Hoofing the slopes of Montmatre and Pigalle

A colourful facade of Trois Freres

Colour is everywhere in Montmartre; from the hazy shades left from the impressions of Impressionists to the decorative shapes drafted by anyone and everyone! Wandering the streets between Sacré Coeur and Pigalle, you can never be bored of the interesting sights, sounds and smells!!  Whilst your senses never tire of the streets of Paris, your feet often have different ideas after a while…

Shell of L’Escale, an attitude of colour

The shell of the former resto L’Escale is now a photographic backdrop of very colourful attitude, which is a posing opportunity no-one can resist! This location is also a little piece of film history, from the movie Ronin, found at the crossroads of Rue Drevet and the Rue des Trois Freres.

Copyrighted cat art in Montmatre

Anyone wandering the area near the Ateliers du Bateau-Lavoir has to be very careful not to fall into the popular Amélie tourist slipstream, where folks wander about with print-outs of web pages quoting film locations, sights and script! Perhaps one day in the future, tourists won’t know that several famous artists drank, partied and depressed themselves at the turn of the 19th century near Amélie’s local épicerie?

The Moulin Rouge is as red as ever; I thought it contrasted pretty well with the cloudy white canvas of a sky and beige exterior wall paint. As I window shopped from across the street, I wondered if anyone could look sexy in Rubber Glove Yellow panties…

Moulin Rouge in Pigalle

Another colourful find, and a place to grab a nice hot choc drink, is Halle Saint Pierre on Rue Ronsard. Their excellent temporary exhibition, Hey! Modern Art & Pop Culture, begins at the entrance of curtains through which you enter a bunker of dark thoughts and subdued colours celebrating the dramas of life.

I thought this exhibition was a remarkable extension of colour in contrast with the outside world, all of which I welcomed as a “wake up and smell the Parisian coffee”!

And if its wine you prefer to coffee, then take a little wander to the Montmartre Vineyard.

Montmartre could be just a cliché on a hill, but you don’t need to go too far to find that people are still as busy as ever writing and painting their own version of the present.

Louvre: a great shopping mall experience

Mona Lisa, “say cheese”

I so wanted to write an inspiring piece on the great Louvre, but some corporate-minded “visionary” spoiled all my fun. From the gimmicky glass pyramid, sightseers enter the busy shopping mall ambiance via stepped escalators. If you’re not careful, you will unwittingly fall into the zombie-like tourist slipstream following blu-tacked signage of Mona Lisa posters. The promise of her smile awaiting you can be too much for some as they jostle, push and shove each other with their cameras, bags and body parts.

As someone who loves a visit to an art gallery in a ‘free’ state of wander and thought, the Louvre was a big disappointment for that kind of experience.

At the luggage section I had to negotiate the storage of my bag and coat, which I found very unusual, as art galleries tend to prefer visitors to be as ‘light’ as possible with baggage.

Anticipating that an early morning viewing of the very knowing lady Mona would be a wise decision, we stepped into the Mona Lisa slipstream and slavishly followed the feet in front of us.

When I finally arrived at the holographic Mona Lisa, she was barely visible above the masses; even when I miniaturised myself to get to the front of the iGadget-distracted crowds, she was even more distant than ever. I took the obligatory photo to relish back at the hotel, but she still eluded me.

Mona Lisa hung in Louvre

At this point, now liberated from the camera flashing and bashing, we could begin our own carefully planned route of the Louvre, which included the beautiful Jean Fouquet illuminated manuscripts in a temporary exhibition, and my hunt for favourites like Dürer, Vermeer, G Tiepolo, and G B Tiepolo, as well as some finds like Raphael and Romano’s grisaille in Cérès, a small piece by Crivelli and several works by de La Tour, as well as a fabulous collection of pastel work by Delatour.

Il Minueto, Giandomenico Tiepolo

Cérès, Giulio Romano and Raphael

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, detail from a relief decoration

Painted panel from a polyptych, Ercole Roberti


I also came across an early 14th century Italian piece called Maestro degli Angeli Ribelli. Those vortexing devils are a frequent detail I am often drawn to in many paintings; are they to remind us of what may happen to the sinners in our world?

Maestro degli Angeli Ribelli, early 14th century

And I suppose no visit to Paris cannot be complete without Degas, which was a subtle addition to my recent visit to the special Degas exhibition held at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.

La Sortie du Bain, Degas

I will return to the Louvre again for the sculpture, and hopefully see the new Islamic antiquities section currently under construction.

The stained glass of La Sainte-Chapelle

Stained glass of La Sainte Chapelle

I love walking through the Île de la Cité and the Île Saint-Louis, even though most tourists have the same idea! On this occasion, we made most of the bright sunny autumnal afternoon to illuminate the half-finished stained-glass restoration work in La Sainte-Chapelle. I was not expecting to see too much, but when I reached the top of the spiral stone staircase leading to the upper chapel I was amazed at the sheer beauty of the glass work and colours, and the success of the restoration project.

Notre Dame de Paris also deserved a photograph in the unusual heatwave of October.

Notre Dame de Paris

And to say farewell to Paris for the second time this year, we saw the fabulous Pink Martini at the Olympia, Paris. Afterwards, I wandered down into the Metro underground quietly singing to myself.



Originally published: Saturday, October 8th, 2011 at 22:33 in Celebrating Art, Inspiration, Living matter, Monologues


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