Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Abroad: The Populist in Paris

We had thought about going to the Louvre, but didn't really make plans, and it's really gotten hard to go there. We'd been there twice before and in recent days we'd been treated to a lot of classic European painting, so we decided to go to the Pompidou Center instead.

We walked from our hotel near the Place de la Concorde and stopped for lunch at Le Café des Initiés on Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Saw a '64 or '65 Mustang with a really loud V8 go by. Tried to make friends with the house cat.

The famously exposed exterior.

After several galleries of conceptualism, we sat and watched a film of Samuel Beckett wandering around a room.  It seemed like a good time to take a picture of the utilitarian emergency exit.

The guards in other museums we encountered were very civil service and dressed either in uniforms or dark blazers.  In the Pompidou Center they are mostly college age, fashionably dressed in a definitely art-student manner, often lounging in a chair in a pose of boredom or fatigue. This one was older than most, possibly in his forties. He stood up and then noticed my camera and tripod next to me on the bench, facing him. He stepped over and asked if it was OK for him to move.  I said "Sure." He briefly stepped out of the room and came right back and leaned against the doorway.

We took some refreshment on the top of the building overlooking Paris before the exhaustive David Hockney retrospective.

They also have a few little sculpture gardens out on the roof. On the front of the building there's a crawl with a repeating message that said something like "Picasso, Matisse, the Best view in Paris..."

The next day, after a walk in the Tuilleries and along the Seine with the Evil Cube (in a future blog post), we hopped the metro for a walk on the Left Bank.

Our first destination was Luxembourg Gardens, the only one of TripAdvisors top-five-things-to-see-in-Paris that we hadn't ever seen. Even with these formal gardens in the middle, and the automatic rifle toting guards around the palace (where the Senate meets), it has a real city park feel to it.

I never really associated impressionism with the Luxembourg gardens, but it was instantly recognizable as the subject of dozens of lesser known paintings from regional museums in the U.S.

We had lunch at the Pavillon de la Fontaine right in the garden. We would never sit on the porch in jackets for lunch on a day with autumnal temperatures, but we happily had meals out doors several times in those conditions in Europe.

After I ordered my omelette jambon et fromage and Sarah her quiche, the waiter inquired if we might enjoy some frites as well. Well, of course. They were some of the best of what was an exceptional fried potato trip.

Continuing the Latin Quarter nature of our walk we stopped at Shakespeare and Company. Sarah bought a cozy mystery to read on the airplane home.

We crossed the river to the Île de la Cité, to visit Sainte Chapelle. Maybe because it's much smaller than a cathedral and therefore more intimate, it makes a bigger impression. And all done without electricity. I got caught by a guard and told I shouldn't hold my (little rubber-footed) tripod against the stone doorway, but think I had counted up to 24 already. I tried to explain it was a pinhole camera, but that wasn't the point. (A tourist in a business suit with a digital SLR had a fully extended tripod in the middle of the crowd.) The exposure then was probably about 40 seconds and I'm amazed it recorded people holding up their phones to take pictures.

We managed to sit in the few chairs available for awhile and I tried to support the tripod on my leg.

We still had several metro tickets so we went over to the Eiffel Tower and walked across the river for the iconic view from the Trocadero.

A little more documentary version.

The next day it was out to DeGaulle to begin the voyage home. We arrived three hours early as recommended by everyone, and found that Aer Lingus doesn't open flight check-in until two hours before the scheduled departure. Everything went OK though and the trip back went without incident.

I'll conclude the 35mm portion of our program with an exposure the morning after we got home. As great as it is to travel and visit palaces, gardens and great artworks, it is nice to return home to our own small palace.

It turns out the sunbeams are much the same at Mosquito Hill as they are in palatial gardens.

All with The Populist. .15mm pinhole 24mm from 24x36mm frame - with the Promaster folding pocket tripod. - Later edit: Oops. Those last two are with the new Manfrotto tripod.

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