Paris off the beaten track – walking along the Quais, Courbet and feminism

Brighton – St Pancras – Eurostar – Paris

Paris seems to generate a special energy, maybe because of it’s abundance of wonderful architecture, stone carvings, ornate archways and things of beauty at every turn.

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All those little squares, parks,  places to sit to and watch the world go by,  graceful plane trees, wrought iron tracery on the balconies of elegant apartment blocks, flower shops, pink and red geraniums bursting from window boxes.

1-DSC00845 1-DSC00851 1-DSC00830 1-DSC00773  Here, more than London it would seem, the river is  lined for miles with historic buildings, crisscrossed by bridges, each with it’s own unique history and of course interspersed with cafe life and friendly service.

Well you will realise by now that we are never bored in Paris.  I’m lucky to have been there several times, the first time when I was eight when my father took us after the war and I heard Edith Piaf sing, but that is another story.

We didn’t bother with window shopping, although the Galeries Lafayette has one of the best views of  Paris from its roof, or take the Bateau Mouche (boat bus) along the Seine –  one of the best ways to see Paris and probably the cheapest.

But even in three days we had to make time for another visit to the Musee D’Orsay to take a peek at my favourite impressionists. It’s more a question of serendipity when you walk and are never really sure what will be around the next corner

.1-DSC00864  This is in the first hall at the Musee D’Orsay, a  railway station converted into an imposing art gallery. 1-DSC00863 You can even get in 2 for 1 if you present your Euro star ticket.

Here we catch a lecturer talking about Courbet, a painter my grandfather loved but one of whom I knew nothing until today!  This picture (copy in b/w) called ‘The Burial’ had

Study for Burial at Ornans, 1849 - Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot - shocked Paris in it’s time because the life sized figures were traditionally reserved for paintings of historic or religious scenes (worth looking it up on google).

The tour then led to other famous paintings, ‘The Plough’ by Rosa Bonheur (16 March 1822 – 25 May 1899) who painted many studies of people and animals on the  farm where she was brought up. Her father considered that education for girls should be as good as that of boys, which was unheard of at the time.   Later, due to her lifestyle, she was considered to be the first feminist.  We had missed some of this talk but it was so lively and entertaining we made a note to catch it another time.

A third good view over Paris can  be seen from behind the giant clock at the top near the newly refurbished gallery of the Impressionists. This is where can be found so many great paintings, including some of the Manets that came to the RA earlier in the year.

Onwards and upwards!


 part 3 tomorrow – the left bank and the famous bookshop Shakespeare and Company.

Apologies originally said Corot not Courbet.

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