Paris, Oh how I love Paris!

Me trying to torch Creme Brulée

Me trying to torch Creme Brulée

Today is our last day in Paris. I’ve loved every minute of it – except for the escalator disaster. Our hotel is just off of Montparnasse, a huge boulevard located on the Left Bank of the River Seine. This is the area in Paris where the creative community – artists and writers – met in the 19th century. I found an art store just a few doors down from the hotel and bought a real box of Conté crayons. The box is in French.

Photographing the Ace de Triomphe

Photographing the Arc de Triomphe

Emily had us scheduled pretty tight. We had about two hours in the Musée d’Orsay, the museum of modern art. I could have spent four or five hours there. We went directly to the two connected rooms with paintings by Van Gogh and his contemporaries. There is no photography allowed in the museum. After fifteen minutes, Tom and Emily were bored and went off to explore the museum. I spent an hour and a half in those two rooms, most of it spent sketching a painting by Gauguin.

From there we rushed through Paris, getting on and off the underground and finally arrived, five minutes late, at our French cooking class. Emily is a co-owner of a wonderful bakery and when she asked what we’d like to learn to cook, I told her to just choose something that she wanted to learn. She did a good job. We learned how to make little plum tarts, Madeleines, and creme brulée. I took a turn with the torch to caramelize the tops but it scared me. I’m not fond of fire.

The instructor was wonderful. She spoke very good English so we had a delightful conversation. I mentioned that the stereotype of the thin, elegantly dressed, French woman wasn’t a stereotype. I don’t remember seeing one overweight woman in Paris. She assured me that this was only in Paris. The rest of the country was more “normal.”

The day we went to see the Arc de Triomphe, I was having trouble getting a good photo. The Arc is in the middle of a gigantic traffic circle with multiple streets leading to it. Finally, I took my life into my hands and crossed half way across the eight lane avenue. I stopped in the tiny space between the lanes to take some photos not realizing that Emily was taking photos of me taking photos.

I will miss Paris.

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart

The Place des Terreaux in Lyon, France

Friday, Oct 12

Beaux Arts Court Yard

I took a taxi to Place des Terreaux, a huge public square where I could visit Les Beaux Artes (Museum of Fine Art), the Lyon City Hall and the Bartholdi Fountain. The museum takes up

Happy Boy

most of one side of the square. When you walk in, there is a large courtyard with statues, lots of flowers and trees and places to sit. I call one of the statues “Happy Boy” although I don’t think he should be quite that happy considering where his dog is. A covered walk way goes around three of the sides. They reminded me of the art school building in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The museum features old paintings. I was also able to see Rodin’s The Kiss and The Thinker.

The Circumcision of Jesus

Covered Walkway

The Sisters of Jesus and Mary commissioned an Italian artist, Barbieri, to paint The Circumcision of Jesus, for their main alter. It was

Lyon City Hall

finished on January 1, 1646.

Another side of the square is what the taxi driver told me was the Opera House but is actually the Lyon City Hall. Can you imagine that as your city’s government building? Amazing. It’s gold inlaid and one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. There are gods and goddesses carved at the roofline. I didn’t have time to go inside but I can guess its beauty.

The other two sides of the square are made up of a hotel, galleries, restaurants and shops. On one of those sides is a gigantic sculpture of a woman, naked from the waist up, driving a chariot pulled by four huge, grotesquely violent horses. The sculptor created them in such a way that water sprays out of the horses’ nostrils making it look like they’re snorting steam. The woman is looking down at a child on her right side while another child at her left side looks like he’s trying to reach up to her

Bartholdi Fountain

but is on the verge of drowning. Hundreds of gallons of water pour down over the intricately designed fountain. This fountain/statue was not meant to

Bartholdi Fountain Horses

be pretty, or at least I hope not, because in truth, it is quite frightening.

To quote an article on Wikipedia: “The fountain depicts France as a female seated on a chariot controlling the four great rivers of France, represented by wildly rearing and plunging horses, highly individualized but symmetrically arranged, with bridles and reins of water weeds. It weighs 21 tons and is made of lead supported by a frame of iron and was presented at the Exposition Universelle in1889. It has been classified as a Monument Historique since 29 September 1995.”

The French sculptor, Frédéric Bartholdi, also designed the Statue of Liberty standing in New York harbor. The original name of this statue was “Liberty Enlightening the World.”

I visited a lot of museums in my 2-1/2 weeks in France. As a full-time artist, I happen to like museums and I had enough alone time that Emily didn’t have to come along to all of them. She and Tom went to the two museums in Paris: the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. Just on this page you can see a painting from 1646, a fountain that was unveiled in 1889 and the City Hall dedicated in 1891. One more thing about Lyon – actually there is so much more about Lyon! – is that it was the home of Antoine de St Exupery who wrote The Little Prince.

Until next time

Susan L Stewart