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Paris day & night

Who am I to talk and what am I to say of

Paris

that hasn’t already been said (or sung), many times over and many times better?

Honestly, I’m not feigning humility here.

I don’t know Paris well at all.

I only know that a corner of my heart belongs to her.

After leaving Berlin, we were to fly to Paris. We’d been to France once before – sort of a flukey thing – only 3 or 4 days – and all of it in Paris. Though our trip this time would be focused in Provence and Burgundy, how could we possibly fly over the city we first saw (and fell in love with) one lovely April? She had just a bit more color then, and a bit more sparkle (but in all fairness, so did I.)

~

I’ll keep my words to a minimum here. (you doubt!) For this post, there will be mostly photos … with a few words, like herbs, tossed in for flavor…

~ ~

Our key to the city…

We arrived to our tiny (teeny!) room in the same hotel we stayed our first visit.We had to shoe-horn ourselves in, but it was so well-situated we couldn’t pass it up. Directly across the street, the lovely little church Sainte Germaine de Auxerrois. Kitty-corner from us, the Louvre, and only a few blocks away, the river Seine.

Out our open window, the church – just to the left, the Louvre

Ste. Germaine de Auxerrois – just after a wedding

~ ~

I lost my pants in Berlin.

Though that may sound as though there’s an exciting story to follow (and don’t I wish there were), there isn’t.

I failed to re-pack them and when I called the hotel, they were gone. I’d packed light for this trip. (Lighter than I’ve ever packed before.)  Priorities for me: everything for 3 weeks in one medium bag, with a little empty room to bring a few things back for family, and  (naturally) my camera gear. The pants I brought were pretty new and pretty wonderful. My evening dress-up pants.  I was pretty attached and pretty despondent when someone else decided she liked them too.

My Guinea Pig is a man you can always count on in a crisis. While my eyes were swelling with tears, he was already online, locating what would become my favorite place to shop for clothes, ever. If you ever get a chance, do meet agnes b. 

We’re walkers, my husband and I. When we travel our feet take us just about everywhere we go. And Paris is a wonderful city to see on foot!

walking past a culinary school,

imagining  for a moment, me in that window tenderly sprinkling cinnamon…

past fountains, statues, monuments – everywhere

walking along the river Seine…

~ ~

When we humans travel, if we’re paying attention, we learn something of our travel companions and of ourselves too along the way.

When I travel, I marvel. I simply can’t help it.

My husband is a musician. He would understand this: I hear music in what I see.

To many, I know this would seem quite the ordinary scene…to me, it’s simply wonderful

A skein of bikers on an ordinary Paris street…

An ordinary, run of the mill fire station…

and yet another place to eat exquisitely prepared food (yawn)…

…and churches and chapels…

we heard a choir practicing inside, their voices eddying around the stone walls. I wish I could tell you how beautiful…

a stone monk wearing words that are prayers on his robe…

iron-work gates and filigreed balconies…

the Eiffel…

…and the extraordinary gardens of the Tuileries –

After the death of her husband (Henry II) in 1559 (450 years ago!) Catherine de Medici moved to the Louvre Palace and commissioned a landscape architect to design the Tuileries Gardens. They’d be modeled after those of her native Florence. Since the 13th century the area set aside for the gardens had been occupied by workshops that made the curved roof tiles on the buildings that you still see today. (The garden’s name was derived from these tiles.)

The Louvre Museum on the northwest end, the Arc du Carrousel topped with horses on the southeast end, Catherine de Medicis gardens spanned acres. It was arranged in a very orderly way, with sections for lawns, flower beds, small clusters of trees and even the more practical kitchen gardens and vineyards.

No longer the Queen’s gardens. These are the people’s gardens now, and there’s no question but that the people know how to enjoy them. Lovers sitting, back-to-back on the fountain’s edge. Moms and dads walking, hand in hand, as the children run ahead. Readers, together or alone, aloud or quiet, papers spread or books wide. Animated discourse that you can’t understand but you imagine has politics at its core. I love this place. When we last saw it, it was brimming with raucous tulips and daffodils. The flower gardens, still beautiful, are quieter now, and on their way out.

~ ~ ~

One mid-afternoon we set out for Montmarte. This would be our first visit. It turned out to be a long walk, largely up hill, through colorful and crowded neighborhoods and business districts. Food smoke was rising with the scent of spices from all over the world. We heard languages and saw dress informing us that we’d arrived in an ethnically and richly diverse part of Paris.

At the top of the hill sits the cathedral, Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart). On the steps in front sat a colorful band of travelers who’d made the climb. Theirs was the perfect vantage point to see the sun as it set over Paris. We heard music. We looked at each other. It can’t be. But it was.

Hotel California, being sung quite badly, but in full voice. (You can see the proud fellow in black, standing in the middle of the crowd.) No one seemed to take much notice.

We went in, walked the perimeters of the church and read its history. Once again outside we walked to the side of the cathedral. In stark contrast to the front of the building, there were only two men. One, without legs, sat at the foot of the stairs, hoping that some (with charity in their hearts) might pass this lonely place.

And just a short distance to the right of him, a violinist.

…with a hauntingly beautiful Ave Maria rising from his strings…and almost no one there to hear.

Beyond the cathedral lies the square where artists and food venders gather under a canopy of umbrellas to sell what they create. Van Gogh himself painted here.

~ ~

Late on another afternoon, after one of our long walks, we returned to the Louvre close by our hotel. The light was changing fast. We’d had in mind to leave, but we couldn’t. We stayed and watched the sun fall.

and the lights begin to flicker.

We walked the footbridge cross the Seine to the left bank. There we had dinner in a restaurant that felt 500 beautiful years old. (It couldn’t have been much less than that.) Our table, in front of an open 2nd story window looked onto Place Dauphine, this one lovely unforgettable night!

(this photo is the only reason we can think to carry cell-phones to dinner)

Walking the foot bridge over the Seine…

saying bon soir to Paris,

 and good night everyone.

~ ~

Tomorrow, something sweet (to eat) from the City of Lights…

61 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love Paris. Your photographs are beautiful and take me back there for a few moments. Thank you.

    October 23, 2012
    • Thank YOU Sharyn. A very nice thing to hear!

      October 23, 2012
  2. Yes, a truly “grand” and satisfying tour that conveyed both something of the historical essence as well as the abiding spirit of Paris and its people in the 21st century. Well done–your affection for the place shines through in the photography, even without the words.

    October 23, 2012
    • Thank you Joe…I appreciate your comments, always!

      October 24, 2012
  3. Mari Anna #

    Tres jolie Madame!

    October 23, 2012
    • Merci beaucoup MariAnna!

      October 23, 2012
  4. deb #

    You rekindled our affection for the city where we were fortunate to spend 4 days, with your beautiful photos and stories – thank you! I will be revisiting this repeatedly 🙂

    October 23, 2012
    • dear Deb, thank you! Maybe all a person “needs” is 3 or 4 days in Paris – maybe only once, or maybe every once in a blue moon. But it does feel as though something about Paris remains IN you…or you there. Or maybe that’s all the same thing. xx

      October 23, 2012
  5. carolyn #

    I marvel at your marveling! These photos are so exquisite. They capture the heArt of the city. I have spent a long time with them, zooming in on several, getting a closer look. You capture so well the richness in every scene, then the brief narrative that deepens the viewing by several notches. From the very first photo with the key in the tiny room, I am spellbound. This shot could be from any era. Then there’s the soaring architecture in a brilliant sky, vivid flowers (zoom), a man at his spicing craft, boaters on the Seine(zoom), red splashes in ho hum run of the mill streets(zoom, zoom, zoom!), a beautiful monk with (zoom!) prayers all over his robe, iron gates positioned next to the Eiffel! No, I did not zoom in on the nicely sculpted backside in the gardens (ahem), but I did zoom in on the man playing Hotel California. And the crowd of disinteresteds. Did you lie flat on your back to shoot up the side of the Sacred Heart? That picture is so haunting. Looming majesty, quietness, brokenness are all there. A beautiful, appealing, broken sacred heart…That lone violinist. You can hear him. The pretty woman sitting for her sketch. Then the changing light at the Louvre(zoom), the evening dog walker (can’t zoom) and the moon over Paris at night (zoom!). What a tour!!! Feel like I’ve gotten to take a tiny bite of some herbes de Paris. Thanks for losing your pants, not your camera!

    October 23, 2012
    • My dear dear friend, you need to write. The world needs you to write. You were meant to write. How many ways can I say it? I’m your big sister and you must write! Write! xxoo!

      October 23, 2012
  6. I was in Paris as a young woman, I recall stepping off the bus and thinking that there is, indeed, love in the air. It’s one of my favorite cities.. steeped in history and you really gave us a full “cupful” of beauty here. We went there again on our 10th anniversary and, alas, had only 3 days before we left for Provence. I remember looking out our window on the Tuileries and seeing the Eifel Tower lit up. You’ve capture Paris in your luscious photo journey, spree, and helped me travel with you:) xx Smidge (looking forward to your next sweet post!)

    October 23, 2012
    • A young woman you still are Barb! But to your point…I know exactly what you mean when you say love must surely be in the air. It’s palpable, but how do you convey this to someone who’s not been there? I was totally prepared (the first time) to form my own opinions. As far as I can tell, I was completely neutral (and GP might have been “skeptical”). He arrived first, toured the city by cab, then by foot – when I arrived, the tassled key was in the door, the door was ajar, and he was fast asleep on a flowery bed. I came over to him, touched him, and (like only a guinea pig can) his eyes stayed squinty closed and his mouth grinned…and out his mouth in sleepy tones came, “I love Paris!” Yeah…that’s how it started! 🙂

      October 23, 2012
  7. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

    October 23, 2012
    • Thank you so very much!

      October 23, 2012
  8. You had to have had a beautiful, wonderful trip, because your pictures are so full of love…

    October 23, 2012
    • oh, my…does that make me feel good. love in my photos? honestly? it shows? it WAS a truly lovely time Ronnie. The whole trip was! Paris though…what does a person say about Paris? (Have you been? If not, you will, right?)

      October 23, 2012
      • Yes, I’ve been there. The first trip we wanted to see everything,even though our friends warned us not to try to do that. We walked until my feet hurt and all I wanted to do was get off of them. The second time we were more judicious about how much sightseeing we had to do…and enjoyed the visit much more.

        October 24, 2012
  9. Spree….your photos are bringing me straight back to my favorite places and indeed I can still smell the air all around that gorgeous old church by the Louvre (btw, that was my first Cathedral I ever visited in France back in 2010 and still my favorite church in all of Paris). Of course, your (superb) shot of that Parisian apartment window could have been mine, and I can share that we were staying mere blocks from you just behind St. Eustache and Les Halles. Your photos are stunning (you are an artist!) and indeed I heartily approve of your shop choice, and am so sorry to hear about your pants! I am sure they are bringing the appropriate fate to whoever is enjoying them, and I am equally sure you are looking and feeling amazing in your Agnes B. 😉 (a legend). Thanks for this…you’ve really shared something special here! Too gorgeous and oh so special to me! XOX

    October 23, 2012
    • Ahh, Shira, how lovely it would have been to have shared time together in Paris – we so nearly did, didn’t we? And so nearby too! Do you have any idea how much your words (whether they be in your posts, or your comments) bless me? Please know! I’m just so grateful and happy to know you! My “Agnes B’s” go on again tonight for a birthday on the town! (I do feel rather chic in them! :)) I love that we shared this remarkable city just a month apart, and happy to help call back the sights and smells and sounds for you! blessings & xxo!

      October 25, 2012
      • I agree – it’s too awesome! I can’t wait to see if you post about Burgundy too..in all it’s beautiful glory (I think it was too crazy that we took the same tour) – Happy (late) Birthday!! Enjoy your chicness, I am sure you look stunning in your pants!

        October 26, 2012
        • And of course the blessings are equally mutual! XOX

          October 26, 2012
        • It’s actually the Guinea Pig that had a birthday, so I’ve passed along your wishes! Burgundy was Such an amazingly beautiful spot on earth and I can barely contain myself ’til I get to pour over those photos and share a few. (As for chicness 😉 the pants do quite the number!) xox

          October 27, 2012
  10. You start your post by wondering what you can say about Paris and then you take us on this wonderful personal tour of that beautiful city. I’ve been there a few times and it was a pleasure seeing it again but through your eyes. You’ve brought back some wonderful memoires for me, Spree. Thank you for taking the time to photograph, organize, upload, and provide commentary for the sights you shared. This was a beautiful post.

    October 23, 2012
    • John, you never fail. Never ever. I’m always so grateful to hear what you have to say! Thank you, truly deep thank you’s!

      October 25, 2012
  11. Oh my word, Mama! How do you do this? Your photos are art, and your view of this place — utter gift. It’s hard to choose my favorites, but I love those of the Louvre, La Tour Eiffel (I think the one with the people at the base is my favorite I’ve ever seen of the tower) and the lovely woman being drawn. Her face is so tender and expectant. And that key and window. Ah. The words you choose, too, convey such meaning. I am grateful for your perspective. Love you so!

    October 23, 2012
    • Your words mean so much to me Ashley…thank you from my hearts bottom! xxoo

      October 24, 2012
  12. Fabulous pictures of a city that I have known, loved and worked in. I even remember eating (foolishly) at Le Petit Zinc when I was young – I think it took all the money that I had at the time.

    October 24, 2012
    • Funny, we never ate there…I just liked the looks of Petit Zinc, but we did have some Very Fine meals and we did drop several Euro! 🙂 I can truly imagine life in Paris for a while. Those must have been some good years. (but it looks from here that you’re still living your good years.)

      October 24, 2012
  13. Val #

    I love the little details, Spree… the window in your room, the flower display on the pavement, the soldiers patrolling under the Eiffel Tower (sadly). And another important detail… I hope you have time to sample a selection of macarons from Pierre Hermé and Laudrée. Ahhh Paris.

    October 24, 2012
    • Val, thank you! I’ve missed what’s been going on at the 100 square meters…one day soon I hope to catch up! And, oh I so wish I’d heard from you before we left Paris…I missed the macaroons. (sigh) heading back I suppose!

      October 24, 2012
  14. It doesn’t matter how many images or words one sees on Paris it is always refreshing to see it through someone else’s eyes and thoughts. I do love the first image immensely, I am there! Your sorry tale of Berlin pants made me laugh at first, pants are the same as knickers here! I was thinking why should she want to go to all that trouble of getting a pair of knickers back LOL! then the penny dropped! I lost my expensive little black top number in Page, Arizona slipped down the back of chair, distraught too when you only have a few items. I am sure Agnes B was much much better!. Looking forward to Provence!

    October 24, 2012
    • Hahaha! So funny the lost knickers and why in the world would I spill my tears for them?! 🙂 but you get it…it’s hard to lose something when you’ve packed so frugally and it seems you have nothing to spare (but maybe a pair of knickers!) 😉 can’t wait to share Provence! THAT was a visual feast! Xx

      October 24, 2012
  15. Wow. Amazing pictures. I’m going on a trip to Paris in December and I can’t wait. What was the name of the old restaurant you ate in?

    October 24, 2012
    • It was in Place Dauphine, and I’m quite sure the name was Caveau du Palais. (I would highly recommend sitting upstairs at the table by the window – for obvious reasons. 🙂 ) And our meals were wonderful! Thank you so much for your comment! Hope you have a Wonderful trip! How fantastic to see Paris in the middle of winter!

      October 25, 2012
      • Thanks I can’t wait! I will definitely look out for that restaurant it sounds great. x

        October 25, 2012
  16. Thank you for sharing Paris from your camera lens. What was your favorite activity or thing other than eating that you enjoyed most? I know the food is awesome and the croissants to die for … but something cultural you enjoyed? Take care, BAM

    October 24, 2012
    • Bam, we loved Musee Dorsee! NEXT time I MUST get back to see Monet’s gardens at Giverny! Truly, though not “cultural” in the tightest definition of the word, I just love walking and listening and watching the people move about in their lives! I could be happy doing that endlessly.

      October 25, 2012
      • There is so much to do and see that you might never be bored here. However, I agree that people watching while sipping on an expresso at an outdoor cafe is a lovely way to absorb this city. Take care,BAM

        October 25, 2012
  17. I’m just sighing as I look at all your beautiful photos and wish that I were back there again. It’s hard to describe the beauty of Paris but your photos speak volumes! I love the photo of Sacre Coeur from that angle!

    October 24, 2012
    • Danny thank you!…comments like yours mean so much to me! You’re very right…it’s hard to put Paris’s beauty into words. I wish everyone could experience it.

      October 24, 2012
  18. What a lovely photo poem to a complex city! You made me want to steal some of these photos to adorn a lowly word poem of mine called “Peeling Paris,” from my visit this summer 🙂 But maybe it is better that I ask your permission, no? Merci beaucoup for sharing your love!

    October 24, 2012
    • Amit, there will be NO stealing! You write me friend, and we’ll negotiate a deal…one of your best Indian dishes for the Paris photo of your choice! (And then I want to see your poem!!) Miss you friend!

      October 25, 2012
  19. Kelly Loggan #

    Awww….Ani….what a lovely and descriptively rich and savory journey you just took me on! Absolutely exquisite. Each photo made me want to just “stay” and linger and emmerse myself into it and be there….the best of it is, you truly “took” me there…thank you so much for your sensitive attention to the fine art of light and shadow and asymetrical balance…your “presence” within the experience of the photo you are “capturing” (for it is just that) comes through with a special “shining”! I love you and am so grateful to share in this way! Miss you too, for sure…must have a big hug in person when time and grace allows! I think of you so often and completely love Ashley’s beautiful gift of writing as well…she is her Mama’s daughter, we know! Many blessings my dear…your Kelly…hugs and kisses

    October 25, 2012
    • Kelly, you have always been a fountain of encouragement! I appreciate you so much, and I am hungry hungry for hugs! May it be soon!! love, ani

      October 25, 2012
    • and OH YES, Ashley’s writing is amazing, beautiful to me!! I’m so happy knowing you’re following her! 🙂

      October 25, 2012
  20. pete clemente #

    Merci pour les commentaires et photos belles

    October 25, 2012
    • Merci beaucoup Pierre!

      October 25, 2012
  21. Fascinating shots Spree!
    Paris is a city that I still don’t know and your photos made me want to go there right away.
    Excellent photographs.
    Hope you are doing great.

    October 27, 2012
    • I hope you’ll get a chance to visit one day Pablo (and that we’ll have another too!) Thanks for the nice words! I’m doing great…hope you are too!

      October 27, 2012
  22. what a wonderful wander around a beautiful city Spree! I can feel and hear your pleasur eand love for the city!
    And ooooooo AgnesB 😉

    October 27, 2012
    • ooooo you KNOW AgnesB ! why was I the last to learn of her!? Oh well, I’ve got her number now! Thanks Claire!

      October 27, 2012
  23. I’m speechless. So much beauty, love, poetry and adventure… All in one post. A trip of a lifetime Spree! Loved the culinary school picture. 🙂

    October 28, 2012
    • Oh Karista, awfully nice of you! It truly was a wonderful trip for us. Hope to get pictures of the Provence parts of our trip up soon. Thanks so much for reading along!

      October 29, 2012
  24. this was a great way to meet you

    October 29, 2012
    • And it’s been a pleasure meeting you through your writing Shimon.

      October 29, 2012
  25. I love everything about this post… profiteroles, Agnes B, the walks, the sights… Way to bring it forth into our day. Wonderful. Joyous. Incroyable! Thank you… x

    October 30, 2012
    • Wendy, I’m so grateful for a comment like yours! and So happy you enjoyed! You are Most welcome! x

      October 30, 2012
  26. Hearing music in what you see is the perfect way to discribe it Spree!
    and your post is a melody that makes the soul sing 🙂

    November 3, 2012
  27. Any idea what that cookng school was called?

    January 28, 2013
    • I’m very sorry Gypsy Grub…I’ve tried to locate that for you but wasn’t able to. It was very near the Louvre in the direction away from the Seine…that sounds rather lame, but at this point I can’t do better. Will you let me know if you learn?

      January 28, 2013

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