Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bon Voyage Paris, Bonjour Bordeaux

Paris has been jam packed with site seeing, art, walks, movies, and terrific food.
We've been fortunate to have lovely vegan meals at the following places: the best falafel I have ever had from Maoz, delicious traditional style French food (and the best chocolate mousse) from Le Potager du Marais, great veggie burgers and desserts from Saveurs Veget Halles. The Paris Lovinghut, an all vegan international chain, remains my overall favorite. We met an absolutely lovely staff person and he is actually Canadian, from Quebec! They also have a small grocery section where we picked up some of the amazing, gourmet, award winning, vegan cheese made by Vegusto.

We have managed to do other things beside eat amazing food. We bought metro day passes and have been exploring the city. We visited The Catacombs of Paris. The Catacombs are an Ossuary, which is site to hold skeleton remains, often when burial space is limited. The catacombs were created in the 1700's after a large Paris cemetery was closed to do health concerns. Skeleton remains were transferred to the catacombs up to 1860. To gain entry to the catacombs you descend 20 meters down a narrow, curved, stone, stair case and arrive in dark tunnel system beneath the city. The stair case down is 130 steps, the length of the walk through the tunnels is 2 Kms and there is another narrow curved stair case, with 83 steps up at the end. The tunnels are dark, with minimal lighting, and a bit wet and slippery in areas. As water dripped from the ceiling I suddenly thought how yucky it would be to get hit in the face with water steeped in old bones. Of course at that moment a large drop fell on my lower lip. I scrubbed my face with the inside of my shirt for 10 minutes. Thankfully, due to the solemn nature of the space, I had my mouth shut. The tunnels lead to the ossuary area that hold the remains of about six million people. The bones and skulls are stacked neatly in piles lining the walls. I was disappointed when one tourist started moving the bones around, even though a sign in several languages, states it is forbidden to touch them. When he was confronted by a guard he actually started to argue! Such disrespect!

There is so much art in Paris! We have been to many museums. The extensive modern art collection at The Centre Pompidou is almost overwhelming. I saw great pieces by some artists I love including; Jackson Pollock, Joan Miro, Max Ernst, and Alexander Calder, to name a few! We also enjoyed the free exhibit of the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art City. We were delighted to stumble across the The Museum of Art and Inventions. Amazing examples of technology through out the the years including bicycles, flying machines, cameras, and so on. We also explored Cité de l’Architecture Museum (architecture museum). I was most impressed by the recreation of one of Le Corbusier's mid century two story flats. The Le Corbusier living room very much reminded me of our own living room! Of course we also went to The Louvre, the largest museum I have ever been too. Its' collection of art is huge with a lot of religious examples. We glimpsed the Mona Lisa, as it is hard to see her through the crowds, the roped off area and bullet proof glass. It is interesting to see but I don't get all the fuss. I have seen many other works of art that I prefer more.

Speaking of art I prefer, we went to a terrific exhibit at The Grand Palais Museum called Animal Beauty, which explores images of animals in art. This article Animal Beauty at the Grand Palais in Paris, gives you a sneak peek of some of the work. I had no idea Van Gogh had a painting of a stuffed bat. There was also a toad by Picasso. The exhibit reminded me of the contemporary and very moving photography project Elderly Animals, by Isa Leshko. Check it out online.

To check out some of my recent photos see My Flickr stream.

Today we have just arrived by train for a weeks stay in the historic city of Bordeaux.
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