Paris, the city of lights! Who would of thought it could be such a quiet place? I’m not saying it’s quiet compared to a Swiss mountain village, but for a large metropolis the nights in Paris are surprisingly calm. I’m currently living in the Parisian equivalent of Soho, known as le Marias, but even here the busy streets begin to empty around 11 and by 2 in the morning there’s hardly a whisper.
This is all a bit of a shock to my New York system, so I was relieved last weekend when I found out that I was in Paris for the Nuit Blanche or White Night. On this night, which happens only once a year, the city comes alive for the entire night with artists and galleries displaying some of their finest works throughout the city.
My neighborhood cathedral dressed for the Nuit Blanche.
It’s a shame the event only lasted one night, because the truth is there is no way to take in anything but a small sample of all the night has to offer. Even wandering the city till 4am, I only had a small taste of the art exhibitions that filled everything from ancient churches to city plazas. There were films, paintings and installations that are frankly hard to even describe. To get a more rounded picture of this amazing evening check out some of the highlights online here.
Paris remains something of a mystery to me. Unlike New York, Vienna or Rome, it’s people and streets remain somewhat alien and I feel very much a stranger in a strange land here. Even so, as with a new romance, there’s a thrill in the chase, in finding out new secrets and in seeing just how far the relationship will go.
Mine was the twilight and the morning.
Mine was a world of rooftops and love songs.
One more side of Paris…
― Roman Payne, “Rooftop Soliloquy”
I’ve been trying to push my way through a couple of new posts, but alas I seem to have lost some of my mojo during the long break. So rather then fade away completely for a few more weeks, I thought I’d simply share the first fruits of my photographic efforts here in Paris. This photo was inspired by all the incredible, monumental architecture of the city.
Even though I can’t see it, I still feel Paris in the photo.
As no doubt some of you will observe, there are no monuments in the photo. The thing is that I’ve noticed an inordinate number of tourist laden down with heavy (and expensive) camera gear. They walk around taking hundreds of photos in their little groups, photos that have been taken a thousand times before and using far better equipment than what I have. I thought I’d rather not start my trip with my own collection of standard Paris imagery and the inspiration from the cool autumn rain resulted in these photos.
Who knew how beautiful a sidewalk could be?
I’m reminded yet again of how much beauty is hidden in the world and… No, it’s too soon. Poetic writing is still on my horizon. Hopefully these images can speak for me.
But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there,
not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight,nor right and wrong
nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
At last it’s time for the next season of An Out of the Way Place’s travel to begin! Sorry to have the last season of posts end so abruptly, but alas yours truly had the false belief that not only could he balance the demands of interstate travel with writing, but also the demands of long absent friends and family. As my long break from writing should make perfectly clear, that was not the case.
A small taste of American culture.
The good news is that not only have I returned to international travel, but Continue reading
Being homeless has turned out pretty well for me. Over the last few years I can count on one hand the nights I’ve been stuck sleeping on the street, but it’s hard to remember all the amazing places I’ve had a chance to rest my head.
I was digging through some of my photos from last year and was reminded of one particularly nice night when I slept in a barn. It had been a long day of biking through a heat wave in southern France and as the sun neared the horizon it was time to look for a place to stay. I was ready to just set myself up in the woods when I stumbled upon an old horse farm. The lovely woman who ran the place was kind enough to give me a place to sleep in the hay and the old stone buildings that covered her property gave me plenty of things to photograph as the sun faded away. One of my favorite photos is of her garden shed.
I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect scene.
Of course, not all my thoughts were spent contemplating artistic creation and biking all day left me in desperate need of nutrition. Fortunately my kind hostess also provided an amazing spread of food. I wish I could say I accepted her generosity hesitantly and with moderation, but the record shows otherwise. It’s a good thing there are still people who like caring for the homeless.
I take my eating seriously.
Cathedrals are terrible places for photography. The contrast is normally way too high, you can’t stand far enough away from anything and you almost never capture that amazing feeling of space that cathedrals were designed to embody. Of course that’s never stopped me from trying and I have hundreds of mediocre cathedral pictures to prove it.
This shot, however, actually came out well. It is one of those happy coincidences when the stars align and the shot comes out unexpectedly well. It was taken in the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen one fine days as I was biking across France. As happy as I am with the photo, I have to admit it’s still more impressive in person.