An alert on my iPhone said it was burning. It’s just a building but I dropped what I was doing at work to look for additional details hoping it was just a small fire. How could a church made of so much stone burn? Surely it must not be bad? Text messages from a French friend and German friend start to come in. “Are you watching?” Disbelief and frantic searching for photos on my phone and in my computer to jog my memory as to how much of the facility was wood. People of Paris start to gather and the world watches. This church doesn’t only belong to the French. It belongs to the hearts of everyone who has visited, read about it, seen photos, or practiced it’s teachings. Hearts broke as the tower fell. Please don’t let it be terrorism. I couldn’t take that and was saddened that my mind even went there. All of the relics. The glass work. The lamps. The ORGAN. The woodwork. There would be no way to save the woodwork. Please please save the magnificent front doors. Later stories of heroism emerge along with stories of waste and politics like usual. And now it rains and it is in danger again. I look back at photos and remember the service I took there while last in Paris where I heard the unmistakable sound of the organ paired with Gregorian choir making a sound only the heavens could create. A beautiful noise. Now, I only hope it will be restored so I can take my son to see it some day and with any luck hear the original organ and view the original woodwork, flooring, etc. It has survived this many years and I am confident it will rise proudly again for the people of Paris, for the people of France, and for the rest of the world who it belongs to in spirit.
The French Presidential Election has my mind in Paris again. I was reminded by the Captain over at Equinoxio that I never posted photos from the beautiful Palais Garnier (Paris Opera House for those of us non French speakers). When I was in Paris last year my friend and I took in the ballet at this magnificent baroque opera house. I am afraid the beautiful building outshined the performance hands down. The ballet was probably the most excruciating artistic experience of my life, not because it is a ballet, but because it was a terrible nightmare inducing ballet. But, the price of admission was worth it just to see the gilded architectural pomp and circumstance.
On the evening of the ballet we walked up the stairs from the subway to view the sun setting on the beautiful exterior. A street musician was playing a piano like a champ entertaining the crowd.
Inside the grand staircase greets visitors who may never see the artistry of the tiled floors only because they cannot lower their chins from all of the looking up. The lighting makes you feel like you are at a candlelight performance or in a Victorian BBC drama. The ceilings are a work of art by themselves.
The auditorium, while it reminds me of the Muppets, it is a place to see and be seen. The acoustics are superb while the views might be slightly impeded depending on your position in your box. But one thing is for sure, everyone no matter where they are seated, can look up and will have their breath taken away by the chandelier and the Marc Chagall ceiling.
In my own humble way I hope France remembers itself and how beautiful and magnificent it is in this important political moment. It must remain a part of the rest of Europe so it can continue sharing pieces of perfection like this architectural masterpiece.
*My apologies for the simple photos. They were taken with my iPhone since the place is obviously too fancy for my good bulky cameras and we were too dolled up for the ballet to lug my equipment around. It’s hard to pry the camera out of my hands when I’m traveling! But I hope you will understand.
After returning from Paris last spring I set off to write a flurry of posts about all the glorious things I saw in Paris. One that stumped me however was about the Bataclan nightclub. I didn’t know how to write about it. We visited and saw that it was boarded up and gated. We stood for a time in the pretty little park across the street observing the theater, the same place all of the press people stood for so many days. I kept putting off writing about it and it kept nagging at me. The incident that took place there made me sad and I could never find the words to respectfully write about it. Further terror attacks plagued France and made it even harder for me to write about it.
Well, it has been a year, and I saw in the news that Sting will be re-opening the club! I feel like the time is finally right to focus on the positive instead of a negative. This makes me very happy that a large headliner will be re-opening the club in an act of defiance and pride for the Parisian people, for the French people, and for everyone left in the world that stands for peace. Nous sommes Bataclan. Nous sommes France. Nous sommes un.
Some of you may remember a challenge my husband gave me when I visited Ireland last year. He asked me to take photos of cute cafes to print and put on the wall in our kitchen thereby combining three of my favorite things: food, photography, and travel. Well, the challenge was fun for me so I extended it to Paris thinking I would have no shortage of cafe scenes there. Here are a few unedited photos that have potential. Let me know what you think…
On my first trip to Paris in 2010 I had the pleasure of staying at The Hotel Esmerelda on the Left Bank across from the Notre Dame. Little did I know that it would literally be sleeping atop the famed Shakespeare & Company bookstore. I fell in love with this bookstore and couldn’t wait to take my friend Manuela there. She has been going to Paris for many years and had never visited so I knew she was in for a treat. I was initially reluctant only because I had heard that the bookstore, which reeks of charm and age, had opened an adjoining coffee shop. I hoped that S&Co. had not sold out in order to go all Starbuksy on us. My heart couldn’t take that. If it was that BAD I figured Parisians would have revolted and stormed the bookstore so I had high hopes. It would be a great respite from the rain so, I had to see the change for myself.
Well, people I am happy to report that the bookstore’s footprint has changed very little if any at all. And the ridiculously tiny coffee shop is equally as charming and full of lovely young staff brewing up the best cup of coffee I had in Paris. (And I drank a fair amount of Joe while I was there so I consider myself an authoritay.)
Please go there. Please buy a book as a souvenir and a cup of coffee while you overlook the Notre Dame and the bustling city. You will surely leave smarter than you came merely by immersing yourself in history and looking at all of the covers. Need a break because you have put too many miles on your feet? Relax in any number of small comfortable nooks and crack a book like Hemmingway in the same place people have done so on the Left Bank for almost 100 years! (Never mind a few location changes due to the war…)
For more on France please have a Macaron and Baguette with me by clicking here…
After visiting Pere Lachaise Cemetery we took the metro to Colonal Fabian to take a walk along the Canals eventually winding up at Republic. We had an amazing lunch at the Atmosphere Cafe and meandered up and over every bridge we encountered. This is a lovely part of Paris with lots of options for shopping and food and well worth a trip off the normal tourist path of Paris.
Submitting as part of Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge.
I couldn’t decide if I wanted to see the Paris Catacombs or not. On the one hand it seemed like a can’t miss opportunity. I mean who else buries 6 million people underground and makes it a tourist attraction? On the other hand, it’s kind of gross and sad. I left it up to my travel partner. If she was game then so was I. We took the train out there and saw the line to get in to the ossuaries was literally around the block. We left and meandered the lovely streets of La Butte-aix-Cailles instead thinking the line might die down later in the day. Turns out one needs to prepare to wait a long while if they want to stare at a bunch of dead people miles underground.
The catacombs were created to solve the problem of overcrowding in the cemeteries which had been closed due to health concerns. The bones of millions of people were transferred in to the abandoned quarries in 1786-1859 and only opened later in the 19th century as a tourist attraction. I still don’t know how I feel about taking money from people to go and visit a “cemetery” but I hope the money goes to the upkeep of the place.
I am grateful I was with my friend because it would have been pretty creepy to do on one’s own. After descending and ascending what felt like a million stairs we got our minds off of the fact we had just walked by and photographed human remains and ate dinner at one of the best Italian Restaurants I have ever attended @ Cafe Latarantella. All was right in the world once more after that dinner.
This post was inspired by Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge. Check out my last Odd Ball Challenge from Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
One of the many things that make Paris interesting and different than a lot of other places is its Passages. These passages connect streets together though either covered or uncovered passages. Some of them show a lot of age and heritage where others are industrial and stark. Any opportunity we got we walked through them just to see what we encountered as we walked through them and to experience what we would find on the other end.
This post was inspired by Cee’s Which Way Challenge.
A good travel partner can be hard to find. When you have a good one you stick with them. My German friend Manuela and I have been traveling together since we met taking a college class in Dublin in 1999. And sometimes, you have to take one for the team. She insisted on taking me to see a cemetery…in Paris. I wasn’t terribly interested in visiting a bunch of dead people when I had only 9 days in Europe at first. But, the photographer in me won out and looked forward to the photo opportunities creep factor or no. And a cemetery originally built in 1804 would surely have some great things to capture.
The weather cooperated despite the cold, very cold weather and periodic rain. It afforded me time to visit: Oscar Wild (whose grave had been broken sadly only days before by overzealous visitors), Edith Piaf (whose voice transcends her death), Amadeus Modiliani (who like many others only achieved fame after death), Eugene DelaCroix (whose work I only became familiar with while I was visiting Paris), Jim Morrison (I later saw the hotel where he passed away in Paris), Eloise & Abelard (One of the most interesting love stories I have heard in a long time), and various moving shrines to Jewish people who lost their lives in concentration camps from WWII.
The cemetery is huge something like 100+ acres! One could spend all day wandering through its roadmap. If there is anyone in particular you desire to see take a map or you will surely waste your time and get lost. Avoid the tour guides who accost your ear, come out of nowhere, insist on taking your money, unless you want to make quick work of the cemetery in order to make haste to a cafe or bistro.
Be aware if you choose this place as your final resting place, unless you are famous, you will be dug up and cremated after 100 years to make room for more!
This post is submitted as part of Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge!
Its hard not to walk through Paris and just comment on or behold every little inch of beautiful architecture you walk by. So many of these buildings, streets, and gardens are so breathtaking.