Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Meanwhile, back in Paris . . .

Since I can't seem to get motivated or organized enough to manage any outfit posts, I thought perhaps I'll kill a few birds with one stone by showing you the little dress I bought in San Sebastian as well as taking you on a Paris walk.
Hard to believe this was the Paris weather back in May -- it only got this warm last week, here, and it sounds as if Paris has been rather dismal since we left. . .

But it was warm then, and humid, and I was very pleased to have picked up this little shift in a mix of small geometric prints -- my favourite shape for a dress. The bare legs, Birkenstocks, and Roots cross-over bag might not be the most elegant styling, but I fit in just fine on the Paris streets and my Birkenstocks accommodated my heat-swollen toes very nicely. This was a 15-kilometre day, I suspect, given that we began it by walking to Montmartre from our apartment near l'Odéon in the 6th.
We charted our own route, just slightly off the tourist beat. It only takes a savvy block or two off the main drags to find quieter streets than nonetheless offer fabulous, if less-known architectural splendors.


Can you tell how annoying it must be to walk alongside me, with my camera? Poor Paul. But I'm crazy about the interplay of geometries with light and shadow here. . .
Really, really wished that I'd had my SLR with me, and a better zoom lens (and throwing in some mad camera skills wouldn't hurt either), but then we'd never get anywhere.
Check out this crazy frieze! It's a Noah's Ark, a compendium of animaux!
Perhaps we should just have plunked ourselves down on the sidewalk and sketched -- so much visual pleasure. Shape, texture, restrained palette . . . a lesson in aesthetics. . . .

The building, The Maison Dorée seems to date from the early 19th century, when it housed a prestigious restaurant. It's featured in novels by Balzac and by Proust. Alexandre Dumas's newspaper was only one of several papers that had their editorial offices in the building. Another claim to fame is that the building housed the last of the Impressionist's 8 exhibitions.

When La Maison Dorée closed early in the 20th century, the building was divided into several offices and shops, and part of it became a post office. Then in the mid 1970s, BNP Paribas moved its corporate headquarters there and was encouraged by the French Cultural Minister of the day to preserve the building's façade.
Not having known the building in its earlier incarnations, I can't help but be delighted with its appearance now.

More animals, including an ostrich, I believe.
And yes, imagine Paul striding ahead several blocks, me dragging behind taking just one more shot.
Just one more . . .


And we're finally on our way again. You'll probably have to click to enlarge this photo to be able to see the dome of Sacré Coeur beckoning to us from its height.
I have to say that while I understand all the reasons for hating this building, on aesthetic and on political grounds (its architectural mishmash, its church-state hegemonic display, etc.), I can't help but yield to its appeal. Yes, there's an undeniable kitsch factor, but that curvaceous white gleaming at the edges of the city, whether against an azure sky or, perhaps more often, blending moodily into a misty grey. . . well, it makes a pretty picture, don't you agree?
Still, knowing the crowds we'll have to contend when we mount those steep streets up to the Basilique, we might just linger here a while, in the quiet shade below. . . .

23 comments:

  1. Beautiful dress, beautiful buildings. The dress is a style I like too - reminds me of the Papillon line over here - love them for winter with leggings and boots.
    I'm working in the Fraser Valley this week, where it is cold and rainy. I brought all the wrong clothes, and have been shivering. If there is any time today I'll be buying something warm!

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    1. Yes! Much like Papillon, but I haven't seen them for a while. Does someone carry them in Victoria? Duncan?
      Hope it's warmed up where you are. We've got some steady-looking sunshine here again, yay!

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  2. very stylish for Paris - footwear and going off the beaten track so important.

    sigh! last summer we stayed within view of Sacre Coeur and wandered around those streets.

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    1. Oh, lovely! We've thought about staying up there, especially the quieter section on the back of the hill, down near the vineyard.

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  3. Poor Paul, lucky us :). I love the architectural details.

    Your dress is beautiful.

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    1. Thanks, Susan . . . you must still have lots of great memories of details like these.

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  4. The dress looks comfy and lovely - a great combination. A stroll through sunny Paris would suit me just fine today, and your photos make me long to be there even more.

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    1. Well, at least you got a vicarious stroll -- you'll have to get there again someday, though, especially with your great French skills.

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  5. You look perfectly attired and not a whiff of a "tourist" in sight!
    The architecture is charming and I love the "light" it really seems to permeate those images.

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    1. Thanks, L. Isn't that light fabulous?!

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  6. I personally am very glad you took every single one of those pictures, and shared them here. Your dress is a delight, and I can only agree with you regarding Sacre Coeur, which will always be special to me because in "our" apartment (seven floors up) in Montmartre, it filled the window each night and made me feel that I was in a grown-up's fairy tale.

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    1. Oh, I love imagining that apartment -- and what a great description. We grown-ups need our fairy tales too!

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  7. What a breezy light dress - perfect for exploring. Your enlarged photos are awesome (inspiring awe). I find I get similar views strolling down Burrard St...?!! I can't imagine growing up in such a rich environment. But at the same time, this city is mine. I love it. Thanks for sharing these photos.

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    1. I'd love to see some photographs of "your city" on your blog. Or sketches?
      I often think about the powerful aesthetic influence Paris' architecture has, shaping its citizens sense of proportion, colour values, etc. from infancy onward. Some might consider it a hegemonic power. . . I just soak it up!

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  8. That frieze is *amazing.* One of the very first things that struck me on our first Paris trip was the ornamentation on the buildings. Even the functional is made beautiful. Your dress looks perfect for a warm Paris day, and the color is very nice on you. Hard to believe they've had so much cold and rainy weather since then!

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    1. It's dazzling, isn't it, the ornamentation. Such constant visual stimuli, everywhere you turn your head!

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  9. A lovely frieze--and a small evidence of "good" done by banking.

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    1. True enough, Terri -- interesting perspective.

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  10. Very adorable dress. You look quite French, IMO. And I've never seen that building - oh the joys of a long stay in Paris!

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    1. A long stay does make for a different experience of the city, for sure!

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  11. How I would have loved to walk that on that glorious day. And you look very chic - but comfortable.

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    1. Thanks -- it was a glorious day for walking!

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  12. The dress is gorgeous, and it looks comfortable. The photographs are lovely, you did a really good job. I cannot wait to visit France, myself :)

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