Tag Archives: Paris

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!

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.

Mon Dieu! Paris!

All you can drink!

All you can eat!

When my mom and sister came to Paris after skiing in the Chamonix region years ago they went to a lovely little restaurant that served them 4 courses and all you can


drink. Ever since that day my mom has been trying to get me to go check it out. As I continually say I can’t afford it, she generously offered to sponsor a visit by me and Jeremy. The restaurant is called Le Sergent Recruteur on Ile Saint-Louis. All my mom said was true: for 40,50 euro you get all you can eat appetizers (a bucket of sausages and a bucket of vegetables as well as bread and soup), and all you can drink beer, white wine and red wine. Jeremy pointed out that all you can drink alone for that price was a deal in Paris, and declared the restaurant his new favorite. The food was tasty and hearty, but the cheese looked old and my crème caramel was not the best I’ve ever had. Although it was not gourmet french cuisine at it’s finest, and a true Parisian would probably not be caught dead in there, we really enjoyed our meal, and the setting, and the generosity of my parents. A note of caution though: The bathroom is up a steep ladder-like staircase. After a few pitchers (or bottles) it can be treacherous to navigate, but that just adds to the experience!

The next morning poor Jeremy had to go to work early. I wanted to lie in bed all day and try to make my stomach stop rolling around (we took all you can drink to the next level), but as it is my tourists duty, I set out to explore the city. Jeremy had suggested I check out the Munch exhibit at The Pinacotheque. He’s the guy who is best known for ‘The Scream“. I thought the exhibit was really interesting, and it reminded me of Tim Burton’s works, which I saw at the New York MOMA. They are from different generations, and both have such unique styles, yet many of Munch’s images reminded me of Burton’s, leading me to theorize that Burton may have been inspired by the old Norwegian artist.

Church of Saint Marie-Madeleine

Church of Saint Augustine

Church of Saint Augustine

However I couldn’t fully appreciate the exhibit due to my past night’s indulgence. Wanting nothing more than to go home, but feeling guilty about being in such a beautiful and historic city and not exploring it, I went into the Church of Saint Marie-Madeline, a huge building that looks like it should be a greek town hall rather than a church. It was right next to the Pinacotheque, so it didn’t take much effort or imagination to walk over. There I felt the spirit and was healed. Actually the temperature was nice and cool because of the thick stone walls and it smelled pleasantly of incense which helped settle my stomach. With my renewed health I set out to walk the city. I spied St. Augustine’s Church down the boulevard, so I headed that way, and then just kept walking, making my way towards the Grand Palace. I wasn’t feeling any more museums, and it was late afternoon anyway, so I decided to walk along the river. Eventually I came upon Notre-Dame, and had to stop in there as well. By now it was 5:00 pm, and there was no line, so it met my standards of great tourist attraction: fewer people than normal. I also used my student ID to get into the treasury at a discounted price, and enjoyed my second visit to Notre-Dame. My only disappointment was that I couldn’t go up in the tower because it was too late in the day. Next time perhaps.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

For my last night Jeremy and I got Chinese take out and ice cream from the market. Parisian Chinese food is different than American Chinese food, but still yummy and greasy, and probably unlike any food you would actually eat in China. We had fun staying in with a movie, and then watching Will & Grace. My vacation has been a ton of fun, but I’m looking forward to getting back to the States and finalizing the details of my PhD program and trying to make a little money before I become a destitute student.

Adieu Paris! I’ll miss you!

Where else can you get view's like this???

Versailles Versailleeeeessssssss!



I’ve probably taken too much liberty with the French language here, but I can’t help it, I was so excited to go to Versailles! As some people know, I have a great affection for ‘old timey’ places, and a royal palace definitely fits the bill. For my first full day in Paris I decided to head out and explore Versailles. After buying breakfast, a picnic lunch, and then getting lost on the way to the metro, I was on my way. I arrived around 12:00 noon, and was rather pleased that it wasn’t over-run with people.

NOTE: I always talk about how much I hate ‘touristy’ things. That isn’t quite true. I love going to places and attractions, and even restaurants or pubs that many would deem ‘touristy’. What I dislike is when these places are either over-run with people and you have to stand around waiting, shuffling from one spot to the next, or when they take advantage of tourists simply because they can through over-pricing or by forcing extras on a visitor and then charging for the extras.

Bernini bust of Louis IV

Lion head used to latch the windows.

Anyway, back to what I like about Versailles. I love the attention to detail and master craftsmanship of all the people who built and decorated the palace initially, and all those who have maintained its decadence over the centuries and through the social and political revolutions.

Me in the hall of mirrors.

Today was a great day to visit the palace because it was nice balmy weather, and visiting midday, mid-week and during the low season means there are not too many people to compete with. I even got a picture of myself in the hall of mirrors and no one else is reflected in it!

I decided to buy a ticket that was only good for the Palace and gardens and skip Marie Antoinette’s Chateau, because I’ve heard what an ordeal the visit can be, and I didn’t want to feel obligated to drag myself around once I got too tired. For me, that just defeats the purpose of going to an awesome attraction. I didn’t research my visit at all, and I believe there are ways to combine your transportation and admission tickets, but I just did everything à la carte. It came out to about 22 euro for the whole visit the way I did it, and with my picnic lunch (4 euro) I didn’t have to purchase any food, and I got to enjoy it in the lovely gardens.

Grounds through palace window

All the statues were wrapped in the garden.

Fountain in gardenThe only downside about going this early in the season is that all the statues in the garden are protectively wrapped, and none of the fountains are running. It’s still really impressive to see the vast hectares of garden spreading out before you, and it’s fun to walk on the paths and try to get lost. Or actually get lost…hmm, that may be the theme to this part of the trip…