As promised, today was museum day. I had been told it was going to rain, but when I woke up, the skies were blue and nearly cloudless, so I almost reconsidered the museum trips. I decided to compromise and bring my camera along instead. First, I had to do some minor surgery on the blister on my foot with the Swiss Army knife (thanks again Jadine!) to reduce its pain level from ÂsharpÂ to Âdull.Â Then I grabbed a pain au chocolat at the artisan bakery for breakfast and then headed for the Metro. My first stop was to my free wifi zone to check email. I also wanted to get a picture of the cool building that was (I believe) providing the wifi hotspot. ItÂs called Place de Seine.
I read DinyÂs requests for bakery and bus stop photos, and since it was an easy mission, I accepted it. I snapped the bus stop photo at Pont de Lavallois, then stopped off at the Louise Michel Metro station and popped over to the bakery to take a picture. The woman working at the counter was so flattered that I wanted her to be in the picture that she didnÂt know which way to turn. I heard her saying something about being in the newspaper, but I didnÂt really know how to tell her that nothing that exciting was going to happen. The bus stop photo is thumbnailed because I made it big enough to read. I doubt anyone else but Diny is interested though 😛
After that, I headed down to Pont Marie to visit the Maison EuropÃ©enne de la Photographie. It was somewhat underwhelming, considering the 6 euro admission charge. I think there might have been a total of 100 photographs in there, many of which were rather uninteresting. There was an exhibition of giant prints of someoneÂs cityscapes, including Beiruit, Milan, New York, and others. From what I could gather from the all-French captions, his thesis is that cities are evidence of mankindÂs will to dominate the natural landscape, and as such grow organically over the landscape, so therefore he doesnÂt make distinction between subject and periphery in his photos. ItÂs an interesting approach, which doesnÂt make any effort to lead the eye at all. YouÂre forced to examine every bit of the photo and find the important parts yourself. ItÂs kind of neat, now that I think about it. There was another exhibit of photos from Cuba, but they were mainly of the Âlook how poor these people areÂ variety. IÂm not crazy about that kind of photography, because I think itÂs judgmental, and wouldnÂt have any interest to the people being photographed. IÂd rather take photos in foreign places that would fascinate the locals. The comment from Tanya on my Eiffel Tower photos that she is going to replace her visual memories of the tower with my photos is really gratifying to me. ThatÂs what I want to do. I want to help people see things differently.
That brings me to my next point, which addresses the idea that I shouldnÂt be photographing the same things every tourist photographs here in Paris. I think thatÂs a pretty bogus concept. The famous structures here are like the supermodels of the architecture world. Just because theyÂve been photographed several million times by several million people doesnÂt mean theyÂre unworthy of being photographed. These things are stunningly beautiful, and I would be remiss if I didnÂt try to apply my creativity to them. After all, what is original subject matter anyway? EverythingÂs been done and done again. My challenge to myself is to photograph these common subjects better than anyone else ever has. Failing that, I should photograph it in a way that is different. If I followed the ÂitÂs been shot before so IÂm not shooting itÂ logic would mean that IÂd turn down Kate Moss for a photo session if she asked for one. ÂNo Kate, youÂre old news.Â Right.
Anyway, back to museum day. After leaving the mildly disappointing photography museum, I made my way back to the Louvre. I think IÂve unintentionally spent more time there than anywhere else in Paris. It could be one of my favorite places on Earth. I bought a day pass, and rented the audio tour gadget, and spent the rest of the afternoon wandering the exhibits until the museum closed at 5:30.
I was there for over four hours, but it didnÂt feel that way. I was conscious that I hadnÂt had any water since the morning, and the only food I had was a fruit and nut bar that Antonette had given me yesterday. I didnÂt really feel hungry or thirsty though. It was like all the art and history was feeding me. I really enjoyed the Egyptian, Islamic art and Antiquities exhibits. The French Renaissance paintings were also beautiful. The massive crowd of people around the Venus de Milo was hilarious. ItÂs beautiful, but quite honestly, no more so than hundreds of other antique pieces that were completely ignored by the masses. People were snapping photos and crowding her mainly because they were told she was important and famous.
I barely made it to the Mona Lisa by the end of the day. Museum staff were shooing people from the building at that point, but I think I would have regretted not seeing it if I hadnÂt gotten there in time. There was a massive cattle-like crowd of people around her, and lots of security staff who pounced on anyone who as much as raised a camera in her direction. Most people say the Mona Lisa is much smaller than they expected. IÂd have to say she was bigger than I expected, mainly because people kept telling me she was so small.
By the time I finished looking at the Mona Lisa, the museum was closing, so I headed back to the hotel. I was seriously tired by this point, and my blister pain level had reached ÂsharpÂ again. I had just made it back and was thinking about dinner when the downpour began. It was torrential. I pondered what to do. I was starving after having walked all day with hardly any food, but I wasnÂt anxious to go out in the rain with my leaky shoes. I discovered that the plastic bag they wrap my toothbrushing cup in is an exact fit for my foot. ItÂs not exactly breathable, but it sure kept my foot dry while I went out to look for food. I went to a takeout sandwich stand and brought back a smoked salmon, tomato and feta panini, with a Nutella crÃªpe for dessert. WouldnÂt you know it, but as soon as I got back, it stopped raining.
After dinner and a little rest, I went out again to see if I could get some night photos of the Arc de Triomphe. TheyÂve got guards patrolling it at night and donÂt let you anywhere near it for some reason, so I couldnÂt really get the angles I wanted. I did what I could though. The photo below is my favorite of the bunch I took.
I did a bit of wandering around the area near the Arc and photographed some of the places that were open at night. Then it was back on the Metro to go home for the night.
Tomorrow is my last full day in Paris. IÂm not sure how IÂm going to spend it. I guess IÂll find out later!