Museum-ing – Part 2.. and the feet go on.

After my trip to Versailles on the second day of my Museum Pass I was exhausted. On the third day, I sucked it up, iced my hip and leg, and got out of bed.

The bed in my apartment. Okay, not my bed, just someone named Marie Antoinette.

Day Three of the Museum Pass:  My plan was simple. I would rest my leg in the morning and start my museum-ing later in the day.  Today was my favorite museum,, Musee D’Orsay – which is filled with Impressionist paintings and how I do love the Impressionists.  I can look at a Renoir painting all day long.  Now it so happens that on Thursdays, Musee D’Orsay is open later than usual, until about 9:15pm. If I get to Musee D’Orsay later in the day I could have the place all to myself.  For something to do before going to the D’Orsay, I found another impressionist museum, Musee de L’Orangerie.

Musee de L'Orangerie

Musee de L’Orangerie

Impressionist painter Claude Monet painted a series of water lilies to be specifically hung in this museum.  There were eight huge paintings, each 6ft x 55ft depicting the same pond during one day and how the light changed from dawn to sunset. They were amazing. (So amazing I forgot to take pictures. Sorry.)  It took him 12 years to complete these works of art.  (He should have written a blog instead, it only takes about an hour.)  There was also other painters represented, including my favorite Renoir. (For him, I did remember to take pictures.)

Renoir painting

Renoir painting – I think it’s the way he uses the color blue that appeals to me.

As I entered L’Orangerie it had started to drizzle and during my visit there it rained like chats and chiens.  By the time I left the museum it had stopped raining.  I had a fairly good hike ahead of me and I thought I’d take a short cut to take it easy on my hip.  That brilliant short cut wouldn’t let me cross over the Seine at the Pont Solferino bridge, the closet one to the  D’Orsay so I had to walk further down the river and cross over at Pont Royal.  (My hip was pissed at my head.)  By this time the clouds were gathering and the skies looked foreboding.

Musee D'Orsay with clouds

Musee D’Orsay with threatening clouds – taken from Pont Royal bridge. (The wrong bridge.)

Just as I finished crossing the bridge the Paris skies opened up and it rained hard.  Being the prepared traveler that I am, I had my umbrella.  I slogged my way through huge puddles and unprepared tourists to the museum.

Musee D Orsay

Musee D Orsay -(Not raining here.) Imagine this scene but it’s pouring rain. Still the people waited in lines.

Aha, I had my trusty Museum Pass.  With water-logged squeaky shoes, I went to the front of the line, past the soaking wet tourists, showed my pass and went straight inside.  Volia, it worked!  I now had about 6 hours to wander around, I could take my time and enjoy my museum-ing.  Since I had so much time and the place was still crowded I thought I would get something to eat first.

Ceasar Salade

A half eaten Ceasar Salade – this half was eaten after photo was taken.

After lunch the place was thinning out and I was ready to sit and stare at the paintings I longed for.  As I searched for the Renoir section, there was an announcement in French, and if they talked slower I might have been able to pick out a word or two, but for some reason everybody was heading for the exits.  I discovered that, not only they weren’t staying open late, they were closing early on MY Museum Pass day because it was Fete de la Musique – and they were giving a concert there in a two hours.  Fete de la Musique happens on the first day of summer – where all over France and Europe music is played in cafes, bars, street corners and even in the Museum I had been looking forward to my whole trip.

local cafe with band out front.

Fete de la Musique at a cafe in my neighborhood.

Fete de la Musique is a great idea but did they have to do it on my museum-ing day?  That meant that I only had one day left on the Museum Pass.  Do I go back to the D’Orsay tomorrow or go to the Louvre as planned?  Either way I needed to get home and ice the leg. By the time I finally reached my apartment I had to concentrate on every step I took.  It was exhausting.

Day Four of the Museum Pass:  I compared the entrance fees of the two museum and the Louvre would cost more to go to without the Museum Pass, so I chose the Louvre. I would see Musee D’Orsay another day without the pass.

The Louvre

The Louvre – This is only part of the Louvre, it is so big I couldn’t get it in all one shot.

That morning I had once again iced the leg, which was doing fine, but today it was my  back that was hurting from the limping,  Ugh!  But I marched on.   There’s a metro train that stops right at the Louvre so that was a great help.  I started with statues.

Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo

And not far from the Venus de Milo  is the famous:

Winged Victory statue

Winged Victory statue

After viewing both statues I was wondering: Couldn’t they take the head off of Venus de Milo and put it on Winged Victory so at least they’d have one whole statue?  I couldn’t translate that thought into French so I didn’t ask the security guard next to me.  The big attraction is off course, The Mona Lisa.  That is the one piece of art in the entire huge Louvre that is clearly marked on how to find it.  We’ve all seen the Mona Lisa but here what it really looks like:

Mona Lisa with huge crowd around it.

That’s the Mona Lisa way in the back. She had more paparazzi than the red carpet at the Oscars. I was pushed and shoved as I tried to get closer.

But I did get closer:

The Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa – that’s as close I could get before an 8-year-old girl from Sweden elbowed me in the ribs.

As I walked through the Louvre I felt that I had made the wrong choice.  Seeing in person all the famous statues and paintings in the Louvre is fine and you can get a lot of great photos.  At the Musee D’Orsay I would have seen world renown paintings too but I would have seen them not just with my eyes but with my heart as well.  After feeling disillusioned from my choice of museum-ing the last day of my Museum Pass, I did the only thing I could do..

Shakespeare & Co.  with bride sitting out front.

Shakespeare & Co. I wasn’t the only one there. Instead of throwing rice at the happy couple they threw book marks.


It was a long four days of museum-ing. I barely made it home that day and for the next two days I didn’t walk far, I just stayed in the neighborhood.

Rue de Bretagne in the Marias.

Rue de Bretagne in the Marias.

Muesum-ing with the Museum Pass: —  PROS: The Museum Pass is the way to go.  CONS: But she can be a demanding cruel mistress.


Museum-ing, pros and cons

I’ve just been through a four day whirlwind in Paris known as the’ Museum Pass.’  For about $68 you can obtain a Museum Pass that lets you in to about all the museums you’d want to see and the big plus is, you don’t have to wait in the long lines with the people who just bought tickets (suckers) – and those lines can be long.  But here’s the catch, once you use the pass you have to use it in consecutive days.  I bought the 4 day pass, which meant I had to pack all the museum visiting , what I’m calling museum-ing, into just four days.

4 day Museum Pass

I know that may sound like a great deal, and it is, but I was planning on visiting a museum one week and another one the following week, spread it out.  As some of you know I have an arthritic hip and am in some pain when I walk.  The 4 day pass meant that in that limited time period I had a lot of walking to do.  And so I did and here’s my tale.

Day One of the Museum Pass: I went to the Rodin Museum which showcases the many sculptures and paintings of August Rodin.  I had been there 12 years ago and remember liking it very much.  This time was no different.  The building is filled with many amazing sculptures.  It was beautiful.  The gardens surrounding the building were in full bloom.  There are plenty of benches to sit and take it all in.

The Rodin Museum was actually the home of Rodin and this is where he did his sculpting.

Part of the gardens surrounding the Rodin Museum

We all know the most famous of his sculptures, The Thinker.  He actually made 29 of them, one of them being outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Here’s the one in Paris.

Rodin’s, The Thinker

Of course all the tourists are posing in the same position of The Thinker and having their pictures taken.  I thought of doing that but that’s not how I think.  This is how I think.

Buehler, The Thinker?

Also that day I visited, Les Invaldes which houses Napoleon’s Tomb.

Les Invaldes, housing Napoleon’s tomb and the Army museum.

Most took pictures of Napoleon’s tomb but I looked up and here’s what I saw.

The domed roof above Napoleon’s tomb.

Also at Invaldes is the Army Museum and I took in the WWI and WWII sections.  A long day but my leg was holding up.  Yeah!

Day 2 of the Museum Pass: Versailles – The Chateau of Louis the 14th through Louis the 16th. The palace is about 30 minutes outside of Paris.  The train ride was pleasant and there’s a 15 minute walk to the Chateau from the station.  I wasn’t worried because I had a Museum Pass so I wouldn’t have to wait in any lines.

The line starts off to the left, comes to the camera , continues past the camera , straight up and then bends to the left again.

Apparently my pass doesn’t bring me to the front of the security check point so I waited with everyone else.  Do you see the lengths I’ve gone through to bring you these pictures.

It’s a huge palace with a large number of rooms, painted ceilings, statues and paintings everywhere.  It is surrounded  by hundreds of acres of land with more smaller buildings spread out over the property.  This is the palace with the famous hall of mirrors.

The Hall of Mirrors. Off to the left, what looks like windows are mirrors and there are 17 of them down the 250 ft, hallway. Back then someone had to light all the candles on the chandlers- not a job I’d want.

Here’s a famous person in this mirror.

Your trusty photographer.

There are plenty of rooms, large and very small plus plenty of tourists, large and very small,  so I was happy to finally get outside to the King’s backyard.

Just part of the land surrounding the Chateau.

To get the first outer building you have to walk out to that far lake, make a right and walk for another 1/2 mile.  But I was up for it.

Ready for anything.

Needless to say it was a long walk.  I found the King’s “bungalow” where he went to when he felt too crowded at the Chateau.  By this time my leg was hurting.  The paths to the buildings aren’t marked well and I did a lot needless walking trying to find them.  I wanted to see Marie Antoinette’s small chateau, her  little “getaway.”  Alas it was too much, I was in a lot of pain so my journey was over.  I took a slow tram back to the Chateau, walked back to the train station, okay limped back to the train station, rode the train home, walked from the Metro exit to my apartment, limped up two flights of stairs – and I swear I couldn’t take another step before falling on my bed.

11 Rue de Pacardie

Then a thought crossed my mind – I still had two more days of museum-ing.

Stay tuned for Part 2  of: Museum-ing, The Pros and Cons

Un Bon amis à Paris – A good friend in Paris

The other day I received a message on FB from high school friend, Alan Yarosh, telling me he was in Paris and asked, did I want to get together for a drink?  Long story short – we met up at an outdoor market at the Bastille.  

You know the Bastille, the prison the French burnt down when starting their revolution but now there’s nothing there to show where it started so they had to put up this monument.

In front of the monument I met Alan.  And his wife.  And this four daughters.  Wow, he was traveling with a group of six and I was traveling all by myself.  I couldn’t fathom how much logistics that involved.  I was having trouble planning and organizing activities just for myself.  Along with the six there was, Rob Staunings the son of a friend of Alan’s who has been in Paris since last August.   Apparently I went to college with Rob’s father at Gettysburg but I couldn’t recall him.  Then Alan mentioned several more people I might know and not one name rang a bell.  I know I have arthritis of the hip but I began to wonder if my mind was going too.  Btw, Rob went to culinary school in Paris, currently works at a restaurant and now I have a list of great places to eat all around town.

We took our time and perused the open market where they sold plenty of fresh food, clothes and hand-made items.

Open market – Bastille

I bought – are you ready? – a drain stopper for my tub in Paris.  I know how to shop, don’t I? (Insert your own picture of a drain stopper here)

After shopping we had a nice lunch and a chance to do more catching up.  Alan and family had museum tickets to Musee D’Orsay – the impressionist museum I love, so I eagerly went along. Since I was the experienced Parisian I led the way to the museum – And sure enough, I led us the wrong way.  We finally got there and here’s why I had to say goodbye to Alan & family.

The Musee D’Orsay – and the long line to get in.

They had bought tickets ahead of time so they got to go the front of the line.  I would have had to buy a ticket and wait, and wait, and… I’m looking forward to seeing the new Degas exhibit but I’m not going to wait that long. I’ll go another time and be first in line. We said au revoir there.

Alan Yarosh and family & Rob Staunings

There are certain people who are friends and they just are.  Alan and I haven’t seen much of each other since high school with the occasional, “Hi, what’s up?,” at reunions but nothing more.  Still, he came to Paris, contacted me, we hung out and talked just like time hadn’t passed.  That’s the mark of being good friends.

Alan & family, thank you for spending some of your time with me in Paris. 

It’s a small world

I’ve gone maybe half way around the world.  I’ve brought books with me, including, Murder at the Lanterne Rouge by Cara Black.  Cara is an American mystery author who writes about mysteries set in Paris.  Each book is set in a different arrondissement (district) of Paris.  She’s written 12 of them so far and there’s 21 arrondissements.  Her latest book is set in the exact neighborhood that I’m staying in.  In fact the book mentions my street, Rue de Picardie at least twice.

So not only am I reading a book set in the neighborhood that I’m staying in, I’m in Paris and I get to go to hear that author talk at The American Library of Paris.  It’s a small world, it just costs a lot to get around it.

The American Library in Paris

She gave a wonderful talk giving all kinds of details about the area of the Marais that I am staying in.

Cara Black – mystery author at The American Library in Paris.

One of the details she gave is that the park near me, Square du Temple was the home base of the Knights Templar in Paris.  You know, the guys that protected people going to the crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries and who have all kinds of folklore and conspiracy theories swirling around them.  You know what that means – there might be a whole Da Vinci code treasure hunt in my neighborhood.  It’s something I had to investigate.  Who knows, I might find the Holy Grail.

Here is a photo of me looking for clues.

Doing detective work in the Square du Temple

The rain had stopped and it was too nice to noisy around so I sat back and watched my fellow Parisians enjoy the day.  BTW, I didn’t find any clues but I did find a great shot of the sun breaking through and reflecting on this building near Place de  Republique.

Place de Republique – building avec soleil

It’s a small world, but the world has plenty of books and if you want to read  one about the area of Paris I’m staying in, here’s the one to get:

Murder at the Lanterne Rough
by Cara Black

Okay, I’ve got to get back and get super focused on looking for clues that the Knights Templar might have left near me. It’s a very important mission and I’ve decided to accept it. Nothing should stop me now.  “Oh look, there’s a cute dog…”

Ahhh, petit chein…..

Any comments?

Most unusual photo…

Everybody’s seen the typical tourist photos of Paris.  Today you get to see one you’ve probably never seen before.  Can you guess what it is?

That’s right… It’s at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower looking straight up.

You’ve always seen photos from the top of the Eiffel Tower or the typical one where you see the tourist and the Eiffel Tower’s right over his shoulder,  like this one..

Mr. Tourist and the Eiffel Tower

but you don’t get to see many of  these…

bottom of Eiffel Tower looking straight up

It was a long day… more to come soon.


Reading and drinking

Reading and drinking… and not necessarily in that order.

Today I spent a good deal of my time writing; working on a short story submission for an anthology about the car culture of LA.  Worked on it at 11 Rue de Picardie and also at my neighborhood cafe – Le Sancerre Brasserie.

Le Sancerre Brasserie – my favorite haunt

I didn’t write all day.  I did take breaks for red wine and for reading a friend’s  story in Needles Magazine – Holly West’s short story called “Once a Loser.”

Reading and drinking wine… what a life!

Wednesday night I get to see Cara Black, one of my favorite American mystery writers at the American Library of Paris!

Murder at Lanterne Rouge

Most of the action of Murder at the Lanterne Rouge takes place in my neighborhood in the Marias – my street Rue de Picardie is mentioned twice.

It all comes around…

Any comments…?

A day hunting for a battery…

In Los Angeles, if I need a new battery for my camera I know exactly where to go, I can get one in five minutes.  In Paris, trying to find a camera battery is a lesson in learning about the city.  At first I checked the stores in my neighborhood but they all specialize in cheese, pastries, meat or shirts.  Yes there are a lot of shirt shops.  Even the pharmacies just have medical supplies. No one carries camera batteries.  I emailed my landlord and he gave me several possible stores but of course none of them are open on Sunday.

Now I’m feeling the pressure as many friends have emailed that they want to see pictures of Paris and so far I have not been able to feed their insatiable appetites for photos. Monday, I decided to go to one of the stores suggested by my landlord but it’s far from my familiar surroundings.  I found an app for my phone that will tell you how to get from point A to point B including which Metro to take, when to get off one Metro line and get on the other and which direction to be heading in.  Starting off early, okay it was noon, I walked to the same Metro station that I had used when I first arrived, when I lugged my suitcases and struggled to keep them upright and not wanting to look like the typical lost tourist working up a sweat (which is what I was.)  I discovered that the miles and miles I had first lugged my suitcases from that Metro station was only about 200 yards away.  Not knowing where I was going and attempting to do a juggling act with the valises had increased the distance in my own mind.

I bought my Metro ticket, happy with myself for getting it all together and proceeded to enter the entrance for Metro line 11.  As soon as I entered I realized I wanted Metro line 4.  I left Metro 11 and I tried to use my ticket for line 4 but it didn’t work so I had to buy a new ticket.  Now I don’t understand a lot of French but I understand a look a person can give and the look of the French ticket seller said, “Zee stupid American, zee can’t even get on zee right train.”  I found Metro line 4 about five miles down in the bowels of the Metro system and I’m happy to report I got off on the right transfer stop and proceeded onto Metro line 3 and got off at the correct destination stop.

I was looking for a department stored called Fnac (I did not try to pronounce that to any French person).  The address was peculiar 1-7 Rue Pierre Lescot (the 1-7 was throwing me).  After walking against the wind (insert your own mime joke here) I found out that there is no 1-7 Rue Pierre Lescot, that whole address on that part of the block is missing.  With some detective work I found out the address referred to an underground mall, in the same Metro station I had just left and had been circling for an hour looking for the weird address.

I found the store and yelled, “Ooh la la” which no phased nobody within ear reach.  I waited for about half an hour to talk to a photo salesperson.  In front of me was a customer and I’m not sure what their conversation was about but every time the salesperson told the customer something, the customer spend 10 minutes arguing against it.  It gave me time to practice, “une batterie pour mon appareil photo.”  Finally it was my  turn and I asked the salesman, “do you have any camera batteries,” in English. So much for practice.  After some pantomime and showing him my camera and its defunct battery he looked it up on his computer and said, “non.”  Thinking I was never going to get a battery he then said, “un moment,” looked in his drawer and pulled out card for 1001 Piles Batteries – oh great, another store to hunt down.

The address appeared to be close by and with another hour of walking around the block I found the store.  I asked in my best French if he had the battery, he gave me a quizzical look, I pulled out the battery and showed it to him, he spent 10 minutes looking it up on his computer, came around the counter and walked to about two feet from my right, pulled it off the wall, opened the package, stuck it in my camera which whirled to life and he said, “Voila!”  Okay, he didn’t say, “Voila” but it’s a better story to say he did.

Right outside 1001 Piles Batteries is a different Metro stop than the one I had taken to get to this part of town.  This one services line 11, which is the one I had accidentally almost taken.  If I had taken it earlier it would have dropped me off exactly in front of the store that had the correct battery in the first place. C’est la vie.

In honor of this historic event, the first picture of my blog is:

1001 Piles Batteries.  

The store where I finally found a battery for my camera. “Oh la la.”

A small task can teach a big lesson about a city.

Leave any comments you see fitting, s’il-vous-plait.

Why Stephen In Paris?

I visited Paris twelve years ago and at that time I felt completely at home there.  The only other time I felt that way was when I moved to Los Angeles and felt that sense of place – that was where I was meant to be.  It’s not something you can define, it’s just a feeling like you belong, that no matter of all the problems and difficulties the town has, you’re willing to work through all the obstacles because of the good feeling the place gives back to you.

On my previous visit, just walking the centuries old streets I felt my artistic juices flowing.  Was I just imagining it because I read A MOVEABLE FEAST, the Hemingway adventures of the 1920’s?  I don’t think so.  There was energy crackling in the air and I was attuned to it and wanted to tap into that creative juice.

Every since my visit in 2000, I’d become a mini Francophile: I’ve keep my eye on The City of Lights, reading mysteries that take place there, scanning headlines like Paris banning smoking in restaurants and going over books on How to Survive in Paris.

Why did it take so long for me to return?  Life got in the way.  I wanted to return with a girlfriend and experience the “romantic” part of Paris.  That girlfriend part never happened. C’est la vie.  Money.  Timing.  About nine months ago I just up and decided it was time.  Actually I was prompted by a night out when I was visiting my hometown of Flourtown in Pennsylvania, when I found myself at a bar with 5 female friends from high school.  I boasted I wanted to go and live in Paris for a month, they challenged me to do it, even promising that if I did go and stay a month they’d visit (so far, no one has taken me up on it) so I slowly looked into the feasibility and found an apartment online through NY Habitat that I liked.  I finally had enough mileage on my United Visa card to not have to pay any airfare and that was it.  I booked the apartment, I booked the plane reservation and eventually booked it out of LA to Paris.

I’m here now – on my third day and I was right.  I do feel the creative energy, I do feel at home and I think it’s going to be a great month!

Please leave any comments you see fitting.