Revisiting Paris, part I

Just got home after nearly a month of travelling with the family.

Visiting Paris this time was quite different from my previous trip about three years ago. Having learnt some of the language this time round, I felt less like a tourist who was only there to stay for four days, and much more like a newly transplanted international student trying to get my bearings, soaking in every single linguistic tidbit with a mixture of wonder and bewilderment. I eavesdropped (sans guilt as only language students can! :P) on every nearby snatch of conversation, savoured every street and shop sign, read the backs of sugar packets and seatbelt warning labels… I was almost sad to leave Paris for Rome when the four days were up.

Anyway, here’s where a great jumbleclutter of pictures begins.

We took the Eurostar from London to Paris. London was lovely (though drizzly as ever), not least because this was my first trip back to England since graduating from secondary school, and I got to see some fabulous old friends. —St. Pancras is a remarkable train station, warm yet grand:

London’s pre-Olympics atmosphere isn’t anywhere close to the overdone frenziness of Beijing leading up to 2008, but there are still a few prominent signs here and there

Paris’s Gare du Nord, where we ended up, is a bustling area, and has a very high Rumoured Pickpocket Index: we got warned about theft in the area by various enthusiastic strangers three times. It has quite a cheerful vibe in spite of it, and plenty of streetside cafés.

The Centre Georges Pompidou, a modern & contemporary art museum/cultural centre, is where we spent all of our first afternoon.

Here’s its distinct backside

The quirky fountain to the side of it

and the front

One of my favourite things about many European museums is the sheer number of very young children/school groups (some of them barely walking steadily!) you can see in them, interacting with, learning about, or just taking in the artwork.

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How amazing to see perplexing and mind-bending artworks like these in person at such an early age. Maybe a bit like reading a great book that was too ‘old’ for me when I was a kid? — I didn’t ‘get’ it and might have been confused, but I felt expanded and exhilarated by the connection anyway.

The work of this photographer, David Goldblatt, had a wonderful focus on the amazingly diverse textures and shapes of everyday life

A creative take on steel fencing

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this one

…and they weren’t quite sure what to make of me

Thomas hirschborn’s Outgrowth is about the many many problems, seemingly ‘cancerous’, of our world. I liked it a lot.

There were lots of little side corridors with nifty old documents and smaller bits and pieces to peruse. Found this modest statement in one of them: “If you like love, you’ll love surrealism”… followed of course by a street address. : )

I love this Louise Bourgeois piece. I hated it when I first looked at it — frankly, it gave me the shivers and made me feel uncomfortable. But after dwelling on it a bit, it became lovely to me, quietly beautiful and alive; and I’m fascinated that it worked that transformation on me.

Very Giacometti

View from one of the toppermost floors of the centre

Back to the quirky fountain area, which turned out to be a nice place to munch on panini and melty-chocolatey-crepe and to people-watch, and also to play ball, apparently

It’s not everyday one gets to eat next to something like this : )

As his quote from Sudarshan Shetty on the CGP bookshop window puts it, “sometimes when we travel we forget who we are” … but sometimes it helps us remember, too, I think.

Lastly, a few shots around and about the Grand Palais, which is a gorgeous, majestic space:

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Time for sleep now!! Bonne nuit; more pictures tomorrow.