Friday, 6 July 2012

Photos from Paris

It was just a hop, skip and a painful 260 Swiss Francs from Lucerne to Paris. We were looking forward to staying and catching up with good old family friends Zya, Stephane and Lil from Melbourne. Stephane ran a growing business based in Paris called The French Experience, which offered luxury apartment accommodation. He was working crazy hours, day and night to cater for three timezones, ploughing through enough Nespresso pods to power a city, but he managed to share dinners with us when we insisted that hey, you still gotta eat, man! delighting us with such casual Parisian bar fare as juicy grilled duck breast and giant bowls of hearty salad. For a couple of days we were free to explore the city, and since it was my first time here I was keen to get some classic Paris photos.

First stop was the Musée du Louvre. Tia had been here before and I was only interested in seeing the massive glass pyramid, so we scouted out some shooting locations before a lovely stroll through Jardin des Tuileries, followed by the Île de la Cité to see the Cathédrale de Notre Dame. The cathedral was massive, with the interior alone being 130m long, 48m wide and, 35m high, but it was not just the size that made it famous. The shear amount of beautiful stain glass was staggering, and the rose windows were especially magnificent.

The ceiling - Notre Dame de Paris
After dinner we headed back to the Louvre to compete with a surprising number of wedding photographers and red-dressed Chinese brides for some late night reflection shots with the pyramids.

Mirror reflections of Pyramide du Louvre - Palais du Louvre, Paris
Through the Arch looking at the Pyramide du Louvre - Palais du Louvre, Paris
I reluctantly ceded the next day to the art galleries, and at Tia's suggestion we headed to the Musee d'Orsay. We hired a couple of English language audio guides in the hope we would get something out of it. We started out getting lost amidst a lot of stone busts and statues, before finding the museum's primary attractions of impressionist to post-impressionist masterpieces. I suppose I was enjoying the high-brow audioguide commentary a little too much *cough cough* when I pressed a few to many buttons and somehow irreversibly changed the language setting to French. Tia was getting right into Claude Monet's Blue Water Lilies and Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night, while I tagged along through the crowded halls with high-brow French commentary nattering in my ear.

So when Tia insisted that we continue on to yet another art gallery, I was not overly excited. But the Musée Rodin was not far away so I went along with it. Passing some curious electric car parking bays (with several vehicles plugged in and charging) we entered the gallery which soon became my favourite. The bronze and marble sculptures by Rodin were well made (and we have now set eyes upon The Thinker) but what made the place special was that most of the statues were situated outdoors, to be contemplated while sitting down in a relaxed garden setting, perfectly away from the crowds.

After another tasty dinner with Stephane we headed off again chasing photography highlights. For sunset/blue hour I wanted to be at the Arc de Triomphe and the Tour Montparnasse but I could not decide which one, so I tried to squeeze in both. We left it a little late so we were on the back foot from the get-go. I had to basically run up the stairs of Arc de Triomphe to have enough time to get my shots before dashing off again. I had some fun taking evening photos despite security guards not allowing the use of a tripod (a rule I disagreed with). I would wriggle my way into the crowd, set up my tripod and take as many shots as possible before the security guards could get through the crowd to tell me not to use the tripod. I would then move to a different corner and repeat the process until I had shot all the views I wanted.

Streets - View from arch de triumph, Paris
Lights - View from arch de triumph, Paris
Eiffel Tower - View from arch de triumph, Paris
As soon as I had finished we ran back down the stairs and metro-ed over to the Tour Montparnasse for one of the last elevator rides up for the night. It was a fantastic view of Paris from the open rooftop (with a cool thunderstorm in the distance to top it off!), and they sensibly allowed the use of tripods.

Eiffel Tower - View from Tour De Montparnasse, Paris
Our last day in Paris was strolling around Montmartre with Zya. We walked to the top of the Butte de Montmartre to see Basilique du Sacré Coeur and a different view of Paris. It was great catching up with our old friend whilst performing a last ditched effort to find a French butter dish for Layla (we resigned to shopping on Amazon). It reminded us that while Europe was amazing, we missed our friends and family, so we looked forward to getting back to England soon.

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