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Art and death in Paris

Paris 2023 day four

View Paris 2023 on ToonSarah's travel map.

The Pont des Arts

After breakfast in the Bar du Marché we went for a walk to make the most of the less hot morning hours. We walked down ‘our' Street, the Rue de Seine, past all the interesting galleries (most still closed) and other photogenic details.

The Bar du Marché, and gallery on the Rue de Seine

On the Rue de Seine

We crossed over the wonderful Pont des Arts, stopping for some photos of course.

On the Pont des Arts

The Louvre

Would you believe that despite (I think) nine visits to Paris, I have never yet been in the Louvre?! Somehow there always seem to be other more interesting things to do, and I’m put off by the crowds when the other galleries are so much easier to visit. Maybe one day … Today however, our focus was on the architecture and the many visitors thronging its courtyards, so we spent some time here taking lots of photos.

The Louvre

Carving details


Visitors to the Louvre

Looking through some arches

La Bourse de Commerce

As it started to get hot we walked north along the Rue du Louvre to the Bourse, which we planned to visit. But as it doesn’t open till 11.00 there was time for refreshments at a lovely nearby cafe, Les Deux Ecus.

La Bourse de Commerce

La Bourse is the one-time stock exchange building (and formerly a corn exchange) which has now been converted to a modern art gallery. Whatever your interest in contemporary art, the building itself is worth a visit.

The art starts outside, with the striking ‘Horse and Rider’ statue by Charles Ray. A sign explained that this was originally part of a solo exhibition by that artist in 2022. His aim in this piece was to reference classical equestrian statues but with none of their notions of power and virility. Instead he portrays himself hunched over the horse and without reins. He says that he tried to sculpt his nervousness.


Horse and Rider

Inside we found that we enjoyed quite a few, but not all, of the artists featured in the galleries. Some of the abstract works by Tacita Dean and Frank Bowling appealed to me, as did Robert Gober’s Waterfall, a video presented inside a man’s jacket! The leaflet said of the latter, ‘The viewer, a captive of this device, becomes a character in turn.’ No, I didn’t quite get that, until I photographed a man studying the video!



Art in La Bourse de Commerce

And I loved the building, especially the frieze around the central dome. This is described in a sign on the wall as a ‘marouflage canvas’. That was a new term to me so I turned to Wikipedia:

Marouflage is a technique for affixing a painted canvas (intended as a mural) to a wall, using an adhesive that hardens as it dries, such as plaster or cement.




The marouflage frieze

The dome

The sign goes on to explain that the mural is in four parts, reflecting the power balance at the time. Russia and America have their own sections, while Europe is paired with the Ottoman Empire and in the fourth section Asia and Africa are grouped together, the targets of conquest and colonialisation. Racial stereotypes abound, such as the graciously welcoming Japanese women and the warrior-like Africans. Putting modern sensibilities aside, it’s an incredible work of art.

I was also intrigued by the double helix staircase which as well as being beautiful presented great photo opps.

The helix staircase

By the time we left the Bourse it was well after midday. So we returned to Les Deux Ecus to round off the morning with lunch. I had a delicious Salade Niçoise with seared tuna.

Eglise de Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois

Then we walked back toward the river to visit the Eglise de Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois. This was built in the 13th century, with major alterations in the 15th and 16th centuries. During the 17th and 18th centuries it was the parish church for the residents of the Louvre Palace opposite. What I took to be a separate campanile for the church actually belongs to the Hotel de Ville next door!

Campanile next door, and main portal

The ornate carvings around the porch and door caught my eye. Most date from the 15th century. The church’s website describes those around the door:

The arches of the central portal
In the centre: Judas in the bosom of Abraham and seven angels; three souls placed in the infernal boiler are tormented by two demons.
Second arch: the Wise Virgins and the Foolish Virgins
Third arch: Twelve Apostles

The statues of the central portal
On the left: the founders of the church: King Childebert, Queen Ultrogothe and deacon Vincent.
On the right: Saint Germain of Paris, Saint Geneviève and an Angel carrying a torch.
In the centre: Virgin and Child. It replaces the statue of Saint Germain of Auxerre, removed in the 18th century and placed today in the Chapel of the Virgin.

Inside I mainly photographed the beautiful stained glass, mainly from the 19th century as most of the medieval and Renaissance stained glass was destroyed during the Revolution and in the 1831 riots.


Stained glass

My eye was also caught by a triptych, hard to photograph as it was behind glass, but I managed to capture some details. Wikipedia tells me that this was ‘made in about 1515 in Antwerp, near the end of the Middle Ages, when Flanders was at its artistic height. The carved sculpture represents scenes from the Old and New Testament, full of figures from all ranks of society, from kings and nobles to soldiers and peasants in traditional Flemish costume.’




The triptych

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Although it was so hot, we wanted to fit as much as possible into this last day so we took the Metro to Pere Lachaise as neither of us had ever visited the famous cemetery and we hoped it might be cool and shady. Well, it was shady in parts but nevertheless very hot, so we only explored part, including the graves of Colette, Chopin, Hausmann, Abelard and Héloïse and of course Jim Morrison.

Here's a selection of the photos I took, some of the famous graves and others simply ones I liked or general views:




Colette's grave

Chopin's grave

Jim Morrison's grave

Jim Morrison's grave

Tomb of Abelard and Héloïse

Tomb of Abelard and Héloïse

But Oscar Wilde would have to wait for another day as I was wilting badly. Instead we caught the Metro back and finished our outing with ice creams in our new favourite spot for such treats!

In the evening we had (expensive!) drinks at the Bar Napoleon near Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and then ate at Au 35 in the rue Jacob. I’d thought about booking it for our anniversary but decided on the fancier Ze Kitchen Galarie. However this proved almost as good and with the plus that we could choose from the menu rather than having to take a tasting menu. I had a very good duck terrine and chicken pastilla, although it was a shame both came with the same dressed salad leaves rather than the ‘summer vegetables’ promised with the latter, and I enjoyed the deconstructed lemon meringue pie I had for dessert although was jealous of Chris's even better cherry tiramisu!

Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and evening in the Rue Jacob

Posted by ToonSarah 11:09 Archived in France Tagged churches art food paris cemetery museum street_photography

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Thankyou for a wonderful and evocative guided trip. I suspect, on your next visit, we may read - and see - more of the Père Lachaise Cemetery. I look forward to that.

by Yvonne Dumsday

Another interesting day in Paris — despite the heat.

by Nemorino

Thanks Yvonne and Don :) I'm not sure whether we'll go back to Père Lachaise as soon as our next visit, but hopefully one day!

by ToonSarah

Sarah, you really should visit the Louvre. The entire place is not crowded. It's only crowded at the main tourist attractions so avoid those. We were there three or four times before I saw Mona Lisa just because we were avoiding crowds. There are many galleries that are nearly empty that are very worth seeing but don't have a Mona Lisa or Winged Victory in them. Just don't go on a weekend or one of the free days although there are still nearly empty galleries even then if you look for them.

We've always loved the church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois near the Louvre. It seems to be generally ignored and I'm not sure why, perhaps because everyone is so overwhelmed by the Louvre that they go someplace relaxing instead. Hard to get a drink in a church!

Hope you get better weather on your next trip.

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally. It's not that the crowds put me off, there just always seems to be something more appealing to do! I prefer more modern art on the whole, and in Paris we like to be outside walking or simply enjoying the atmosphere of a cafe terrace!

by ToonSarah

So many beautiful pictures ... unbelievable.
I have the same with the Notre Dame, never visited, so maybe I should go now when it is finished again! :)

by Ils1976

Thank you Ils :) Yes, definitely visit Notre Dame when reopened - although I expect everyone will be rushing to do just that!

by ToonSarah

I guess so, but I really have to go one day to see it ... I still have time! :)

by Ils1976

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