Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 9: The Day "You Can't Take It With You" became "Go Shopping Anyway!"

This can also be the day that I wrote four posts, since I've been meaning to catch up but just haven't had time.

At the recommendation of my thesis advisor, I visited the Gustave Moreau Museum, which was actually just a 5 minute walk from my hotel. It was so cool! It's in Moreau's actual house' filled with his things and covered all over with his art and the stuff he collected. It was really super fascinating, and made me totally real-estate envious.

My main journey for the day was a tour of Pere Lachasie cemetery, but I barely scratched the surface before it closed. Below are pictures of the graves I did manage to find. Hey mom, get this, Clarence John Laughlin is buried there! I only learned that after I left, though.

The map with the organization grid.

The list of the notables.

The crematorium, where 1,300 niches hold cremated remain above ground. (That's a working crematorium, by the way)

And over 2,000 niches below ground.

Maria Callas' ashes were buried in Pere Lachaise, but then stolen and later recovered. They were scattered in the Aegean Sea, and this niche holds the empty urn. Look at the graffiti! I love Maria Callas.

This is totally inappropriate to put in here, it's so wrong and so disrespectful. I'm a terrible person!

Gertrude Stein!

Quand il me prend dans ses bras.......

Who doesn't just adore Edith Piaf???


I only put this in here because it's from this year. I was interested in learning how the cemetery remains active today. Apparently there are leases on plots, up to I think 50 years. If your plot expires, or no one is there to claim it, they bag and tag the bones and open the space back up.

Moliere and la Fontaine. They were reburied in Pere Lachaise in 1804 in order to increase interest in being buried here. Clearly, it worked

Somebody got out!

I HATE this graffiti that people leave on the way to Jim Morrison's grave. It's so disrespectful.

And now his grave is barricaded, because people just can't stop scratching and painting and marking on the surrounding graves. Ugh it's just so infuriating! I like the Doors fine, but seriously? You've got Chopin down the way, a plethora of the most impressive an important artists of all time and some of the greatest literary and political figures well. And those are the GRAVES of PEOPLE you're destroying with your foolishness. Just get it together, Doors fans. You've already lost the right to go up to the grave. Have some respect.

Blah, mini rant about dead people aside, after I was kicked out of the cemetery before I made it everyone on my list, I ran over to the Opera Garnier for a quick visit.

Soooo glorious! The opera's underground supports actually straddle and underground lake, which gave rise to the Phantom of the Opera. The amazing ceiling was painted by Chagall, who has two big paintings at the Met in New York. The lobby is as big as the stage, so that the rich and beautiful could come here to see and be seen. Did you know there are beehives on the roof? The honey is sold in the gift shop. And yes I bought some. It was the most expensive honey I have ever bought! I also got a kit to make a model of the opera.

Right down the street are the Galeries Lafayette, which were MOBBED.

I only got a quick pic inside before I couldn't handle it anymore. It was way worse than Harrod's.

This man was playing classic music on a piano outside with VERVE! That's the back of the Opera Garnier behind.

And the other fancy department store, Printemps.

I found a restaurant that served mussels, which I've bee dying to have, but haven't found a place serving them. Yet when I ordered they were out. MAN. So again, little celiac me had to get steak. Le sigh.

At least the Champs élysées song came on. And don't let that dark brown color fool you into thinking this was well done. That steak was raaayyyerrr on the inside. I have been thinking about trying steak tartare, and after eating this I feel confident I'll be able to stomach the experience.

After coming back to the hotel, I discovered there was no hot water. The only up side of this situation was that I was able to have a mini conversation all in French with the desk staff, who told me that there was a problem and it would be fixed tomorrow. I hoped it's fixed in time for me get ready, I have a massive last day planned!

Alors, bon nuit mes amies! Pray I don't freeze to death without my radiator tonight...

Day 8: The Day Disney Conspired with the Weather to Get Even More of My Money.

This will be a brief post, and I was way too busy hyperventilating with excitement to take pictures. Plus, what is there really to say about a trip to Disneyland?

One of my favorite moments was when the train arrived at the Disney station, and the only people left on it were myself and some families with little kids. You don't have to speak the same language to exchange looks that equally convey how excited everyone is about getting off this train and into Disney.

It was freezing cold. I checked the weather three times before I left, which said it would be 60 and sunny. I was doubtful because I could see the clouds outside, but trusting in my devices I left my warmest things at home. Not only was it more like 50, cloudy and windy, it was also humid. I had to buy a scarf and gloves, but drew the line at giving Disney $60 for a sweater. But you can believe there were plenty of people buying them.

I relished standing in long lines, because it meant I could suck the body heat from other people under the guise of "queuing" and not being a creeper.

Most rides were actually inside buildings, which was nice, except for Indiana Jones. That roller coaster, in that weather, drew snot and tears from my face and then froze them to my skin. I didn't immediately notice because I was squealing with delight.

Pirates of the Caribbean was the worst because I was shoved at the end of the boat, and got completely soaked with that gross water in my lap and left side. It took a lot of hand dryers and towels to straighten that mess out.

I had a blast, though, and closed the park down after about 9 hours of fun.

Omg I really want to be a Disney Princess and work at Disneyland. How can I make this happen?

Oh, I did learn something. "Expectant mothers" in French is "Les futures mamans" which for some reason, I just find hilarious.

Day 7: Why I Love Louis XIV

Today I went to Versailles, the massive palace created and expanded by Louis XIV from a small hunting lodge where he grew up. Versailles is important because this was the first time a court was consolidated in one place. All the nobles were kept occupied so that Louis could run things. V
The expansion of Versailles also cost an estimated HALF of the ENTIRE GNP of France for a whole year. Visiting Versailles, it's incredibly easy to understand the French Revolution.

Still, Louis XIV was a pretty awesome king and reigned for 70 years, outliving many of his heirs. He was a Renaissance man, and called himself the Sun King. Louis also thought that the inside of the calf was the most beautiful part of the body, and is the reason ballet dancers strive for good turnout. (oh BTW, he started ballet.) He believed in his divine right to rule and the supremacy of the absolute monarch. "l'état, c'est moi!" "I am the State." Versailles is dripping with classic figures, lots of Apollos (the sun god) gold and suns.

On the train to Versailles I passed the mini Statue of Liberty

At Versailles, there is a statue of Louis right in front. Behind it are these weird modern arm like sculptures,that were currently under construction. I saw some pictures of how they normally look, and I have to tell you I dont really care for them.

The very center which you can't really see is the original hunting lodge.

Me and my Louis!

The Royal Chapel. This is probably the only place where Louis acknowledges the "other" God. He attended mass here every morning, and this is where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were married.

The following is a succession of the state apartments. I generally only took pictures of the ceilings. Sorry!

The Hercules Room. That big painting is by Veronese, and was a gift from the city of Venice. Louis XIV built the room for his daughter's wedding reception, and liked the painting so much the entire room was made to match it.

The Salon of Abundance. You could pop in here to load up on refreshments, served on silver platters. Look at Abundance up there, with her cornucopia just overflowing with riches! There is a door in this room that leads to Louis' private study, where the Mona Lisa hung.

In the Venus room, fake windows make the room seem larger!

The Diana Room, which of course makes me happy! I'm a big fan of Artemis.

Look at Louis, all wind blown and magisterial. I wish I could be that magnificent.

The Mars Room.

Oy, what are you lookin' at? I'm just mindin' my own business over 'ere!

One place I didnt take a photo of is the Mercury Room, which was Louis' official, not actual, bedroom. Since he was a big deal, getting up in the morning was a public event, and people came to watch it happen. It was done in a small ceremony, as was going to bed. If you were lucky you got to help out.

Louis XVI, who was waaaay less cool than Louis XIV. Even marrying Marie didn't make him suave. Off with his head!

This was in the Apollo Room, Louis XIV super luxe throne room. his silver and gold throne were so heavy it was supported from the ceiling by these supports.

Once Versailles was raided by the peasants, most of the furniture was taken and sold or lost. So most everything in Versailles currenty are reproductions

The famous Rigaud paining of Louis XIV. So confident, not overly arrogant, and totally cool.

The War Room. The center painting is of Lady France, triumphing inward against Germany, Holland, and Spain. "Louis Quatorze was addicted to wars."

The entrance to the Hall of Mirrors.

The ceiling. Originally, two huge carpets mirrored the action on the ceiling.

Mirrors at this time were a great luxury, and to think Louis lined a 250 foot long room with them! Imagine this place filled with candles and nobles covered in velvet and satin.

The desk where the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

One of the 24 gilded candelabras. My Dad told me that when they came here when I was a baby and my brother was 6 years old, he walked up to the cherub and rubbed it's bottom. Hahahahahaha.

Another Diana!

The view from Louis' study into the Hall of Mirrors and out the gardens.

A replica of Louis' bed.

The view from the Hall of Mirrors

The Peace Room, the sequel to the war room.

Everything's fine! We can play with the artillery!

In the Queen's Bedroom. This is a replica of the bed and wall coverings that were last here, the summer set from the time of Marie Antoinette, the last ruling Queen to live in Versailles.

The little door that led to the King's bedroom.

A bust of Marie.

Her jewelry cabinet. My stuff can fit in a ziplock bag.

Marie Antoinette really was a sweet girl who got caught up in a crazy life and portrayed poorly by the people. In this painting she tried to show herself and a dedicated mother.

A ceiling under renovation.

A copy of the Coronation of Napoleon by David.

In the Dauphin's apartments downstairs there was this weird exhibition of contemporary furniture in classical settings.

Moving on out to the garden! The sun was PERFECT, and it bathed the whole outdoors in golden light.

The back of Versailles. The center middle is the Hall of Mirrors.

Louis proved his divine status by exhibiting control over nature and water. This is called the Royal Drive, which is part of an eight mile axis. It looks like it goes on intentional feature.

Here I am at the base of the stairs, appreciating the glory of Louis XIV.

The Latona Basin. Latona is the mother of Diana and Apollo, and all three are at the top of the fountain. When Latona was mocked by the locals for being an unwed mother, she asked Zeus (the father, by the by) to teach them a lesson. Zeus then turned them all into frogs and lizards.

Help I'm...croak...turning into..riiiiiiibit.

No ancient ruins? No problem. Louis built his own.

The Apollo Basin. Isn't this just so cool? Imagine this pool of water in early morning, glowing and golden with the rising sun, and emerging from the golden pool, and pulling that enormous sun is Apollo!

Emerging from the mists of dawn.

Louis was so cool, he could even grow oranges. This is a view from the top of the Orangerie, where the trees were stored in their silver pots when the weather got too cold. When is was nice, they were wheeled out and put around the grounds.

"Hey Fred?"
"Yeah Steve?"
"How much longer you figure we gotta hold the edge of dis here pot up?"
"Uh, well, forever I recon."
"Aww man! I want to go frolic and play my pipes!"

"Hey mmpfhwould you quit whhhyour complainingpsjh? At mmmleast you get to mmmpshuse your handsmmmm."

"What's in there?"
"I dunno, can you see? What is it?"

And finally, I went to the Musee d'Orsay for some of the finest examples of Impressionist and modern art around.

I snuck this picture. It's in the old Orsay train station.

I had dinner in the restaurant that was part of the original adjoining hotel. The ceiling was painted in 1900, and everything is just the epitome of Belle Epoque Paris.