City of Sunlight

Spending a day and a half in Paris without your family to share in the adventure, can be, well….lonely.  On the other hand, it can also be a soulful time to enjoy a place that you love on your own terms, to wander with no agenda except to enjoy.  That is exactly what I did last winter on a quick stop  on my way home from visiting my sister and her husband in London.  Alone and wearing my running shoes, I covered a lot of territory, circling the entire historic heart in one afternoon.

Paris was nicknamed the “City of Light” (not City of Lights) originally because it was a vast center of education and ideas during the Age of Enlightenment. In 1828, Paris began lighting the Champs-Elysées with gas lamps. It was the first city in Europe to do so, and so earned the nickname “La VilleLumière” or The City of Light.   For me, Paris became the “City of Sunlight” after spending those 36 hours on an unseasonably warm brilliantly sunny day.  Hundreds of other people must have agreed with me because there were people everywhere enjoying the day.

A pretty side view of the Hotel de Ville (above) houses the city’s administration and has been the location of the municipality of Paris for over 600 years.

Oh those flying buttresses! The lovely Notre Dame was a quick stop on my trek to the famous Berthillon ice cream shop for a slice of devilishly delicious chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla on the side (gateau au chocolate avec glace a la vanille!)  Lucky for me, no long lines in February.

I laughed when I looked at this picture of a dog’s eye view of the world – all legs and feet!  I don’t blame these two for playing doggie stare down – way more fun!

I spy a tiny acrobat…

I love the earth tone colors and warm woods of the work boats against the deep blue of the Seine.

The Louvre looks so beautiful reflected on the Seine that I can’t think of the right words to do it justice.

I had never been to the Rodin Museum so a stop there was the only item on my to do list.  I enjoyed the lovely setting, and spent most of my time outside in the sculpture garden.  The building that houses the museum was the former Hotel Biron which Rodin used as his workshop.   He donated his entire collection of sculptures (along with paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Pierre-Auguste Renoir that he had acquired) to the French State on the condition that they turn the building into a museum dedicated to his works.

In case you were wondering why the Thinker is naked…. Rodin wanted a heroic figure in the tradition of Michelangelo to represent Thinking as well as Poetry.

“The Thinker has a story. In the days long gone by I conceived the idea of the Gates of Hell. Before the door, seated on the rock, Dante thinking of the plan of the poem behind him… all the characters from the Divine Comedy. This project was not realized. Thin ascetic Dante in his straight robe separated from all the rest would have been without meaning. Guided by my first inspiration I conceived another thinker, a naked man, seated on a rock, his fist against his teeth, he dreams. The fertile thought slowly elaborates itself within his brain. He is no longer a dreamer, he is a creator.” ~Auguste Rodin

Pretty sun-splashed buildings across the street from the Rodin Museum.

If I had been gutsier, I would have thrown down my things, run over and started kicking the ball to see the reaction.  The French version of being punked!

I always thought the addition of the ferris wheel looked out of place on the historic Place de la Concorde, but the evening light was a great equalizer.

The sunset was amazing!  It’s rays bounced right off the Seine directly into the façade of the Hotel de Crillon (below)

A former palace and now one of the oldest luxury hotels in the world.

One last picture before turning in for the night.  I love staying at the Hotel Mansart, which is located at the far end of the Place Vendome (above.)  It’s a small, reasonably priced hotel with friendly service.  It’s location is fun because you have to walk past the opulent Ritz to get there, and you can usually count on some glamorous comings and goings every time you go by.

“Two chairs for the Rulands, Please.”  The next morning I made an imaginary reservation for a couple of chairs in the Tuileries for my husband and I on a future visit!

My last stop before heading to the airport, the amazing Louvre Museum.  Someday I am going to slowly wander and absorb instead of always racing around like a crazy lady on a game show.  And of course one more peek at the Mona Lisa for good luck, and a bittersweet goodbye to Paris.

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