Monday, April 13, 2009

Chestnuts in Blossom...

Well, getting there...


The chestnuts are not yet in full bloom--perhaps a little late this year. But no shortage of the pink stuff. We were taking pictures of Notre Dame cathedral through the blossoms when this kind lady...


... visiting from Ireland, stopped and offered to take one of us both together. Here it is:


Thanks, Jeanie! Beaucoup de walk aujourd'hui! Un peu trop, if you ask me. We started out from our hotel and walked down across the Bd. St. Germain to the river, and took the first brudge over to the Ile de la Cite, where we walked through the garden and beneath the above-mentioned blossoms to the cathedral square. We were determined NOT to take the regular tourist photo, but the facade proved so compelling, once again, that we had to stop and take it...



And on across the square toward the Palais de Justice and the Sainte Chapelle, where there was to be a concert in the evening to which we wanted to buy tickets. Stopped on the way for cafe au lait and a shared bread-and-butter tartine at a cafe that was absurdly expensive because of its location...


The ticket office at th Sainte Chapelle provided us with the usual French comedy of bureaucratic red tape, but we escaped unharmed--and armed with tickets--to make it to the far point of the island with a pause in the beautiful Place Dauphine. Sorry, no pictures of this delightful triangle--it's not really a square--but here's one taken from the embankment of the Ile de la Cite:


We had not intended on this, but the sight of a pedestrian bridge leading directly across the river into the Tuileries Gardens proved irresistible, and once there we found a place to sit and rest amongst the holiday crowds. Easter Monday is a day off work here in France, and a chance for citizens to get out into their beautiful parks and museums--which they do in great numbers. In the Tuileries, we found quite a number of public works of contemporary sculpture, including this interesting bronze recreation of a fallen tree...



Americans, too, were rerpesented, including thus Roy Lichtenstein...


... and a huge corten steel piece by Richard Serra at the end of the gardens, which both of us found offensive, arrogant, and obstructive... until we came to this rather fine framing of the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, the Champs Elysees and, in the far distance, the Arc de Triomphe...


Walking past the Serra, we emerged onto the Place de la Concorde and took the obligatory picture there...


... before heading out again along the quais on the right bank as far as the Place de l'Alma, where we took the (again!) obligatory picture of the Eifel Tower as we crossed back over the Seine to the left bank...


... to visit the new Musee du Quai Branly devoted principally to non-Western cultures.


A very pleasant lunch in the museum cafe before entering the exhibition hall to see "Le Siecle du Jazz"--the Century of Jazz--a huge and impeccably documented history that included everything from album covers and press photographs to portraits of musicians and jazz-related art works from Stuart Davis to Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and beyond, including some fine film clips and videotapes by contemporary artists, and huge paintings by the like of Robert Colescott. Along the way, quite a number of works by African American artists like Jacob Lawrenece and Romare Bearden, both of whom I had the good fortune to interview during their lifetime, and plenty of original works by artists I was not familiar with at all. Racism works in insidious ways, and this exhibition was not only a welcome celebration of a unique and well-recognized development in twentieth music, but also a reminder of how easily non-mainstream artists can get marginalized.

A long, long walk back to Saint-Germain along the Rue de l'University. We had planned on a stop for tea and patisseries, but had underestimated the time it would take us to get back to the Ile de la Cite for our seven o'clock concert, and arrived with only sufficient time to join the lines, go through security (yes, everywhere!) and find a seat. The Sainte Chapelle has to be one of the most beautiful settings for a choral concert...


... and we much enjoyed the chance to relax, after a long day on foot, and listen to the music of Mozart (extracts from the Mass,) Haydn (The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross,) Vivaldi and Bach (Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.) My critical self agree with our neighbor, an attorney from San Francisco, that the performance was a little ragged at the edges, lacking the crisp quality of a well-rehearsed orchestra; and the selection was a little, well... montonous. But that's a quibble. The whole thing was a memorable experience.

A very nice dinner at an Italian restuarant on the way home, and time in bed to catch up with a bit of reading. The legs ache!

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mandt said...

April in Paris is every thing they say it is. My first time was arrival on a wet, chilly day. The next day it seemed that the Tuileries had burst into leaf. Absolutely glorious. I've always like that part of the city---around Notre Dame. If you cross the bridge and head over a few blocks there used to be a wonderful micro biotic restaurant---across the street from the Colbert Hotel. Wish we were there!

Nancy Youdelman said...

What a wonderful photo of the two of you, that is so good that you got someone to take it for you.

I visited Sainte Chappel and was entranced with the amazing light and glad that I was able to make it up the steep stone steps.

Once again, thanks for your fabulous sharing of your trip.
Nancy