Avenue d’Iéna

Posted in La France, Paris, Photography at 20:09

As the weather finally cleared up a bit today, I was able to go on a much-desired walk. I took the métro 1 to Charles de Gaulle – Etoile and crossed the street to Avenue d’Iéna, which I then strolled down to the quais of the Seine. Not before stopping at the wonderful Musée Guimet, however!

koi nobori
On the top floor, they had a colorful temporary exhibition of koi nobori, carp streamers for Children’s Day, celebrated on 5 May in Japan.

The museum is filled with beautiful pieces from Cambodia, Thailand, Afghanistan, Korea (before it was split), China, Tibet, Nepal, and Japan, but my breath was taken away by a tenth-century Indian sculpture of a woman with a tree, called salabhanjika.

Salabhanjika

Goddess figures and trees were a key part of my Masters thesis on the feminine in cosmogonies. Across the world, an original goddess and tree of life are paired, from ancient Indus to Sumerian to Norse to Native American world creation myths. Both symbolize creation and creativity/fecundity, wisdom; that which is and that which can become.

After Guimet, I finished my walk to see Eiffel again, this time from a different perspective than I’ve had before. It’s a relatively famous spot for taking photos: the incredible Art Déco Palais Chaillot.

Eiffel from Chaillot

I also returned to the Louvre yesterday, this time to take in Flemish paintings. As always, more photos can be found in my 500px (favorites) and Flickr (everything) photostreams. I’ve been enjoying 500px, which has an active community that gives immediate feedback. Flickr has gotten much quieter since Yahoo removed statistics.

Parisian street finds

Posted in La France, Paris at 17:38

Kanoko on chair

Slowly but surely, I’m settling into life in Parisian suburbia. My rental apartment came furnished, but street finds have added to its décor these past couple of weeks. The first was a simple wood end table that became a cat tree, then I found two plastic croquet balls that are perfect cat toys. This week I crossed a pile of clothes, shoes, old purses, and broken shelves. I nearly kept walking, but took a second look – beneath four cushions peeked out the tell-tale taper of midcentury modern furniture legs. I took off the cushions, and lo and behold, there was a perfect little chair.

Midcentury chair

I took three of the four cushions (the fourth was in terrible shape) along with it, and now they too have become a feline favorite.

As for other “street finds”, I’ve mainly been visiting Paris on foot so far. A couple trips to Montmartre for its cobblestone streets and amazing fabric shops, and a neat walk from La Grande Arche de La Défense, which is a few yards from our offices, to the Arc de Triomphe. It takes about an hour, and you get to go from the postmodern skyscrapers, cross the Seine, and walk through the posh suburb of Neuilly to reach the neoclassic Arc. There’s a large métro station there from which you can get anywhere else. Hopefully the weather will cooperate tomorrow (Sunday) and I’ll finally be able to spend a bit longer on foot in the City of Light.

La Défense en boucle

Posted in La France, Paris, Photography at 19:08

Businessman sculpture, Courbevoie

Today I took a long walk around the northern half of La Défense, starting from the top (northwest), in Courbevoie, which has RER rail tracks leading to the business quarter. From there I walked to the opposite side, in Nanterre, the southwestern end of La Défense. It’s the first time I’ve been outside of skyscraper-land; unfortunately, I can’t really say I was impressed by the large Parc André Malraux, meant to be the area’s greenery. Most of the visual interest in this part of the Parisian suburbs comes from architecture rather than nature.

Thus it was that I returned to the parvis de la Défense on my boucle, or “round”. Yet another temporary art exhibition is being set up, which looks like it will be glass mosaic fishes in front of La Grande Arche.

Now with enough photos to merit it, I’ve created a set for La Défense. It has a mix of pictures taken with my phone, which has quite a decent wide-angle lens, and my Nikon SLR. You may notice several shots of the GDF Suez building (shown below) – that would be because not only do I find it a beautiful skyscraper, it’s also the client I’m currently working for. During my first few days in Paris, the sun came out and turned all the glass and metal into beautiful plays of light. Indeed, while I generally prefer natural vistas, I’ve found La Défense, with its fields of rock and concrete, trees of glittering steel, and flowers of iron, to be a postmodern forest in its own right.

GDF Suez T1 tower in the sun