Monet the Late Years at the De Young

Fighting with cataracts Claude Monet became a master of impressionism and a forebear of modernism. With a muted color pallet he fought through a disease that could have broken a lesser man. I feel privileged to  have seen and visited Giverny and so many of Monet’s works in person both in Paris at Marmotton and Orangerie, at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, and now at the De Young in San Francisco.

I posted last week lighter and brighter early works seen at Orangerie, those which are the most famous and known worldwide.  But this “Later Works” exhibit at the De Young was amazing.  It was fantastic to see how he adapted both with color and impressionism.  Giverny, his muse, is identifiable in mind bending ways.  His pink house, his roses, water lilies, the Japanese bridge all recognizable if you know what you are looking at.  All of which are blurry and likely painted at least partially from the memory of a man who loved this land as much as he could any single person.

I stood before them humbled if not for the masses of people stepping on my feet and elbowing my sides.  I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things and places in my life but these “things”, these paintings, are something meaningful and hard to explain for me. I am grateful for them, the man who created them, and grateful for the opportunity to have seen them in person.

Monet Earlier Years – Paris

A few years back I had the luxury, and yes I will call it luxury, of visiting the sublime Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris.  It was a trip highlighted by Mr. Claude Monet first at Giverny, then at Musee Marmonttan Monet and finally at Orangerie.  Monet felt Paris needed a little cheering up after the war and gave them a place of peace and sanctuary to observe and be with his massive water lilies.  (I think that is a beautiful sentiment some of us could use even now.) Since this visit I have been hyper aware of all things Monet counting the days until I can visit the tulips at Giverny again.  Why am I writing about this now?  Well, I recently visited an exhibit of late Monet works in San Francisco which I will post about in short order and I thought it would be fun to see early works flanked by later works soon. Stay tuned friends…

 

Picasso Museum – Paris

Paris has been on my mind as is often the case when the weather is nice and the flowers are out. I was sorting through photos looking for something else and came across Picasso.  I realized I never posted on my visit to the Musée Picasso in Paris.  So bare with me while we re-visit Paris for a Master worthy of mention.

This museum is certainly worth a visit the earlier the better to avoid the crowds.  The variety of art on display is impressive; sculpture both large and small, paintings, sketches, metal, clay, pencil, chalk.  Be sure to take in the outdoor garden which has multiple large sculptures on display.  It’s amazing for an artist to master one form let alone so very many of them at such a scale.

This is the perfect place to stop to either get out of the Paris heat or the Paris cold depending on when you are in town!

What’s your favorite piece of his artwork?

For more of my Paris posts, of which there are many, please click here.

Notre Dame

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.

Paris Opera House Grandeur 

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 Grand Foyer looks like it belongs to royalty. Hollywood, why haven’t you filmed a mini series in this room? Spectacular balls, dinner parties, dance parties, this room is mind blowing.  


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. 

To read more on my French travels click here! To read and view photos of the one and only Giverny click here!

 

Bataclan Anniversary – Paris

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.

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Kitchen Challenge – Part Two

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…

Shakespeare & Company Bookstore and Cafe

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…

 

Paris Canals

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.

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Submitting as part of Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge.

 

Paris Catacombs -Warning Graphic Photos ahead…

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.