May 15, 2013

The first weekend in May was a long weekend because of the bank holiday on the 6th. I had a friend from home visiting and we decided to take a long weekend in Paris and visit another friend there who is studying architecture in Paris for the summer. We had so much fun! The weather was beautiful and we had a great few days of sight seeing. On our arrival day we went straight to the Buttes-Chaumont Park. Definitely not a tourist spot! The topography was mostly man made featuring bluffs, waterfalls, hills and cliffs. We grabbed a sunny spot on a hill next to an acoustic guitar player who quickly attracted other musicians including a violinist, a saxophonist, and an electric guitar player who were all able to meld their sounds together. Great jam sesh.

In one day we went to church at the Notre Dame, walked around the Louvre and had lunch in the gardens there, then took a nap in the sun, visited inside the Musee de l’Orangerie, walked all the way up the Arc de Triomphe, saw the Eiffel tower from a distance then did a little shopping on the Champs Elysees. My feet still hate me.

The next day it was a little rainy in the morning so we went to the Centre Georges Pompidou the largest modern art museum in Europe. The high-tech style of this building features the ductwork as the façade of the building. The pipes are color-coded for their different functions. The architecture if fitting for what the building holds inside and definitely makes a statement juxtaposing all the traditional architecture surrounding it.

On the top floor there was a special exhibition on Eileen Gray. She dabbled in a bit of everything. She was an artist who experimented in lacquer work, painting, collage, furniture design, interior design and architecture. She is well known for the Bibendum Lounge chair, E-1027 House and Tempe a Pailla House. I really enjoyed the Jesus Rafael Soto exhibition, known for ‘kinetic art’. Each piece looked different as you moved around it since the sharp contrasting colors and thin rods trick you eye. One installation you were able to walk through. It was a series of closely hung plastic rods, the top half bright red and the bottom half black.

My favorite museum was Musee de l’Orangerie which features Claude Monet’s famous water lily paintings. The most interesting part, I thought, was that Monet had a hand in designing the architecture of this museum. The main attraction is on the ground floor which has two connecting large oval rooms. The interior of this space has a sparse and simple design with natural diffused light, white walls and white carpet (bad choice on the white carpet in a museum). In each oval room there are four gigantic curved water lily paintings encircling you. It is an interesting layout because you can examine the paintings closely, or from a distance in the 360 configuration. Both offer a completely different experience for viewing the impressionist paintings. Fun fact, at the beginning of Monet’s career he used to paint very dark scenes but as he continued as a painter he eliminated using black completely from his palette entirely. We give a big thumbs up to the Mussee de l’Orngerie.

After the rain let up we got ice cream on the ile Saint-Louis then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening lounging in the park in front of the Eiffel tower with a blanket and a picnic. We <3 Paris and parks.

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Tagged @HKSXchange, architecture, art, Music, Paris, travel