Friday, June 24, 2016

Paris: A beautiful memory

We got back from Paris Tuesday night, exhausted, amazed and inspired. There were photos to process, clothes to unpack and a whirlwind journey to absorb. There was also a very happy cat to adore.

Our Paris trip was everything I had hoped it would be. I know this blog is about art but trust me this trip to Paris will fuel a lot of art in the future so let me just break it down.

Saturday: Travel day and arrival

Lovely worlds pass us by, visions of the sea, green rolling hills and flat lands, sheep, cottages on beaches, villages and cities provide our view.

After a signalling delay in York, a change of trains was required and then we were on the tracks again to London where we changed trains to the Eurostar. More beautiful worlds passed us and then we entered the Chunnel. I thought I might be nervous or weirded out by being in a tube under the sea but nae bother! Once out, suddenly France and then just as suddenly, Paris!

We arrived in late evening, still light and hailed a taxi outside the station to the flat we were sharing with my brother, sister in law, and my two nephews. Hugs and hellos, some food and wine and then my brother and I went out to have a bit more wine and ended up sitting outside in a lovely neighborhood. Ah...and then soon to sleep.

Sunday: First full day and Subatlantic

A sunny and bright start, walking through the streets to the market in Charonne, stopped to listen to the organ grinder play and sing a tune. Fresh fruit and veggies abound.

We have brunch and then walk over to Cimetière du Père-Lachaise and visited the graves of Jim Morrison, Amedeo Modigliani, Edith Piaf and countless others. It is a beautiful and vast green space filled with some of the great artists and minds. One could easily spend an entire day here.

After this we took a break and enjoyed a glass of wine nearby before heading off to the Tour Eiffel! I enjoyed wandering the tree lined streets before the massive monument appeared before us all. My jaw dropped and I gasped "WOW..." as did my young nephews. It is amazing to suddenly just happen upon it and nothing you see in television, films or books can prepare you for the enormity of it. It was magnificent! From there we also glimpsed and walked along a section of the Seine.

By this time it was getting later in the afternoon and so we took a crazy taxi ride to Belleville in preparation for Sean's band, Subatlantic's gig. The band was playing later that night at La Barricade, a lovely little venue. After checking in at the venue, we wandered around the area and found a Chinese place around the corner for our dinner. As it was a beautiful and warm evening, after dinner Stewart and I took a stroll around the neighborhood before returning to the venue to see the gig. It was a great show and it was really wonderful to finally see Subatlantic in person and especially on their first European tour date! After the gig it was back to the flat to sleep after a long action filled day.

Monday: Second full day, sightseeing and rain

In the morning, Stewart and I decided to hit the streets a bit earlier and visit the Arc De Triomphe. Again the Arc is just magnificent and has such a presence when you are standing near it as opposed to seeing in on television or in a book. Of course this seems obvious but it really is mind blowing when one finds themselves next to these famous monuments.

After this we wandered further along the Champs Elysées. From here we wandered around discovering various other monuments and parks (Saint-Jacques Tower, Square De La Tour Saint Jacques and Fontaine du Palmier). We found ourselves crossing the river and enjoying the left bank, taking in the sights and sounds of the beautiful narrow streets (Pont au Change,Tour de l'Horloge, Square Jean-XXIII, Fontaine Saint-Michel, Rue de la Harpe, Boulevard Saint-Michel, Rue de la Huchette and Square René-Viviani). Then onwards back across the water to the obviously epic, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. We waited in the pouring rain to enter this masterpiece and it was beyond worth it. My eyes filled with tears once inside, just beautiful.

After Notre-Dame we met up with my brother in the rain. We quickly took a detour for some photos at the Quai du Marché-Neuf and then on to a cafe to meet up with the rest of the family to enjoy the sound of the rain while we watched the world go by and shared some wine. It is true that all the wine in Paris tastes wonderful.

After the wine and the rain we walked around as a group further in the Left Bank enjoying again the colorful streets and the dark majesty of Saint-Séverin cathedral before taking the metro to see one more major attraction. We visited the Place de la concorde and the wonderful fountains there and the massive Egyptian Obelisk. A beautiful point in the city where many monuments can be seen at once. The rain was picking up and we were hungry for our dinner.

From there it was back to Belleville (the area from the night before) where we quested for our dinner (being that I am a vegan and gluten free, this can be a challenge). We finally settled on some lovely Thai curry and sticky rice and then proceeded homeward. On the way home my brother and I spotted a lovely place for a drink or three and we broke from the group to enjoy the atmosphere, music and mojitos provided by the lovely, Piston Pelican. It was good to sit and relax and have this time with my brother. If I was a local, the Piston Pelican would be my regular. After this it was on to the flat for one last trek up the beautiful six flights of wooden, almost spiral stairs and then to sleep.

Tuesday: Morning in Paris: train home at noon

My brother and his family left out early on Tuesday morning and we followed an hour or so later. They were headed towards the south of France for more music touring and explorations. We were headed back to Edinburgh.

We didn't really have enough time to do any deep new exploring so we went back for another wander of Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, enjoying the peace and fresh air before our long train journey ahead. Afterwards we got the metro and headed to the station, Gare du Nord and once there we were on our way to London and then homeward to Edinburgh.

What an amazing trip combining so many of my favorite things. I can't wait to go back! I also can't wait to get back to the studio and make some art!

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