Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

To all my followers and supporters, I want to send a belated thank you to all of you. I am currently serving in an AmeriCorps program, teaching English in Kansas City and working in studio. To all my GoFundMe supporters, I am working away on your reward! I apologize for such a long delay. Looking forward to what the new year holds!

Dali, Gardens, Dinosaurs, and a Giant Thumb

The last week in Paris we tried to go to some parts of town that we hadn't seen before, and do some re-exploring  to visit some smaller museums, including one that wasn't explicitly art related. Our first visit was in the Clignancourt neighborhood, back towards Sacré-Cœur, to see the Salvador Dali Museum. I had been to the Dali museum in St. Petersburg Florida, which primarily had paintings, photographs, and some sketches of his work. Although I appreciate Dali and was inspired by him in high school, I was not completely aware of the scope of his work; going into the museum, I was unsure of what I might see while I was there.

The museum's structure was dynamic in shape, color, and lighting, most definitely emulating Dali's work. In this photo you can see the spot lighting, black walls with the light colored wood floors, and the ever-changing angular walls, creating geometry everywhere you look.

What struck me most about the museum are the sculptural pieces and early sketches. The museum itself is small, so the atmosphere starts to feel like a cabinet of curiosities because of the variety of scale and medium of the artwork in one place. I wasn't aware of just how versatile and willing Dali was to explore new mediums, use combinations of technology, and collaborate to get a desired result.

The first room at the Dali Museum

Because we didn't get a chance to see the gardens at Versailles, we took an afternoon to walk around and see what we missed out on. As soon as we were greeted by a couple of otters swimming in the clearly man-made stream that ran through the front of Marie Antoinette's property, we knew it was going to be a good day.  Her private gardens are a romantic storybook of carefully crafted play.


Much like the palace just a mile away, words can only do so much to describe the perfectly manicured lawns and chateaus. 

We also toured the interior of one of the small villas that Marie Antoinette would use to "play poor" inside of. I didn't take a picture, but there were very nice iPad stations that had video explanations of the different parts of Versailles. 

We also managed to sneak into the main gardens back at the palace towards the end of the day. The gardens of the main palace were more grandiose but just as romantic as Antoinette's. The gold turtles at the base of this fountain were my favorite thing, but it was all spectacular. 

Taking a break from art explicitly, we took time to take a look at the Galeries d'Anatomie comparée et de Paléontologie - Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy - a part of the Museum of Natural History. The artifacts and displays were macabre, but beautiful. Little to no next surrounded the anatomical displays, leaving the viewer to make assessments based off of purely visual relationships.

Lastly, I made my way to l'Grande Arche. Just off the metro stop of the same name, it really brings an impressive force to the square it overshadows. On either side of the arch are very sleek skyscrapers and a shopping center, making the area seem very modern. Just to the right of this photo is a small park, a seemingly innocuous green space among the tons of concrete everywhere. However, in the center of the park there is a giant, bronzed thumb emerging from the ground. I was taken aback at first - perhaps my lack of sleep, or just the regular geometry of everything else surrounding it made it seem so unique.  





Just a few days left in documenting my journey! Up next, the Museum of Modern Art and my last Parisian park visit.

Catacombs of Paris

Despite being warned previously of long lines, the Catacombs was a must-see stop. Only one metro stop to the North, we decided it was worth waiting in the line (and get some Parisian sun while we could enjoy it) so we could see this uniquely complex place. 

After getting inside and buying a souvenir coin, the descent was all the prep that we needed to get in the right mindframe. I decided to take a series of videos to show the winding stairs and never-ending hallways... The video picked up less light than there was, but it was dim none the less. 


The catacombs are not just home to the the skulls it is famous for, but also fossils and mine shafts. The site had some pretty good graphics in English and French to help the viewer understand exactly what was happening geologically and historically.

One of the infographics from the site.

Please excuse the giggling and commentary - I couldn't contain myself!

Insanely large shell from the Catacombs.

Of course, the reason to go into the Catacombs is primarily for the beautifully arranged skulls and bones that line the halls. Admittedly, it was unsettling seeing the stacks of clearly identifiable legs, arms, and skulls stacked so neatly. However, it was also very beautiful, in a sublime way.

Dates marking where the bodies came from, as well as memorials, lined the walls every few yards.

A drum structure in one of the side alcoves.

I felt like I could have photographed every inch of the space - there were many unique moments among the shapes and colors the bones came together to make. Below is a small gallery of some of the other images I took while inside. 

Passing By


A view of the city from halfway up to see Sacré-Cœur.

The second room in the Victor Hugo house.

Getting back after Annecy felt a little bit like coming home. Paris was familiar enough to be comfortable, so I kept trying to explore what the city had to offer. The first stop was Victor Hugo's house,  which had photographs and artwork from the Hugo family, including drawings by Victor Hugo himself. Rather than focusing on his writings, the house museum really emphasized the history of the Hugo family, in which there were numerous talented visual, musical, and literary artists. The objects provided a space to understand where Victor Hugo might have gotten the courage and capacity to pursue writing as a career.  

We took the time to revisit the Arc de Triomphe, in order to appreciate the detail up close on the statues and the designs on the arches' underside. The roses underneath were really spectacular; each identical rose had delicate detail, making the ephemeral quality of the stone roses compliment the names of those who died for the French empire and Revolution. While we were there, people were coming up to the gate and asking to place flower arrangements around a flame that represents the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

We also went to Sacre-Cœur to visit La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre and to take in the view of Paris up on the hill. The hill was packed with beer salesmen (a bottle of Heineken straight from the case), musician street performers, drunk soccer fans, families, and friends socializing. The walk up had landscaping with numerous benches and enough trash and recycling receptacles to just keep the trash from spilling over. On the way up, we stopped next to a fountain, only to be offered a very overpriced beer for the ump-teeth time, when a older French woman sitting next to us told him off for us. 

The woman we met at Sacre-Cœur.


She was a Syrian immigrant that moved to Paris with her family when she was very young. She told us she has traveled all over the world by herself and said that she was happy to see young women doing the same thing she did. When we asked her if she was traveling still she said, "No, nowdays I'm just waiting to go up or down. I'm hoping it's up  - but I'm not always so sure." She told us a lot of stories in a very short amount of time; deciding that not speaking her mind was the cause of her ulcers, getting lost at Niagara Falls, traveling all over the US, seeing the ghosts of her family at night, trying to figure out how international calls work. In the photo, she is hiding her beer so we "wouldn't be in trouble for having photos of drinking." 

In the end the church was very beautiful (there were no photos allowed inside the church and there was service going on), but she was definitely the highlight of the trip. 

View from the top of the hill at Sacre-Cœur.

Saint Denis

Heading to the north part of the city after the festival was a great reintroduction to the incredible churches Paris has to offer. The rose window glowed vibrant purple and blue; this is the best photo I could get that showed how the stained glass shone in the light.

Saint Denis is home to a largest number of French royalty and is often referred to as the royal necropolis of France.  Walking in, there are tombs that line the outer walls of Saint Denis, framing the nave along the entire side isle.  

The church has a crypt that is accessed from the side isles. Going down there was kind of spooky, for lack of a better term. Between the tiny doors leading to a crypt and the cavern of opened graves, it was a very quiet and creepy walk. 

Walking to the chapels for the side isles, everything was really beautiful. The floor tiles are unique to each chapel, and there are unique reliquaries and altar pieces that mimic the gothic architecture of the church. All of these objects framed the central reliquary. The floor tiles in front of the main reliquary has the most elaborate floor pattern, combing zodiac symbols and typical Christian motifs.

Some of the most interesting things on display outside of the major chapels and rose window was a costume used by the Paris de Philharmonic for Anne of Brittany, who is buried in the Basilica of Saint Denis. Statues of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette praying were also really interesting, because they became both didactic and self-agrandizing. 

However, at the end of the visit, it's the tall stained glass windows that captivated me. Those glowing windows reaching up with the tall, vaulted ceilings transformed the space into a dreamy and mystic point of contemplation, if not about Christ, then about the lives that filled the space before us.

Festival international du film d'animation d'Annecy

View of Annecy from the hostel we stayed at.

The Annecy International Animation Festival was an fantastic week of film and new friends. Even with a language barrier, there was a spirit of comradery and friendship throughout the festival. 

The festival itself has a lot of traditions; paper airplanes, yelling "LE BUN" at the screen that has the sponsoring credits prior to filming, animal sounds, and clapping in rhythm were all a part of each screening. 

The animation festival featured 5 in and out of competition short film blocks, a number of feature films, and a series called "The Mirror Effect," which featured different historical and cultural components of the history of French animation, and more. The films included in the selections had no limits, and each block of films felt intentionally grouped together. 

The morning discussion focused on women working in the animation industry  and how to have the confidence to move forward despite setbacks or rejections.

Seminars, masterclasses, and lectures were also a major part of the festival selection. My favorite was a breakfast sponsored by Women in Animation, an American animation group that is pushing for workplace equality, and a number of French women in animation groups working towards equality and fair representation. 

Meeting professionals and students from all around the world was inspiring and encouraging as a very recent grad.

Outside of the screenings, the most unique component of the festival was a short protest focusing on changing rules in determining wages for junior level animators in France, lead by young industry professionals and soon-to-be graduates. The paper airplanes they are throwing are flyers that explain why they are upset, and what actions can be taken to fight the changes.

The protest was sudden; as Haley and I were waiting to walk to our next screening, suddenly people all over the room sat down and began clapping in unison, and then started chanting. This event mirrors strikes and demonstrations for fair pay happening all over Paris, and was even reflected in some shorts produced by students at Les Gobelins that was screened at the festival. The protests in Paris have never really bothered Haley or I, save for the trash strikes that had the city smelling putrid in many places. Below is a video of a small part of the demonstration. Protestors continued chanting until the central line had left for their next screening.

A secondary but nonetheless wonderful part of the festival being in Annecy is the fantastic scenery. Cradled in the French Alps and resting against "lac d'Annecy", walking outside was always treat.  

View from the gardens near the MIFA site.

I hope to write a bit on my upcoming blog about some of the specific films that were in the festival. In the meantime, I can start planning on how I'm going to go back to the festival.

The place where the MIFA industry events were being held. 

These photos were taken on the best day there - usually the forecast was perpetual rain and overcast all day long. 

Overcast couldn't keep us out of the water on our last day in town.

Musée d'Orsay

Keeping out of the Renaissance and Medieval eras, we decided to visit the Musée d'Orsay. 

Large clock looking out over the Parisian Landscape.

While the Musée d'Orsay mostly had paintings, they also features architectural drawing, sculpture, and some dioramas, and photographs. I appreciated the focus on the changing Parisian landscape as a part of their collection, as an artist and art historian. The display of the work created a subtextual relationship between the development of fashion, architecture, style. Through that display the viewer can create an image of the social landscape of France at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, however fleeting. 

A Burial at Ornans by Gustave Courbet 

Seeing the drawings and paintings of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Gustave Courbet was absolutely the highlight of the visit. A Burial at Ornans was a powerful work to see in person. Interestingly, near this painting was display of another Courbet painting screened off from all sides with signs describing the conservation process and museum employees working inside during visitor museum hours. 


The upper floor was closed off; we suspected the space was being used to house works from storage the Orsay was worried could be damaged from flooding. However, we still got to see their impressionist collection. All of these works together create a moment in time, a space of collaborators and colleagues who worked around and with each other while exploring new ideas. I am not the worlds biggest fan of Impressionism by any means, but being in that space is not like going to any average Impressionist exhibition. 

Music & Modern Art

The Philharmonie de Paris is also home to the Cité de la musique, which follows the history of music through a French and global perspective. Every visitor received an audio guide that accompanied each part of the exhibition, which had an audio or video component that could have English or French dialogue. 

Russian Bassoons in the shape of dragons.

The museum had dioramas, videos with commentary from musicologists and historians, example instruments to try out, and wall text to contextualize the instruments that are a part of their collection. Adding the audio element really made the 


After lunch, we started heading towards the Picasso Museum and happened upon two contemporary galleries on the way; Jousse Entreprise and Galerie Odile Ouizeman. 

Jousse Entreprise featured video artist Ange Leccia, and Galerie Odile Ouizeman had a group show of several time based artists. I was delighted to see both galleries have multiple successful video installations in both galleries.  In a lot of ways I felt that the area around the Picasso museum was very similar to the Crossroads area in KC - local restaurants, small galleries with unique spaces, and some larger institutions nearby.

The Picasso Museum is split up by style and date, boasting 4 floors and an outdoor sculpture garden. In a matter of two hours, Picasso's work becomes familiar, as if walking through a living catalogue. The development of decision making through artwork was compelling; from sculpture to painting, to drawing and print. Sketchbooks next to exalted realizations left me feeling very satisfied as a viewer and artist.

Hedgehogs, Rabbits, and Unicorns

After seeing all of the Middle-Age treasures in the Louvre, Haley and I wanted to see the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. Luckily, the Musée de Cluny (which can also be called Musée national du Moyen Âge) is right off of the St. Michele metro stop, so we were there in minutes from the Cité. 

The facade of the Hotel de Cluny, now home to the museum.

The Musée de Cluny is deceptive in its exterior appearance - the front is the facade of the Hotel de Cluny, but the museum contains an excavation site alongside its own gallery spaces, with plans to expand areas open to the public through 2020. Altar pieces, plates (like the fantastic Hedgehog plate on the right), and original statues from Notre-Dame and other places around Paris were available for viewing. The intimate space of the Moyen-Age allowed for Haley and I to really inspect the pieces and understand the scale and level craftsmanship that was put into the object, which can get lost in a crowded or poorly lit room in the Louvre.

Hedgehogs and stars adorn the center of this large patterned plate.


The Lady and the Unicorn series focuses on a woman as a symbol of purity, divinity, and in some cases, strength, through her senses. The brilliant red tapestries have gold and silver thread and a lose pattern of flowers, rabbits, dogs, pheasants, and fruits. 

After the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries, the museum had a combination of smaller everyday and lavish objects. Some of the highlights were this reliquary, an illuminated musical manuscript, and a set of Renaissance games.  I appreciated the museums attention to include these smaller objects as a part of their permanent collection; often, cookware, games, and small jewelry, which helps paint a picture of everyday life, is excluded from a collection or it has already been destroyed.

Saint-Étienne-du-Mon in the background while we're at the pub.

Saint-Étienne-du-Mon in the background while we're at the pub.

Afterwards, we went and enjoyed dinner and drinks down by the Pantheon at an English Pub. It was lovely, even though we had to walk in the street to avoid the trash piling up on the sidewalk from the strikes to and from the metro stop.

Palace of Versailles and the Louvre

Both the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre were their own days, walking many (literal) miles on to see everything, and we still didn't get done with either. 

The Palace of Versailles was complicated by the flooding and strikes; the RER B line takes longer and is more packed, and is driving people to take alternative routes to get to work. Simultaneously, the flooding along the Seine has caused metro stops along the RER C line to close down. While Haley and I joke that this has provided us with a more authentic Parisian experience (going on strike seems like a very Revolutionary thing to do), it did complicate finding an opening from the Cité to the RER C line to get to the Palace.

Once we arrived at the Versailles stop it became immediately evident how to get to the Palace - follow the line of tourists walking there and trickling back.

The exterior of the palace was already incredibly lavish. The gold fence contained little faces of Louis XIV as the Sun King, with royal crowns and flowers glittering in the sun. The palace sits on a slight incline, but an exterior and interior frontal courtyard makes the walk up focus on the imperial grandiose nature of the palace come out in full force. We were fortunate enough to go on a bright, sunny day (there haven't been many), and the house looked very elaborate.

The interior was one room after another of absolute splendor. It makes sense that this palace would be a part of the trigger of the French Revolution. On some level, I am embarrassed for Louis XIV and his narcissism. Looking at the number of self portraits, painted or sculpted, I can only imagine what some of the members of his court, let alone the public left to wonder what the hell was happening inside the palace, might have thought. 

I think the images do a better job at describing what the palace is like than words, if they can even come close to doing it justice. The bust on the right I think sums up the overall atmosphere of Versailles pretty well.

A classically-inspired white marble bust of Louis XIV, sitting on a colored marble pedestal, with gold armor, weapons, and animals protecting him at the base while gold angels lower a gold grown onto his hair as it blows in triumphant, imaginary wind.

The Louvre was a different kind of overwhelming. The Paris Museum Pass paid off again, as we cut in front of the line to get in completely and got to completely skip the ticket counter. We went on a Wednesday afternoon with the plan to use late hours; in total, we were there walking around for seven and a half hours and didn't quite make it through half of the collection if counting objects that we casually glanced over and rooms we almost walked straight through. Some highlights were The Wrath of the MedusaDeath of the Virgin, some incredible Greek and Egyptian sculpture, and of course the great lammasus. It was a lot to take in all at once - my brain and feet felt like mush afterwards. 

I feel like posting a combination of the notable works with some of the new treasures I saw while I was there would be the best way to present the museum. Each gallery is really its own treasure box, overstuffed with objects, many of which you've probably never heard of.

La Cinémathèque française

We'll be back!

An iconic image from the Muybridge photographic series is featured on the front of the museum.

The Cinémathèque, as the nice couple who gave Haley and me directions called it, is a wonderful testament to all things that in some way relates to frame-rates. As such, the animator in me was enamoured with what the museum had to offer, which included some very unique and important components of early animation history. 

Upon entering the museum, there is a large metallic zoetrope that sits with an almost three feet drum and hummingbird-sized white ceramic birds that create a bird in flight. Haley and I were naturally delighted to have this interactive piece greet us as we walked in; many passers by didn't realize that this wasn't just a bizarre table or art piece, but a traditional machine of motion, and enjoyed spinning it with us as we pointed for them to watch through the slits in the drum. 

There were a number of interactive pieces throughout the museum, as well as video clips to accompany the still objects, images, and drawings placed throughout the museum. Towards the beginning was a display of phenakistocope wheels, and there were two opportunities to spin the wheel so see the illusion in real time. 

Spinning wheels seen through slits in the reflection of a mirror, called a  phenakistoscope, were available for the public to try.


There were also stills from very early film, of course including the handpainted French film A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune), as well as a costume from the film. A Trip to the Moon by George Méliès is an important reference for animators because it features hand made backgrounds and elements of puppetry to create the fictional setting.

Other treasures included were Chinese puppets (accompanied by video of a traditional chinese puppetry performance), a working Edison Kinetoscope, old film posters, and original Muybridge prints. 

Well crafted projections played early film clips, like this one that captures a Parisian street at the turn of the century. 

One of the most exciting things to see was a large scale praxinoscope, which was a part of the Pantomimes Lumineuses that Charles-Émile Reynaud produced to go along with his invention. The praxinoscope would become a starting point in developing motion for the Lumière Brothers, often considers fathers of European film. 

Here is video of a Praxinoscope in action - visitors were allowed to operate a crank and watch the mirrors work in action! The antique lamp in the middle made it particularly enjoyable.


A still from a study by Oscar Fischinger 

After the early cinema and optical machines , the museum features movie posters, storyboards, and drawings from actors, filmmakers, and designers. One of my favorites above is a still from a series Oscar Fischinger had taped together to use for a motion experiment. The Museum created a linear rectangular frame and chose to keep the sequential drawings together, which included his register system and sequencing system. Haley and I spent some time with these drawings and the cutouts that were next to them, also by Fischinger. Below are some of my favorite things were storyboards from Faust and an original Alexander Rodchenko poster for Kino-glaz

On the upper level of the museum there was a temporary exhibition space. The exhibition was Dossier Scriptes, featuring the careers of female script supervisors, or women who were directors assistants and the evolution of that role. I was happy to see an exhibition featuring women's role in cinema while I was there, and the exhibition focused on the contributions and careers of the women without focusing on the director of the films mentioned too much. However, the exhibition (to what I could understand in French) did not take issue the fact that script supervisors have a gendered history and terminology, as they were often called "script girls" while their male counterparts were called "continuity clerk" or "script reader."  

Outside of the gender dynamic of the exhibition, I was happy to see this role highlighted so well as a part of film, because it is often understated in its importance. The exhibition had great documents, drawings, and notebooks from the women, many of whom have chosen the Cinémathèque française as the permanent home of their collections. Storyboards, video capturing interview footage where available, and a brief biography was shown for each of the ten women featured. Those women are Lydie Mahais, Catherine Prévert, Maggie Perlado, Bénédicte Kermadec, Betty Greffet, Laurence Couturier, Suzanne Schiffman, Lucie Lichtig, Suzanne Durrengerger, and Sylvette Baudrot.

Spending a lot of time around graves...

Continuing to knock out museums that are included on our pass, we headed to the Archeological Crypt of the Parvis of Notre-Dame, the Pantheon, Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, Château de Vincennes, as well as taking a walk through Père Lachaise. A lot of graves, naves, and underground stone chambers to say the least.

The Archeological Crypt of the Parvis of Notre-Dame was centered around ruins from original foundations of houses and the church that was there prior to the expansion that made Notre-Dame what it is today. This central site was accompanied with diagrams and maps of Paris' growth from a pre-history Celtic tribal center to its start as Lutetia, to the Roman dubbed Parisius that became Paris in French.

Coins and small sculptures lined the exterior edge of the walk way, documenting the various rulers and artistic styles the city adopted as Paris developed through conflict and prosperity. My favorite part of the visit was seeing the arches and stairs that were still intact in the old ruins, which you can see in the top right image. 

The ruins of old Paris underneath Notre-Dame

Old Parisian coin under a magnifying glass

Afterwards we made our way to the Pantheon. The building was originally intended to be a church for St. Genevieve and her relics, but was transformed into a crypt for French intellectuals and patriotic heroes as its completion coincided with the revolution. The upstairs was fantastically ornate, with a glowing mosaic of Jesus and his followers overlooking a sculpture of revolutionary fighters. Each wall contains a painting, and the ceilings all have floral or figurative carvings. 

In the center of the Pantheon, hanging from the central dome (pictured above), is a replica of Foucault's pendulum. To the left of this display are original manuscripts of his experiment and the mathematical equations that  Foucault used to come to his conclusions. The weight to me feels like a relic substitute in this church; the gold orb fascinates viewers and reflects their gaze as it moves back and forth forever.


Two exhibitions of photography in the middle of the Pantheon included a contemporary video installation and an exhibition on photography that focused on the Great War. The images below were taken inside a modern temporary domed structure in the left wing of the church; the right wing had a series of still photographs that were selected from images from the video projection.

The two images on the left are from the show called War Memorials, where the photographer was interested in documenting the over 15,000 war  memorials that are found throughout France from the French Revolution to World War II. The images on the left are from an exhibition of children at play in Paris during World War I, which was called The Kids War

The use of this imposing and ornate structure as a temple for great French men and women really left an impression on me. Although the intention is secular - to celebrate achievement, bravery, solidarity - I can't help but feel an elevation by being in this classical structure, as opposed to building a more modern building or single structure, as opposed to having them in the crypt. 


Just behind the Pantheon is the church Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, which is dedicated to St. Genevieve because the Pantheon is no longer a church. The church has a long history - originally built in the 6th century, and went through renovations and redecorations through the 19th century. We saw St. Genevieve's tomb (her body was thrown into a river during the revolution) and what we believed is a relic of hers, but we were unsure and couldn't translate the sign in French well enough. The most notable object in the church for me was the organ on the back wall. Instead of the rose window or fresco, a giant organ with angels spilling over the top and lifting up each side is the last sight seen while exiting the building. 


Château de Vincennes is now home to the historical military department of the French government, but originally served as a royal lodge for Louis VII and was used as an arsenal, prison, and now monument alongside the government offices. Painting on the walls in the castle are from prisoners during the 19th century and World War I and II, but some of the original fixtures from Royalty, like the painted arch and column, still remain. We also got to visit the Gothic style church that is inside the castle walls.

Our last stop on this tour of crypts and converted prisons was Père Lachaise, the famous French cemetery. We did not come across anyone that we immediately recognized and we wandered along the paths, but the number and variety of tombs and personal mausoleums was captivating in a grotesque but sublime way.

The Pass Pays Off!

We purchased Paris Museum Passes, which grants us access to fifty locations around the city. We purchased the pass at Sainte-Chappelle, which was a breathtaking way to start using it. Entering downstairs was great, but a little underwhelming; it's dark, and the apse end of the bottom has only one statue intact. The ceilings and the glass are still beautiful, but the dimness prevents your eyes from really understanding the color and texture. I believe the site intentionally keeps the bottom dim to make the experience more authentic to what Louis IX would have experienced using it. 

The upstairs really blew me away. The summer sun, even with cloud cover, made the windows glow brilliantly and the colors were so much more vivid than I imagined. The windows become a technicolor puzzle of religious images and royal patterns, and that light illuminates the gold, blue, and red painted pattern that adorns the columns. I think one of the best photos that shows this is the second image in the gallery below. We joked that anything after Sainte-Chappelle will seem underwhelming, because the space is so saturated with detail and adornment that there was always a place to investigate further.


Sorry about your nose Voltaire. And your creepy hands.

Afterwards we walked around along the river and went into the side streets to see what we could stumble upon. Haley and I really like starting or ending the day in that way, mostly because we can find something unique like a store selling giant Russian Nesting Dolls, or this statue of Voltaire that has weathered his face in a really unflattering way.

Metropolitan Paris

We are now completely invested in exploring the city and all of the sites it has to offer. Paris is a distinguished blend of history and a modern cosmopolitan atmosphere. The metro lines cut through the city and mark the accessibility that public transit provides. I've seen kids who looked as young as 12 using the metro on their own to get around town during the day, along with people who seem to be from all walks of life. Generally, people are respectful on the metro, and try to be as efficient as possible. Walking through the metro stations is its own experience. Woodwind ensembles with accordions and singing men, someone playing an erhu, a singing guitarist, fruit stands, anarchist graffiti all share a background of repetitious French advertisements. 

Visiting the Eiffel Tower felt like the confirmation that Haley and I were, in fact, in Paris. We were happy to see it as the touristy, clichéd monument that it is. When really focusing on the parts of the tower, it's really quite impressive; the endless joints and wrought iron that almost form a lace-like pattern with the latticing that rises up into the sky. We did not make the journey up; I get intense vertigo and the lines looked like they could take an hour to ride the elevator, and we weren't sure we had the time to climb to the top ourselves.  

Afterwards we went to go see the Arc de Triomphe. We decided to wait to go underneath/visit up close after we purchased our Paris Museum Passes (more on that soon), but it was still an awesome site to see. When photographed, I think the arc loses its presence- against the blowing French flag hanging from the middle, I felt like I could feel the weight and texture of the stone just by looking at it. The Arc is made even more impressive because of the constant, insane traffic that whirls by, which you can kind of see in the first photo below.  

The Arc de Triomphe was also a prime example of the numerous selfies that I see happening at each monument, which I am drawn to as a secondary way to document the monuments. (The one above of the man at Notre Dame I enjoy quite a bit.) The selfie prevents the actual documentation of the monument, which is fine, but often I don't see people who are taking selfies also taking pictures of just the monument. Not to be a judgemental; everyone's got their own thing, I just feel like they're missing out on remembering the monument!

Cité Universitaire & Notre Dame

On our first day, after making it to the university and getting into our rooms, Haley and I walked around for a while to see what's in our immediate surroundings. The metro stop and the Parc Montsouris are directly across from the Fondation, and a cute patisserie run by a very patient woman is just down the street. 

We went to Notre Dame yesterday, and it was incredible. The stain glass really glows and vibrates with color, and the side chapels alone are worth revisiting. 

Afterwards, we tried to make our way to a market street but ended up getting lost, which was serendipitous; we  found a discount store to get a few odds and ends items that we needed for our rooms, and then made our way in the opposite direction. We used broken French and our superb pointing skills to purchase fruits, cheese, bread, and jam. We found ourselves wandering towards the Bastille, where we came upon a temporary installation that was about the potential of flax as a clean resource. When we finally found a metro station, we happened to come across the July Column, the monument of the French Revolution and all those who died for the cause. Getting lost in Paris seemed to be working out for us, but we decided to enjoy an early night in, although the jet lag Haley and I are experiencing made it so we barely rested until the morning.

Two days later...

I left Kansas City at 6:30 pm on May 30th, and now I'm sitting in the Icelandic airport, waiting for my final flight into Paris. It's been a long two days of sitting upright, being perpetually stationary, and eating overpriced granola bars, but I am excited to arrive tomorrow. The plan is to mostly rest upon check-in and then go out in the evening, but I'm wondering if there will be a rush of euphoria that gives me the energy to explore all day.

 To pass the time I sketched a bit; those drawings will get published in a second post because I'm having trouble accessing my email. Check back soon!

update: I downloaded the photos!

Getting Ready for Departure!

On May 30th, I will start my journey for my one month residency in Paris, France! This blog will be a documentation of what I draw, photograph, and visit during my residency.