Sunday, December 7, 2008

More Sights and Shops in Paris

There are endless photo opportunities in Paris. Even the pavement can be attractive. I found something interesting or beautiful almost anywhere I looked. I shot these with my little Leica C-Lux pocket camera.

Above, Notre Dame from one of my favorite vantage points.
Below, La Grande Roue, on the Place de la Concorde. Admission: 9 Euros.

Notre-Dame, last Saturday at dusk. Musicians under the tree were playing "My Girl Is Red-Hot" and there was a little dancing, too.

A pedestrian way with elegant shops and black and white Christmas trees. Between this sort of thing and the lavender twinkle lights everywhere, French holiday color schemes took some getting used to. I suppose I should try to evolve beyond red, green, gold — and the multicolored lights that are my secret favorite.

Here are two more photos of my favorite tea shop, La Charlotte de l'Isle. Above, the cluttered kitchen, where the magic takes place. Below, a detail of the pastry case. Her desserts may look plain and flat, but every slice is memorable.

I wish I had taken a shot of the restroom. From the kitchen, I was directed to go outside into a courtyard, where I found a door. I found a tiny bathroom, no more than a closet, old-fashioned and unheated, but clean. When I turned on the ancient porcelain sink, I realized there was no drainage plumbing — my boots almost got soaked as the water rushed right through the sink onto the floor. Needless to say, I adored the whole experience.

I know a cat who would look terrific in this tiara, if only for a few seconds.

A few store interiors. Above, Mariage Frères, our all-time favorite tea emporium, on the Rue des Augustins. We especially enjoy their butterscotch-flavored black tea. This time, they suggested we try Wedding Imperial, which is similar, with hints of chocolate. How could we refuse? We haven't brewed a pot yet, but it smells promising. And the elegant black tins are irresistible, too.

Above, some of the animals who have returned to Deyrolle, on the Rue du Bac, after the devastating fire in January. People actually donated past purchases to build up the taxidermy inventory. The restored shop is a little too fresh and elegant for my taste, but it has a nice selection of butterflies and bugs along with these animals. A lion was being professionally photographed in this room, so I took this shot by sticking my hand around the photographer's gray screen, not quite knowing what I'd get. Except for the ostrich in the foreground, it looks like everyone is watching "Project Runway."

I miss the stuffed dogs most of all. They no longer accept dogs for taxidermy because too many people left them and never returned to pick them up. So the old store was full of eerie, dead pets, which tended move a bit when you walked across the creaky wooden floor. They also need a zebra.

Even buying an apple is an aesthetic experience in France. This was a simple grocery store, with a Cézanne-esque abundance of produce, displayed with casual perfection.

Below, two photos of the Sainte-Chapelle, a Gothic jewel worth visiting on every trip. The top photo is a detail of an angel peeking from above a pair of gilded arches. As we sat and gazed upwards, I gave my husband my 90-second spiel on French Gothic architecture, culminating in the Rayonnant, or High, Gothic style, of which this chapel is a perfect example. He said he'd heard it all before, in prep school. So instead I contemplated how I wore myself to the bone studying Gothic art history in college. And for what, if not to impress the spouse occasionally?

Below, from the edge of the Seine. Sure, it's the City of Light, but it can still look great when there's barely any light.

Notre Dame with architectural lighting. The atmosphere that night was every bit as frosty as it looks — a fine excuse to buy yet another Nutella crêpe from a street vendor.

Now, who wants to fly to Paris this minute? ME!

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