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Posts from the ‘Paris’ Category

on exasperation with the da vinci exhibit, and resenting the musée du louvre, too

The Musée du Louvre is extraordinary, despite its size, and I go as often as I can. Sometimes I return to Paris specifically to see an exhibit there. But saying that I know how to visit it.

If you go to Paris and the museum is on your list, showing up one morning or afternoon and queuing up with everyone else who has not planned ahead is a bad idea, a waste of time, a very bad idea indeed.

Before descending down into the Louvre, below Pei’s Pyramide du Louvre, you will encounter three lines, maybe four. A long line to the right will be those tourists who did not buy tickets in advance. They will be there for a long time, because all of the lines to their left will have precedence.

The second longest line, probably the farthest to the left facing the pyramid, will be for those who have purchased tickets in advance. They do not, of course, need to wait as long.

Verrocchio was commissioned in 1467 by the Tribunale di Mercanzia (merchants’ court) to produce this large bronze sculpture for its niche on the eastern facade of the church of Orsanmichele in Florence.

Most likely between the other two lines, the third line is the best: experienced visitors have paid a bit more money and bought a ticket in advance and requested a time for entering the museum. They are allowed in immediately; they will go to the head of all the other lines.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!

on seeing the reconstruction of notre-dame, february, 2020

In February, a month to the day before President Macron Instructed France to stay home because of the COVID-19 virus, I took the TGV to Paris. I had wanted to see the da Vinci exhibit at the Louvre and what remained after the fire of la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. I was looking forward to staying in the  neighborhood where Ernest Hemingway and Hadley had rented their first apartment in Paris.

From la rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement, where I had booked my room, it is an easy walk through some side streets, past the Panthéon and Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, and then down Boulevard Saint-Michel to the Seine and to Notre-Dame.

The taxi went up the hill, passed the lighted square, then on into the dark, still climbing, then leveled out onto a dark street behind St. Etienne du Mont, went smoothly down the asphalt, passed the trees and the standing bus at the Place de la Contrescarpe, then turned onto the cobbles of the Rue Mouffetard. There were lighted bars and late open shops on each side of the street.  —Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

On reaching the Seine, one sees immediately the scarred Notre-Dame, its steeple gone, and the disarray arranged around it. Temporary buildings and cranes and large fences that keep people from getting to close are everywhere.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!

the sad sad story of abélard and héloïse from long long ago

In looks she did not rank lowest while in the extent of her learning she stood supreme. –Abélard

God knows I never sought anything in you except yourself. I wanted simply you, nothing of yours. HéloïseThe Letters of Abélard and Héloïse

I like cemeteries. Not all cemeteries, of course, but I do like the ones with old tombstones of famous people, the ones that have had obituaries written about them in the New York Times or Le Monde, or both, or even better where extraordinary individuals had been recognized during their time, in the manner of their time,  to warrant continued recognition after death.

My favorite cemeteries are in Paris: the cimetière de Montparnasse, Père Lachaise, and the cimetière de Montmartre. They are large and have residences on streets, impasses, and boulevards, like the cities of the living.

I prefer to visit on sunny days. On gray days, the day compliments too much the stone of the markers. The green trees and fresh flowers don’t help to ameliorate the dreariness (and dreaminess) of the place.. The gray days do not offer shadows nor slices of light striking though the branches.

Imagine this story: a teacher falls in love with his student, who is 20 years younger than he, and she falls in love with him. They have an affair. They do it in the kitchen and in the bedroom of her guardian. They send hundreds of love notes to each other via text and email. Then, she gives birth, and they decide to marry, secretly. The guardian finds out, and is furious; he punishes them severely. They do not live happily ever after. They are separated and will never see one another again, but they do write to each other for the rest of their lives. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!

the roof and spire of la cathédrale notre-dame de paris are gone

Lundi 15 avril, 18h45, au pied de la flèche de la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, une légère fumée s’échappe des combles. L’alerte est donnée, l’édifice, évacué de ses touristes et ­fidèles. Des dizaines de millions de gens, peut-être plus, partout dans le monde, garderont longtemps en mémoire les heures désespérantes qui suivirent. —Telerama, le 23/04/2019

La Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris burned Monday, April 15, 2019, starting around 18:30, Paris time.

From the bridge that crosses the Seine river at Boulevard Saint Michel, it is the front of the cathedral that we see. The roof and its spire is almost hidden behind the two large towers in front. It was the roof and the spire behind the towers that burned.

One day in August two years ago, I wandered around La Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris and wondered about it. I decided to spend time looking more closely at the other sides. I offer some photographs I took then.

Oliver Gee, host of the Earful Tower podcast, had a guest Philippe Hertzberg of Secret Journeys on his program. Philippe was at Notre-Dame when the fire started. In addition one can get a “private tour” of the inside of Notre-Dame before the fire.

Annie in her podcast Join Us in France talked about the fire and more in “Notre Dame Fire: What Now? Episode 230.” At the end of the article, one can see an extensive list of other podcasts she has done about Notre-Dame.

Slate, the on-line magazine, and the Slate Cultural Gabfest, used a part of their weekly broadcast to consider the consequences of the fire. In “Free Rein on Some Gargoyles” Edition” they invited Lauren Collins, writer for the New Yorker, to talk about the fire. She had been into the roof earlier before the fire. She wrote about it in her article “On the Roof of Notre-Dame, Before It Burned“.

Lately, I have been listening to the polyphonic music of Pérotin. He lived between ca. 1155/60 and ca. 1200/05 and composed for the Notre Dame school of polyphony during the early years of Notre-Dame.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!