Our trip to Paris was everything I could have imagined, and more. We saw ART. We saw more ART. And then we saw even more ART. In between we steeped ourselves in thousands of years of history–something that doesn’t exist in our brand-spanking new country–relatively speaking.
The immensity of French Catholic traditions embraced every step I took, from the votive candles gently flickering in gothic cathedrals, to the marble statues of past queens. I saw the keys to the Bastille, and the cell where Marie Antoinette spent her last days. La cellule de Marie Antoinette a la Conciergerie.
Our thoroughly modern apart’hotel, Citadines Prestige Les Halles Paris, was located right next to a fountain commissioned in 1549 to commemorate the entry of King Henry II into Paris. Fontaine des Innocents. Occupy Paris protesters made a campsite around the periphery with lots of signs declaring “nous sommes le 99 pour cent.” One evening protesters shouted opposition to events in Syria. Parisian gendarmes patrolled the square as we watched from our window.
The contrast of old and new was like black and white. We marveled and stared like gawking tourists. Our feet gave out and we spent the evenings resting and sketching the fountain from our apart’hotel window, which let in a refreshing Parisian breeze. Several versions emerged, all done in watercolor on 6″ x 8″ sketch paper.
Fontaine des Innocents #1, as seen from our apart’hotel window
Fontaine des Innocents #2, as seen from our apart’hotel window
Fontaine des Innocents, Allan’s version
One day we took our sketch stuff to the Eiffel Tower and I did two quick washes looking up at its complicated metal structure. I’m sure I’ll never see anything like it, ever. A young Bulgarian soccer player, about 10 years old, came over and talked with us. His comrades were all climbing the tower and he was afraid of heights. I wouldn’t climb it either! His English was quite good.
Eiffel Tower with Roses, as seen from Champs de Mars park
Eiffel Tower, as seen from Champs de Mars Park
On returning home I decided to try some small watercolors based on my photographs. Two versions of Notre-Dame Cathedral next to the Seine River emerged (because I am never satisfied with my first try). I hope to become better with watercolors by doing more small paintings of Paris. The size is 10″ x 14″, which when matted will fit nicely into a 16″ x 20″ frame. I think #2 is my best.
Notre Dame Cathedral and Seine River, #1
Notre Dame Cathedral and Seine River, #2
I hope you like them. They are close to my heart, as are being French and being able to say, “Yes, I’ve been to Paris”!
A special thanks to mon amour Allan for working so hard to make this trip wonderful. It was! Also my two French tutors, Alexa Polidoro and Laura K. Lawless. They helped me learn enough French to get by.