Paris: December 2009

We had 2 extra vacation days to spend at the end of the year, so we decided to take a 4 day weekend in Paris. Why not? After all, it's only 4 hours away by train.


We arrived just about sunset. We had heard that there was a strike at the Paris museums, so we made a stop by the Louvre to get the news. The Louvre was, indeed, on strike the entire weekend, so this was as much as we saw of it. (Well, technically it was open on Sunday, which was a free admission day... but we estimated the line to be >5000 people so we decided to skip it.)

ferris wheel through arch

Apparently there's a carnival in town, with a ferris wheel. One of the things which is hard to describe about Paris is how *everything* is on a grand scale. The residential areas are like Amsterdam scaled for giants... the streets are wide boulevards, the buildings are 8-10 stories tall. Everywhere you turn there is some grandiose piece of architecture: a cathedral here, a national museum there, a gothic monument around the corner. In this context the Eiffel tower seems understated.

statue with lighting

This shot is all about lighting.


The city at dusk, looking out over the Seine. The two yellow towers near the middle of the picture are Notre Dame.

eric with sphynx

Normally I find sphynxes (sphynces?) rather cheesy. I like this one though, perhaps because of her Romanesque anterior. Eric poses next to the lady of riddles.

anatomically correct lion

Unfortunately this photo is blurry, but if you look carefully you can see that the lion is anatomically complete, if not exactly correct.

Eiffel tower

We decided that on our first night in town, we'd head for the top of the Eiffel tower. They continue to run the lift until midnight. Several things surprised us about the tower. The first was that most of the lift equipment looked original: a big wood and steel box hefted everyone up to the top.

park below tower

Another was that it's very difficult to get good night pictures from the tower, because it moves quite a lot in the wind. This is a picture of the park below the tower.

windy windy

Notre Dame is in the picture to the right above. There are a few shots of the city which aren't blurry, too:

cityscape city at night
cityscape cityscape
Eiffel tower wild colors

The biggest surprise by far, though, is that every hour, on the hour, the Eiffel tower is lit up in wild colors for a sound and light show! The sound you can only hear locally, but the colors you can see all over the city. Apparently the really wacky colors were a special thing the week we were there, but normally the tower sparkles (white lights strobing randomly all over the tower) every hour. The sparkles are impossible to photograph, but I did get a few of the wild lights.

Eiffel tower wild colors Eiffel tower wild colors
Eiffel tower wild colors Eiffel tower wild colors
The Thinker

Since the big museums were closed, we decided to start at the Rodin museum. This is of course the one that everyone knows.

unfinished Rodins

Among other things, they have a gallery of unfinished pieces. Perhaps these are just works that Rodin never got around to completing, but just as likely they were deemed complete somewhere partway through. The large figure in the back is titled Ariane (the French form of Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos of Crete). The one in the front is titled, Aurora and Tithonus or Venus and Adonis.

dripping hand

It was a rainy day in the sculpture garden...

from behind

The same piece, from another unusual angle.

rodin in the garden

Sculpture gardens offer the opportunity for really setting the scene around a sculpture. This one is an excellent example.


Detail of a Romanesque vase entitled Pompeiian urn, the Night.

spirit of war

Spirit of War. I think she is backlit on purpose, it accentuates her resemblance to Victory. This angle, though, suggests a less glorious aspect of War.

the kiss

The Kiss

Eternal Idol

Eternal Idol

Hand of God

Hand of God. Photo credit goes to Eric on this one.

The Thinker

This is of course The Thinker. It was originally entitled The Poet and was meant to represent Dante upon his exit from Hell, struggling to create the poem of his experiences. It is part of a series of sculptures insipired by The Inferno. The version we have all seen is about 2m tall (the one in the garden at the beginning of this set is one of 25 casts of this version). This one is about half that size, and might be the original (exhibited in 1888). Or it might be just another, smaller Thinker.

Gates of Hell

Another part of the Inferno series, The Gates of Hell. Note the miniature Thinker on top of the gates. Eric notes that these gates do not open... perhaps superstition on Rodin's part? Or perhaps it was simply that it was easier to make a sculpture of a gate than an actual functional one.


The Sirens

siren butt

The back of the siren.

dude in the cabinet

A small piece in the cabinet. I'm not sure what it's called. It is probably a plaster piece done in preparation for a larger marble or bronze. Photo credit goes to Eric.



cabinet of Rodin

I'm not sure why this piece is here: the Cabinet of Rodin perhaps? In any case it is a very ornate wood cabinet which is positioned in front of a window and has lots of glare. I could get some detail shots though, including the great ornate font used for the year.

cabinet of Rodin cabinet of Rodin
the meditation

The Meditation.

I can't find the title of the next piece but there are two photos of it. The sign says something about Bacchanalia but I can't confirm that as the name.

Bacchinalia Bacchinalia
7 of swords

Virgin of the seven sorrows. I think this is a piece out of the collection of Antoine Bourdelle. The inscription reads, Relie de dévotion: Vierge des Sept-Douleurs. Milieu XVIe - 1er quart XVIIe siècle. Albâtre. Acheté à Antoine Bourdelle, 16 décembre 1906

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