Getting Some Louvre-age – Monday 5/7/2007

We breakfasted at our hotel, the Minerve Hotel on the rue des Ecoles, which we later learned is one of the oldest streets in Paris. One of our first stops was Shakespeare & Company, to which I returned several times during this trip.

Hydra danced on the Seine. Then we both danced on the Seine. This is the big finish, taken by Mom from the street above. There was some laughter. There was even a little clapping from the folks we shared the walkway with.

These kids were tickled that they were in somebody’s shot of the entance to the Louvre.

She’s impressive, even when mobbed. It was a busy day at the museum and the hallway below her was filled with people. I got one close up shot of her wing that I like a lot too.

Can’t say what this is a detail of. Unfortunately, I didn’t take very good photo notes. I didn’t know at this point that I would end up taking more than 1700 photos on this trip. I took quite a few shots of hands…thanks in part to the book that Gia gave me for my birthday.

I’m pretty sure I felt something similar when I met the Scribe for the first time.

This modern installation seems amusing from above. I wonder if it’s a little creepy from below.

The architecture of the Louvre itself is fascinating. But often it’s hard to capture because the ceilings are so high and the light is not directed upward. I wonder how all the fantastic ceiling paintings and carvings were illuminated back in the day, or if they were. It must have been an eerie place at night.

Another theme that shows up in my photographic life is doors and windows. This is actually a series of doors. No mirrors were used in the creation of this image!

We had a lot of fun in the ancient Middle East section of the Louvre, too. We went there just as our energy began to lag and it perked us up.

Had our first real meal in Paris (we’d dined on cheeses, crackers and wine in the hotel room the night before). Mom had escargot and a little of my cassoulet (beans, sausage and some sort of hock… ham? rabbit? Do rabbits have hocks?). Hydra had an amazing chicken in mushroom, onion and carrot sauce with pureed (have the French ever mashed anything?) potatoes. Wine all round. A fabulous trio of creme brulees served in espresso cups for dessert: coffee, chocolate and vanilla.


D-Day Beaches – Part 2 – Sunday 5/6/2007

The monument at Omaha Beach as seen from inside a German bunker.

Hydra walking on the beach, toward the spot where he will collect some sand and pebbles. I hadn’t realized how big the beach was, or how high the cliffs were that they immediatly had to get up to get to the bunkers. I didn’t really get a shot that shows that. Here’s a link to some historical photos.

Mom and I both found this tree terribly evocative.

The Normandy American Cemetery is nearby. More than 9,000 U.S. men and women are buried here.

This photo of one of the markers at the end of a row of crosses is probably my favorite from the day. It doesn’t really mean anything out of context. As I stood there, though, I thought of the person who has travelled here to find the grave of the lover, brother, father who never made it home.

Drove from here to Paris, stopping in Bayeaux for lunch. Hydra is to be highly commended for keeping his cool when we accidentally got onto the Perifique Interior (inner ring road). The Arc d’Triumph was right in front of us!

Dropped the car, taxied in to our hotel in the 6th Arrondissment, and scrounged the local mini-markets for supper. It was a holiday Sunday, election day to boot, and nothing much was open.

We bought cheese, wine and the most taste-free toast/crackers known to humanity, which we ate in the room. Opened gifts that the fabulous Laweeez had given us. Notebooks and a pen for me, books for Hydra and amazing Griottines–morello cherries in liqueure–for Mom. I used the smallest notebook for notetaking the rest of the trip, and we dipped into the cherries the whole time, too!

Mont-Saint-Michel – Saturday 5/5/2007

It was amazing driving up to this place through meadows. You can see it for about 20 minutes before you get to the causeway. It’s still a very impressive and inspirational place…it must have given pilgrims a lot to think about as they approached it for hours on foot.

Mont-Saint-Michel’s story began around the year 709 with a vision from Saint Michael, requesting a shrine be built in his honor. But I’ll let you check out the history for yourself if you’re interested.

We had been warned that our hotel–which is up about three levels from the wall–would give away our reservations if we weren’t there by 5pm. We arrived at the parking lot at 5pm, and needed to walk into the village from, yes, about where this photo was taken! We stuffed pyjamas and a change of essential clothes into backpacks and hiked into the town. Dodging tourists, we arrived at the reception desk at about 5:20 where they said, “But of course, we’d save the room.” Ahem.

Photo by Hydra of Mom and I at the archway that leads to the passage from the main street to our hotel room. There are just so many photos I’d like to include, but I can’t. The room was in the hotel’s annex, right below a cemetery. I guess only about 30 people live on the island full time. And, um, about 50 people seem to be dead on the island all the time.

We all explored for a while and then had dinner, including a bottle of the local hard cider. We asked if they sold the cups that the cider was served in, and the waiter stood back, opened his arms in a Gallic shrug and said, “No… But I see nothing!”

Mom, possibly done in by the cidre, went back to the room. Hydra and I continued to poke around all the levels. We stood a little below here and watched the famous tides come rushing in about about 12 mph! We watched a sandbar disappear in a few minutes, with a gull standing on it until the last possible second.

Looking back toward shore. Before the causeway, this became an island every high tide. They’re engineering a new bridge and will take out the causeway, which has caused parts of the bay to silt up during the 100+ years it’s been there.

We’d arrived too late to actually get into the famous cathedral at the top, but we enjoyed walking around the passages and being able to look down on the main street, and to see the whole thing from a new perspective every few steps.

Mom took this photo of me tucked into a narrow stairway between shops on the main passageway (actually on our way out in the morning). Hydra was buying a reproduction of a section of the Bayaux Tapestry that is now hanging above our fireplace!

Right after this was taken, a woman excused herself and used this stairway to take linens up to one of the rooms above!

If you make the effort to go to Mont-Saint-Michel I would highly recommend staying the night on the island. The daytrippers were gone by the time we settled into our rooms, and it felt like we almost had the place to ourselves in the evening and early morning.