Last week, my brother-in-law returned to Paris after visiting his parents in the French countryside. We had some lazy days, but also some really full ones. A friend here asked me to post some pictures of the things we saw and did. Here are a few from last Monday, our busiest day.
We started the day in the very chic 7th arrondissement, one of Paris's most expensive neighborhoods. While looking for a sandwich shop to stop at before heading to the Musee Maillol's exhibit of artifacts from Pompeii, we came upon the Cour de Luynes (Luynes courtyard), which featured some magnificent Art Nouveau architecture. Especially impressive was this iron and glass awning. There were a good deal of them in Paris about a hundred years ago, but due to changing fashions and the difficulty of preserving something in glass outdoors, they're fairly rare here today:
Just around the corner, another Art Nouveau apartment building had a gorgeous double door. Here's one side of it:
If you think this door is lovely, you should check out OSer Out on a limb's recent wonderful pictures of doors from the South of France.
The Musee Maillol is named for the sculptor whose lover and model donated the space and many of his works. The museum features excellent temporary exhibitions as well as a really lovely small permanent collection which includes works by Maillol himself, Matisse, and many other late 19th and early 20th century artists. The Pompeii exhibit was a great idea; actual objects from the doomed city were on display, as well as three bodies. It was a fascinating look at daily life in ancient Rome, and the bodies themselves were an incredibly moving sight - so moving I don't yet have words to describe them. Here is the large monumental facade just beside the small museum (which has the "Pompeii" banner hanging over its entryway). Unfortunately, pictures weren't allowed inside.
After that, we crossed town on the Metro and had a complete change of scenery. The 12th arrondissement is a residential, low-key area. I've written about it before, in my post about the automat on the rue de Wattignies. The area's laid-back ambiance is a far cry from the somewhat snobby atmosphere you sometimes get a sense of in the 7th arrondissement. But as in any area of Paris, the 12th, like the 7th, has its surprises. Here, some images from the enormous Parc de Bercy. Hard to believe we're in a major world city:
Bercy used to be a village where Paris' wine was stocked, stored, and sold. Old wine werehouses are still standing today, incorporated into contemporary shops and restaurants. Here in the park, a small vineyard pays homage to Bercy's past:
The Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy (POPB) is a concert and events center famous for its unusual architecture: a huge, ziggurat-like construction, its sides are covered in grass. Here's a part of it, looking a bit drab under a typical grey Parisian sky.
Facing the POPB is the Ministry of Finance and Industry, an enormous building that ends overhanging the Seine. Below this part of the building, my brother-in-law pointed out, there is a boat always ready if the Minister of Finances needs to use it to travel somewhere upriver for a government event. I wish I had a little ferry boat always waiting for me! Here, three photos that I wish I could combine into one panoramic view to give the sense of the size of this building. The middle portion has a helipad on the top.
Looking up the Seine towards the center of the city. Far off on the left, you can make out the thin spire of Notre-Dame. Closer on the left, the strange green structure is the new Fashion Museum. The cluster of boats on the right are mostly what are called péniches - barges that have often been converted into houseboats.
Paris is a city of contrasts. Amidst the modern architecture of Bercy and the surrounding areas (including the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand - the large National Library branch behind the bridge), the Pont de Bercy (Bercy Bridge), constructed primarily in 1863-1864, reminds us of the past: