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Rodin and street photography

Anniversary trip to Paris day three


View Anniversary trip to Paris on ToonSarah's travel map.

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Les Invalides

We awoke to cloudy skies and decided to have breakfast at the hotel. While we ate it started to rain so we changed our plans and booked tickets for the Musée Rodin, rather than opting for another walk.

However by the time we were ready to go out the skies were already clearing so instead of going directly to Varennes, the nearest stop to the museum, we got off the Metro on the Champs Elysees and walked past the Grand and Petit Palais (the former under restoration and covered in scaffolding) and across the Pont Alexandre III, with wonderful views and photo opps.

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Statue of De Gaulle near the Grand Palais

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Statue of Churchill near the Petit Palais

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On the Grand Palais

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Pont Alexandre III, Paris

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View of the Eiffel Tower from the Pont Alexandre III

A couple were having wedding photos taken by the lawns in front of Les Invalides, and didn’t seem to mind me grabbing a few shots!

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Wedding couple near Les Invalides

Musée Rodin

This museum occupies the Hôtel Biron, where Rodin lived for the last decade of his life. He left the building and most of his sculptures to the French state in his will, to be used as a museum to display his work. The museum today is spread across a sculpture garden as well as many rooms of the house.

By the time we got inside it was mid-morning so we stopped for a drink in the café in the gardens before starting to explore. After the early shower the weather was perfect for enjoying the gardens dotted with sculptures and there were relatively few other people around. The gardens are laid out in a formal French style for the most part, but with a less formal woodland walk to one side.

Highlights in the garden for me included:

The Thinker which we saw almost immediately on entry. This is one of Rodin’s most famous works and there are many casts around the world. It looked very striking here in the garden setting, with the golden dome of Les Invalides in the background.

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The Thinker

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The Thinker with Les Invalides, and The Three Shades with the Eiffel Tower

Ugolino and his Sons, which is the centrepiece of the ornamental pond at the far end of the garden. I owed my understanding of this work to my friend Don, who described it on his blog.

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Ugolino and his Sons

Rodin’s sculpture is based on Dante’s telling of the story of Ugolino della Gherardesca, a 13th century Italian count. As Don so graphically explains:

On orders of his enemy, the Archbishop, Ugolino and his sons and grandsons were imprisoned in a tower and left there to starve to death, the keys having been thrown into the river.

This probably would have been forgotten as just another gruesome episode from Italian history, except that Dante Alighieri picked up on the story a quarter century later and used it in his Divine Comedy — in the Inferno part, of course. In Dante’s version, the dying children beg their father to eat their bodies after they have died, and he finally gets so desperate that he does so. For this crime of cannibalism (among other crimes) he is condemned to eternal torture in the ninth circle of hell — along with his enemy, the Archbishop.

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Ugolino and his Sons with Les Invalides behind, and one of the Burghers of Calais

Several of the figures of the Burghers of Calais, also in the woodland area. I know the London grouping of the Burghers but it was interesting to see them here larger and as separate statues. The burghers were six dignitaries of the city who went to hand over the keys of the city to the victorious King of England at the end of the siege of 1346-47 during the Hundred Years' War.

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One of the Burghers of Calais

The museum website describes them thus:
Alone facing their destiny and death, they do not look at each other, do not touch. Simply dressed in a tunic, with a rope around their necks and bare feet, the condemned men begin their slow funeral march. Rodin gives each figure, studied naked before being draped in the condemned man's tunic, a particular gesture and movement - from despair to abandonment, from confidence to resignation.

The Monument to Victor Hugo in the woodland area, which depicts him sitting on the rocks in Guernsey, where he lived in exile. The sign nearby explained that he is shown deep in thought, with his arm outstretched as though to calm the waves, and accompanied by the Tragic Muse.

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The Monument to Victor Hugo

After exploring the gardens we went into the house. On the whole I found the pieces here less engrossing, probably because there were too many of them to take in properly. Of course though I had to admire Le Baiser / The Kiss, another of Rodin’s most famous works. The version here is in white marble, whereas the one we had seen on our previous visit to Paris, in the Tuilleries, is in bronze.

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The Kiss

I was also taken by La Tempête and L’Illusion, soeur d’Icare (sister of Icarus).

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La Tempête, and L’Illusion, soeur d’Icare

Around Les Halles

We had a light lunch in a nearby brasserie and then took the Metro to Rambuteau for some street photography around the Centre Pompidou and Les Halles. While this isn't my favourite part of Paris it is a great area for street photography, which we both enjoy.

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At the Pompidou Centre

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Street art near Les Halles

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Near Les Halles

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Street art and yarn bombing near Les Halles

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A post box and statue near Les Halles

We walked back to the Ile Saint Louis via the Rue de Rivoli, stopping at a cafe en route for ice cream (nice but not a patch on the Berthillon ice creams we'd been enjoying on the island).

We started the evening with a glass of champagne in the hotel bar as we'd been given a voucher as an anniversary gift.

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Champagne at the Hotel Jeu de Paume

Dinner was in the Auberge de la Reine where I enjoyed the magret de canard more than that of our first evening! The atmosphere was cosy and the service friendly, although it was odd to see the food being brought from the kitchen of the next-door restaurant, L'Orangerie.

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The Auberge de la Reine, Île Saint-Louis

Posted by ToonSarah 08:24 Archived in France Tagged art paris museum sculpture street_art street_photography Comments (8)

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