The Thursday-morning blues

16Sep10

I think I’m getting a cold. I woke up feeling achy and lethargic this morning, and I can’t stop sneezing. So I decided to take it easy and rest.

I did laundry and picked up a few groceries. Then I went back to the apartment to try to sleep. But I just tossed and turned for an hour. Exasperated with myself, I grabbed some lunch and decided to go for a walk.

Within a few blocks I was feeling better, so I hopped the métro for central Paris. I hopped off at St. Paul, in the Marais, and set off in search of the Carnavalet Museum.

The Carnavalet offers a fascinating walk through Paris’ history, all of it set in a pre-Victorian mansion. And to my delight, the museum now allows photography.

The gardens were exquisite …

… but I found myself enthralled with the beautiful architectural details in the building itself.

There were lots of interesting and moving items among the exhibits as well. A couple of my favorites were the feather from one of the messenger pigeons that helped the revolutionaries topple the government—although I forget during which revolution—and an ornately painted, battle-tested drum.

After a couple of hours of wandering through history, I headed for the Village St. Paul. It’s a charming collection of ancient courtyards filled with small galleries and eclectic little shops.

As I walked into the last courtyard, I saw a familiar face: It was my photographer friend Shachar, from the Luxembourg gardens.

He’d been out shooting since 8:30. He said he could no longer feel his legs. I felt stuffed-up and I couldn’t feel my head. So we crossed the courtyard and grabbed a coffee at a beautiful little café. We reasoned that the light wasn’t very good anyway—and plus, it was threatening to rain. I was fascinated to hear about his life in Tel Aviv.

After an hour or two, we strolled to the Hôtel de Sens, a medieval building that now serves as a public library. I couldn’t get over the fact that I was finally seeing the inside of this gorgeous building. Shachar couldn’t believe they were just letting us grab the books and look at them, free of charge. We thumbed through a couple of photography books but were soon told it was time to leave.

As the sun began to set, we walked along the river toward the métro station. On the horizon I could see a bit of sunlight peeking through the clouds. Shachar was done, but I couldn’t resist chasing the light. So we said our goodbyes and parted.

The wind was brisk as I walked along the Seine toward the Eiffel Tower. I could see that I was losing the light, but the view of the receding storm was pretty spectacular.

I arrived at the Tuileries gardens as darkness descended and saw the Eiffel Tower light up like a giant night light. Who gets to flick the switch, I wonder? What a cool job that would be.

At the Place de la Concorde, I took a few obligatory shots of the fountains. I’d also hoped to get the classic (but admittedly cliché) shot of the car lights streaming down the Champs Elysée.

Alas, thirty other photographers had the same idea. I didn’t even bother unpacking my tripod. Instead, I enjoyed watching the comedic spectacle of photographers jostling for position amid that sea of tripod legs.

I also noticed a second group of people who didn’t have cameras. They were standing behind the photographers, feigning great interest in night photography. But it was wallets they were after. Pickpockets … the scourge of Paris.

On my way to the métro, I paused for the last shot of the day: hand-held  at 1/6 of a second. Not too shabby, if I say so myself.

Until tomorrow …



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