Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Paris -- picture gallery

Arc de Triomphe

We crammed so many things into our brief stay in Paris that it was hard to choose the pictures for this last post of Paris before moving on to Provence and the Riviera. 

We did go up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and look out at the city at dusk and saw the Eiffel Tower as it was lit up for the night.  Our tour guide, Angelique, said the view from there was as good as from the Eiffel Tower and had the advantage of being able to see the tower.  It was a good choice.

In front of Notre Dame with Mrs. Gimlet, Thing One, and yours truly
One of our group leaders decided we needed to have our picture taken so he kindly took this shot.  Note—Thing One will not smile until his braces come off.

Shakespeare and Company bookstore 

This bookstore has a cameo appearance in the movie Midnight in Paris.  It is crammed floor to ceiling with used books and was very crowded with people when we visited.


There are so many little crowded streets like this lined with shops and places to pick up a pastry or two.  We found a cute little café around the corner where we could eat wonderful food and watch the people walking by.  

Or this street as we climbed Montmartre up to Sacré-Coeur passing the house of Toulouse-Lautrec in pink on the left side of the street.  

Mrs. Gimlet and The Lacemaker
There are only two Vermeer paintings at the Louvre, this very small one titled “The Lacemaker” (1669/70) and one other “The Astronomer” (1668).  Vermeer didn’t paint many pictures but the ones he did were scenes of Dutch middle class everyday life, interesting, and lovely.  Since Mrs. Gimlet makes Hardanger lace we especially wanted to see this painting.  As we were admiring it a young woman came rushing into the room asking frantically where the Vermeer paintings were because she wanted to see “The Girl with the Pearl Earring.”  We had to tell her that it wasn’t in the Louvre.  She was very sad.

Venus de Milo
This man wasn’t the only man to take pictures of the backside of Venus.  She does look lovely from both sides but I found it a little amusing—if you follow the camera angle. 

The Louvre is huge and it is easy to quickly get overwhelmed with the size and sheer number of things there.  We had selected just a handful of items we really wanted to see and knew it would be impossible to see everything in the limited time available.  If I ever have the opportunity to go back I would take a couple of days at least and stick to one area instead of spending so much time running around trying to find particular items.  There are a lot of stairs too and while the teenagers and Mrs. Gimlet did fine with them I needed to rest every now and then. 

Mona Lisa
[photo courtesy of the Gimlets]
The Mona Lisa is relatively small and very much in need of cleaning.  It looks dull in comparison to some of the other paintings.  The crowds around her were dense and it was hard to get close enough to get a good look. 
Looking up through the glass pyramid at the Louvre
[photo courtesy of the Gimlets]

The day of the Paris marathon and President Sarkozy’s speech to a crowd of about 100,000 people we left the city and went to Versailles.  I had mixed feelings about Versailles.  It is very beautiful but all the gold leaf and ornamentation was a little too much for me.

For some years the entrance gates were not gilded but because Versailles is such a popular tourist attraction the French government has in recent years been restoring the gates and the buildings to their original splendor.  It takes many layers of gold leaf to cover the gates and the rooflines.  The process of re-gilding has to be repeated every few years. 
The gates at Versailles


Perhaps it cannot be seen in this photo but even the clock has the sun in the center for Louis XIV the Sun King. 
The Hall of Mirrors.

One wall is windowed the opposite wall is mirrored.  There are 56,000 candles to light the hall in the evening.  The average person of that time period would have had four or five candles.  There is gold leaf along the ceiling and between the paintings.  Almost all the rooms had ceilings with magnificent paintings on them. 
The Queen’s bedroom

 This room or hallway was perhaps the least ornate and most restful for me.  The portraits of leaders and generals decorated the walls. 

The Gardens at Versailles
Oh so French--do you see the couple kissing by the fountain?  The gardens are immense stretching for what seems like miles as far as the eye can see with ponds, statuary, trees and flowers.  Once again everything is orderly and symmetrical.  Angelique said that the king would often have parties here with 20,000 or more guests.  The day we were there music was softly playing through speakers but in the days of Louis XIV and his successors there would have been live orchestras.  
Looking back up toward the castle from partway down the garden path.

Mrs. Gimlet has been posting pictures and accounts of our travels too on her blog.  Check it out here:  http://www.gimletblog.com

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