love the bright colours used to stain this series of glass panels. The use of iconography here is very much along the classical line, but these glasses have been painted with clear landscape and swirling sky, a scene that is not typical for this depiction of Christ’s cruxifixion. At least none that I recall. Of course, one can argue, after countless of stained glass seen, how could I remember the details from one to another? It’s true, you know.
Over and around the back of the Basilica of Sacré Cœur is Place du Tertre. I don’t really remember ever passing it in tranquility – between restaurant terrace seatings, artists, portrait painters and the visitors, it is always teeming with people. Perhaps one day I would get there early so I can enjoy some peace and quiet time up on the hill, overlooking the beautiful yet sleepy Paris.
The trade of portrait paintings is roaring today. From an easel to another, you may assess the style of drawing before deciding on just the way you’d like to be immortalised on paper. Some portrait painters are more serious in their endeavour, drawing classically astute portrait. Other portrait painters prefer to produce caricature or allegorical object.
There are other artists there too, whose work (many Paris-themed) I was keen to look at but alas couldn’t buy. Just the thought that I may have to move at some is enough to spook me from accummulating things. Besides, without my own apartment, where am I going to realistically hang those?
When one talks about Montmartre, one talks of the artists that use to populate the quarter and the , one talks of the Sacré-Cœur, one talks of the movie Amélie, one talks of the Moulin Rouge. Curiously, not many people talks about the one museum in the area that opens daily till 2am. Surely there must be enough people that visit the place to keep it going for so many years (14!).
In my time in Paris, I’ve traced the footsteps of some of the artists through the cobblestones of the hill, admired the grandeur of the basilica which, from its dome, one can see Paris in 360°, watched Audrey Tautou in her quirky role as Ms Poulain, but never have I take a peek into the can-can dancing world of Moulin Rouge. For one, the price is a bit too steep for my pocket, and secondly, it is strictly a tourist-trap. As for the not-often-mentioned museum, someone may have got curious once upon a time…
You know I’m always on the look out for nice pastries. However, it is also prudent that I don’t overdo it. As of present, I seem to be stepping in a pâtisserie about once every fortnight and for the intermittent weeks, perhaps a chocolaterie every second fortnight?
Arnaud Delmontel is a bit out of the way and quite a chance discovery. I had trodded my way to Montmartre in search of a small shop where I’ve previously bought some lovely matcha madeleine but unfortunately the shop is currently closed for its congé annuel. However, right across the street is Delmontel and its cakes on display just called out to me. Like moth to a light, I fluttered my way over and bought les petits gateaux for myself and Anne. The verdict? Mine was rich an creamy but Anne’s was a tad dry on the outside. A place to revisit when I’m in the area again next but perhaps not one to deliberately journey out for.
It’s not uncommon to find exposed walls of buildings which has been transformed into art canvases. At times, there are definite stories to tell. Other times, the works are more abstract and this one that I spotted today falls more in the latter category.
Nonetheless I like the gentle and wistful quality of this painting. There’s something familiar about it. In parts, it reminds me of broad strokes and wavy flow in Van Gogh’s Starry Night, perhaps just a bit more haphazardly in this case instead of the elegant, post-impressionist style applied by the Dutch master. (OK, my imagination is running too wild. Never mind. I’ll leave this be.)
Many years ago, Marcel Aymé wrote a short story called Le Passe-Muraille (The man who walks through the wall) and it became of one his most famous works. Set in Montmartre, at rue Norvins, where Aymé lived, the protagonist Dutilleul found himself with most unusual talent for walking through walls but later accidentally “cured” himself and was stuck in a wall following a late night rendezvous. Poor guy had no one but the painter Eugene Paul who occasionally sang, accompanied by a guitar, as consolation. (Read the translated work here.)
Today, at the corner of rue Norvins, sits a bronze sculpture to honour Aymé and this short story of his. It is a poetic tribute, for the location commemorates not only where Dutilleul found himself imprisoned for life, but also the writer himself living in the building just adjacent to the wall. Visitors today seem to believe that rubbing the hand of the sculpture would bring good fortune. The proof – shiny and sparkling hand of the bronze figure. ;)
Choosing a single photo for today is tricky, since I was on a walking tour of Montmartre and saw plenty that are interesting or amusing. I guess that means I need to set up a separate album at some stage. (I am already terribly slow in updating the blog, ooops.) For now though, one from among the firsts of the day – wedding photoshoot at the hill of Montmartre. The poor girl was coooooold, and in between shots, huddled enveloped within a huge furry jacket.
It is not uncommon to see wedding photoshoot around Paris. By the Eiffel Tower, next to fountains of Place de la Concorde, along Champs-Élysées… What is rather curious though, is that usually the couples are either Japanese or Chinese. I have not yet seen any French ones doing the same. Perhaps it has got to do with Asian tendency for establishing an entire album of wedding photo ahead of the big day. If French don’t do that, then it goes without saying they won’t have time to run around the city for posed photos on the wedding day itself.