Tag Archives: Paris

L’Orangerie and Monet’s house

Two days ago, after a great visit to the Louvre including many amazing exhibits and even some imitating of the poses of the sculptures in the gallery, we walked through the square to l’Orangerie, passing by a large portable arena with loud music and “Streetball: World Championship” written across the side of it. Though none of us on the trip had ever heard of Streetball, there seemed to be a large following of spectators.

When we continued on to l’Orangerie, a collection of Monet’s large water lily murals, I remembered when our guide told us the meaning of the French word, “orangerie.” He said that the word came from when the French nobility wanted to have orange trees in their beautiful gardens, but they ran into a problem. Orange trees cannot survive in the frigid temperatures of France’s winter. The nobility created rooms indoors that they could put their orange trees when it was cold and called them orangeries. I felt like the name of the museum was very fitting because it made me think I was walking into an indoor garden, and the paintings were living plants.

I think that L’Orangerie is one of my favorite museums that we have seen in Paris. Because the murals surrounded each of the walls I felt like I was present in the garden. I could sit and look at the paintings for hours. One thing that I found interesting was the way the water seemed to swirl because of the curved lines that he painted over the pond. I wondered if the pond in his garden actually looked that way. Well, I would find out the next day when we drove to Giverny to see Monet’s garden, and not this time through his paintings, but in real life.

Yesterday, when we visited Monet’s garden the gardening was just as beautiful as I expected. The gardens smelled strongly of the flowers’ perfume and they were maintained impeccably. While looking at the water, I could see the rippling and constant movement of its surface depicted in Monet’s paintings. I think the hundreds of frogs, fish and other critters that were living in the garden created these swirls. The only thing that I was a little surprised and disappointed about was the large amounts of other people visiting that day. Overall, visiting L’Orangerie and Monet’s house were unforgettable experiences and I am so glad that we had the chance to see both of these incredible sights.

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The Basilica of Sacred Heart

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The reason why this simple picture of the Basilique of the Sacré Cœur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris) speaks to me is because it represents the careful balance between preserving the past and living in the present that France seems to have figured out.  The basilica was built in 1914 and consecrated in 1919, however the idea to build a basilica on Montmartre originated in 1870 after both a French defeat in the Franco – Prussian war and during the Paris Commune uprisings that lasted for a year.  The belief at the time was that the French lost the Franco – Prussian war because God had abandoned them for their wicked ways and that by building a place of worship on the area known as the “Mount of Martyrs,” God would return to France and aid them in future wars.  However, at the same time, many new inventions and concepts around math and science were being introduced to France at the same time.  The fact that these two very different ideals could coexist so easily speaks to France’s ability to manage both the old and the new.  Currently, the balance has to be struck between retaining rich history and keeping up with current technological advances; however the coexisting of different notions is something that comes up throughout the history of France.  It is that coexistence of the past and the present that the Basilique of the Sacré Cœur reminds me of every time that I look at it.

Art

Visiting the Louvre was one of my top things we did in Paris. The whole visit was amazing. Not only was the Louvre filled with some of the best paintings and sculptures ever made, but the building itself has a rich history and is absolutely gorgeous. The Louvre also was a palace, which is good for my project comparing châteaux to urban palaces!

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My first photograph is of the Italian painting hallway which ranged from the 13th to 17th centuries. The paintings stretch all the way down the hallway, which is less than half as long as the entire length of the museum, just to put it in perspective.  It was interesting to walk the length of the hallway examining the paintings through the centuries. Of course while we were in the Louvre, we had to visit the Mona Lisa, which is in my second photograph.

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Although the room had many paintings on the walls, it was obvious that Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece and the painting opposing it, Veronese’s The Wedding Feast at Cana, were the main attractions. Everyone wanted to get as close as possible to the Mona Lisa, which is no larger than the signs on either side of it warning people of pick-pockets, to take photographs of the most photographed painting in the world. This picture in my blog post is not a close up of the Mona Lisa, but one of the room containing it. I found the number of people who flocked to the painting amazing. Through the hubbub, I could hear small bits of conversations in many languages. People from all over the world were there to gaze upon Leonardo’s painting. Although some people were obviously just there because the painting is famous, others did seem to view it critically. So what is truly amazing to me is how people from many different nations and cultures have an appreciation for the same art. The visual arts, much like music, are a universal language that everyone can enjoy regardless of who you are. In my first photo, the museum visitors stretch off into the distance just as far as the paintings. The visual arts are very important to all of us. They preserve cultures by encasing them inside canvases and chiseled stone, whether it’s French sailing ships, Italian feasts, or Roman gods, but art itself also becomes part of the cultures. So before this post becomes too long and goes into territory that has been explored many times before by great minds, I wanted to summarize why these two photographs are so interesting to me. Being at the Louvre, I saw people from all over the world interested in the same things, in a way that I’ve never seen before, and I thought these photos captured that.

Some of my fellow travelers have thoughtfully incorporated meaningful quotes into their posts. So here is the first quote that popped up on a Google search for “Art quotes”

“A line is a dot that went for a walk” – Paul Klee

There you have it.

 

Locks

One of my favorite moments of the trip was during our last day in Paris. It was just a little moment, something that made my day brighter. We had some extra time before we had to meet up with the rest of the group for dinner, so we took a detour to the Love Lock Bridge. We spent about five minutes making fun of the comically large heart-shaped locks, the obviously expensive engraved ones, the ones that the vendors not 10 feet away were shouting about, until someone spoke what a small part of each one of us was thinking. “How many of these do you think have actually lasted?” After a few groans about ruining the moment, someone else said, “but actually though.” We all nodded, facing the depressing truth. But then I saw this little red luggage lock, no bigger than a 1 euro coin, and it made me smile. D and J used whatever lock they could find just to leave their mark…no matter how small.Image

 

Program director expectations

When I was preparing this trip, people invariably warned me. “You know, with students, you have to be careful.” Students will pack too much. They will be late. They won’t listen. They will get lost. They will not follow. They will complain. They will be loud. In short, expect them to be a pain. That’s normal. They are just teenagers.

I knew that my expectations could be slightly higher than these warnings suggested, because Andover teenagers are not “normal.” They are eager to learn, comparatively mature, very very smart, and good people.

Yet I did not expect what I witnessed when we got to Paris. Not only had the students packed reasonably, not only were they following directions and remaining tolerant in challenging situations, but they were always early at meeting times, always at the right meeting points, always staying in groups, always listening carefully, always respectful. They spent a lot of time carefully studying the sites we visited. They asked for more. They had interesting questions for all of our guides, who looked understandably surprised at the relevance of the comments.   As a natural consequence, our guides invariably stayed with us a little longer than necessary, talked to the kids, told them more. Showed them more. I am fairly certain that their eagerness and demeanor was the reason why the MAN’s curator Mrs. Schwab spontaneously offered us to climb onto the roof of the castle at the end of our day with her. She and her staff stayed overtime that evening.

No student has gotten lost (I can’t say as much of the adults!). Everyone is taking care of him or herself remarkably well. We assign a blog post for the next 24h, and the next morning, half of the students have a post. Tonight, all of them ordered dinner in French. Their knowledge of world history has increased significantly, and we are about to dive even more deeply in time now. Onto the South!

Photo or real thing: Which is better?

Our new blog assignment is to talk about whether reading about something or looking at a photo is better or worse than being at the actual place or object. I can personally say, first hand, that seeing the actual object is even better than seeing the photo. My second night at the Hôtel Victoria was spent in the lobby with Dr. Blunt, Ashley, Jacob, Camille, Indy, and JT discussing various things in or about the Louvre. Somehow we began discussing the statue of Cupid and Psyche. This is a well known statue, by Antonio Canova,  where Cupid is embracing Psyche from behind.   I immediatley was attracted to the statue because it was quite delicate looking and had a lot of movement within the two people despite it being stone. Mind you this is all from one single photograph on the Louvre website.

Cupid and psyche sculpture
Cupid and psyche sculpture

When we got to the museum the following morning Indy and I took off in our own direction, having been to the Louvre before. We decided to skip The Mona Lisa and go straight to the Roman, etruscan, Greek, and Italian sculptures. We began walking through the many rooms when we got to one of the big halls. Indy and I began walking through. We saw tall sculptures of people, gods, pillars etc. but when we got to the end of the room we saw The Sculpture. At this point in the day I had forgotten the piece was in the museum, but when I saw it I had a bit of a freak out. It was a lot bigger than it had looked in the photo. I thought it was going to be small and delicate, but it was large and strong. However despite the size difference, the people had a lot of delicate features. Cupid’s wings were long and beautiful. Psyche and cupid’s arms and legs were smooth and lithe. They looked like they were alive. I enjoyed seeing the sculpture in person much more than looking at a photograph. If I could, I would take the sculpture home with me, but at least I can look at photos and still get some of the thrill of seeing it.

Versailles and Montmartre!

Camille en France

Yesterday morning, my roommates and I woke up and enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, which serves croissants, baguettes, and coffee to guests. We met in front of the hotel at our usual time (8:45) to meet our guide, Josh. We piled into a very official-looking van with tinted windows (for VIPs only, we were told) and embarked on a very active day.

Josh first took us to Montmartre, an elevated neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris with a beautiful church. While it is now a fashionable neighborhood with adorable cafés and desirable homes, Montmartre was created during Gaulish times. Because of its elevated position relative to the rest of the area and it’s proximity to the Seine, Montmartre was a strategically sound spot.

The church at the top of Montmartre is unique and covered in symbols. A massive structure, the church contains the largest mosaic in Europe. Both the mosaic…

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I broke the hotel (but not really)

crêperie
A small crêperie where we had our first food in France

Two days ago we left Paris for Normandy. We were only in Paris for four days, but it felt like a lot longer. Every day, from early in the morning until late at night we were busy. Our days were packed with visits to gorgeous churches, ginormous palaces and famous museums. The only time we stopped, was to eat lunch or dinner. For lunch every day we found a small café and ordered sandwiches or quiche. I have fallen in love with the baguette sandwiches in France (they are much more preferable to PB&J), although they are somewhat unwieldy to eat. Almost all of the dishes we have eaten for dinner are ones I have never had before, and it is exciting to try them. After dinner we went back to the hotel to have meetings, work on our projects, or write blog posts.

While admiring the beautiful streets of Paris, you might fall prey to the dangerous poles, seen here in their natural habitat
While admiring the beautiful streets of Paris, you might fall prey to the vicious attack poles, seen here in their natural habitat

Paris was a great city to visit. There are so many unique features to Paris, but I thought I’d share a few things that I didn’t expect. There is an abundance of motorcycles and scooters in the city, including weird, three wheeled ones called MP3’s. The motorcycles lane-split everywhere, which looks absurd and totally dangerous, but upon researching it, appears not to effect the number of accidents. Waist-high poles prevent motorists from driving onto the sidewalks. The poles are also placed in the middle of the sidewalk to allow delivery trucks to back up to storefronts. Walking home from dinner one night, I looked up at a sign for a brief moment and walked smack into one of the poles. Luckily it was one of the taller ones, as the shorter poles seem to pose a bigger hazard to males.

The Conciergerie: another urban palace we saw, but never went inside
The Conciergerie: An urban palace we saw but never went inside

On a more academic note, I have been gathering a lot of great information for my project, which is comparing rural châteaux to urban palaces. We visited three palaces in France: Le Château de Saint-Germain (which houses the Musee d’Archeologie Nationale), Versailles, and the Louvre. I’m really excited to go to the Loire Valley to learn about the châteaux. I will hopefully explain more in-depth into the progress of my project soon in another blog post.

I should explain the post title. At the hotel in Paris, I wanted to charge a few device batteries at once, so I plugged my power strip into an adapter and plugged the adaptor into the wall outlet. Turns out you shouldn’t do that, because the second I did, all the lights in the room went out. I went into the hall to find Michaela, Sam, and Ashley, as well as a woman from next door standing outside their rooms wondering what happened. After telling them, I went to the front desk to tell the night manager. Unfortunately he did not speak English and I didn’t know any of the words “plug”, “surge protector”, “wire” or anything useful in French. After a bit of hand gestures and poor French on my part, the man finally understood and came upstairs to flip the circuit breaker for our hallway back on. So I don’t think I will use my power strip again during the trip…

Onward to the Loire Valley!

Au revoir, Paris

Tomorrow morning we pack our bags and leave Paris behind and head for Normandy. It’s hard to believe we’ve only been in France for four days. Each day has been so full that it feels we must have been here a week already. Yet our trip is really only just getting started. Today we visited the Louvre in the morning, and after a picnic lunch on the lawn of the Jardin des Tuileries, we split into two groups and tackled Sainte-Chapelle and Musee d’Orsay. For dinner, the  group went to a restaurant on the Champs-Elysses near the Arc de Triompe. I have to admit I had to skip the dinner, though, in order to try and catch up on organizing all the photos and videos I’ve been collecting.

Paris is such a beautiful city that it’s hard not to photograph almost everything you see. I have already taken so many photos that I don’t know quite what I will do with them all. Hopefully in the next day or two I’ll get a chance to post a bunch of them to the Phillips Academy SmugMug account, but for now I’ll just share this collection of group photos we’ve taken at various stops during our travels. See if you can spot the one where we got photobombed by a couple of playful locals. Enjoy!

A moveable feast

“If you are lucky enough to [go to] Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway

After only a couple of days to appreciate the beauty of Paris and all that it has to offer, I must concur with Ernest Hemingway.  Even though his recollection of memories of Paris was derived from his time living in the city from 1921 to 1926, his description of the experience remains timeless.  From the moment that we arrived in Paris, I was immediately enthralled by the different pace of the people of Paris and the classic design of the city.  In comparison, American cities seemed much too fast and significantly younger.  When we began visiting the numerous landmarks in Paris, I grew to love Paris even more.  For example, I will never forget the experience of seeing the Eiffel Tower in person for the first time

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or visiting the Piette Room and studying the prehistoric artifacts in the Musèe des Antiquities (Museum of Antiques).  Only in Paris can I silently take in the wonder of the cathedral of Notre Dame

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and look out on the rest of Paris from the rooftop of a castle.

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Here, every smell and sight evokes emotion and allows me to learn from both our planned visits to museums and landmarks and from the casualness of walking down the sidewalk.  We won’t be in Paris for much longer, so my time in this wondrous city is definitely marked.  So when we are forced to leave Paris to continue our journey throughout the rest of France, I will take the lessons that I have learned from Paris and take it with me, as Hemingway would have wanted.  Paris is indeed a moveable feast and I hope to take a small part of it with me wherever I go now.