Rodin and Me- try , try, try until you get what you want.

For 6 months, I knew  the exact spot I hoped to be on my birthday in Paris…and there was no doubt in my mind that it was the Rodin Museum ,  truly one of my favorite spaces in Paris that for me reflects the reasons I love the city:  beauty, intelligence, and most of all the spirit of movement.

The day was unexpected lovely weather.  Arriving at the museum with mounting excitement and anticipation of divine beauty, we went through security , spent one hour with a most interesting special exhibition drawing similarities between Rodin and Maplethorpe ( whose photo exhibit I had seen in boston in the 80s or 90s and where he was almost thrown out of boston for his lewd photos).  I LOVED the exhibit …

If you know the Rodin museum , the famous piece ‘The Thinker ‘  is on a walking path of roses which is where i decided to start my journey.

I was sitting gazing up at the thinker , thinking how happy i was to be there and within moments found myself once again surrounded by tourists with their  cameras about 2 feet from my face.

The gates of disappointment opened for me.   with a deep breathe , i removed myself from the crowd at THE THINKER and walked to the   museum and saw the lines and the crowds…….35 minutes.  and those crowds meant that there were crowds around rodins masterpieces.     NO NO NO…. I simply could  not enter the museum surrounded by camera clicking, selfie obsessed crowds.    but what was do be done?   I approached a museum worker who kindly told me how to sneak into the museum to avoid the lines ( i tried and failed) and when I returned to see him to discuss options , much to my humility , I started sobbing  ” its my birthday and it is too crowded for me to be in the place i love ”   .  Can you imagine the embarrassment of it all?     fast forward through the sobs and halting words of disappointment,  he finally and quite kindly offered us  free passes for the next morning.

I promised to be the first on line …which I certainly was… and here are my happy experiences.

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this is the photosnapping crowd that stood 2 feet in front of me as i was sitting on a bench facing The Thinker.

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Lines lines and more lines

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SIGH……… the first to enter the museum on the second visit…… ecstasy!  space to allow the piece express itself

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An ‘almost brush with the law” at Versaille.

I am really a perfect travel ambassador. I smile at everyone and always say ” bonjour monsieur” “merci au revoire” when I leave the store and i never complain about cultural differences as I try to fit in.    I have been practicing using that lovely, discreet, French voice  they use in public- its  like a musical murmur. The French way is rubbing off on me!

However,  we have had very long days thanks to our Museum pass.   Run Run Run….. 4 days to make the museum pass worthwhile ,        – which by the way we decided is not worth it because it works out the we only spent one hour in the Musee D’Orsay and 45 minutes in the Louvre because we got distracted and did not follow Rick Steves recommendations to do museums first thing in the morning. Having visited both places numerous times before I was not that bothered…luckily Robert did not seem to care.   I am now calling this trip his “overview” of Paris and when he returns he will know what he really wants to do based on this visit.

Anyway, back to my lovely manners….. which predictably were going downhill due to fatigue an the crowds.  I must say that Paris has been incredibly crowded.  No matter where we go, the tourist crowds are not to be believed. and to add the the excessive numbers of people are the click, click sounds of camera and non stop “selfies”  which in my opinion are creating a new form of visual pollution.    For those who have been to Paris, you know that the biggest crowds can be found in VERSAILLE. It is my fault for going on a sunday but the weather was gorgeous with promises of many rainy days to follow.   As we happily trudged from the train station to Versaille passing through a  lovely quiet village , all the time stupidly believing we were in for a tranquil day….turning the corner towards Versaille,  i stopped in my tracks as I glanced up at the Chateau.  Oh no! my heart dropped to my stomach as I looked up to the sea of faces…. We were met by horrific 2 hour lines……. and of course the promised “go to the head of the line” museum pass did not apply …..by the time we made it inside , my newly diagnosed Panic attack started to emerge… the rooms were unbearably crowded and  5 minute bottlenecks were seen at each doorway leading from one room to another. I rushed through the hall of mirrors and the Kings grand apartment etc only to be slowed down by the crowds… I admit that I started elbowing a bit.  no one seemed to notice.

As I passed each window  on my marathon the the exit /sortie, i longingly looked at the gorgeous gardens framed, by blue skies and lush green lawns and they beckoned me.. I could not wait to get there.   By the time we finally made our way through the last crowd … we stepped  outside SO relieved , only to be sent  back to a line to buy tickets for the garden cause the museum pass did not cover them.  

Finally in the gardens, I threw myself down on some steps to breathe in the beauty. Happy , happy happy with where I was…. away from the throngs and facing breathtaking gardens designed in another century.

It was not 5 minutes , before a woman walks to where I was happily seated and drops her body next to mine.   ” she seems a bit close to me” i thought to myself……” her body seems to be pressing against mine” I tell myself and then whisper to Robert who was sitting next to me.    We quickly surveyed the area for suspicious potential pickpocket activity.  I whispered to Robert with raised eyebrows ” something weird is going on”…. he told me to get up and move away without drawing attention to myself…. not my style… I turned to the woman and motioned “can you please move away from me”.   She respond in an unfamiliar language. I repeated my request , with corresponding gestures.   she said ‘no’,  an easy to understand word in any language – and gave me her reason for not moving which of course I did not understand with the exception of one word that she used ” invalid”. I seriously doubted her remark… and continued gesturing to her.    we were starting to escalate….robert urgently telling me to walk away.  Being the bigger person , I got up and walked away after i checked my personal belongings which appeared intact.   A possible pickpocket scam?  Using my camera as the ultimate  offensive weapon i snapped a photo of her and then walked away .. she started screaming with her finger pointed at me, she then ran off screaming ( guess she was not an invalid) to the police.   I admit that I was feeling a bit anxious about a potential problem with the law.  I watched the woman excitedly gesturing to the nearest gendarme obviously making a big deal about something…From the corner of my eye, Robert , who avoids confrontation and negative attention at all costs, was glaring at me as he watched a gendarme approach me – in a very quiet voice the gendarme asked me what about the problem.  I explained that I was worried about a potential pickpocket episode.  He eyeballed me and in a low, urgent voice told me ” please stay calm ”  “please stay calm”   “please walk away”.   and of course I complied, realizing that he was trying to avoid some kind of uproar.  It is no joke.   France is the land of uprisings and revolutions.  France has certainly had more than its fair share of hard times.  episode terminee..    If you ever visit Versaille please make sure you go at a time to avoid the crowds.

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they did not need to wait on the long line.

 

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long lines

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famous hall of mirrors with sea of heads cropped out

 

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Did you know that “May 1 has been a day for celebrating old French customs since King Charles IX first received a gift of flowers on May 1 in 1561.  Families take part in ancient traditions while the working class and trade unions unite to stand for social justice, trade union rights, and international solidarity. To take part in May Day traditions, Parisians head to the countryside and forests to pick lily-of-the-valley and dog rose flowers. Romantics offer bouquets of these customary flowers to loved ones, family, and friends.” and everything is CLOSED.  

Like everyone else  , I started my day by buying lilies for robert followed by our daily walks around the city ( the first day it was the 6th arrondissement, then the 7th and now we are on the right bank…

I was surprised ( and a bit annoyed at google and trip adviser ) at how many stores and restaurants were open on this national holiday. No matter…. we started with cafe creme and sandwich at our favorite patisserie, and then one hour later more cafe cream with croissant, then walks around the louvre with the crowds, Robert’s audition as a mime at the Louvre ( dont forget to check out that photo), gardens at the tuilleries, an exquisite classical music concert at the ‘oldest church Paris’ in St Germain,  more cafe sitting with wine and the requisite people watching…

in addition to the Lily tradition, the one thing that was new for me was the Love Locks on the bridge…According to stories on google……”A couple writes their names on a padlock and locks it onto one of the bridges. They then throw the key into the Seine River as a symbol of their undying love”. of course ,there has been some problem with this practice (? they will sink the bridge??) and the government cut them off, but “romance beats politics in paris” or in my opinion people are generally oppositional defiant towards the government…random photos follow:

 

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May Day in Paris…..

Culture shock…trash is trash , and people are people wherever you travel?

First morning in Paris….arrived late afternoon on the TGV high speed train from Luberon region in the South of France….Absolutely exhausted but exhilarated.  Staying in a small fourth floor walk up apartment ( translates to french fifth floor) , I must admit I had slight panic and felt quite closed in after the flat, wide open space in the delta area of La Camargue …

Robert is sleeping in of course after yesterdays plane ride, and I get to play on computer with photos..before croissants, cafe and a walk in luxembourg gardens at the end of the street.

But I cannot help to see mind boggling contrasts…

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Yesterday’s morning view from our morning photo shoot at the beach in La Camargue

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This morning’s view from our 5th floor apartment

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a place to hang up clothes at the ranch in La Camargue

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no place to hang up clothes in paris apartment….putting away the long lens after this shot from our apartment

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a place to sleep at the ranch

 

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Morning work shadows at the ranch in La Camargue

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Morning work shadows in Paris

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a place to sleep at the beach in La Camargue

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trash is trash

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love and sweetness

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welcome  birthday love and sweetness  in paris….from Robert!!!

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playing on the beach.

here comes the sun and there goes the sun…

first day with photography group ….what an interesting experience to be joined to a like minded group with eye pressed up to the camera… everything is secondary to getting the shot…no one minds waiting..

I was up at 4 am preparing for the sunrise shot at 6 :30- but that is a lie….i was up at 4:00 am because i could not sleep and decided to go hang out on the small cliff gazing up at Gordes to wait for the sunrise… camera locked to borrowed tripod and waiting…

here comes the sun.. and then there went the sun swallowed up by a morning fog … the thing about photographers are that we can never quite leave because there is always the slightest chance that if you leave you are missing the shot of a lifetime! so we did stay there quite a long time with great hope..

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mountain village of Gordes,France

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Breakfast ( croissants and cafe) then off to another medieval tres jolie villa that i never would have found on my own: Vieux Village D’Oppede; its like stepping back in time….and the spirits of those passed were keenly felt.

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vineyards.

 

 

 

euros gone…carb loading in Provence…

My daughter gently suggested to me that I should not feel compelled to write too much on this blog ( hint..hint).

So suffice to say that I made it to Provence without a glitch. I was prepared to miss the plane in stavanger , deal with an air strike in paris and miss my taxi ride to my *** 3 star hotel in Gordes.

Alas , all went well and i did not need to go to my long list of back-up plans to my astonishment.  You think that i worry too much ? could be.

by my first morning, even before the rest of my photography group arrives from England, I have spent most of my euros buying things that I don’t eat ( nougat) or need,  met 3 lovely tri lingual ladies from Germany, who were on their 3 rd bottle by the time I met them and colored the night with their vomit…

And for all of you who have been to Provence, these images will be familiar.  For those who have never been, I hope you put Provence on your bucket list after the fjords in Norway.

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my room with a view

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I felt guilted into buying a bunch of small jars after tasting every type : “delice de chèvre aux tomates sechees”, delice D”artichauts, etc etc….

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ah , the bounlangerie. I could not wait to buy my sandwich jambon, patisserie, and orangina for lunch

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Lavender at the market of course.
you can buy it to cook with , freshen your drawers or decorate your home!

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bien sur…. you should try to sell you goods on Etsy….i will send you some of the images i take of your lovely sea inspired jewelry.

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and of course the prerequisite strolling french lovers….

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cobblestone streets of Gordes that date back to medieval times.

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really?????
not sure why i bought some except that it looked so pretty.