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Paris Trip – Day 7

Welcome to day 7! Today we went to the old Paris Opera House, the Arc de Triomphe, and L’Orangerie museum. We also did a little grocery shopping in the morning (good sample of French culture in action). Off we go!

The last time I went grocery shopping with my parents I was fascinated by how different it was from the way we do things in the states. When we went again this morning, I brought my camera so I could snap some pictures. Shopping for groceries in France is a LOT different than shopping for groceries in America. There are no Albertsons or Walmarts here (thank goodness). Instead, different stores specialize in different grocery products. My parents simply take their cart from store to store and get what they need from each.

First stop was the boucherie (butchery) where you can get any variety of French meats. As you can see from the picture, they have some pretty exotic stuff. They don’t prepackage anything. If you want a slice of beef, you tell them how much, and they slice it right in front of you. Boucherie 1 Boucherie 2
Fish store Next up was a little open-air market which sells a variety of things. My parents were there for the fish store. In America, they gut and fillet the fish before you buy it. In France, they don’t. It makes sense, because once you cut the fish, it’s shelf life is much shorter. If you buy the fish whole, it’s much more fresh. But don’t worry about gutting and filleting it. They’ll do that for you right on the spot if you ask. Of course, some queasy Americans might lose their lunch watching a fish get gutted…
Here’s a picture of the veggie and fruit store. They specialize in having only the best fruits and vegetables from all over the world. The selection is fairly small but it is always in season. The clerk in the store will check and bag the fruits/vegetables for you. Just point. Vegetable & Fruit store
Poultry store In this shop, you can buy whole chickens with the feathers still on. Of course, that’s how you know they’re fresh! Everything is free-range here. The clerk will pluck and butcher the poultry for you if you’re willing to wait (although he’ll usually have a few done in advance and ready for sale). The best thing though is the rotisserie. Why bother to cook the chicken? Get a cooked one for just a bit more than an uncooked one. I had one of the rotisserie chickens from this store. It was good eating!
This is the bread and pastry store. They have a whole spread of desert pastries sitting in the window (click the picture for a closer look). Of course, you can also get fresh made baguettes here. The French love their baguettes! Bread and dessert store
Paris Opera 1Paris Opera 2 Paris Opera model Later on in the morning, we caught the subway to the Opéra national de Paris. This is a famous opera house where the legend of the Phantom of the Opera is set. The place looks like a bagillion bucks on the inside. If you’ve seen the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, then you might recognize the chandelier in the second picture. The one used in the musical was based on this one. The auditorium itself is very small and cozy. There are almost more box seats than regular seats. Later on during the trip, I found a model of the opera house at the Musée d’Orsay. Notice how the auditorium (the red room in the middle) is much smaller than the elaborate staging area. I can only imagine how wonderful the sets they put on are. It’s too bad I’m not much of one for opera or ballet.
Just a short subway ride from the Opera house was the Place de la Concorde (we would’ve walked, but it was raining). This plaza is one of the largest in Paris and the site of many famous events. Most notably, it was the location of the guillotine during the French revolution. Over 1,300 people lost their heads in a single month during the Reign of Terror here. Near where the guillotine once stood is now the Luxor Obelisk. It is over 3,300 years old and was given to France by the Viceroy of Egypt in 1831. The “hieroglyphs” at the base tell the story of how the 75 foot, 250 ton obelisk was transported from Egypt. The ferris wheel is a temporary attraction that moves around Paris. Its current location is pretty neat because you can see it all the way from the Arc de Triomphe (on a clear day). Place de la Concorde Luxor Obelisk
Me and Monet Monet The next stop was just around the corner from the Place de la Concorde at L’Orangerie museum. This museum holds several of Monet’s famous Waterlily paintings. I’m standing next to one (with my eyes closed) so you can see how large they are. There are eight of them arranged in two rooms shaped like a figure eight (8). Up close, the artworks look like undefined blotches of paint. From far away, the scene and all its colors come into view (the impression). While I found the artistry and technique interesting, it’s really just a bunch of waterlilies in the end. I tend to prefer art that has more drama (sex and violence) or a deeper hidden meaning. But hey, I got to see them and that was pretty cool.

The museum also featured a collection of impressionist and similar era paintings. I took a leisurely stroll through them and snapped a few pictures of my favorites. Read on for more of my impressions about each painting. Impressions of impressionism… get it? Do note that the only REAL impressionists I took pictures of in this section are Monet and Renoir.

Argenteul - Claude Monet Argenteul – Claude Monet
Here is another example of a Monet painting on a much smaller scale. This is before he went into his full blown impressionist phase, so the details are more specific. But in the end, it’s still just a painting of some boats in the water to me…
Yvonne et Christine Lerolle au Piano - Pierre-Auguste Renoir Yvonne et Christine Lerolle au Piano – Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Renoir was another famous impressionist painter. He focused primarily on settings with people (and lots of nudes – but I didn’t see any). After he settled down and had kids, he painted a lot of images of his family and other families. This one is interesting because it features two paintings by Degas in the background. This is actually a common feature in the impressionist period. An artist would feature paintings of other artists he/she admired in his/her own works.
L’Étreinte - Pablo Picasso L’Enceinte – Pablo Picasso
This is one of Picasso’s pre-cubism paintings. L’Étreinte means “the enclosure”, which is clear from looking at the picture. What’s interesting is that it’s the only thing that’s clear. You can’t see either person’s face and you can’t really identify the emotion behind their embrace. Is it loving or mournful? I guess that’s up to the viewers to decide.
Nu drapé étendu - Henri Matisse Nu drapé étendu – Henri Matisse
I’ll come right out and say I’m not a fan of Matisse’s work. To me, most of it looks like first year art-school quality stuff. But then, I’m no student of the arts. I just like what I like. Anyway, this painting is proof that he could actually paint realistically if he wanted to (and it’s a nude – yay!). Which lends credence to the sentiment that his other works were more about simple expressive lines that gave maximum representation of movement. His more famous works were famous because he said more by putting less on the canvas. That’s my interpretation anyway.
Grande Baigneuse - Pablo Picasso Grande Baigneuse – Pablo Picasso
Now that’s a big woman. Picasso had many models that he used (in more ways than one) during his lifetime, but he still painted principally from his imagination. You can see that imagination here as he distorted and reshaped some of the woman’s physical features. The painting still comes to life though. All I had to do was look at her eyes.
Le Beau Modéle - André Derain Le Beau Modéle – André Derain
Derain was another Fauvism painter like Matisse (as well as his friend). What struck me about Derain was his versatility. There were four other paintings by him in the gallery and they all looked completely different. One seemed impressionistic and another used pointillism. Yet another seemed to employ full-on realism. Do a google image search on Derain and you’ll see what I mean. I chose this one as my favorite of the bunch (probably because it’s a nude).
Le Baiser - Auguste Rodin Le Baiser – Auguste Rodin
Right outside the museum was this bronze. I took one glance at it and went, “that’s a Rodin!” Sure enough, it was “The Kiss,” which is one of his more famous works. Just as painters often reproduce their works for sale, sculptors can do the same. To create a bronze, Rodin would first create an original sculpture (often in marble or clay) and then use the lost wax casting process to create a bronze. It was possible to create more than one bronze from the same original. So I would often see the same Rodin in more than one place around Paris. That’s not to say that creating a bronze is a simple matter. Each of them is still a work of art that bears the mark of his personal touch.
Arc de Triomphe 1Arc de Triomphe 2 Tomb of the unknown soldier As you can tell from the Rodin picture, the weather was windy and rainy upon leaving L’Orangerie museum. So we quickly scooted to the nearest subway station and rode out to the Arc d’Triomphe. The Arc was commissioned by Napoleon to celebrate the sacrifices of soldiers, particularly those from the Napoleonic wars. It sits in the middle of the historic axis on the Champs-Élysées, which is the widest and most prestigious avenue in Paris. From one side of the arc, you can see down to the ferris wheel and the Place de la Concorde. From the other, you can see clear to the Grande Arche in the La Defense business district. The Arc is also the home of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which I snapped a picture of. There, is that enough hyperlinks for you?
We didn’t hang around the Arc any longer than it took to snap the requisite pictures. The weather was quite miserable by that time of day. Once we were done, we ran right back to the shelter of the subway to head home. As fortune would have it, we were riding during rush hour, so the subway was absolutely packed. This isn’t an odd occurrence either. I was on subway cars this full quite a few times during my stay. And now for the “ugly” side of Paris. The French are so progressive, that images like second one here can be lambasted all over the subways without a problem. I saw plenty of other provocative ads as well (read: boobies). Feel free to take a closer look. Yup, it’s a bald cat showing you it’s anus and scrotal-berries. There, now you’ve suffered the indignation of witnessing it as well. I didn’t want you missing out on all of the “interesting” things I saw on my trip. A packed subway car You won’t see this advertisement in the US

Well, that was the longest entry yet! I imagine they’ll get shorter from here onward as I started to take more leisurely days (I was getting worn out!). Tune in tomorrow when I visit the Picasso museum and go to the Crazy Horse, which is an exotic nude dance show! Sorry though, no cameras are allowed inside. Well, I might sneak a pic or two… Tune in and find out!

3 Responses to “Paris Trip – Day 7”

  1. on 29 Sep 2007 at 6:16 pm Brittnai

    What’s with you and naked paintings? They’re not THAT exciting! Glad you’re having fun, nakedness man.

  2. on 29 Sep 2007 at 8:27 pm Jennifer

    the art is beautiful. it’s amazing how they paint every curve and “flaw” (as we would call it today) of the women.

  3. on 01 Oct 2007 at 10:17 am Jessica

    These entries have been very interesting. Glad to see you adding more of your interpretation of things. Wish we had markets like those in France!..onward to another entry (I am behind in the reading of them)

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