Saturday, May 31, 2008

City of Light

Previous post: Gardens at the Quai Branly

Evening in Paris – Notre-Dame, the Hotel de Ville (the Paris City Hall), bridges across the Seine. . . need I say more?

Gardens at the Quai Branly

Previous Post: In Search of Eiffel's Tower

Practically within shouting distance of the Eiffel Tower, the Musée du quai Branly is the newest of the major Paris museums, designed to house art and artifacts from the Americas, Oceania, Asia, and Africa; a fantastic high-tech creation of the architect Jean Nouvel.

Perhaps some of the controversy is due to its location within a traditional historic neighborhood, but, tucked into the site as it is, the building doesn't seem particularly jarring. Instead it adds a bit of counterpoint that makes the neighborhood far more interesting.

The impact of the building is also softened by the gardens that surround it. They are modern and not at all "traditional," but they are a perfect match for the structure and the collections within. At the same time, they provide green space that ties the site to the fabric of the city. I love it here.

Next post: City of Light

In Search of Eiffel's Tower

Previous Post: Antiques on the Street

Of course, the Eiffel Tower is a Parisian landmark, towering over the city since its construction as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 Paris Exhibition. You can see it from almost everywhere, but - because of it's great height (1,063 feet) - it takes a lot longer to actually get to it than it seems it should. That's ok though, as it is lovely just walking through this part of Paris.

The tower tantalizes, seemingly so near, but never quite within reach.

And then it towers above us.

Very cool.

Antiques Along the Street

Previous Post: Rodin's Garden

On our way to the Eiffel Tower we come across an antiques fair.

We wander over to check it out and discover that "Art and Antiques" means exactly that – high-end paintings, decorative art, furniture, and household items. . . all sitting in tents along the street.

Oh if we only could afford to take one of those stunning cameo glass bowls home with us!

Rodin's Garden

Previous Post: Impressions of the Musée d'Orsay

From the d'Orsay, we wander through a portion of elegant St Germain des Pres. It is a quiet afternoon in this lovely, upscale neighborhood.

We are on our way to the garden at the Rodin Museum.

The gardens have been altered in the years since Rodin spent time here, but they make a lovely setting for his dramatic sculpture.

Despite the grim scenes many of these works portray, it is the faces that that strike me most. Rodin's genius with the human figure and, especially, facial features is clearly evident as we admire the Gates of Hell (so incongruous in this lovely setting),

the individual figures of the Burghers of Calais,

Whistler's Muse,

and the Thinker, considering hell from his perch high above the rose garden.