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The Museum of Architecture has so many models of old and new that I couldn’t fit all the photos I took in one post, so here is part 2; this is the other half of the ground floor of the old as well as the upper floor of the modern. Enjoy!

A close up.

The other half of the ground floor (the photos in yesterday’s post) can be seen and entered through several openings.

This archway

had incredible details underneath, like this in the center,

and this on the sides underneath the arch.

The intricate work standing from a few feet away,

is even more amazing up close.

There is an elevator or stairs to the upper level of modern architecture.

The Radio France Building and

the Citroen Building, both exist in present day Paris.

Resorts built into the natural landscape, skyscrapers, and temporary structures built for exhibition from all over the world, fill the upper level. There are also many video presentations about how certain structures were designed and built; I saw many students with notebooks, taking notes.

The upper floor also has a smaller exhibition of frescoes and wall paintings.

The most impressive sight was seeing three of Paris’ great buildings through the windows of the Museum of Architecture. If the weather is nice, there is a ground floor cafe with a terrace overlooking the Eiffel Tower where you can enjoy a bite or a drink outside; a priceless way to spend some time in Paris 🙂

TrocadĂ©ro is a well known stop for pictures of the Eiffel Tower, and as many times as I’ve been, I had never gone inside the Museum of Architecture, known as the CitĂ© de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, until yesterday. With so many wonderful museums here, it’s a challenge to see them all; like chateaux, each one is unique and depending on your interests and tastes, some will appeal more than others. For those who don’t have the time or desire to visit all the historical sights in France, this museum offers models of most of the most famous.

 A close up of archway.

 Even though the replicas are not life size, they are impressive.

 Scenes were sculpted into the architecture.

 A bit of the detail in close up.

 Imagine having to decide which designs you want!

 Clever look outs 🙂

 A close up of the same piece.

 Models done in different formats with different materials.

 Look familiar? Notre Dame in Paris:)

 I’ve never been to Chartres, and had no desire to go until I saw the replica of the Cathedral.

 He looks like he’s holding his nose 🙂

 Murals are also recreated showing what was inside some of the buildings.

 A staircase can be very elaborate.

More in my next post, including the upper floor modern section with views of the Eiffel Tower:)

This week-end was a celebration of parks in Paris, so I decided to go to Le Jardin des Plantes. I’ve been here once before when I rented a studio nearby, but it was in Winter, before I moved here. The balmy 70 F weather on Saturday, after a week of rain, made all the trees and plants come alive, as if to say “Finally some sun!” There are several areas for different kinds of plants from alpine to water based, and everything in between, including those that produce essential oils and food. Enjoy the photos as you stroll the garden with me 🙂

There were more people outside the greenhouse than inside!

There are several train (RER & SNCF Gare d’Austerlitz & Lyon), metro (Censier Daubenton, Austerlitz, Jussieu), and bus stops (24, 57, 61, 63, 67, 89 et 91) surrounding the garden, as well as a VĂ©lib station.

You may of course arrive via private boat,

if you don’t live on one of the nearby barges:)

Rich Parisians have always had week-end “country” getaway homes. Josephine Bonaparte’s Chateau de Malmaison only about 30 minutes by RER and bus from Paris and well worth the trip and the modest 8.50 Euros ($10 USD) entry with free audio guide. The use of the house as the French government headquarters from 1800-1802, and Josephine’s love of flowers and her feminine touches are evident in both the gardens and the interior.

The front gate entry.

The front garden is full of flowers and roses.

A walking path from the front of the house to the front gate.

One side of the front garden includes a small vegetable patch.

The back yard is more natural with intentionally unmowed grass for animals.

The back entrance is as stately as the front

with Egyptian style decor.

Inside the foyer.

Even the doors are decorated

 as well as the ceilings.

Her husband Napoleon had a few mementos on display like his grooming set,

a few swords,

and of course his hat.

The billard room showed she enjoyed games,

 entertaining guests,

 playing music,

 and dining.

 The library,

 Josephine’s salon,

 and receiving rooms,

 showed details like swan chairs.

 Josephine’s bedchamber was like a sumptuous tent,

with incredible details like a sky painted ceiling

 and flower painting on every panel of the wall.

This was her jewelry box which held all the diamonds, emeralds, and rubies she owned:)

A small country home only about 12 miles from Paris 🙂

Any day with blue skies in Paris is a good day to go an explore the Châteaux nearby, especially on a holiday weekend when most Parisians were out of town. The town of Maisons-Laffitte is only about 35 minutes away from the Champs-Elysées by the RER A train, and the Château de Maisons is a small and unusual chateau. Regular entry is 7.5 Euros or about $9 USD and includes a 2 hour guided tour during certain times (in French). The entrance looks perfectly symmetrical because it was built a bit like a Hollywood facade, with the outside built first and the inside built around the outside. This meant that some rooms have half a window, and walls are not where they might seem to be on the inside.

The exterior symmetry applies to the back also.

The original entrance was built to receive royalty on the chance that they might come visit (which they did on occasion) so the marble sculptures in the portico

and on the columns were carved to impress.

Even the trompe d’oeil staircase gives the illusion of several stories even though the entire chateau is only two stories. The “third” story was hidden quarters for the servants under the “roof”, which gave them a view of the royals entering and leaving the royal chambers on the second floor.

The ground floor was where the actual owners lived and although the columns here look like marble, they are actually painted wood because the original ones were sold to pay off debts long ago.

Even though the owners lived below the royals, their rooms were well appointed.

The most ornate part of the chateau is of course where the royals ate and slept

and even the original parquet floors show the work put into pleasing them.

The dining area had a middle entrance reserved for the King, while the side entrances were for everyone else; any pushing or shoving was punishable by fines.

The King’s bedroom was only used by the king on a handful of occasions but had the rare modern convenience of its own private entry with an adjacent bathroom.

A wardrobe fit for a king.

The women’s quarters on the other side had a distinctly more feminine style.

Even the ceilings,

fireplaces,

and walls, had feminine details.

The kitchens underground showcased the copper pots and pans

all over the walls,

and there was a display of the china.

Most of the grounds were parceled off and sold to rich Parisians for weekend homes in the “country”, but the bit that remains looks out towards Paris and the Seine as a reminder that a few minutes away is a place where you can leave the noise and intensity of city life behind.

The only time I go to a church on Sunday is when I’m visiting one as a tourist. Even though I’ve visited Paris too many times to count, and lived here now for over a year, I had never gone to Sainte Chapelle until one rainy gray cold morning last month. It is next to the Hall of Justice, so the side by side juxtaposition means entry is strictly controlled by the gendarmes; be prepared for TSA level screening because the entry allows access to both depending on the day of the week.

The Hall of Justice

The entry to Sainte Chapelle is under renovation and has only a small gift shop and this small section open to the public.

Even in the stained glass, the the proximity of “church” and “state” is a theme is played out in both the history of France and in the art in Sainte Chapelle. The stained glass comprises more of the structure than the stone in the building which was finished in a record breaking 6 years time in 1248.

The exterior does not convey the magical light the stained glass gives from within, especially on a gray rainy day.

The breathtaking 15 panels are one level above the entry, so after climbing the steps (the pic was taken looking down from the top),

you reach the main part of the church which looks like this on the outside

but the inside is magically different

with sculptures of each of the apostles in between the glass panels which depict various scenes from the bible.

Spending time inside this “colorful lantern” has a wonderful magical effect of making the gray skies outside disappear:)

On my last day in Barcelona, I went to the Fountain of Montjuïc. Originally I was going to go up to see the light show that night, but with a transportation problem, dinner plans, and club hopping all vying for my time, I opted for the afternoon. Everything works out in the end, and twilight ended up being a perfect time to enjoy the fountains with no crowds 🙂

Barcelona was a beautiful break from the gray rainy cold of Paris, and I’m sure I will have another rendez-vous soon with this delightful town 🙂

One of the most famous churches in the world is Gaudi‘s unfinished Sagrada Familia. The church is so widely visited, it has its own metro stop in Barcelona.

Even coming out of the metro, you are greeted with art.

As with any popular tourist destination, it’s wise to buy your tickets online because the line in the rain was four blocks long on a weekday in the Winter. Count on at least an hour wait on week-ends and in the Summer.

Another option is to buy a tour which allows you entry through a special gate with much shorter lines.

Since I didn’t take my own advice to purchase my entry in advance, I literally walked around the entire structure

astounded by the details.

There was a much shorter line at the Cathedral of Barcelona,

and since it is in the middle of a neighborhood, there was an antique market in the square facing the church.

The style here is classically gothic, both outside

and inside.

This is not just a tourist destination, but an actual church, with prayer areas and confessionals, so a strict dress code is enforced (no shorts, bare arms, or tank tops), and student groups may not enter through the main gate. There are areas where no pictures or videos are permitted, so if you go please respect the rules as a guest here.

The astounding amount of gold in every one of the niches

was bedazzling to behold.

The stained glass on a rainy gray day

added a warm colorful light to the interior.

This section in the center of the church was off limits to visitors and from the map it looks like it is where the choir sits

with an elaborate staircase to the upper portion.

My favorite part was the cloister

with stone sculptures

and 13 geese 🙂

Barcelona has always a port and they added a beach to make it even more attractive to the flocks of tourists who come to enjoy the temperate weather and escape the cold (like I did). Port Vell is home to many pleasure boats, a mall, an aquarium, the tram to Montjuic, restaurants, a marina with sports venues, and commercial interests.

The walkway from the end of Las Ramblas is a beautiful way to reach the MareMagnum shopping Center

and this floating sculpture reminds you to relax as you enjoy the port and marina.

After all my sightseeing and walking, my legs and feet could not take the long road to the other end of Port Vell along the street Passeig de Colom

or by the beachside path behind the neighborhood of Balconeta,

so John Paul used HIS legs and feet to pedal the path for only 15 Euros or about $17 USD per person, it was well worth the cost (thank-you for the treat David).

Arriving at the beach without pain was priceless, as was the view.

The other end of the Port is also home to the museum of Catalan, and these yachts

all empty, sitting as if they are waiting for Summer.

This sculpture is called “The Faces of Barcelona” and sits at the Balconeta/Gòtic end of Port Vell because there are many facets to life here and every neighborhood is different.

John Paul (he says his father was a Beatles fan) suggested Salamanca Silvestre for paella and the display in front was so tempting, I decided to try it.

They have a patio overlooking the beach, but since I came at night, I went into the dining room which was quite formal. Many different patrons were dining in the restaurant, including a family with two small children who were casually dressed, and two very demanding Asian tourists who seemed to have mistaken Barcelona for Paris or Rome because they wanted French wine and Italian pasta in a Spanish restaurant. There was also a Spanish “Godfather” who ate in the corner table by himself, catered to by everyone of the staff members. He was served without a menu (no, he wasn’t the owner) and he never looked up from his mobile phone aside from acknowledging the staff (yes, I was afraid to take a picture of him)!

They served me sliced sausage as an appetizer gratis, and delivered tomato bread to the table. Even though I didn’t really want it, I tasted it and I regretted that decision for two reasons, 1) it was nothing special, and 2) once I ate a slice, it was an additional Euro on my bill. They also tried to sell me a half bottle of wine instead of a glass, but relented when I said I could not drink that much, and they added a charge for bottled water which I never ordered. Even though I spoke some Spanish, they knew I was a tourist, so be aware of how they might pad the bill.

I ordered a salad before my paella and was shocked at how copious it was when it arrived! It could easily have been shared by four people and the waiter graciously said in Spanish, “Just eat what you can.” I could have easily made a meal of this, with tuna, green and white asparagus, olives, corn, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce. I would recommend this for your meal if you want a light repast under 10 Euros ($12 USD).

John Paul said that Silvestre, the owner, was also known as a philanthropist giving away food to the poor and homeless who came to his restaurants. I ordered the mixed seafood for 18 Euros or about $21 USD. The calamari, clams, mussels and rice were addictive, but I found the langoustine and shrimp over cooked. I might order a mixed meat version next time so that the chances of overcooked shrimp would be eliminated. Nevertheless it was a good paella, not the best I’ve ever eaten, but certainly not the worst.

A wonderful finishing touch were the complimentary limoncello and cake they served me before my bill, to sweeten the memory of my meal 🙂

Two of the most famous buildings by Gaudí are literally a four blocks away from each other, Casa Milà also known as La Pedrera & Casa Batlló. Both are UNESCO Heritage sites so the regular entry price of a little over 21 Euros or $24 USD supports the maintenance and preservation of these landmarks.

Casa Milà (Metro: Diagonal) can be visited at night and you can even have dinner inside, which may be a very touristy thing to do, but it would also be a very unique experience.

Casa BatllĂł (Metro:Passeig de GrĂ cia) is a place I’ve dreamed about, although in my dream I could see the sea rather than gray rainy skies….

The entrance gives an enchanting glimpse of the whimsical lines in every room.

There are thoughtful surprises like a small skylight to add natural light to a dark corner

and doors designed with vents to naturally control room temperatures.

Even the ceiling has texture, and the glass designs above the doors and entries are different colors depending on which side you are facing.

Windows

and doors are unlike any you may have seen before

with views and shapes that invite you to smile:)

There’s a large terrace

with a view of the back of the house

and the interior has a skylight and smaller windows on top to regulate lighting on each floor.

Tiles don’t curve, so the corners are actually made of pieces made to look like they bend.

Some of the structures actually do bend, like the stairs to the roof

and the air vents on the top floor.

Mosaics made the chimneys works of art

and some portions are references to the story of St. George and the Dragon

with small look out “windows” that face Sagrada FamĂ­lia (obstructed now by an apartment building).

Ecology was important not only in regulating the light and heat of the house, but also water. The roof has a room which collects rainwater!

It’s great to have good dreams come true 🙂

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