It was a balmy mid-twenties in Paris, France, today. I quickly dispensed with my long pants & shirt & dug out a shorts & t-shirt from the bottom of my bag, something I hadn’t planned on doing before reaching Cuba tomorrow. I even broke the seal on my SPF 30 Nivea. Oh yes, my summer started today and with the Caribbean & South America just around the corner it’ll be sticking around for a while. Oh là là!
Enjoying the sun at a roadside café in the Pigalle neighbourhood of Paris, the city’s infamous ‘lady of the night’ district & the birthplace of the Moulin Rouge at the foot of the hillside village of Montmartre, home of the landmark Sacre Coeur. I don’t fit in around here – it’s full of skinny jeans-wearing hipsters riding the hipster renaissance – but I still call this area home when I’m in Paris. Boulevard de Rochechouart, Pigalle, Paris, France. April 23, 2015.
My Dublin to Cuba flight offered a stopover. I had a choice so I opted for a night in the French capital, one of the most touristed cities in the world, the iconic the City of Light, the so-called City of Love blah blah blah blah. And why not? It had been a while, almost 8 years since I first got acquainted with Paris. This afternoon & this evening we got reacquainted. As soon as I arrived in Pigalle this afternoon I dropped my bags, changed my attire, grabbed by camera and hit the Parisian boulevards & riverside walkways.
Palais du Louvre || Louver Palace
Palais du Louvre (Louvre Palace), which houses the giant collection of the Louvre Museum, cuts a grand Classical swathe right through the centre of Paris, its stately ranks of carved pilasters, arches and pediments stretching west along the right bank of the River Seine.
Before becoming a museum during the French Revolution, the Palais du Louvre was for centuries the home of the French court and almost every French ruler with a taste for grandeur built on the site, right down to President Mitterand. For all its many transformations over the years the palace as remained a surprisingly harmonious building with a grandeur, symmetry, and Frenchness entirely suited to this most historic of Parisian edifices. For all its historic & artistic stone grandeur, the Louvre’s most recognisable feature is a massive modern-day greenhouse-like structure, the controversial Louvre Pyramid. It arrived as part of a makeover in 1989 and erupts from the centre of the palace’s Cour Napoléon (the Napoleon Courtyard). The main reception area of the Louvre Museum, probably the world’s most famous museum, is right below and peering up though the pyramid from the subterranean bowels of the museum is one of those quintessential Louvre experiences. Cour Napoléon (the Napoleon Courtyard), Palais du Louvre, Paris, France. April 23, 2015.
It’s hard to believe that the Eiffel Tower, the quintessential symbol both of Paris and of the brilliance of industrial engineering, was designed to be a temporary structure. Late 19th century Europe had a decadent taste for such giant-scale, colonialist-capitalist extravaganzas, but the 1889 Exposition – for which the tower was built – was particularly ambitious. When completed the structure was, at 300 metres, the tallest in the world. Reactions were violent. Outraged critics protested “in the name of menaced French art and history” against this “useless and monstrous” tower. “Is Paris“, they asked, “going to be associated with the grotesque, mercantile imaginings of a constructor of machines?” Curiously, Paris’ most famous landmark was only saved from demolition by the sudden need for wireless telegraphy aerials in the first decade of the 20th century. The tower’s role in telecommunications, its only function, apart from extracting lots of money from lots of tourists, has become increasingly important and the original crown is now masked by an efflorescence of antennae. The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France. April 23, 2015.
Two Eiffel Towers. My one cost a whole €1 from one of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of hawkers you’ll find all over Paris – they are as ubiquitous as my fellow tourist. Paris, France. April 23, 2015.
I’ve seen it all now. A tripod-esque selfie stick. No self-respecting Selfie Queen should be without one. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France. April 23, 2015.
When travelling around the world it seems like every second city has claims on being the Paris of somewhere. But the terra firma under me as I type is the real deal, the Paris of France. All I can say is God bless you Paris, you are beautiful. But you know it, you’re way too busy, & you’re way too expensive. I guess I’ll see you in another 8 years.