We arrived in Paris on May 7th around 9:00 a.m. with little to no sleep under our belts. The service on Air France was wonderful and the AirBus was the smoothest ride I've ever had, but the seat was quite uncomfortable so we couldn't sleep well. But, who am I to complain, we're in Paris for five nights and then heading to Normandy for a photography workshop with Valerie Jardin (more on that later).
Once again we've rented an apartment in Paris, by far the best way to visit affordably in our estimation. This time we're in the 7th, just a very small block and a half from la Tour Eiffel. We walk a short distance and we are almost at the base of the tower, not at the far end of the Champ-de-Mars. This apartment has incredible closet space for a French apartment, lots of light from its southern exposure, a modern kitchen, and it's quiet; however, we did some how blow the circuit breaker for electricity for the apartment within the first five hours of being here. Our contact in Paris for the apartment could not have been nicer or more helpful and came to fix the problem as we were going to the Apple Store near the Louvre to buy French plugs for our computers.
Once that chore was complete, we ambled west through the Tuileries at dusk watching the sun get lower and lower in the sky, and Parisiennes basking in the end-of-day sunlight sitting around the garden's fountains. We did get back to our new neighborhood in time to see the first show of the "dancing diamonds" on la Tour Eiffel which is always beautiful but incredibly impressive if you're standing right below it.
The morning of the 8th began with a California-native handyman fixing a bedroom light that didn't work but also sharing with us tips on where to eat in the neighborhood and how to catch the right trains around town. We then met up with a woman we'd met last year on a photographic "adventure" in Venice; she is here on Valerie's Paris workshop. We had lunch with Sheida and her friend, and then walked over to enjoy a stroll in les jardins du Luxembourg.
The rain had passed and now the sky was riddled with big white, cumulus clouds. Peter and I happily shot in the gardens for over an hour and then decided the clouds might provide an incredible backdrop to the city from the river, so we walked to the Seine and hopped on a Vedette.
The Seine is so swollen, its waters breach the banks most of the time now. It was like this two and a half years ago when we came at Christmas time, and it appears, things have not improved. What this means for the boats is that they can no longer head east up the river to see Notre Dame, but rather they can only travel west toward la Tour Eiffel and the miniature Statue of Liberty. The sky was so impressive; Peter and I were glad we came and enjoyed, once again, seeing this city we've come to love from the water.
The end of the day found us ... where else ... at la Tour Eiffel. We got there around 9:00 after a small bite to eat, and the sun was just beginning to really think about setting. It sets here, around 9:20 p.m., nearly an hour after it does at home which makes for long days for a photographer - especially one who may want to capture "blue hour" - that wonderful half hour after sunset. We thought we'd stay for just a few shots and ended up staying through sunset, the lighting of the tower, the beginning of blue hour, and the first showing of the "dancing diamonds". "Dancing diamonds" is what my sister called the five minute light show that occurs every hour after sunset for five minutes until midnight. Around 10:15 p.m., we started walking home ... two "very tired Tookers".
As we climbed into bed, we watched some of our photographs from the day on the television, and Peter declared it a very "Happy Birthday".
Here's a slide show of the first day in Paris, I hope to pull together one for the birthday-day soon.
Photos and slide show by Claudia Danforth Ward
Music: L'Autre valse Amélie by Yann Tierson
Au revoir. À demain.