Sunday Evening Reflection: Paris

Ah, Paris! A city of many stories found in every street corner, cafe and pastry shop. Art, fashion, music, literature come together with vibrancy and elegance. Famous for the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Moulin Rouge and Eiffel Tower, Paris has become La Ville-Lumière – The City of Light.

I have been reading Gertrude Stein’s “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas,” on and off for several years and have, on occasion, blogged about being a guest in Gertrude’s salon. Who does not want to travel back in time…?

“After a while I murmured to Picasso that I liked his portrait of Gertrude Stein. Yes, he said, everybody says that she does not look like it but that does not make any difference, she will, he said.” Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

While time travel, or even regular travel, is not currently possible our imaginations are still with us and can be a conduit for exploration. Come join me as I go back in time to Paris of yesterday and meet up with Gustave Eiffel.

“I ought to be jealous of the tower. She is more famous than I am.” Gustave Eiffel

Gustave Eiffel’s words have a prophetic ring. The Eiffel Tower continues to be more famous than the man who designed and fought for her existence. Surrounded by a history of controversy, (Guy de Maupassant always took lunch in the Tower’s restaurant so he wouldn’t have to look at it) the Tower embraces the whole of Paris within her benevolent gaze, confident that her ageless splendour will continue into the next century.

41 Thoughts

  1. I was in Paris two years ago, Rebecca, and your great post and its striking black-and-white images brought back a lot of fond memories. Also, I LOVE that Guy de Maupassant anecdote!

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    1. So glad you joined the tour! By the way, I read that the Eiffel Tower copyright expired in 1993, the Eiffel Tower — its likeness, its design, and the structure itself is in the public domain. You can video, take photos, share etc, but only during the daytime. The tower’s nighttime light show was added in 1985, which is still protected under France’s copyright law as an artistic work. So nighttime photos are a no-no. But very few know it is illegal to share, sell, or publish photos and videos of the night-lit Eiffel Tower without prior permission from the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel. Dear Guy de Maupassant – he would be rather surprised wouldn’t he!!

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  2. Ageless splendour is the perfect description of this iconic Paris landmark. Mr Eiffel knew that he had created something enduring and faced his critics with boldness. I read that the way he designed it meant it was wind resistant and could withstand even hurricanes. It came through two world wars unscathed as well. ( I also note that the tower is only twenty four years older than hubby’s mom, which makes me smile.) Have a wonderful week, Rebecca. 🤗

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    1. Ah, the resilience of our amazing icons – your hubby’s mom and the Eiffel Tower. Both have seen the world through momentous times and have prevailed, with courage and determination. When I read about all the critics of the Eiffel Tower and the lukewarm reception of Monet’s and Van Gogh’s artistic expression during their lifetime, it is a reminder to me to be open to new ideas and take a second, more thoughtful look at art that doesn’t appeal to me at first glance. I continue to learn, Sylvia. Have a wonderful week – so good to start the week out together.

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  3. Ah Paris! My sentiments exactly! We used to visit Paris ever year when we lived in London. Less so these days, but very fond memories of our last trip in 2017 for my 50th birthday treat. Indeed, one of my posts about that trip was entitled ‘Paris is always a good idea’ – as usual we are on the same wavelength! Hugs xxx

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  4. Dear Clanmother,
    as a child and teenager, I visited Paris quite often with my parents. We always had tea in the Eiffel Tower but for other reasons as Guy de Maupassant. What I remember most is Montmartre. I haven’t been to Paris in the last 40 years.
    We like your black-and-white pictures. Thanks for sharing 🙏🙏🙏
    With big HUGs
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    1. Tea at the Eiffel Tower sounds wonderful and the memory of being young and with your parents reminds me of my conversations with my father about books, music and philosophy. I have just put on a pot of tea and will now imagine how it would be to take tea overlooking Paris. Dina inspired me to look at black and white for dramatic flair. (Thank you Dina for your amazing photography). I have been reading Gertrude Stein off and on and black and white photos helped me imagine going back in time. I have just found a book by Sue Roe “In Montmartre” Picasso, Matisse and the Birth of Modernist Art. My book “to read” pile is growing, but first Faust! Hugs and much love to my dear friends, the Fab Four of Cley.

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    1. Paris has an enchantment, doesn’t it? Every step holds a story and every street experienced events that we read in novels, and study in history lessons. Unforgettable!

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  5. This was an absolute delight to see and hear before going to sleep last night! And of course, informative. Gustave Eiffel is one of those brave architects whose creations cause interesting reactions. Two contemporary ones come to mind: Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry. And yes, it’s always worthwhile to give controversial art a second glance. Many artists believe art which doesn’t evoke or provoke isn’t art at all.

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    1. Ah, Mary Jo – you have me on another amazing search. Here is a quote that I found that resonates with me: “The most touching thing that anyone can say to me is that I have done something beautiful for the community.”: Santiago Calatrava You last thought on whether art is art has given me pause and something to contemplate. I am now looking at my refrigerator and viewing it from the perspective of art. I see something entirely different than a place to store food. You have reminded me that art is everywhere and to fully enjoy this precise moment is to allow us a fresh look at our surroundings. Always wonderful to receive your insights. Hugs!

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    1. I’m delighted that I met up with you in Paris. Imagination is the most remarkable gift that allows us to defy time, space and location. As dear Pablo Picasso once said: “Everything you can imagine is real.” Hugs coming back!!

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  6. I just finished reading all the comments and it is easy to see that Paris is all things to all who visit. Your photo-video is excellent. I appreciate that you filmed inside the four strong pillars that hold this immense structure securely, I had not seen that view before. Also, I see a statue of a horse that is new to me. Perhaps all the contemporaries did not see the immense value but time and history as proven the design and everything about it is outstanding. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. I’ve been to Paris once, in 1972, when I was in high school. I refused to accompany our group to see the Eiffel Tower because I didn’t want to act like a tourist. Yes,I was THAT kid. At one point, there was a riot outside our hotel in the Student Quarter, complete with riot police and tear gas. I did like Montmartre, though.

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  8. A lovely read, Rebecca, that took me back to a wonderful holiday a few years back. The Eiffel Tower surprised me terribly. It stands so tall, wide and strong; a fact that is not evident (at least was not to me) in the images I had seen of it. We dined in its famous restaurant; though, were a little disappointed by the cuisine. I haven’t mentioned this before, however, we had the ten course meal, which, I was assured is amongst the best worldwide. Our pigeon was tough, and the sweets were so sweet we couldn’t eat them. Oh dear – perhaps we dined on an ‘off’ night. However, Rebecca, the views of the city were stunning; the splendour divine! I wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world.
    As they say: When in Rome. Or, in this case: When in Paris – a trip to the Eiffel Tower is almost obligatory.

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    1. You gave me a wonderful start to my day – I laughed when I heard that the pigeon was tough. I confess I didn’t make it to the top of the tower because I really don’t like heights. So I stood under the tower and enjoyed taking the photos from that angle. I understand why there was an uproar when it was first constructed. – massive and so different from anything that came before. Add to that, you can see the Tower from every street corner it seems. No wonder Gustave Eiffel said, “I ought to be jealous of the tower. She is more famous than I am.” Thank you for sharing your memories of Paris. It is a city of light and many memories. Hugs!

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  9. Wonderful post Rebecca!
    I really enjoyed the video. You really did take me on an imagination’s time travel.
    Very clever, indeed!
    Art is everywhere, the Eiffel Tower & Paris remind. In this case, architecture, which is akin to building a gown…. sort of!
    Thank you Rebecca, and a very large Eiffel Hug coming your way!

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  10. Love your story Rebecca, bringing back fond and very much alive memories. Ah Gertrude and Alice B. with Paris of that epoch. Lest we forget Dorothy Parker’s Death and Taxes, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, etc., the so-called lost generation. I was 40 years too late on my first trip there, but I could feel their presence when I hung out in the cafés they frequented here and there and the Marché de Bussy, in one of my favourite little hotels Hotel Welcome, corner of de Bussy and blvd Saint Germain des Pres, looking down at life on the streets of Paris, in la sixieme. Your Sunday Evening Reflection has me yearning to be in my Paris of la sixième. My earliest memory of that extended stay was going by the dining room of my out of my little hotel on Blvd Victor Hugo, also a hideaway for Charlie Chapin and Hedy Lamarr having a tete-à-tete-noontime meal… Happy days…!

    Jean-Jacques

    >

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    1. What wonderful memories. I was only in Paris for a week several years ago and it simply is not enough time. One day travel will return. Meanwhile, I just went to Google maps to locate the places named in your comments. There is a story in every cafe and street corner. Happy days indeed!

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  11. Sorry to be so late, Rebecca. I was sure I had checked for a new post from you… So much lack of focus on my part.
    This was a fun adventure. I’ve always thought the tower was lovely. The thought of him eating lunch in its restaurant to avoid looking at it made me laugh. Hugs on the wing.

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    1. You are never, ever late, Teagan. You have been on many adventures, so It good to see that you have returned after all the twists and turns that come with heading out into the unknown. What I find most interesting about artistic endeavours is that whatever has been created takes on a life of its own, apart from the creator. Gustave was right – his tower is more famous than he is!

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    1. I had plans to travel this summer too!!! Alas, it was not to be. So I am looking back into the photos and reliving the moments until travel comes again. I am delighted that you joined me. Stay safe and be well.

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