Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ben at Breakfast

OJ has nothing on William

Talked to William last night about the logistics of catching his flight to Sacramento on Monday, he said, "Remember that old OJ commercial." So here it is.

He said as he dashed on board the pilot was standing in the doorway and informed him, "I do have a schedule to keep." They had given his seat away. So he sat next to the drink cart in the tail over an engine. But his flight back was OK and when he turned in the Hertz rental in Grass Valley on Tuesday, they gave him a ride home.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bicycle Ben

Off down the street with Ben and his Skuut. He is very fast. Val has to jog to keep up.But he does lots of u-turn glides.
Up and down in and out of the lawns and ditches. He will be a good cyclocross rider. Richard says he already likes to watch cycling on TV.
The spring wild flowers are in bloom in Texas and Val is trying to have as many as possible in her yard. She says it looks like teletubby land with hummocks of flowers with the occasional little bunny popping up.

One Last Fling in Paris

Sunday the 27th we went into the city to hit a last few sights.
The last item on my list was the Arc de Triomphe.
William then opted for the Holocaust Museum.
Then it was time for lunch and we were in a part of the city we had not been in before and did not bring the full guide book. But for a great lunch it is a good idea not to pass up a restaurant on a side street with a few seats left with people eating lovely plates of food and with the name of L'Epicure. Good Choice.
Then on to the Carnavalet History Museum where we saw this cute print of the times, 1790's. A charming family is off for a picnic to the public spectacle of the guillotining of whoever is next. They chopped about 30 per day.

A Castle in Vincennes

We saved the castle of Charles the 5th, king of France 1364-1380, for our last Saturday as it was just around the corner from the hotel.
The Chateau du Vincennes was originally a hunting lodge, but the king needed a secure place for his family during the 100 year's war so he built a keep or castle in Vincennes. It is marvelously preserved--truly a gem.The keep was walled and the few low buildings inside the wall were not original, but the keep itself was well preserved. The moat of course was a deep grass lined ditch. Originally the wall walk was not roofed as it is now. It's last use was as a prison. The shape of the castle is actually the same as the now long gone Bastille.

The church opposite the castle, Saint Chappelle, was undergoing restoration. It has the same name as the Saint Chappelle church on the Ile de la Cite in Paris as it had a bit of the same relics. A single thorn from the crown of thorns.
We came after lunch and stayed until closing time, walking to every part and listening to every comment on the audioguide.

Back in the USA

The trip back on the plane was uneventful. Val and crew met us at the gate in Dallas. I was startled at Robert's appearance as he seems to have changed the most in 7 months. He looks almost as tall as Bill, but is maybe only about 5' 8". His shoulders are broader and his wispy mustache is a bit heavier. Jasmine and Ben are taller also and Ben is an engaging chatterer. We went for a picnic in a park near to the airport. The only hitch was that we had not checked the Terminal of the Sacramento flight and reconfirmed the time. So William was probably about the last person on the flight. I am laying over in Dallas for a week to visit Valerie. Now I am going to go back in time and post for our last 2 days in Paris as we were in a hotel without reliable internet.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Trip to Versailles

Louis the 14th moved to Versailles and built a grand palace at the site of his former hunting lodge. It was huge and elaborately decorated. The total cost of the project was half of the GNP of France for one year.
Since he had a lot of land there he also had extensive gardens--the formal palace gardens and 2 slightly smaller garden areas near two smaller getaway palaces.
When this fountain is running it looks like the horses of Neptune are rising from the sea.
After Louis the 14th ruled for 72 years he was succeeded by 2 other Louis (the 15th and 16th) who were less successful at keeping France a monarchy. Louis the 16th's wife Marie Antoinette liked to have country play areas. So she had a Hamlet built--a peasant village. She would visit there and supervise peasant activities such as dairying.
You can see more of the village in back of the swan in the fish pond. Mother swan was very calm on her nest.
Marie was hauled out of her quarters at the large palace here by the peasant revolutionaries in October of 1789.
There is speculation that the revolutionaries were inspired by the successful Revolution in the USA just a few years before--which France had supported with funds and advisers. Hmmm.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

High in Paris

Looking for a bit of sun yesterday evening in Palais Royal Garden prior to an evening of piano jazz at the Moliere Restaurant--courtesy of a new acquaintance Richard Rivault. We had met him and his girlfriend last week in the flower gardens in Vincennes and he had invited us to come. We had a great evening and got home late for us--almost midnight.
Up early and up the Eiffel. Early to avoid the crowds and long ticket lines.

Then we spent the afternoon doing the Pere Lachaise Cemetery Tour. The mandatory photo next to Jim Morrison's grave. Note that it is minus the bust it used to have. Stolen long ago. Also the security guard it usually has was missing. But the crowds were light.

Gratuitous picture of cemetery cat.

The oldest residents of the cemetery Heloise (1101-1164) and Abelard (1079-1142) had a very sad love story. Her uncle the powerful canon of Notre-Dame had Abelard castrated by thugs when he found out about their secret marriage. Abelard went to live in a monastery and Heloise in a convent, but they remained true to each other through their lifelong correspondence and were buried together.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jo et Josephine

Tonight we went to see a musical about Josephine Baker.

The Pantheon

When we went to see the Pantheon here in Paris, I was expecting something similar to Rome. But this Pantheon built in 507 as a basilica for the burial of King Clovis became in 512 a place for pilgrims honoring St Genevieve. It was rebuilt in 1764-1790 by Louis XV again to honor Genevieve. At times it has been a functioning church but more often has been as it is now a place for the burial of famous figures. Many famous Parisians have been interred here such as Victor Hugo.
So in a secular Paris, Pantheon means a place to honor the great of the nation.

William liked the Motto on this statue "Live Free or Die" "Vivre Libre ou Mourir"

St Denis is honored in one of the wall canvases--here shown picking up his head.

I took this one from out in the street and from the front it does resemble the Roman Pantheon--except for the type of dome.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Revolutions and other old history

Marie Antoinette's cell in Conciergerie (prison of the revolution)About 16,594 people were sent to the guillotine from 1793-95. In '94 witnesses and any defense was eliminated. The Revolutionary Tribunal decided on your fate, acquittal or death, on the evidence presented by the prosecuting attorney.
The women's courtyard

In the Cluny Museum of the Middle Ages there was an entire room devoted to tapestries of unicorns --looked like a long horned goat to me.

Every large door in Bruges had a door knocker like this. Here in Paris one is in a Museum

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Rodin and Napoleon

More buzzing around Paris on the Metro. One thing I have noticed is that the musicians who play in the hallways and on the cars are uniformly quite talented.
First stop is near the Rodin Museum, so the Metro is decorated with a copy of "The Thinker and "Balzac in a Monk's Robe."
Copies are OK to climb on."The Cathedral" framed William perfectly.

Then on to Napoleon's Tomb.

William lamented that this was a pretty church to just cut a hole in the floor for Napoleon. But only some of the floor decor was lost and a lot of gold decor was added.

Friday, April 18, 2008

More Museuming

Dust in our eyes as the wind blew in Tuileries Garden. The statue has to put up with this all the time.William felt a kinship with the guy with the pine cone.
This is the statue William wants to put in the front yard.
He also likes Seurat's "The Circus".
I like this picture we took in the Louvre.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Museums on strike

We have encountered strikes before on our touring, and they have never gotten in the way of our trips and schedules--much. But today there was a partial strike at the Orsay that kept us from the Impressionists we wanted to see on the 2nd floor. So we looked at what we could, lunched in the garden of Tuileries, and went on to the Louvre only to find areas closed off there. So we will try again in the AM. At least we bought a 6 day pass that allows unlimited entries in special no line entrances.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Another Walking Tour in Paris

We walked in the Marais area today from Place Bastille to the Pompidou.

The Bastille, the famous torture prison of French History, is long gone and in its place is a large clogged roundabout with a column topped by a winged Mercury carrying the torch of freedom.
Louis the 13th has his head in the clouds here in Place des Volges.
We took a side visit to the Picasso Museum and found it decidedly inferior to the special Picasso exhibit we went to in Madrid at the Reina-Sophia.
The Pompidou was OK but we still liked the Thyssen in Madrid better. I took this picture of "The Adoration of the Veal", because I think the veal looks like McCain.
The Red Rhino is a perfect image of the Pompidou.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Walking in Montmartre

More walking in Paris. I was surprised when William pointed out to me last evening that I have worn out my walking shoes on this trip. Both soles and heels have the beginnings of holes. I am not buying new shoes. I just hope it doesn't rain too much more.
Looking down from the Montmartre hill--which we had to climb. The funicular was out of order.

The real "Le Chat Noir"

Mae West's lips as a couch in the Dali Museum

High Five

The Space Elephant/The Temptation of Power

St Denis

William rubbing the head of the fat guy outside the museum of erotic art