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A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 4: Impressionism and Terrorism

When I was teenager I bought a poster by an artist named Maurice Utrillo. I had never heard of him, but I was attracted to the style and the scene and the poster hung in my room until I moved out after college. I learned Utrillo was an artist from Paris and I remained a fan until today. As years went by, I learned about the Impressionists and developed a lifelong love for the work of Claude Monet. I visited his beloved home in Giverny fifteen years ago and was enthralled to see where he created the water lily paintings and to discover the story behind his home, his family, and his life. I was most struck by learning about the rowboat he designed replete with a stand for his easel that enabled him to paint from the center of his pond, facing the water, facing his bridge, painting the water he had created, from the water.

On my first and second trips to Paris, nearly fifteen years ago, I tried to visit The Musee de l'Orangerie where his oversized murals were exhibited. Painted towards the end of his life, Monet donated the eight murals to the city of Paris as a haven of peace offering a "refuge for peaceful meditation..." Both of the times I was in Paris, the museum was closed for renovation. Today I got to see the murals.

What makes art great? I was moved as a teenage by the poster by Utrillo. Today, I was moved to tears by the quiet beauty of the murals of Monet's pond and his water lilies. I thought about Giverny and him sitting in the middle of his pond, painting in solitude. Perhaps the sound of birds and his children playing were all he heard. He painted the same scenes again and again; always different in light and movement and yet the same. The willows draping gently, dangling over the water. The colors changing as the hours passed. Morning light, clouds, sunset. Pale blues, dark blues, greens, hints of pink. I sat on a bench and watched people's expressions as they came in. The huge paintings surround you in an oval room flooded with light streaming in from overhead skylights. Their faces, like mine, were awestruck.

Louise Rosenblatt and others have written about art being a transaction between viewer, or reader, or listener and the artist's work. Meaning comes from that experience. Art, books, films, and music have the power to move us beyond word to sheer emotions.

As I sat in this magnificent city built by dreamers and romantics, by lovers of beauty and freedom and ideals, I was struck by the madness going on just outside the city today. A search for terrororists who murdered journalists and police officers is creating havoc, drama, and terror. They murdered people in the name of religion and their intrpretation of their god. For me, God is in the beauty of every day experiences. I don't comprehend people who kill for any reason at any time. They must clearly lack beauty in their lives and therefore, lack the meaning that makes living so worthwhile.

These pictures show flags at half mast, & signs in stores, & graffiti on walls in the city today.

Posted by teethetrav 08:31 Archived in France Tagged paris de musee monet charlie terrorists l'orangerie je_suis_charlie utrillo Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 1: What was I Thinking?

The east coast of the US had a terrible winter in 2014. Freezing cold, lots of small snow storms. In other word, not fun. So this past summer, I decided to get away for the month of January. Most people go to Florida. Snow birds, we call them. I decided to fulfill a lifelong fantasy and go to Paris for a month, rent an apartment and just be. An English major and a romantic to the core, I had notions of writing amongst other writers and artists and living like a local in a corner of the world I had lusted after in my imagination.image.jpg

I researched scrupulously (or so I thought, but more about that another time). I've stayed in apartments before with good to excellent results. I found one in Montmartre that seemed to fulfill all my needs; one bedroom, sleep sofa in case I should have guests, a beautiful looking bathroom and a functional kitchen. And oh yes. A terrace with a view of the whole city. Even though I was going in January, a terrace for me was de riguer. A must.

What was I thinking? This is a refrain you will hear from me often if you follow this blog. Montmartre is hilly. Very hilly. With many stone, steep stairs that cannot be avoided. I had only been twice before, Both times were many years ago and I did not stay in Montmartre, just visited on day trips. My memory had failed to remind me of how difficult it is to navigate here. The day I arrived was challenging. My apartment was in the middle of stone steps and there is no way to drive up to the apartment. One must lug luggage up (or down) these steps, depending on which way you arrive. There is no good way. See the photo.

In addition, the key pick-up was far away and up four flights of stairs. The rental agent wanted to charge me 50 euros to deliver the keys to my door. I rented from Parker Villas in Italy and loved the entire process. They met me, delivered the keys, showed us how to use the apartment and left us notes for where to eat, shop, go, etc. This was the exact opposite of what I had come to expect from rentals. I will trash them further when I get my deposit back, but they were not pleasant nor easy to deal with.

Posted by teethetrav 07:24 Archived in France Tagged food paris france travel apartment montmartre monet hemingway picasso Comments (1)

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