Friday, October 8, 2010

Paris, je t'aime

Paris is one of my favourite cities. This was the first European city I had ever visited. It was like love at first sight.

I didn't grow up traveling that much as a kid because my Mom was always working and my Dad's a home-body. I had to try my best to imagine re-living my parents' experiences abroad and asked them over and over about what it was like in Italy and France. My Dad rambled on and on about the art and the food in Italy, but when asked about Paris he would fixate on how expensive it was to buy a bottle of coke. My Mom would then interrupt by telling me of my Dad's grand expenses on acquiring Coca-Cola during their stay. Didn't give me the clearest sense of the city. Anyway, the idea of going on a plane was a real treat (still is). So, when my high school art teacher announced that the school was planning a trip to France, I was pretty stoked to say the least.

When I laid my sixteen year old eyes on the place, I felt as though I was immediately delivered to a realm so full of beauty that my mind was going to implode. Since then, I have been exposed to a much greater extent of the world, but I have yet to experience the same sensation. It was probably just a one-off feeling. One of those moments that can only be experienced in youth.

This time around (le troisiemme), I was invited by my friend Latana, who was born and raised in Paris. Latana currently lives in London, where she is based as a mezzo soprano, but is often shooting off from one end of the EU to the other, chasing down operatic roles. Latana and her family showed me around the Paris that they know and love during my 4 day stay and overwhelmed me with their generosity and kindness. I wish I was more proficient at French so that I could express my gratitude with something more eloquent than "merci!"

During my stay, I was also able to meet up with my long time pal, John Mutter. He just landed in Paris that same weekend to start off his new musical life there. We have not only been buddies since the age of five, but we've also collaborated on various projects. John's been making music for a long time. I remember organizing concerts for his band as a teenager. He got a Canadian Arts Council grant that will enable him to be in Paris for the next few months making magic.

Anyway, we did lots of meandering through the winding roads of Paris, the regular sight-seeing spots, and ate wonderful food (care of Latana's Mom). I had not visited the Louvre since I was 16, so we went there. Latana spent five years working in that marvelous museum, so she did the navigating.

This is in the same room as the Mona Lisa.

Goodness, how I love Delacroix and Gericault.
I had to take a photo of these Tigers by Delacroix. A good animal, artist combo.

I felt rushed in the Louvre. There was a small, but wonderful Watteau drawing and prints exhibition that gobbled up a lot of my time. Then I found myself racing towards the Dutch wing, taking quick peeks at vanitas paintings and animal studies, and giving the Vermeers a momentary glimpse, as I could feel the invigilators ushering me out with their "Get out, so I can go home" eyes. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to sketch as much as I intended. Just got a quick sketch of a Rubens study and sketches of people walking around the museum foyer.

Latana took us to the Opera House at night. It was one of the highlights of my trip I think. The neo-baroque building was just so gorgeous and ornate. It's too bad I didn't have time to go inside. Maybe next time.

By the time I was set to go home on the Eurostar, my hopes of getting some shut eye before returning to London failed. I don't know what the baby behind me looked like, but it probably looked something like this.

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