Tag Archives: France

Street Art in Paris and Marseille

Everyone knows how much I like street art. There wasn’t really any in the Morocco Medina, so I don’t have any representative Moroccan street art. Boo. The only one I saw depicted a dog barking ferociously at a person, kind of Bart Simpson style.

In Marseille, France we saw a few stencils, and we saw one big long wall mural. There were different components and I liked how it worked together stylistically.

Marseille, France.

Marseille, France.

Marseille, France.

Marseille, France.

Marseille, France

Mural detail, Marseille, France.

Mural detail, Marseille, France.

Mural detail, Marseille, France.

Mural detail, Marseille, France.

Paris, France had the most diverse art. There were some stencils, and a lot of the wheat paste type, some typical graffiti as well. Since I’m such a fan of ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ I was excited to see pieces that looked like they were done by Space Invader.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Paris, France. (Invader?)

Paris, France. (Invader?)

The trip was pretty good all in all. I really enjoyed different aspects of each place. They were all so different, but somehow managed to come together on this trip. I guess now all that’s left is planning the next trip…I’m thinking I need to add the Asian continent to my list, and am taking suggestions…


Late for a Date with Royalty

While planning this trip I knew I wanted to visit some kind of palace. The Moroccan Palace was amazing, but I still needed my French fix. After extensive research I settled on Fountainebleau, an old estate of the royals, like Louis VII, and was later taken over by Napoleon after the revolution. It was supposed to be like Versaille (which I love, if you remember), but less touristy! I actually think that there were more people than when I went to Versaille, but hey, who’s counting.

Chateau from the front gate.

Front door.

On the front door. I think.

We got there late though, because I was super lazy and slow. It might have been all the wine and champagne that was consumed the prior evening. We got to Fountainebleau and decided food was essential. By the time we made it back to the Chateau it was 4:00. The Chateau closes at 5. It takes 2 hours to make it through the regular interior. Uh oh! As a concession to us latecomers admission is half priced, so at least we had that going for us. Unfortunately even if we wanted to try to speed walk through the Chateau to see it all they are shutting it down so you physically can’t get to all the regularly open areas after 4:00.

I like these Chateaus because I love seeing the furniture and interiors and all the Liberace-esque decorations.

Glass covered chandelier in one of the stairways.

So many boobs. A gift meant to represent fertility, I presume.

Huge fireplace.

Ceiling detail.

Candles and chandeliers, oh my!

The library. It was off limits.

Bedrooms are cool too.

The Queen’s bedroom.

King’s bedroom.

King’s office. With camp-style bed, in case he worked too late and he got too tired to walk to his bedroom. Right next door…

In this house I think they really liked playing musical chairs. Lots of rooms were set up for it.

A musical chair room.

Another musical chair room.

Throne room. Can double as an additional musical chairs room.

There was a beautiful chapel in the château where the walking tour ends.

Backside of the chapel.

Ceiling detail (in the chapel I believe).

There are 3 gardens on the estate. They’re open until 6, so we had some extra time to walk around before we were given the boot. We walked around the English-style garden, the other two are French. The difference is the French ones are heavily manicured and the English one is a bit wilder.

Chateau from the garden.

Stream running through the garden.

Chateau from the garden, across the pond. With floating gazebo. Not the best shot, but you get the idea.

Duckies in the garden.

It was a good day, it was just too bad that we were so late! Also, it was kind of drizzly all day, but that wasn’t too bad. It was the worst weather of the trip, but we were on trains or inside the estate most of the day so it didn’t really matter. I can’t wait to see more estates in the future (or even come back to Fountainebleau).

Holy Stained Glass

As mentioned previously, I love visiting churches because they’re so fancy and they’re free! Leave it to Randy to find one of the few cathedrals you have to pay to get into. I’ll get to that later though. Randy created a list of places he wanted to see, and a bunch of the churches on his list were clustered together, and fairly close to Jeremy’s house. So, after a hot chocolate break after The Cluny we mapped out a route and headed out to find the churches. The only problem? It was 6 o’clock. Right around the time most churches close! It was not looking good for us!

We first went to Saint Julien le Pauvre, one of the older churches in Paris. They were only open for a concert at this time of day, but said they were normally open from 9-6. We ended up going back Monday morning around 10 and found the gates closed and locked! We tried one more time after we visited the Sainte Chapelle, and it was still closed! Boo. Now we have a reason to return to Paris.

Saint Julien le Pauvre.

Saint Julien le Pauvre.

Saint Julien le Pauvre.

Our next stop was walking by Notre Dame. It’s one of my favorites, but the line kept us out. It wasn’t excessive, we just had other sites we’d rather see. We managed to get some nice pictures though. Couldn’t miss the shots of the Charlemagne statue either, considering we’re related and all…

Notre Dame is a popular one!

Charlemagne outside of Notre Dame.

Next stop, Sainte Chapelle. This was the church we had to pay to get into. It’s located in the Palace of Justice, so you have to go through security, and then you pay to enter the chapel. We went on a Monday morning around 1030 and waited 45 minutes or so. Let me tell you it is totally worth it. I loved the tile floor. The animals that it depicts are so whimsical, and reminded me of Morocco in concept, although not style. The showstopper is of course the stained glass of the chapel. The windows are under restoration, but the majority are still visible. They rise about 40 feet (total estimation) above your head. It’s breathtaking.

Sainte Chapelle stained glass. That looks like 40 feet, right?

Slightly closer look at the stained glass in the Sainte Chapelle.

This might help with the scale of the chapel.

Stained glass in the Sainte Chapelle.

Ceiling and top of stained glass, Sainte Chapelle.

Saint in the Sainte Chapelle.

Floor detail in the Sainte Chapelle.

The final church we went to in Paris was Saint Gervais et Saint Protais. Its a large Italian style church. It was the only church we made it into, and they had a service going on. We stayed for a few minutes and watch the incense guy wave his ball and chain down the aisle (those are technical terms, right?), and then we headed out. It was a pretty cool little visit.

Saint Gervais et Saint Protais.

Saint Gervais et Saint Protais.

The Loofah and George Clooney

Randy likes to use some mnemonic devices with the French words. Now try to figure out what the title means.

When we got back to Paris from Marrakech we weren’t sure what to do. I suggested perhaps we go see the Louvre (hint hint for the title), because we were going to go meet Jeremy in a few hours, and that way we wouldn’t get overwhelmed by the vastness of the museum. I am quite susceptible to museum head…you know, the technical term that describes how you feel when you’ve been at the museum too long. Your ears start buzzing and your eyes glaze over because you’re brain is overstimulated.

We managed to find The Louvre fairly easily from Jeremy’s apartment; it was just a quick 15 minute walk (I was determined to keep up the walking trend we’ve had on this trip). Well, let me tell you, the Louvre is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! For whatever reason I’ve never been in any of my previous trips. I’ve usually been across the river, and I feared the ginormous collection of artwork that the museum contains. I mean, just walking around outside can become a whole day affair! The architecture was so beautiful and ornate, it even made Randy speechless!

The Louvre and the pyramid.

Close-up on the pyramid. Weather wasn’t too shabby…

Inside the Galleria of the Louvre.

Since it was a Friday evening around 5 when we got there (it’s open ’till 9:45 on Fridays) we only had about a 10 minute wait through security and into the belly of the beast. While we waited to get our ticket from the automated machine (just like at American movie theaters) an older woman gave the people in line in front of us her 2 tickets and said she couldn’t use them anymore but someone should enjoy them. We were so close to a free entry!

We went in and spent a lot of time in the Greek and Roman sculpture section, and decided to try to find some of the works of note. They were doing an exhibit on Cesar which Randy was pretty excited about. After that we went to find the Code of Hammurabi, King of Babylon; Winged Victory; Venus de Milo; and of course, since we happened to be in the neighborhood, the Mona Lisa. There were crowds around the more well known pieces, but nothing incredibly frustrating or unmanageable. The biggest crowd was at Mona Lisa, but you could make your way to the front in about 3 minutes, 1 if you were feeling especially pushy. I took lots of pictures of sculptures, but not really any of the paintings. I guess you’ll just have to take my word that we saw the Mona Lisa!

Woof! Man’s best friend.

Egyptian lion. Roar!

A boy and his duck. Quaaaack!

Modern art installations throughout Napoleon III’s apartments.

Winged Victory

Just to point something out, our lack of a crowd was probably directly attributed to the time of our visit. We wanted to pick up something at the gift shop Monday morning before we left. We got there about 930a. The line was circling the courtyard. At least a 1/1.5 hour wait to get in and then probably some more time to buy tickets. No telling what the wait for the popular exhibits would have been. Good idea to think about wait time before you plan your visit.

The other museum we hit up was The Cluny (There’s your other title hint!). I wanted to go here because it houses unicorn tapestries! Just like at The Cloisters! How exciting! It’s pretty similar to The Cloisters museum, with a medieval building housing medieval works. It’s the National Museum of the Middle Ages, so that all makes sense. The tapestries were all I could have hoped for, and the other stuff was pretty cool too.

So many Unicorns!

A girl and her Unicorn.

poor monkey!

Stained glass at the Cluny.

Pretty staircase.

These were two great museums to hit up, and I think we did them in a smart way. We didn’t let the huge one overwhelm us, and we chose a smaller museum for the other choice. I beat the museum head!

What’s the D’If?

We’ve had a beautiful time in Marseille. Blue skies, 85 degrees (but not humid), nice ocean breezes. After a bit of wandering (and arguing) we found the tourist office. Randy likes to ask people where to go, and I like to figure things out myself…so that can lead to a little head-butting (basically I think he’s a butt head, and he thinks I am one). It also leads to success, because usually Randy asks someone who tells us where to go much faster than I can figure it out. Thanks to a local woman who spoke English very well, and brought us to the tourist office herself (it was near the metro, apparently), we got some maps and information.

Our first activity? Visit the Island of If. On this island lies the Chateau d’If, which is actually an old fortress. It’s what the Count of Monte Cristo is based on, and hundreds of prisoners (especially protestants) have been held here over the last few centuries. Now it’s a great tourist spot.


Ferry from Vieux Port area to Islands of If and Frioul.

Chateu d’If from the ferry boat.

Chateu d’If, from the front. I love castles. Fortresses count as castles.

It was pretty cool walking around the fortress. There were very few restricted areas, so you basically go into every room. Since there are no furnishings (it was a prison…they didn’t have fancy things anyway) you just imagine what may have been there. There is a dungeon and numerous rooms, each with fireplaces. A few of the rooms (the Count of Monte Cristo’s (a fictional character from Alexandre Dumas’ book) room, and the room attributed to Jean Baptiste Kléber, who was assassinated in Cario in 1800, but lay in the fortress from 1801-1818.

Graffiti from the early 1800s. That’s right, it’s carved into the wall.

They were kind of obsessed with the Asian rhino.

One of the prison cells with the most intact fireplace.

Next we walked up to the Notre Dame de la Garde, A gorgeous church that overlooks all of Marseille.

Notre Dame de la Garde, all the way up there...yes we've walked that far (and more) thus far!

Notre Dame de la Garde, all the way up there…yes we’ve walked that far (and more) thus far!

It’s not such a bad walk from the old part of town, and I think there are buses and trams. Our problem was our knack for getting lost, even with a map. We eventually made it to the church, and just in time for 6 o’clock sermon. That would have been great if I practiced religion, but as a tourist it was not so great because we couldn’t really walk around the church as we didn’t want to disrupt anything. Still, a pretty cool church, and one of the best views I’ve seen in a while. It was great to see Marseille spread out below us.

Notre Dame de la Garde, from the soccer pitch that’s right below it. A blessed field if ever there was one.

Notre Dame de la Garde, and the flag of Europe.

View of the altar within the Notre Dame de la Garde.

View of the islands of If and Frioul from Notre Dame de la Garde. If is the small one, second to the left (I think).

On our way home we ended up buying some amazing handmade raviolis for dinner. Accompanied with a beer, some salad, and the ubiquitous bread and cheese it was an amazing dinner. It’s very nice having an apartment for this leg of the journey.

Today we did a lot of walking (again). I tend to go for lower cost tourist attractions and free transportation. That means exploring cities by foot, and visiting lots of churches. I find that way you get to see a lot that you may otherwise have missed, and end up off the beaten path, plus churches tend to showcase some of the best architecture of their times. And they’re huge, generally cooler temperatures, and smell good.

So, not surprisingly, we ended up at la Major Cathédrale de Marseille, which I’d seen from the ferry yesterday and really wanted to check out. After remembering that it was Sunday (one of the hazards of vacation is forgetting what day it is) because everything was closed we managed to secure some delicious doner kebab sandwiches. So good! from there we walked (or meandered around until we managed to find it) for a few hours. It was totally worth it. The cathedral is in a part of Marseille that is undergoing construction, and despite being Sunday, this huge, beautiful cathedral was practically empty. Not sure if that had to do with time of day, we were there around 5 o’clock or the nearby construction.

la Major Cathedrale de Marseille, from the side.

Oh, and here it is from the front.

This doesn’t really do it justice, but there were simple yet elegant mosaics along the floor, and it was so spacious, as it was obviously designed to be.

View of the benches and windows. Crazy how empty it was.

Ceiling shot. If that’s not arching, then I don’t know what is…(that’s probably not what it’s called.)

Small carving detail. Everything was simple yet elegant.

After this epic walk we headed for home, which was roughly across the water from where we were. So, we had to walk alllll the way around it, which took quite a while. When we reached the halfway point we stopped for some beers as a reward/motivation to continue. Ahhh, refreshment.

Now we’re just relaxing before getting some dinner. Tomorrow we head off to AFRICA (Marrakech, Morocco) in the afternoon. Can’t wait to see how that goes!

Bienvenue à France!

So, I’m in France! Randy and I arrived Thursday to Paris, after a lovely overnight flight from JFK. The flight was nice because it was a) direct and b) they served food and wine for free! I haven’t been on a flight that feeds you for some time.

We navigated the hectic airport, made it through customs in record time (I forgot to ask for a stamp…I’ll have to remember when I come back from Morocco), and got our bags. Getting into the city from the airport was nice and easy on the RER, and Jeremy met us at his subway stop. What service!

Since we were out of it due to the time difference we just walked around his neighborhood. It’s in the 2nd arrondissement, and is a beautiful place to walk around. His apartment, that he so graciously is sharing with us while in Paris, is amazing, with a huge balcony. Perfect for drinking 5 bottles of wine on…

Jeremy’s balcony.

Jeremy’s staircase. He lives on the 5th floor. No elevator. You really feel the burn after the 2nd wine run.

Walking around Paris, somewhere near the Gare du Nord.

We left Paris yesterday morning, in the rain, and took the train to Marseille. Luckily the rain stayed in Paris. Jeremy’s friend is putting us up in a gorgeous apartment overlooking the ocean. Day two and already one of the best vacations yet!

Marseille balcony. Yes, that’s the ocean in the background.

We took it easy today, just exploring the city a bit. We don’t have a map since I left all my Lonely Planet stuff at home. We were looking for a tourism office, but missed it by about a block. Gives us something to do today. We had a simple dinner on our balcony, enjoying French wine and cheese.

Dessert: Caramel and pecan sundae flavor ice cream et vin. I could get used to this.

Today we’ve got an actual plan. I’m hoping to make it to Notre Dame and to Château d’If. If we don’t end up there, we might just have to laze around on the beach all day. Poor us…

Sunset view from the balcony in Marseille.