On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
Steve from Mendocino – Paris
In 1978 I put my newly minted MBA in a drawer and took several months to flesh out my non-business education. This included two months at Anne-Marie’s parents’ apartment in the suburbs of Paris.
I commuted on this train to the Cordon Bleu cooking school 6 days a week for courses in both general cooking and pastry. Sundays I spent cooking fancy meals for various members of the family. Anne-Marie’s father had been stationed in Chelles, a blue collar suburb, for two years as a shipping clerk. The demographic of Chelles included a fair percentage of north African and middle eastern immigrants, and I was told about a family who filled their bathtub with dirt and grew vegetables. The French have a long history of racism that waxes and wanes just like our own.
For the first few years of my visits to Paris, Invalides meant no more to me than the place the airport bus dropped us after the charter flight landed. Turns out there’s a rather nice building at that Invalides bus stop. (Remember charter flights? Airline pricing was fixed among carriers, and charter flights were a way for independent airlines to legally undercut the prices of scheduled airlines, but they restricted to lesser airports. Frankfurt, Brussels, and the Le Bourget airport of Paris were the most common).
View of the Dome church taken from the gardens of the Rodin museum.
Rodin sculpture in the museum gardens.
I’ve always loved impressionism. It used to be that the Jeu de Paume museum at the Concorde end of the Tuileries was headquarters for the best collection of impressionism in Paris, but with the opening of the Musee d’Orsay that collection was incorporated into the new museum’s inventory, which is vast, beautifully presented, and not too crowded so long as you go at opening time, off season, in the rain, and on a day that students are not getting discounts. I always spend several hours there during every visit to Paris.
I enjoy the ornateness of the Alexander III bridge. The Grand Palais appearing in the background is frequently the location of important art exhibits, if you can tolerate the lines.
Ecole Militaire building from the Champs de Mars. The Champs de Mars metro station is the stop for in the Cordon Bleu cooking school.
That tower thingy that you can see from most parts of the city. The Jules Verne restaurant there used to be famous for its wine cellar – not something one would have anticipated. The food was good, and the wine cellar, while short of amazing, was sizeable and well selected at the time of my visit during the early 70’s.
How lucky you were, to be in Paris then. Thanks for the lovely photos.
So much to absorb — love the train, of course. Also the slight off-centeredness of the Invalides and Ecole Militaire pictures. Also the framing of the Dome church by trees and sky.
The two people in the bottom right of the Ecole Militaire picture are caught in the middle of some lively thoughts — which we will never know. But they look interesting.
ahh… Musee d’Orsay. I hope to see it again one day.
The D’Orsay has one of my wife’s favorite sculptures, the Pompon white bear. They move it around periodically, so we have to go look for it sometimes when we’re there.
But what’s utterly mind-blowing is the stretch of galleries on the top floor on the north side of the building, which cover the entire Impressionist and Post-Impressionist periods. One time I went there and promised myself I wouldn’t take photos of the most famous paintings (because, you know, how clichéd) and realized that even the “second tier” paintings were all instantly recognizable.
I’m enjoying this series. Nice to get shots from the viewpoint of someone living in a city. Curious about what camera you were using in the late 70s – it seems you knew what you were doing even back then.
I remember my first visit to Paris in the summer of 83. It was great being able to stroll up to the Tower at any time of day or night. It was quite a shock going back a couple of years ago and having to negotiate the lines and the anti-terrorist walls and gates.
Lovely photographs! Thank you.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
the Rodin garden is one of my favorite spots in Paris. I love Rodin’s sculptures– The Gates of Hell and Burgers of Calais are my favorites–, I love the quiet at the heart of the city, the glimpse of how the other half lived in the 18th century
Steve from Mendocino
@tomtofa: On trips I shot Nikon Ftn with several prime lenses and Kodachrome.
We ate at the Jules Verne restaurant in, I think it was 1987, and it was terrific. I actually liked it better than some of the 3-star places we visited. I love that shot of the Musee d’Orsay, too.
Cool cool pics. Gives Paris a real lived in feel. Thanks for sharing
Nice photos. I used to live in Paris, but a couple of decades later. Chelles was still pretty working class — I used to ride my bike out along the Marne, then cross over near Chelles to the Canal de l’Ourcq for the return loop.
I grew up a few miles south of Mendocino, at Buckhorn Cove, near Big River.
A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan)
@Tehanu: When we were in Paris in 2000, my husband and I ate lunch at the Jules Verne. (This was our splurge meal of the trip). It was very cool going up to one of the tower legs and rising up in a special elevator to the restaurant. The lunch itself was wonderful. Only “off-note” was all the English we heard from other diners while eating. We were eating mostly in small neighborhood bistros so we were used to being surrounded by French speakers.
@randy khan: 18 months ago, on our 3rd visit, we finally got the D’Orsay figured out. As Steve mentioned, it helps to go early, in Winter, on a rainy day. We get our Visitor Museum Pass, and get to the priority entrance line about 15 mins before the D’Orsay opens, making sure that it was a cold blustery day in late February :-). On opening we waltz in, maybe there are 5 people in front of us. We make a beeline straight for the top floor gallery, and it’s EMPTY. We had about 30 minutes completely alone with several billion $$ of exquisite art. Only, it turns out that “Olympia” had gone a traveling. I got over it. The small problem with this strategy is that the obvious thing to do after a couple of hours in the D’Orsay is to hop over the Seine and have a look at L’Orangerie. Oh well, as is normal, more selfie sticks than water lilys.