Reims

I did some aimless wandering around Paris this week, which was nice. It’s easy to get so caught up in the museums and stuff that you forget how nice a city it is to just walk in.

Republic

Republic

Kathy and Vietnamese beer

Kathy and Vietnamese beer

mmmmm. honey and pepper pork ribs. a girls get sick of bread and cheese after a while

mmmmm. honey and pepper pork ribs. a girls get sick of bread and cheese after a while

Paris is so pretty, just wandering around you find really beautiful little spaces

Paris is so pretty, just wandering around you find really beautiful little spaces

On Saturday I went to the town of Reims to have a little look around. Quick history lesson, Reims is the town in which all of the Kings of France have been crowned since Clovis was baptised and annointed there in 496, also Charlemagne is buried here. Reims is also the biggest town in the Champagne region, and many of the wine houses have their cellars and headquaters there. also the Germans surrendered here in 1945.

We started the day by visiting the world heritage sites of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Tau Palace and the Basilica of St. Remi.Tthe cathedral is big and impressive and it’s cool to be in the place where the kings of france were crowned, but because of the near destruction of the cathedral in the second world war, very little material evidence of that pary of the cathedrals history remains.

Reims cathedral. where every french king since Charlemagne has been crowned

Reims cathedral. where every french king since Clovis has been crowned. Thats a lot of history

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Joan of Arc brough the Dauphin here to be crowned

Joan of Arc brough the Dauphin here to be crowned

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the cathedral was badly damaged in the second world war, but some really old things remain

the cathedral was badly damaged in the second world war, but some really old things remain

gargoyles

gargoyles

attached tyo the cathedral is the Palace du Tau, so called because it is built in an unusual T shape. this is another world heritage site and a beautiful building, but it is amongst the worst interpreted museums i have ever been in. it is just rooms full of stuff with one brief paragraph in the map for each entire room. in addition the map lists items such as interactive models and pieces on display that are not there. this museum is not worth the price of admission unless you are REALLY interested in 15th century mansions. the best bit for me was the left over bits of Carolingnan architecture in the basement, not great for a world heritage museum. dont get me wrong, there were some cool and interesting things there, but the museum itself was so badly put together that it was really disapointing.

some of the pieces retrieved when the cathedral was bombed were copied for the rebuild and the originals were put in the Tau Palace next door.

some of the pieces retrieved when the cathedral was bombed were copied for the rebuild and the originals were put in the Tau Palace next door.

Horsie gargoyle

Horsie gargoyle

and a lioness gargoyle

and a lioness gargoyle

eve

eve

the great hall

the great hall

i love these old fireplaces

i love these old fireplaces

beautiful medieval brickwork

beautiful medieval brickwork

original floors

original floors

this reliquary belonged to Charlemagne

this reliquary belonged to Charlemagne

and used to hang in this thing

and used to hang in this thing

replica of the crown of Charles X

replica of the crown of Charles X

floor tile rescued from the bombed cathedral

floor tile rescued from the bombed cathedral

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i love these simple vaulted roofs

i love these simple vaulted roofs

the lead from the cathedral windows melted and ran into these gargoyles when the cathedral was bombed

the lead from the cathedral windows melted and ran into these gargoyles when the cathedral was bombed

remnants of the cathedral

remnants of the cathedral

the oldest part of the Tau palace

the oldest part of the Tau palace

remnants of carolingnan architecture

remnants of carolingnan architecture

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Then we went to the St Remi basilica. this is apparently where Clovis I the first king ofFrance was baptised, and it is where Charlemagne is buried. it is not a really ornate of decorated building inside, but it has a simplicity and a sense of light that make it very beautiful.

The Basilica od St Remi.

The Basilica od St Remi.

this is not a very ornate basilica because it is Dominican, but it is very beautiful

this is not a very ornate basilica because it is Dominican, but it is very beautiful

96 candles for 96 years of the life of St Remi

96 candles for 96 years of the life of St Remi

all the important people buried here

all the important people buried here

Including Charlemagne

Including Charlemagne

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traces of older constructions

traces of older constructions

As i Said Reims is also the home of many Champagne houses and we had time to visit two Pommery and G.H. Mumm. Pommery has some of the oldest cellars in town and they are simply Beautiful. th ecellars are carved directly into the chalk and are a steady 10 degrees and 90 percent humidity all year round.

Pommery estate

Pommery estate

It's like Willy Wonka and the champagne factory

It’s like Willy Wonka and the champagne factory

or possibly a lost section of Nonsuch Palace

or possibly a lost section of Nonsuch Palace

this barrel can hold 750000 litres and was taken to america to show of for a worlds fair. (now with bonus polical incorrectness)

this barrel can hold 750000 litres and was taken to america to show of for a worlds fair. (now with bonus polical incorrectness)

the Pommery Cellars

the Pommery Cellars

art on the walls, and the depth of the cellars

art on the walls, and the depth of the cellars

these old mecahnisms were used to move the bottles around the cellars

these old mecahnisms were used to move the bottles around the cellars

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each section of the cellars is named after the place that the champagne maturing in that area is destined for.

each section of the cellars is named after the place that the champagne maturing in that area is destined for.

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including mongolia

including mongolia

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Louise Pommery

Louise Pommery

very old vintage

very old vintage

the Pommery tour is not that big on information, it’s more about the beautiful stting and the name.

the G.H Mumm tour was fantastic. this is just as old a company but the cellar tour takes you through the modern methods as well as the old. this tour goes for an hour, so it’s better value that the Pommery one, and it is super interesting and informative. so basically, go to pommery for the spectacle and Mumm for the tour. they also had a really cool display of all the old equipment that they used to use to make Champagne, some of it would definetly come in handy for some beer makers i know.

now thats a bottle.

now thats a bottle.

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the pully mechanism

the pully mechanism

the longest champagne gallery in the world

the longest champagne gallery in the world

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a bottle draining rack

a bottle draining rack

Barrel vice

Barrel vice

barrel lathe

barrel lathe

pump

pump

bottle washer

bottle washer

bottle filler

bottle filler

This is a Vibrator (I promise thats what it's called)

This is a Vibrator (I promise thats what it’s called)

labelling table

labelling table

Reims is great, and really pretty, but i feel like the vbest way to see it isn’t a day trip like we did. i think it would be better to hire a car and drive out to some of the m=wineries and other places around the city over a couple of days, kind of like visiting the barossa.

that said, i had a great time and if you like Champagne Reims is the place to be.

Ciao.

 

Just Museums

Tags

I had a bit of a quieter weekend this week, I was still pretty tired from London.

On Saturday I visited the Quai Branly, Paris’s ethnographic museum. Now, I had heard some not so good things about this museum. That it was a continuation of the colonial exercise, that the othering of different cultures within it was obvious and blatant, that the poor museum practice and western gaze inherent in the exhibitions was blatant and imperialist, so I was all prepared to go in there and get my hate on.

boy did I hear wrong.

I can completely understand how people got those impressions, the museum definetly has some issues with the western gaze, but I think where most people fall down is in ther understnding of what the museum is trying to do. This is not a pure ethnographic museum that attempts to explore different cultures, this is a fine art museum that is dedicated to the artistic expresion of cultures that exist outside of the western European fine arts framework. Once you realise that then the small displays from each culture, the emphasis on form and function rather that construction, the examination of objects through a language of fine arts, all start to make sense. This museum is not attempting to catalouge or explore entire cultures, it is trying to explore the different artisitc traditions, living and dead, that make world cultures such a rich palimpsest.

The river installation at the start of the museum speak to this explicitly , it is a watercourse of words in light, it is the impulse that flows through all of humanity to create beauty in all of it’s myriad form, it is the stragness of seeing beauty through other lenses of culture, language, tradition and time.

I have not taken many photos because I was so caught up in the stories the museum was telling, stories of syncretism and multiple pathways, stories of imperialism and colonies and peacfull contact, stories of humans makig art. Seriously, I love this place. This is the kind of story I wish more museums would tell.

the gardens

the gardens

Musee Quai Branly

Musee Quai Branly

a camel palanquin, it's huge!

a camel palanquin, it’s huge!

 

The river installation

The river installation

The other museum I visited on saturday was also cool, but in a very different way. The Musée national des Monuments Français (The national museum of French monuments) is a building full of bits of other buildings…

No. Really. This museum is full of plaster casts and replicas of the most famous buildings, and their interiors, in france, most at life size.

They even have a complete module apartment by Corbusier.

It is exceedingly strange, the discombobulation of walking from a modern halway into a Norman crypt is very difficult to describe and should be experienced by eveyone at least once in their life.

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a building full of bits of other buildings. so cool!

a building full of bits of other buildings. so cool!

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creepy grave marker

creepy grave marker

beautiful sculpture

beautiful sculpture

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seriously, a whole triumphal arch

seriously, a whole triumphal arch

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Whats on my head!!! GET IF OFF, GET IT OFF!!!!!!!

and they just recreate entire rooms

and they just recreate entire rooms

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and norma crypts

and norman crypts

the cognitive dissonance is wiered, modern museum with ancient rooms.

the cognitive dissonance is wierd, modern museum with ancient rooms.

This place is at Trocadero, so it’s a quick walk from Quai Branly.

On Sunday I visited Musée national du Moyen Âge: Thermes et hôtel de Cluny (National Museum of the Middle Ages – Cluny thermal baths and mansion). The building that contains this museum is really interesting. Its oldest part is the remains of the 1st century roman baths and is the oldest standing roman structure in france north of the Loire, and it’s seriously big, the inside roof is 13.5 meters tall

the |frigidarium of the 1st century roman baths, the largest standing roman structure north of the Loire, the ceiling is 13.5meters tall.

the frigidarium of the 1st century roman baths, the largest standing roman structure north of the Loire, the ceiling is 13.5meters tall.

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roman architectural features

roman architectural features

In 1334 the Bishops of Cluny decided to build a mansion (hôtel) around the remains of the baths and incorporate them into the residence. This leads to some interesting architecture where you can see the intersection of roman and medieval building techniques

15th century wall on the right meets roman wall on the left

14th century wall on the right meets roman wall on the left

The displays of the museum range from Roman time to the 17th century but are focused on middle ages, with the bulk of the collection dating from the 8th to the 15th centuries. There are a lot of gold and fancy things, and an excellent tapestry collection including the famous ‘lady and the unicorn’ tapestries

this chest and tapestry are 700 years old

this chest and tapestry are 700 years old

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the lady and the unicorn, 15th century

the lady and the unicorn, 15th century

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this drinking horn has chicken feet. maybe it belonged to Baba Yaga?

this drinking horn has chicken feet. maybe it belonged to Baba Yaga?

but you know me, i like the weird stuff, like the carving of a rabbi circumcising Jesus, or a unicorn horn, or a plate of medieval hallmarks

list of hall marks fro the 13th century

list of hall marks fro the 13th century

really nice alter piece that is still painted

really nice alter piece that is still painted

and a scene you don't usually see in nativity plays

and a scene you don’t usually see in nativity plays

a "unicorn horn"

a “unicorn horn”

i love gotic stone work

i love gotic stone work

and i like the every day stuff, that tells stories about how people actually lived, like the Jewish wedding ring with hebrew letters on it that shows how proud people were of their culutre, even while they were being persecuted, or the dice and games sets that tell a story about the ubiquity of play in human cultures, and the music they listend to, and the clothes they wore.

i love this kind of everyday stuff that people wore and used. in this cainet is belt buckles, buttons, hair pins and broches.

i love this kind of everyday stuff that people wore and used

belt, buttons and wedding rings. the jexish wedding ring is the one in the middle front.

belt, buttons and wedding rings. the jewish wedding ring is the one in the middle front.

belt buckles

belt buckles

illuminated manuscript

illuminated manuscript

medieval sheet music

medieval sheet music

this is what dice looked like 800 years ago. i think it's a D10

this is what dice looked like 800 years ago. i think it’s a D10

That was all for the weekend but toninght I’m , finally, going to the Louvre, and on the weekend to Reims, so expect a long post next week.

And i’m going to be home in three weeks, so i’ll see you all soon

 

London and another Photo Dump

This whole post is basically going to be pictures, not much writing.

i got to london late Friday Night and started early on saturday morning with Portobello Road

Portobello road

Portobello road

public seating

public seating


and the Covent Garden

Covent Garden markets

Covent Garden markets (and my beautiful friends)

then we visited my new favourite place in the whole world. The British Museum. can i go live there?

the most amazing place in the world

the most amazing place in the world

lewis chessmen

lewis chessmen

these game pieces are made of horse teeth

these game pieces are made of horse teeth

this is the only horned helmet ever found in europe.

this is the only horned helmet ever found in europe.

roman letters

roman letters. these are one of my favourite finds ever. they were discovered in the ruins of a fort on hadrians wall and were letters about everyday life, food orders, birthday party invitations and, (provining once and for all that the more things change the more they stay the same) complaints about the road, the weather and the government

rosetta stone

rosetta stone

this is the shipping information in french, written directly onto the stone when it was discovered

this is the shipping information in french, written directly onto the stone when it was discovered

egyptian statue gallery

egyptian statue gallery

assyrian statues

assyrian statues

the nereid monument

the nereid monument

ancinet greek graffiti

ancinet greek graffiti

the parthenon marbles

the parthenon marbles

remains from the tomb of halicarnasus

remains from the tomb of halicarnasus

remains from the tomb of halicarnasus

remains from the tomb of halicarnasus

 

remains from the tomb of halicarnasus

remains from the tomb of halicarnasus

then there was coffee and cake

mmmmm. cakes. this bakery was made famous by the P.C. Grant books

mmmmm. cakes. this bakery was made famous by the P.C. Grant books

yay friends!

yay friends!

as is correct.

next day i went to the tower of london, which is probably the best interprted and presented site of it’s kind i have ever been to. it is enourmous and very intact. my only complaint was that in a lot of places you cant take photos, but thats because it is still technically a functioning public building owned by the royal family.

 

roman wall of london

roman wall of london

 

the tower of london

the tower of london

 

silver smleting equipment

silver smleting equipment

 

ravens at the tower

ravens at the tower

 

this is where the remains thought to be the princes in the tower were discovered

this is where the remains thought to be the princes in the tower were discovered

 

these suits of armour and weapons are a part of the line of kings, the world longest running tourist attraction which opened in 1688

these suits of armour and weapons are a part of the line of kings, the world longest running tourist attraction which opened in 1688

 

the armour of charles II

the armour of charles II

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this is a gun axe. no more need be said

this is a gun axe. no more need be said

 

a 1000year old toilet

a 1000year old toilet

 

i love the opportunistic stone use in the white tower

i love the opportunistic stone use in the white tower

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this norman chimney has a flue that exits through the wall instead of through the roof

this norman chimney has a flue that exits through the wall instead of through the roof

 

3 m long jousting lance

3 m long jousting lance

 

cool etjipoian sword

cool etjipoian sword

 

Dragon!

Dragon!

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headmans axe and block.

headmans axe and block.

 

can you see where the roof used to be?

can you see where the roof used to be?

 

traitors gate

traitors gate

 

they removed the interior walls from the medieval palace so you can see how it is constructed

they removed the interior walls from the medieval palace so you can see how it is constructed

 

a kings bedroom

a kings bedroom

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this and the picture of the throne are probably the room where poor mad Henry VI was murdered

this and the picture of the throne are probably the room where poor mad Henry VI was murdered

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Tower bridge and the Thames

Tower bridge and the Thames

 

the bloody tower

the bloody tower

 

ha!

ha!

 

people live here!

people live here!

 

the whit tower

the white tower

 

graffiti insdie some of the close confinement cells

graffiti insdie some of the close confinement cells

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recording the presence of one of the saddest tower prisoners, Lady Jane Grey the nine day queen

recording the presence of one of the saddest tower prisoners, Lady Jane Grey the nine day queen

 

pretty cannon

pretty cannon

then i went wandering and found St Pauls and Ludgate hill, Fleet st, and Blackfriars

St Pauls

St Pauls

view down to millenium bridge and the Tate Modern

view down to millenium bridge and the Tate Modern

statue of one of my favourite english historical characters. St. Thomas Beckett

statue of one of my favourite english historical characters. St. Thomas Beckett

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Millenium bridge and the Shard

Millenium bridge and the Shard

WW memorial outside of St. Pauls

WW memorial outside of St. Pauls

Butterflies!

Butterflies!

Court buildings

Court buildings

pretty clock on Fleet St

pretty clock on Fleet St

fleet st

fleet st

 

there is a Black Friar statue on this cafe in Blackfriars

there is a Black Friar statue on this cafe in Blackfriars

I went outfor some drinks with friends that night in Hoxton square and the just had monday morning left. so i went for a wander around Westminster and then Oxford St and Soho down to Leister Square, and i bough some more of my favourite socks at TK Maxx on Charing Cross Road.

Big Ben

Big Ben

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

the reason i did not go into Westminster Abbey

the reason i did not go into Westminster Abbey

General thoughts and observations. London is much more of a mishmash city then paris. Paris was basically rebuilt by Napoleon and so everything works togethr, it’s very designed. London on the other hand has medieval houses next to deco building with a glass skyscraper down the street this is not better or worse, but it noticably affect the feel of the city. london also seems to be more monumental lots of really big imposing buildings and statues, and every tiny nook or cranny is built into, under bridges and inside trainstations, it’s like a great big infinetly chaotic Jenga set.

London is also horrendously expensive, i really couldn’t believe it. the way it work is that everything costs the same in pounds as it would in australian dollars, so a coffe is £3 and a cheap meal is £10. and then you realise that the coffee actaully costs $6 and the cheapest food out there is $20, if you want something nice your looking at a minimum of $30 every time you eat.

taht said i had a fabolous time. i caught up with some great friends and would have stayed for a lot longer if i could. also i got to visit the world pilgrimage site for archaeologists, and can now die happy.

feel fee to question me in the comments about any of this stuff guys, that goes for all the posts.

I miss you all, see you next month!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top tips for visiting Versailles

1.Get there early. there were thousands of people and a massive line by 10am so be prepared.

2.wear your walking shoes. the property is over four kilometers from end to end.

3.consider buying the two day pass if you are really interested. i was there for 8 hours and only saw about half of the gardens. wirth a two day pass you will be able to see evrything and have more relaxed days.

4. they dont turn on the water fountains all day. so plan your time in the gardens for when they are on. it really makes a difference

so. Versailles. is ridiculous. really. it is so enourmous and over the top i can’t really talk about it intelligably. i’m just going to put up heaps of pictures with captions describing them. also it makes me a bit sad and angry. thses people were living like this while most of the country starved. no wonder they had a revolution. during the revolution most of the furnishings were stolen or destroyed. some have been returned but the palace would have been even more lavish then than it is today.

 

not quite a baby monkey riding backwards on a pig, but close

not quite a baby monkey riding backwards on a pig, but close

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3.5 kms of garden

3.5 kms of garden

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they are restoring one of the fountains. the conservation techniques are interesting and they are trying to use as much of the original parts as they can. this shows one of the pipes being maintained while dry so that it holds it's shape

they are restoring one of the fountains. the conservation techniques are interesting and they are trying to use as much of the original parts as they can. this shows one of the pipes being maintained while dry so that it holds it’s shape

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mmmmm. rasberry icecream

mmmmm. rasberry icecream

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it's very...pink. (the Trianon Palace)

it’s very…pink. (the Trianon Palace)

public bedrooms

public bedrooms

this is the malachite room, for obvious reasons

this is the malachite room, for obvious reasons

beautiful stone

beautiful stone

beautiful parquet floors

beautiful parquet floors

the top of this table is just one piece of wood

the top of this table is just one piece of wood

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Napoleons' map room

Napoleons’ map room

they thought they were so good they had paintings made of them doing stuff with greek gods in the gardens

they thought they were so good they had paintings made of them doing stuff with greek gods in the gardens

this is the 18th century equivalent of an esky

this is the 18th century equivalent of an esky

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kitchen for the 'small' palace

kitchen for the ‘small’ palace

this kitchen table was the only thing in the entire palace i actually coveted for myself

this kitchen table was the only thing in the entire palace i actually coveted for myself

beautiful stonework

beautiful stonework

these mirrored walls move so that madame de pompidou could have as many mirrors as she liked

these mirrored walls move so that madame de pompidou could have as many mirrors as she liked

pimpin pram

pimpin pram

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Psychedelic marble steps

Psychedelic marble steps

this is marble. you would think it would be plaster or some thing, but no, everything is espensive

this is marble. you would think it would be plaster or some thing, but no, everything is espensive

Versailles garden

Versailles garden

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Psychedelic marble steps

Psychedelic marble steps

the only part i will comment on is the farm.Marie Antoinette decided she would like a simpler lifstyle somtimesthen what was offered to her at versailles. so she had a farm built. not a real farm, just some building that look like a disney farm and a place for the gardner to stay. there were also animals (they still keep animals there and they are kind of cute) and vege gardens. it is the single most ridiculous place i’ve ever been in my entire life.

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a fake roman temple

a fake roman temple

the farm

the farm

more ridiculousness in the gardens.with a music house and a fake stone formation

more ridiculousness in the gardens.with a music house and a fake stone formation

smallest vineyard ever. seriously, you can see all of it in this photo

smallest vineyard ever. seriously, you can see all of it in this photo

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all of the houses have daffodils planted in the roof thatch

all of the houses have daffodils planted in the roof thatch

at least theyare working gardens here

at least theyare working gardens here

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see how even the fram is connected to rome?

see how even the fram is connected to rome?

on the farm

on the farm

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i love goats

i love goats

but geese are giant and scary

but geese are giant and scary

on sunday i visited Musee Carnavlet, which is a museum of the history of paris. it was put together in a really clever way. the art and artefacts were seperated by era, ie. 16th century, the commune, but instead of just having them in a white room, each era’s series of rooms was decorated and furnished like it would have been at that tim. there was also a cabinet in each section just full of the random stuff people used in day to day life back then. it really put the art into context and made it feel really present.

beautiful 1900's hotel lobby

beautiful 1900’s hotel lobby

with fireplace, i bet it's a bitch to dust

with fireplace, i bet it’s a bitch to dust

stuff from the time of the Paris Commune. i love the little pillar commorative thingy made from the ruins of Hotel de Ville

stuff from the time of the Paris Commune. i love the little pillar commorative thingy made from the ruins of Hotel de Ville

this is a pimpin cradle

this is a pimpin cradle

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the constitution and the bill of rights of the Paris Commune

the constitution and the bill of rights of the Paris Commune

you call that a desk...?

you call that a desk…?

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best picnic basket ever

best picnic basket ever

this mercury still has paint on it

this mercury still has paint on it

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I love these reconstructed frescoes

I love these reconstructed frescoes

this is cool because the mortar between the stones is still intact and you can see how they carved that as part of tyhe pattern. normally it's worn away

this is cool because the mortar between the stones is still intact and you can see how they carved that as part of tyhe pattern. normally it’s worn away

very nicely decorated roman lintels

very nicely decorated roman lintels

that afternoon i went over to bastille to check out the great markets there. every little area has it’s own markets, but these ones are particularly big and fun.

bastille

bastille

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Bastille markets

Bastille markets

Ham, Roquefort and walnut crepe with normandy cider. yum

Ham, Roquefort and walnut crepe with normandy cider. yum

next weekend i’m going to london so you might not hear from me for a while.

have a good long weekend and and easter egg for me.

Orleans and French museum syndrome

Another big weekend this week, I’m trying to make every one a big one so I can get as much done as possible.

On Saturday I visited Orleans, it’s about an hour south of Paris on the train and has to be one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever seen. apparently it’s known for the production of sugar and vinegar, and is most famous as the site of the battle of Orleans where Joan of Arc defeated the English.

Fake roman arch

Fake roman arch

spring flowers

spring flowers

Orleans

Orleans

old town walls

old town walls

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statueof Jean D'Arc

statueof Jean D’Arc

old town walls

old town walls

i love how you can see where renovations 500 years ago have filled in the window

i love how you can see where renovations 500 years ago have filled in the window

now i will say one thing for the French; they know how to do gardens. i visited several this weekend and they are really really nice.

Pasteur Park

Pasteur Park

Orleans has to be one of the cleanest and prettiest towns I’ve ever been to, wide streets with lots of light, even in the medieval part of the town, and I visited a bunch of them. they were quite small but the archaeology museum had a really nice collection of Gallo-Roman bronzes.

Roman bronzes

Roman bronzes

creepy merman

creepy merman

apparently orleans is also famous for beaded flowers

apparently orleans is also famous for beaded flowers

bronze

bronze

unfortunately all of them suffered from the same malady as 80% of French museums and galleries, I’m coining the term French Museum Syndrome. either the collections are entirely uninterpreted, and simply presented as object d’art/interest, or they are so poorly interpreted that they become boring, even if they should have been interesting.a good example of this was Maison Jean D’arc. the house that Joan of arc stayed in when she was in Orleans. it is very small and consists only of a video about her life and a chronology, but it is in a beautiful medieval house with original detail and materials. there was nothing about why she lived in this house, the differences in life between then and now, or about anything that could have given context or depth to the display.

maison Jean D'Arc

maison Jean D’Arc

details inside maison Jean D'Arc

details inside maison Jean D’Arc

the natural history museum suffered from the same problem, in spite of having some really excellent collections of

fossils,

these are not fossils, they are stone tool polishing grooves, but they were in the same section. museum faux pas

these are not fossils, they are stone tool polishing grooves, but they were in the same section. museum faux pas

minerals,

what is this stuff. i've also added a picture of the label but it doesn't help me much

what is this stuff. i’ve also added a picture of the label but it doesn’t help me much

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skeletons (don’t mess with bears or walrus’s)

elephant

elephant

walrus

walrus

bear

bear

hehe. kangaroo skeletons are funny

hehe. kangaroo skeletons are funny

and animals (I recommend avoiding the insect display if you have a problem with creepy crawlies, no moths though which was great)

so are these

so are these

now i know why my sister is afraid of birds. this monster is about 3 meters across

now i know why my sister is afraid of birds. this monster is about 3 meters across

It's Alive!

It’s Alive!

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but there was very little about why these things are interesting, what they can teach us about the world or why people study them. it’s a very old fashioned approach to museum displays and really disappointing.

on the up side Orleans had a really great flea market, I kind of want to buy a bed warming pan now.

bed warming pan

bed warming pan

really it is a very nice city, and the museums have some good stuff in them. there is also a museum about the Vel’ d’Hiv Round-up of Jewish people in Nazi occupied France that I quite wanted to go to but it was closed, which makes sense as it was Saturday. it is apparently very detailed and complete and came highly recommended. maybe an idea for people who are interested in WW2 and the history of Jewish people in the twentieth century.

on the first Sunday of every month in Paris lots of museums and galleries are free or heavily discounted. some friends and i decided to take advantage of this and check out some that are usually quite expensive. things didn’t exactly go to plans. first we went to the Grand Palais, which was built for the Paris Exhibition in 1900. we knew we wouldn’t be able to see any exhibits for free but we wanted to have a wander around inside the building. turns out you cant even go in unless you pay 13 euro, and even then you only get to see one exhibition a pop. so we decided to go to the Louvre instead, which was free. so we walked through Tuilleries (another lovely French garden. past the Luxor Obelisk (the 3000 years old egyptian artefact glorifying Rameses the Great that the french nicked in the nineteenth cetury)

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the Luxor obelisk

the Luxor obelisk

to see a line of approximately 10,000 people that filled the entire courtyard of the Lourve. which is bad even for Paris. As we didn’t want to stay in line for three hours we decided to try again, third time lucky. and we visited the archaeological crypt of pairs. this was discovered in 1980 during excavations for an underground car park and it is the 1st 4th and 15th century remains of the city of Paris. I’m not going to go on about it but it was a super cool, very well done museum and i took way to many photos which you now get to see.

roman baths

roman baths

roman bath hypocaust tunnel

roman bath hypocaust tunnel

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a 14th century pillar in the middle of a man hoiuse

a 14th century pillar in the middle of a man hoiuse

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that little gap in the stone in the bottom right is a lever notch that was used to move the stone into place in the 1st century. love getting my archaeology geek on

roman wall

roman wall

roman graffiti

roman graffiti

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after lunch we went to the Rodin museum, which suffers from the worst case of French museum syndrome I have seen so far. it is beautiful, in a villa with formal gardens filled with statues, and there is not a single word on interpretation (either in French or English) in the entire place, half the statues didn’t even have titles or dates on them!

this is one of my favourite rodin pieces. 'cathedral"

this is one of my favourite rodin pieces. ‘cathedral”

this is made of Jasper. so cool

this is made of Jasper. so cool

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the thinker

the thinker

the rodin museum garden

the rodin museum garden

even this statue “the Burghers of Calais” was not explained even though it commemorates a truly remarkable story.

England’s Edward III, after a victory in the Battle of Crecy, laid seige to Calais, while Philip VI of France ordered the city to hold out at all costs. Philip failed to lift the siege, and starvation eventually forced the city to parley for surrender. Edward offered to spare the people of the city if any six of its top leaders would surrender themselves to him, presumably to be executed. Edward demanded that they walk out wearing nooses around their necks, and carrying the keys to the city and castle. One of the wealthiest of the town leaders, Eustache de Saint Pierre, volunteered first, and five other burghers joined with him. Saint Pierre led this envoy of volunteers to the city gates and saved the city and it’s people. (yoinked from wikipedia).

anyway, it’s a nice walk around the gardens here, but unless you’re a super fan of rodin I don’t recommend paying for this.

that’s about all this week, tune in next week for more museums and possibly versaillies.

oh and here are some photos of food, because people have been asking for them.

food as requested

food as requested

more food

more food

and some more random photos of the random stuff i”ve been doing

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really interesting picture about the ideals of the peoples revolution 1871

really interesting picture about the ideals of the peoples revolution 1871

cathedral

cathedral

totally buff angels

totally buff angels

these look like sculptures but they are paintings

these look like sculptures but they are paintings

enjoy!

Another week in Paris.

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Really, there is so much to do and see here that I need to post every week or I’ll forget.

After my epic day in Bayeux I wanted to take it a little bit easy so i just spent the next day wandering around the 4th Arrodisement. For those who don’t know the arrondisements are the districts of Paris. I live in the 18th, which is really multicultural and crazy, Montmartre is also in the 18th. the 4th contains Notre Dame Cathedral and the Pompidou centre, but is also one of the oldest parts of Paris, with lots of little winding streets and cool shops. a lot of it is a bit touristy, but if you get of the main streets there are heaps of tiny café’s and vintage stores. i didn’t buy anything, just spent the day having a look around and exploring, but i will be making another trip, believe me.

street performance

street performance

In the 4th

in the 4th

I work Monday to Friday in the week, so I don’t really have a chance to see much except on weekends. that said, just the experience of walking amongst all the Haussman buildings is exciting, they really define the city in popular imagination. also, the public transport here is so good that it’s almost fun to catch the underground metro in the mornings, but only if I’ve had my coffee.

There is a fantastic fruit and veg fruit market near my apartment every sunday morning, and I try to hit it every week (I’ll try to remember to take photos next time). It’s great because the food is really fresh and cheap, but everyone, even the other customers, laugh at me when I try to order in French so I stick to English most of the time. The bread here is, as expected, superb even the crap bread is delicious.

It turns out I’m a fashion photographer now. one of my house mates is a fashion blogger and I’ve been taking the photos for her. check it out here http://themarimorenashow.com/

This weekend I spent Saturday wandering around the 16th, which is where Trocadero Palace is. you may think you don’t know what that is, but you do. it’s the place where the really famous view of the Eiffel Tower is, you know the view, this one http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paris_-_view_from_Palais_de_Chaillot_(roof_of_the_Mus%C3%A9e_de_l’homme)_-_Eiffel_tower.jpg I didn’t take a photo cause i this there must already be several million in existence, we don’t need another one.

Word of warning, do not get a coffee in the tourist areas, all of the café’s near here charged at least 6 euros for a plain white coffee, that $10 Australian. Total rip-off. Another tip for coffee is that if you drink it standing at the bar in the cafe it will only cost you 1 or 2 euro, whereas if you decide to sit down it will cost more, if you want to sit outside it is more again.

I spent some time on Saturday at the Mona Bismarck centre for American Art http://monabismarck.org/?lang=fr. they are currently having an exhibition of art by Alex Ross, one of my favourite comic book artists. I really enjoyed it, and once again the gallery is in a really beautiful building. Hey lets just agree that every time I don’t specifically say the building is ugly, you guys imagine it as a stunning piece of nineteenth century architecture, OK? good.

I spent some time this weekend at Passy Cemetery and Montmartre Cemetery. In the early nineteenth century all of the existing cemeteries in Paris were closed and four were created at what, at that time, was the outskirts of the city. These cemeteries are a really strange mix of old and new, some of the graves are very old and dilapidated, almost ruins, whilst some of them are only a couple of years old. Montmartre was particularly strange because there is a road bridge over the top of it, they just put the bridge piles down amongst the mausoleums. also, the cemeteries are full of feral cats, they are everywhere, just watching you. creepy.

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Foucalt

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Monmartre Bridge

Montmartre Bridge

on Sunday afternoon I visited Basilica St Denis. This enormous and spectacular Gothic cathedral was redeveloped in the 12th century from the existing 8th century abbey. the church is said to be over the site of St Denis’s grave. St. Denis was martyred in Paris in the 3rd century when he came here preaching Christianity and he is said to have picked his head up after being decapitated, walked ten kilometres, and preached a sermon the entire way. there are a lot of paintings of him as a headless, ambulatory, corpse.

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Anyway, this is one of the first true Gothic churches in the world and, honestly, one of the nicest I have ever been to. some of the stained glass is original, making it nearly 900 years old. this is especially unusual in France because during the revolutions everybody was breaking the windows in churches to get at the lead for making bullets.

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Although the dome is only 29m high (not that big for a gothic cathedral) the architectural tricks and visual illusions used make it look much higher, also it is freezing inside.

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What makes St Denis really special is that all but three of the kings of France are buried here, all the way from ClovisI in 511 to LouisXVIII in 1824, along with dozens of queens, princes, princesses and friends. seriously. guys. that’s like 1400 years of concentrated royalty in one place.

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and the grave markers are seriously over the top.you cant see it but on this one the statue faithfully copies the kings body exactly as it looked after autopsy. there is seriously a great big hole in this guys stomach

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and this is the tomb of Francis I, king from 1515 to 1547, around the bottom is his army, dressed as Romans but using cannon, cause he was just that good!

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and this is his heart! seriously, all of the kings used to get three graves, one for their heart, one for their intestines, and one for their bodies.

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and this is an actual dried up child’s heart on display.

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it belongs to Louis the XVII and is rather a sad story. he was the Dauphin at the time of the French revolution. when his mum and dad (Marie Antionette and Louis XVI) were executed he became king at age 8. he was imprisoned and became ill as a result of extreme neglect, he died on June 8 1795 from Tubercolosis Cervical Lymphadenitis, which would not have been fatal if he had not been immune compromised from neglect. he was only 10 years old. his heart was preserved by the doctor who performed the Autopsy on his body before he was thrown into a mass grave, it was DNA tested in 2000 and results confirmed it was his.this small part of him is now buried next to his parents.

during the revolution most of the bodies were exhumed and thrown into mass graves, the valuables they had been buried with were stolen and their metal coffins melted down. Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the basilica restored form the damage it had suffered in the revolution but it was LouisXVIII that ordered all of the remains returned to the cathedral and placed into an ossuary as there was no way to distinguish whose was whose.

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as you can see , the necropolis here extends much further that the fancy royal tombs. is is possible that one of these coffins belonged to St Denis himself, although it is now impossible to tell. many of these undoubtedly date to Roman times. there are literally hundreds of people buried here, a complete record of catholic burial practices since the beginning of Catholicism in France. this is a truly incredible record of the history and beliefs of this part of the world. the Basilica of St Denis is an absolute necessity on any trip to France.

also, all of this stuff. ask me when i get home.

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oh, a Paris is really beautiful in the spring. they really love their cherry trees.

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BYE!

 

 

I know, I know, I’m late.

Hi all

Yes, I know it’s been three weeks since I posted, let me explain. Just after my last post the friend I was staying with moved house. As a result I didn’t have internet for two weeks. In addition it was a two hour commute to Paris every day, not really conducive to blog writing. So this will be a long post to make up for lost time.

On the plus side, I was living in Chessy. which is a really lovely little town.

Chessy

Chessy

Unfortunately, because of the long commute I rarely saw it in daylight, so you get a night time picture.

Also Paris is very beautiful in the morning, and I have possibly the best view from the world from my office

My morning commute

My morning commute

the view from my office

the view from my office

Yes that is the Eiffel Tower outside of my window.

On St Patricks day I went to Shakespeare and Company, the major English language bookshop in Paris, right near Notre Dame cathedral, to listen to a reading of Bukowski. Then I went and had a Guinness with Kathy, my friend from new York. Not super typical, I’ll admit, but it was a fun night.

Notre Dame at night

Notre Dame at night

St Patricks Day wih and American in Paris

St Patricks Day with an American in Paris

So last Sunday I moved into my new house. it is in the 18th district, which is a really vibrant and multicultural area. It is a little seedy but that’s half the fun of it, and this is the view from my bedroom

room with a view

room with a view

I live about 5 minutes walk from Sacre Coeur and Montmatre, which is cool. It’s such a fun, lively, vibrant area. Heaps of people and vintage shops, food markets, a whole street of fabric shops. The list goes on.

Sacre Coeur is quite interesting. it looks like it’s all old and all made of shiny marble. actually it’s Romanesque revival, less than 100 years old, and its made of cement blocks. it’s much prettier further away.

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

Pastry on top of Montmartre

Pastry on top of Montmartre

Sunday morning markets

Sunday morning markets

my new home

my new home

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Montmartre

Montmartre

free entertainment

free entertainment

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my neighbourhood

my neighbourhood

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

Yesterday I visited a small town in Normandy called Bayeux. The town is most famous as the home of William the Conqueror’s half brother Odo, and the Bayeux Tapestry

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Bayeux

water wheel

water wheel

country town

country town

Medieval buildings still in use

Medieval buildings still in use

Bayeux is also one of the most complete medieval towns in Normandy, mainly because it wasn’t bombed all to hell in the D Day invasion like everything else. What it does have as a result of that invasion is a ring road, the oldest in France. The Allied forces decided it would be to hard to drive tanks through all the little winding 13th century streets so they just build a road around the city.

The Bayeux cathedral is a Gothic outside on a Norman base, and the core of the church dates to approx 1027. making it ooooold

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art destroyed in one revolution or another

art destroyed in one revolution or another

Notice a lot of the carvings have been destroyed. Apparently this was pretty common practice during some of France’s revolutions, and a lot of old buildings have been damaged like this.

The crypt here is also really interesting. Unlike a lot of crypts that were build as mausoleums for the men in charge of the church (and yes it was always men), this one was built so that the floor would be level in the nave and transept. Basically the cathedral is on a hill, so instead of cutting back into the hill, they built a basement with a sloping floor and a flat roof so that the church would be level. I call crazy.

The whole building is quite incredible, with a lot of the Norman paintings and sculpture still extant. Also it is gigantic.

Bayeux Cathedral crypt

Bayeux Cathedral crypt

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There are three museums in Bayeux so, of course, I went to all of them. The first is a history museum that was built on the ruins of a palace and it is a near perfect example of incorporating old buildings into new ones. Even in the toilet. The new  fabric is clearly defined but complementary to the old fabric. If you are ever there I highly recommended checking it out.

beatiful incorporation of the old fabric into the new.

beautiful incorporation of the old fabric into the new.

Medieval toilets

Medieval toilets

Bayeux was originally a Roman town called Augustodurum and there are ruins all over the place. The museum has some really interesting items from this period as well.

Roman entry to Augustodurum

Roman entry to Augustodurum

Roman milestone dedicated to Cnstantine, now a coffin.

Roman milestone dedicated to Constantine, now a coffin.

This milestone was probably my favourite thing in the museum, a really nice example of adaptive reuse and use-life of artefacts. The pillar was originally a road marker. You cant read the inscription in the photo but it is dedicated to Constantine circa 300ce. Some time after the end of the Roman period the side was cut off and the inside carved out to make a stone coffin for a child. It’s poignant and touching in a very strange way.

reconstructed Roman room

reconstructed Roman room

This room is very cool. Sometime in the 19th century some excavators discovered a pit full of Roman plaster. When they got it all out they discovered it was the nearly complete walls of a room. Here they have hung it on a model room to show what it would have looked like. I am consistently amazed by the kinds of things that survive so long.

Roman loom weights

Roman loom weights

and these are for Mum.

I also went to the Bayeux tapestry museum but I have no photos because the flash can damage the fabric. All I will say is that it is magnificent and remarkable and we are extremely lucky to have it in the world. the French revolutionaries nearly cut it up several times and in WW2 it was moved about two days before the building it had been in was bombed. Go see it.

Finally I went to the D Day museum. I’m always a bit funny about war museums. on the one hand its really important to remember and educate about the horror of war and the profound change that the world wars especially heralded, and this museum does that admirably. On the other I always find that there is an element of exploitation with the gift shops and such that sits really uneasily with me.

the Battle of Normandy Museum

the Battle of Normandy Museum

The Normandy landing is a part of World War Two I knew very little about, and now I know I still don’t know much. It was a hugely complex and massively resourced action. I found myself utterly gob-smacked by the sheer coordination and size of the whole thing. holy crap, they built two artificial beaches to land on first!

well that’s about it. I just wanted to share this last photo from the history museum. It’s of the death of Cleopatra and it’s Renaissance in age (careful, boobies). Just check out the look on the guys face, you can almost hear him thinking “what the fuck is going on here”.

WTF?

WTF?

And finally, what I am calling ‘The Gay Viking Of Normandy’. It’s on the side of every train

LGBTI Vikings in Normandy

LGBTI Vikings in Normandy

I think I’ll leave you with that.

Toodles.

Cultural learnings of Paris for make benefit of glorious nation of ‘Straya

So i thought the best way to keep everyone in the loop about what im doing over here would be to write a blog. Can’t guarantee how often I’ll update it but I’ll try to make it semi regular

So I’m settling in nicely. this week I’ve been living in a little town out side Paris called Corbeil. this is what it looks like.Also a street in Corbeila street in CorbielThe Seine in CorbeilMedieval streets of Corbeil

Corbeil has been settled since Roman times but most of the town is 14th or 15 century. for a long time it was the bakery and flour mill for Paris.

Nicest thing about these little towns is the markets and the food. you by all your fruit and veg, meat, bread etc from individual little shops. there are supermarkets but people don’t tend to use them day to day.

I’m working really close to the Eiffel tower and Champ de Mars. this is the view where i get off the train

Pretty tough hey?

work is mostly administrative stuff for UNESCO. which is good because im getting a real handle on some aspects of heritage management that I didn’t really understand before.

its weird walking around here because all of the gravel and road base is made of flint or chert. i keep thinking im seeing stone tools but it’s just gravel.

on monday i went to Les Hotel Des Invalides, which used to be a hospital until Napoleon turned it in Le Musee Armee, the war museum.

Le Hotel Invalides

Le Hotel Invalides

This was really interesting, quite apart from the cool suits of armour and the GIANT FREAKING CANNONS

Giant Freaking Cannon

Giant Freaking Cannon

Just how Freaking Giant the Cannon Is

Just how Freaking Giant the Cannon Is

It also contained a really excellent exhibition about WW! and 2. this was fascinating to me because the interpretation of the important parts of these was completely different to what we understand. Gallipoli wasn’t even mentioned and the blitz was interpreted due to its influence on the French command in exile. it’s was a really dislocating experience to see these events from such a different perspective.

the other thing i noticed was the evolution of arms and armour since the middle ages hasn’t just been about efficiency, it’s also been about beatification. the early weaponry they have is really crude and brutal looking. its just big lumps of sharp metal. there is a clear and continuing trend though for weapons, even if they are functionally identical, to become more beautiful down the ages. it’s as if people were trying to make war a beautiful thing. i don’t know, just something i noticed.

the other thing at this museum is the tombs of France’s great war leaders, including Napoleon. Napoleon’s tomb is enormous. those are full-sized people in the background, not dwarfs or children.

Marshal Foch's tomb

Marshal Foch’s tomb

Napoleon's Tomb

Napoleon’s Tomb

so that’s pretty much all I did this week. here are some more random photos I took. enjoy

along side the Seine

along side the Seine

Near where i work

Palace Trocadero

Palace Trocadero