On the first day of my photography retreat in France, we drove through the winding roads and steep foothills of the Pyrenees to reach Rennes-les-Bains, a tiny Languedoc village perched on both sides of the river Sals. Artifacts discovered in the village indicate that Rennes-les-Bains was known for its hot and cold springs even before the Romans established colonies in the area.
I returned to Paris and Internet access last evening. Thanks to the Air France pilots’ strike, I had a very long train ride from Toulouse to Gare Montparnasse, and what was supposed to be another day of Paris sight-seeing was limited to what I could see out the windows of the #92 bus back to my apartment.
But this morning I was back in tourist mode. I headed to Montmartre with the hope that I could see all of Paris spread out before me. Alas, Paris is in the middle of a smog alert, and when I looked towards the city all I could see was a dingy gray haze. But all I had to do was turn around to see this carrousel.
Then I joined the throngs of tourists to ride the funicular to Sacré Cœur.
As soon as I left the funicular carriage, I heard harp music. Here’s my harp sighting on the plaza below Sacré Cœur.
This is Hugo and his Paraguayan harp. He’s played at Sacré Cœur for many years, and sells his CDs to people like me who are suckers for busking street musicians, and especially busking harpers. You can see and hear Hugo in this video posted in 2008.
I leave the City of Lights tomorrow morning, and will gratefully sleep in my own bed tomorrow night. I’ll share more photos of my France adventures once the jet lag abates a bit.
I am in rural southwest France, where internet connections are spotty and signal strength is quite weak. I am unable to upload many images at present. I’ll post more when the internet connection is better. With luck, here is one from Rennes Les Bains, altered with the waterlogue app.
The Musée national du Moyen Âge, better known as the Cluny Museum, is best known as the home of The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. The museum’s statues, art, stained glass, and tapestries provide windows into the lives of the people who were alive when the Gothic cathedrals of Paris were being built, and show that music was an important part of life in the Middle Ages. There are a couple of harp sightings, too! Come have a look:
I awoke to another bright, blue-sky day in Paris, a perfect morning for visiting le Jardin du Luxembourg. I am finally getting the hang of Paris buses. I found the right bus stop and the right bus without getting lost and having to accost a stranger with my butchered French to get directions (of which all I can usually understand is “left” and “right”.)
Luxembourg Garden is an immense green space that provides respite for weary Parisians and tourists alike. As I walked through the column of plane trees, I inhaled the aroma of flowers and newly mown grass instead of gasoline and diesel fumes, and listened to birdsong and children on the playground instead of horns and sirens. C’est magnifique! Come see the garden with me. . . . .
If you say “cathedral” and “Paris” in the same sentence, you will most likely think of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. But Paris is home to many cathedrals, and one of the most beautiful is Saint-Eustache. It was constructed from 1532 to 1640, with towering gothic arches, walls of light, and the largest organ in Paris. I hope you enjoy this visit to Saint-Eustache.
Photography is no longer allowed in the Musee d’Orsay, so this was the best I could do with recording harp sightings. Of the three images, one truly illegal image is blurry, and one is really a lyre, but they will have to do!
I was exposed to lots of music as a child thanks to my dad’s collection of phonograph records, and singing in school and choir. But I did not have much exposure to art and artists until college, when an art appreciation course my freshman year introduced me to the Impressionists and Claude Monet.
That year was pretty rough for me, and I often didn’t know why I should bother to keep one foot moving in front of the other. Then I saw a slide of Monet’s painting of his Japanese bridge. I knew that being in a world that contained such beauty was reason enough to keep going. I’ve wanted to go to Giverny to see the Japanese bridge and the water lily pond ever since seeing that projected image of Monet’s painting.
And today, I made it there!
The lily pond: