Here’s the final batch of Paris sketches from last July’s visit. We really covered a lot of ground, but there’s a lot left to explore in future years. The thing about travel, I want to go everywhere. Well, maybe not everywhere, I don’t really fancy places like Swindon, or Fallujah, or Minsk. I’m sure they have their charms, but they are a bit further down the wish list. I feel like you could explore Paris forever with a sketchbook. The above panorama was another morning walk across the Seine, pre-breakfast, I had a bit of time. I did most of the linework there and then, but had to add in that truck and a lot of the windows later, as well as colour it in. My tummy was rumbling, you know. This is the Pont au Change, looking across to the Île de la Cité and the impressive Palais de Justice and Conciergerie. This is the heart of historic Paris right here. Right next to where I sketched was a stone marker that said on the 19th August 1944, Jem Harrix, ‘Gardien de la Paix’, died for the liberation of Paris. Harrix was a fighter in the Resistance, although I couldn’t find out much more than that. I walked off to get the usual selection of morning pastries, and got ready for our day of sightseeing.
There was one day where we visited the Musée D’Orsay. My wife had been telling me about the Musée D’Orsay for years, she loved that place when she first visited it back in the late 90s. It really is one of the most impressive art museums in the world. Built into the building of a train station, which features giant clock faces that you can look out of to heart-stopping views across Paris. I loved seeing all the paintings by your Renoirs and your Monets, and enjoyed all the sculptures by your Rodins and your Degas, but it was the architecture of the space itself that inspired me the most. I would love to go back; you can never spend too much time in a museum though, because museum fatigue is a real thing.
While taking a sitting down break, I sketched some of the sculptures quickly. It looked like a couple of them were almost doing a ‘Brucie’, that is, the Bruce Forsyth pose. More on the Brucie in another post perhaps, but it’s become one of those traditions now that when I go somewhere, I get a picture of me doing a ‘Brucie’. I got quite a few Brucies on this trip. I even got a Brucie at the Louvre in front of one of those massive paintings by David, though it was too crowded for a Brucie in front of the Mona Lisa. I got a Brucie at the Eiffel Tower, a Brucie at the Mont St Michel, a Brucie by the Seine, a Brucie in front of Van Gogh. You can only do one at each place, you don’t get nothing for a pair, not in this game. Anyway, I thought Rodin’s ‘Penseur’ had a touch of the Forsyth about him. This sculpture is from 1881! That’s a year older than Tottenham Hotspur. Rodin probably won more trophies too, yeah yeah.
After leaving the museum we went down to the seine and grabbed some lunch by the river, some Breton food. We didn’t stay too long in our seat though, as were were harassed by loads of wasps. Big horrible wasps too that wouldn’t take buzz-off for an answer, and made me spill my drink. I was going to ask to see the wasps’ manager and complain about their behaviour, but it turns out wasps don’t care about your stupid lunchtime and just want to get all over everything you are trying to eat and threaten you with their stingers. They know you’ll give up, and they were right. So we gave up, and walked through the city towards the Eiffel Tower. I’m not sure why we didn’t get the bus, but we thought the walk would do us good. it was a nice walk, but our feet didn’t half need a rest by the time we reached the Champ de Mars. We took a good long rest there and enjoyed the view and the pleasant wasp-free weather, and sketched the scene below. We walked closer to the Tower, recreated a photo we took of our son ten years before, and crossed the Seine to walk up the Trocadero (where I managed to sneak in a quick Brucie). We didn’t go up the Tower this time. I’ve been to the top before. What is interesting is that nowadays it is not possible to just walk beneath the Eiffel Tower, you are rerouted around it, which is disappointing. I do love the Eiffel Tower though, as far as iconic buildings go, this is up there in the top three.
We visited the Louvre too, but not on the same day as the Musee d’Orsay. My wife was surprised when I told her that I’d never been to the Louvre, in fact I’d never really been to any of the big Museums in Paris. In fact, none of the small ones either. I’ve not been to Paris that many times, and I usually wander about enjoying the streets. The Louvre was absolutely massive though. It’s big from the outside, but inside it feels even more gigantic. We did see the Mona Lisa of course, in that jam-packed little space (no Brucie; no room). I get it, it’s famous, but it’s not all that. You just have to say that you saw it and be done with it. It didn’t exactly have any impact on me such as when I saw Guernica in Madrid. Still, you got to see the famous thing, and anything by Leonardo da Vinci is worth taking a look at.
After the Louvre, we rested those tired feet by going up to Montmartre and walking around that hilly neighbourhood, getting out at Abbesses Metro station and climbing a ridiculous spiral staircase that went on forever, I thought we’d end up on the Moon or somewhere. Despite being packed with people, I really like Montmartre and had a nice afternoon there in 2019 (see: https://petescully.com/2020/02/02/une-journee-breve-a-paris/). We took the Funicular up to Sacre Coeur, enjoyed the views, despaired at the stupid amount of those little padlocks on all the fences. Seriously everyone, stop doing that. Padlock peddlers walk around selling those little “love-locks” at silly prices. But honestly, are you going to come back in years to come with your spouse and look for your little padlock with your initials on them on that fence with thousands of others and go, yay, we were here before, wow. No, don’t be silly. There was that one bridge over the Seine, the Pont des Arts, where so many of these things had been placed by silly lovers, throwing their keys into the river like idiots, that the city actually tried to stop it, because there were so many that the bridge started suffer damage under the weight. So people, please give up the love-lock thing. Love is all you need, not a bloody padlock on a bridge or fence in some city miles away. Anyway. We went inside Sacre Coeur, I had never been in there before, and it’s really nice. From inside, we did notice that the building is distinctly, um, booby-shaped. We wlaked about the streets and squares, found a very cool shop called ‘Merde’ run by an artist selling his artwork along with lots of things that say ‘Merde’ on it; we got some stickers and stuff. I did a very quick outline sketch of the view of Le Consulat restaurant, but we were ready to go home, so I took a picture and did most of it later on. The Metro ride home was long and sleepy. We were flying back to America the next day, which was an eventful journey in itself. We loved our time in Paris, and I can’t wait to come back again.