Les Deux Plateaux

The Palais-Royal, originally called the Palais-Cardinal, is a palace located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. The screened entrance court faces the Place du Palais-Royal, opposite the Louvre. The larger inner courtyard, the Cour d'Honneur, has since 1986 contained Daniel Buren's site-specific art piece Les Deux Plateaux, known as Les Colonnes de Buren. In 1830 the Cour d'Honneur was enclosed to the north by what was probably the most famous of Paris's covered arcades, the Galerie d'Orléans. Demolished in the 1930s, its flanking rows of columns still stand between the Cour d'Honneur and the popular Palais-Royal Gardens.

In this photo, you are looking at Les Deux Plateaux (more commonly known as the Colonnes de Buren). It is a highly controversial art installation created by the French artist Daniel Buren in 1985–1986. It is located in the inner courtyard (Cour d'Honneur) of the Palais Royal in Paris, France. As described by the architectural writer Andrew Ayers, "Buren's work takes the form of a conceptual grid imposed on the courtyard, whose intersections are marked by candy-striped black-and-white columns of different heights poking up from the courtyard's floor like sticks of seaside rock. In one sense the installation can be read as an exploration of the perception and intellectual projection of space." The work replaced the courtyard's former parking lot and was designed to conceal ventilation shafts for an underground extension of the culture ministry's premises. Some of the columns extend below courtyard level and are surrounded by pools of water into which passersby toss coins. The project was the "brainchild" of the culture minister Jack Lang and elicited considerable controversy at the time. It was attacked for its cost and unsuitability to a historic landmark. Lang paid no attention to the orders of the Commission des Monuments Historiques, which objected to the plan. In retrospect Ayers has remarked: "Given the harmlessness of the result (deliberate — Buren wanted a monument that would not dominate), the fuss seems excessive, although the columns have proved not only expensive to install, but also to maintain.

More importantly... does anyone know what that thing might be on the bottom right of the image? I don't quite remember that being there when I took the photo. 

Lazy Summer Afternoons in the Park

A view from the front and backside of Les Invalides... officially known as L'Hôtel national des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids), is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building's original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l'Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France's war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.

These two photos were taken on the same day as I did a loop of the 7th arrondissement of Paris (first was taken after sunrise... and the second was taken just before sunset).

A Secret Passage

Found this "secret" passageway when wandering around the 1st Arrondissement in Paris... was searching for the Maison Martin Margiela store (which happened to be up that staircase). 

Parisian Statue

Random statue found while wandering back to apartment in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. 

Vive la République!

One of the best ways to get a quick tour of Paris... and to see all the beautiful bridges, is on the back of a Batobus. The Batobus takes you to the heart of Paris, with stops at all of the main tourist sites (including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre). With 8 stops on the route, you see a different view of Paris and lets you travel around the city the way Parisians originally did. This shot was taking right after we passed the Pont Alexandre III bridge. The French flag was blowing in the warm summer breeze. 

Le Lutetia Comes to Life

The Hôtel Lutetia, located at 45 Boulevard Raspail, in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of the 6th Arrondissement of Paris, is one of the best-known hotels on the Left Bank. The hotel is an incredibly beautiful building and I happened to be walking past it as dusk was approaching. The lights had just come on and it was starting glow... it looked like it was coming to life.

The hotel is noted for its architecture and its historical role during the German occupation of France in World War II. The war began in September 1939, and numerous refugees fled to Paris from conflict areas and places occupied by German forces. The Lutetia attempted to accommodate as many as possible. Because of its reputation, it was filled with a number of displaced artists and musicians. However, the French government evacuated Paris beginning June 14, 1940 and the Germans entered and occupied the city. A number of the Lutetia's residents escaped; others were captured by the Germans. The hotel itself was requisitioned by the Abwehr (counter-espionage), and used to house, feed, and entertain the officers in command of the occupation, such as Alfred Toepfer and the French collaborator Rudy de Mérode. When Paris was liberated in August 1944, the hotel was abandoned by German troops, and taken over by French and American forces. From then until after the end of the war, it was used as a repatriation center for prisoners of war, displaced persons, and returnees from the German concentration camps.

Under the Bridge

If you were to tell someone in the US that you're going to go hang out under a bridge, they might think you're a bit odd... the bridge that Frank and Charlie (from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) hang out under comes to mind. However, in Paris, it's totally normal... and is actually desired. These are a few of the photos I took while doing just that.

A Window to the Louvre

The Countdown

Counting down the minutes until the sun sets over Musée d'Orsay. There is something special about big clock towers in Paris...

Paris Night Scenes

Some photos I took while wandering around the 1st and 7th Arrondissements while under the spell of a a jet lag haze. I'm surprised the photos aren't more blurry (considering I didn't have a tripod and I had been drinking wine for much of the day).

Pont Alexandre III

Pont Alexandre III is an arch bridge that spans the Seine, connecting the Champs-Élysées quarter and the Invalides and Eiffel Tower Quarter. It is regarded by many as one of the prettiest in Paris (it's also my favorite). The bridge, with its exuberant Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses at either end, was built between 1896 and 1900. It was named after Tsar Alexander III (father of Nicholas II) of Russia who laid the foundation stone in October 1896. The style of the bridge reflects that of the Grand Palais, to which it leads on the right bank. The construction of the bridge is a marvel of 19th century engineering, consisting of a 6m high single span steel arch. The design was subject to strict controls that prevented the bridge from obscuring the view of the Champs-Élysées or the Invalides. The bridge was built by the engineers Résal and Alby and inaugurated in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition. Classified as historical monument, four gold-covered bronze statues hover over the bridge, on the top of 17 meter columns, representing "Renommées" standing close to Pegasus.

Parisian (street)Art #6, 7

Found on the streets of the 1st Arrondissement. Granted, the "Metro" photo wouldn't technically be considered "street art" (because it was put there deliberately by the government)... but the signs add character to the urban landscape.

Parisian (street)Art #4, 5

Fat man on a little bike!
Found on the streets of Montmartre.

Flower power... Parisian style

Parisian (street)Art #3

Found on the streets of the 6th arrondissement. 

Parisian (street)Art #2

Found en route to Sacré Cœur. 

Parisian (street)Art

Paris is famous for its art museums and galleries. However, scattered throughout the city is a different type of art... something that is available for all of the public to enjoy (or hate). Street art (aka graffiti) isn't for everyone, but regardless of your tastes, you have to appreciate the determination and creativity of the artists. This was one painting I found in Saint-Germain-des-Prés just above a gallery (more to come later). 

"Our Lady" of Paris

One of the most notable monuments in Paris is the Notre Dame Cathedral. Notre Dame is a French title for the "Blessed Virgin Mary" (hence the reason for so many Notre Dame Cathedrals scattered throughout the world). This Catholic treasure is over 800 years old and is located on a small island called Île de la Cité (in the middle of the river Seine). The building of the cathedral took almost 200 years. It started in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII and was completed in 1345.

As is the case with most notable historical monuments, The Notre dame Cathedral Paris has had its share of glorious and tragic historical moments. Among them is the crowning of Henry VI of England right inside the cathedral in 1431. The Cathedral was at one time in a stage of total disrepair and close to the point of being demolished, but was later saved by Napoleon who himself was crowned Emperor in 1804 inside the Cathedral. After restoring the Cathedral back to its formal beauty and in the midst of World War II, it was rumored that the German soldiers might destroy the newly installed stained glass. It was therefore removed and only reinstalled again after the war ended. The steps were taken because of a archeological glass window called "Rose Window" which was the biggest glass window in the world produced in the 13th century. Joan of Arc was also beatified in the Notre Dame cathedral in 1909.

A notable artifact is the famous bell that has been redesigned to ring automatically. Any visitor to the bell tower should be prepared to climb the 140 steps staircase to see the historical bell and have a glimpse of the city of Paris. Inside the Notre Dame Cathedral, the 17th century organ, with all of its original parts, is still functional. There are also drawings, plans and engravings which showed the old and hidden mysteries of several of the church developments and how the city of Paris came into being.

The "Louvre Pose"

Just as people like to pose next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa (and pretend like they're holding it up), someone got the bright idea that something similar could be done at the Louvre. I do not condone the behavior (people look ridiculous doing it and it makes for an awful tourist photo)... but it is kind of fun taking photos of people as they pose. These were a couple of the photos I got.

Follow Me Home

Two women walk through one of the bridges along the Seine.