I posted photos from my 2022 trip to Paris almost a year after the trip, just at the end of September. I had intended to post about the other part of that trip, to Strasburg and Colmar, soon after and definitely before this years trip.
So, here it is, almost the end of 2023 and I’m posting a link to my photos from the 2022 trip to Strasburg and Colmar. More than a year after the trip. Sad. I hope to do better.
In any case, my family and I spent five days in Strasburg as a break from Paris. We spend most days wondering around the old Alsatian part of town, visiting the Christmas Markets.
Between glasses of vin chaud, the local mulled wine, or hot apple cider, we browsed the market stalls and climbed to the top of the Strasburg Cathedral. And we spend a day in Colmar, checking out their markets and drinking vin chaud there.
While Paris was all about visiting museums and churches, something to do every day, Strasburg was for sleeping in and relaxing, no scheduled ticket times.
Oh, and we waked to Germany. We took the tram to the closest stop and then walked over the Pont de l’Europe, crossing the Rhine and into Germany just far enough to catch the tram back. Just to say we did it.
I’m setting a new record for delay in posting my travel photos. normally it takes me six months, this time it’s closer to ten. In my defense I had to replace my external storage and, twice, send my Mac for repair. But, anyway. Yea, I went to Paris last year with the family.
Since my first visit, more than twenty years ago, before this blog existed, I have loved Paris. Not the first of course, but I really feel a je ne sais quoi. Walking the streets, sitting in the cafes or visiting the museums. This feeling survives the rude people, the stink of the Metro, the homeless, and the bitter cold we had on this trip. London, New York and Tokyo are the only other cities that I have spent a significant amount of time in that have a similar sort of presence and mystic in my mind.
I’ve seen just about everything there is to see in Paris over my many visits, but this was my daughters first trip. So, we marched our way through all of the sites I think are worth it:
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc [wikipedia.org] was our first stop. Seemingly every flight from Singapore to Europe lands at six AM and the hotels don’t want you until two or three in the afternoon. So after dropping our bags at our hotel in the Latin Quarter we hiked down to and across the river, and then up the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to the Arc. It was cold and windy and the sky was overcast, parils of winter travel, but the Arc is as good an introduction to Paris as any; a Napoleonic monument seated at the intersection of grand boulevards with views of the Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Cœur atop Montmartre, the hideous Tour Montparnasse. Notre Dame was hidden by the renovation works.
You have to, the only reason not to visit is just to be contrarian, the Eiffel Tower [wikipeidia.org] is Paris, dispite the fact that the parisians hated it when it was first built. No one wanted to climb the stairs. There is a new (to me) glass wall that goes all the way around the base of the tower so they herd people through security screening. It ruins all the photos. C’est la vie.
Musée du Louvre
We went to the Lourve [wikipedia.org], twice in fact. It’s much too big for one visit. We got really lucky on the first visit, it was on a Friday, they have extended hours and when we made our way to the Mona Lisa [wikipedia.org] there were surprisingly few people. Even with two visits the Louvre is overwhelming. We checked off the majors: Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo [wikipedia.org], Nike of Samothrace [wikipedia.org], Liberty Leading the People [wikipedia.org], the apartments of Napoleon III, and much more. So much more…
Musée de Cluny/Musée du Moyen Âge
The Moyen Âge is a smaller museum, less crowded. You feel like you can take your time. But really you go for one thing: ze tapestries. The Lady and The Unicorn [wikipedia.org], six large tapestries that are always linked in my mind with opening titles of The Last Unicorn [wikipedia.org], the 1982 Rankin/Bass animated movie. Though younger people may associate them with the Gryffindor common room in the Harry Potter movies.
The Orsay [wikipedia.org] is my favorite musum in Paris. I love the collection, focusing on art from the late 19th and early 20th century. There is something about the transition from classical painting and sculpture to fully modern art that just works for me. I love the impressionist and post-impressionist; the Orsay has a huge collection: Monet [wikipeida.org], Van Gogh [wikipedia.org], Cézanne [wikipedia.0rg], Degas [wikipedia.org], and many more. I love also the sculpture of Rodin [wikipedia.org] his student Camille Claudel [wikipedia.org], and those of Carpeaux [wikipedia.org]. The Orsay is the right size, not as massive as the Lourve, not so small as the Cluny. A long lazy afternoon wondering among great art. This time there was a exhibit on the works of Edvard Munch [wikipedia.org], we got to see an early hand colored lithograph of The Scream [wikipedia.org].
Musée de l’Orangerie
The main attraction in the Oragnerie [wikipedia.org] is eight massive paintings by Cloude Monet in his Water Lilies [wikipeida.org] series. If you’ve never seen these or the other large format ones that are in other museums, you will be shocked at how large they are. While many of the Water Lilies in museams like the Orsay are ‘normal’ size, typically around 1 meter by 1 meter or so, the eight that hang in the Orangerie are two meters high and range in width from six to seventeen meters. The museum also houses many more other impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.
Rodin [wikipedia.org] is my favorite sculpture (Dalí comes close), and the Rodin Museum [wikipedia.org] in Paris is wonderful place. A quiet garden and manor house that once housed Rodin’s studio, set not too far from the Eiffel Tower. It’s a great escape from the city without leaving the city. You can spend hours wondering around the garden and inside the house. Among hundreds of Rodin’s works; including The Thinker [wikipedia.org] and The Kiss [wikipedia.org] as well as a cast of the full The Gates of Hell [wikipedia.org] (both The Kiss and the Thinker were orginally part of the Gates).
Dali Paris [wikipedia.org], is a small private museum in Montmartre, devoted to Dalí. There are a number of casts of various images from his surrealest paintings —melting clocks from the Persistance of Memory [wikipedia.org], a long legged Space Elephant from The Elephants, Alice jumping rope and more. It’s small, but if you like Dalí it’s a great stop.
Standing in Sante-Chapelle [wikipedia.org], one a sunny day, the stained glass windows filling the room with all colors of the rainbow, is one of the most peaceful and beautiful experiences you can have. Of all the churches and other places filled with stained glass I’ve visited around Europe (and other places), there is nothing that compares with Sainte-Chapelle.
Sacré-Cœur [wikipedia.org] is beautiful building, a mix of muted orthodox churches —massive ceiling mosaics and almost onion domes— and the classical revival styles. Nothing gothic about it, but, while it is pretty, it doesn’t do it for me, I prefer the gothic architecture of Norte Dame. The best part of visiting Sacré-Cœur is going up to the dome and getting the view of Paris from the very top of Montmartre.
Shakespeare & Co
There are other, larger, book stores just around the corner from Shakespeare & Co [wikipedia.org] —though sadly Gibert Jeune closed due to the COVID19 pandemic— but Shakespeare & Co’s focus on English books means I can actually read a book I buy there. And it just feels more cosy. The shops along Boulevard Saint-Michel are massive, Gibert Jeune was 6 stores and Gibert Joseph stretches across multiple locations. Shakespeare & Co is cosy, you can barely turn around in the used book shop. The new book shop is bigger, but still just five irregular shaped rooms, packed with shelves of books. I know this is not the original Shakespeare & Co that published Ulysses, that one closed during the Nazi occupation, but it has the ambiance. I picked up a used copy of Chaucer, The Pardoners Tale edited by Nevill Coghill and Christopher Tolkien.
Catacombes de Paris
“I see dead people”… Well, their bones. Bones everywhere. Millions of bones. I’ve been the theCatacombs of Paris [wikipedia.org] before, twice. This trip was all about taking my teenage daughter. She likes horror movies so this was right up her alley. My wife and younger daughter declined to join us, they went shopping and dinning.
The Palais Garnier or Paris Opera House, is the very definition of over-the-top architecture. Wikipedia says it’s Second Empire or Napoleon III style, which is not technically baroque but includes many elements of baroque as a revival… But the basic principle seems to be leave no surface unadorned. Statues, carvings, mosaics, gilded mirrors… it’s all there. And somehow it works. Even if you don’t appreciate the aesthetic the exterior and, especially, the interior of the Palais Garnier are awesome and worth the visit. And don’t forget this is where the Phantom of the Opera lived.
In addition to all the sights we visited in the city, we made a few trips out to the surrounding areas. We went to Versailles [wikipedia.org] to see the opulent palace of the Sun King [wikipedia.org] and Marie-Antoinette [wikipedia.org]. Actually we had to make two trips, the first day we went we arrived late and the last tickets for the (short) day were sold out. Fortunately we had a few free days so were able to get tickets online for one of those days towards the end of our trip.
We also visited Chartres to see the cathedral [wikipedia.org]. The idea was to make up for not getting to see Notre Dame, since it was still under renovation and repair after the fire. You can’t go to France and not see a proper gothic cathedral. Unfortunately, Chartres is undergoing restoration and cleaning and the tour of the tower and upper floors was closed. C’est la vie. So we had to settle for the main floor and outside views.
So, yea, a long, packed trip to Paris. We marched back and forth across the city, averaging 16 kilometers a day. We rode the Metro nearly every day; using the old school little blue tickets and enjoying the, um, unique, smell of the Paris Metro while navigating the maze-like passages and stairways and braving the overly aggressive doors on the older trains. We ate fresh baguettes and crescents from boulangeries (I will fight you for the last baguette from Maison d’Isabellein Place Maubert!); Comte cheese and yogurt, raspberries and apples for from the markets for breakfast. We wondered the Latin Quarter and Montmatre. I love Paris.
Last week I found a few of my photos being used on a local website [thesmartlocal.com]. Specifically photos of the vacant house at 25 Grange Road. I never actually posted the photos here on Confusion back when I took them in 2006. I was not overly happy with them. The subject was very cool but I don’t think I captured it as well as I wanted. Anyway, you can see the full photoset on Flickr, such that it is, only 12 photos:
It’s nice when others find my photos useful. A few small sites have used some of my photos before, even got published in a few books (here [confusion.cc] & here again [confusion.cc]), the craziest usage was when the Ford Museum purchased the rights to this photo [flickr.com] to hang somewhere in the museum. Always nice that someone finds my photos useful.
I release almost all of the public photos on my Flickr account under the Creative Commons Attribution License, so they are free for anyone to use including for commercial purposes. You don’t have to ask permission or let me know, sometimes people do email me via Flickr or post a comment on a photo they use, it’s nice because I can see the work. The license does requires that if you use a photo you provide an attribution, just my name (I tell people they are welcome to use “Brian Beggerly” or just “beggs”). Flickr terms require a link back to the Flickr page in addition.
In this particular case though the photos were not attributed to me, they were instead attributed to another web site. And on that site the photos are not attributed to anyone. It’s perfectly possible that someone took very similar photos to those that I took. But when I looked at the other page it contains five of the 12 photos from my photoset and there is no doubt left; they are identical, they are the same photo.
In any case, I reached out to the Smart Local site and let them know and they agreed and updated the attribution.
I emailed the site where the photos were posted originally but no response yet. To be fair the site is no longer updated (per a banner on the site when you contact them) so maybe no one is looking at the emails. And while it’s the site that I contacted it seems most of the articles were submitted by independent writers so maybe it’s the author who didn’t add the attribution? But even if the author should have provided the attributions, the site should also a have some sort of editorial process to check that authors are attributing third party works, because it’s the publishers who are going to get the notice when an attribution is missing or wrong.
I have not heard back from the site yet. I’m not linking to them here as I don’t want to drive traffic to the site. If they reply and update the attribution I’ll add a link.
While I think information “should be free”, in the sense that I oppose companies extending copyright forever and hiding behind armies of lawyers trying to prevent people from making derivative works and taking inspiration… I also think people should give credit to other creators and respect other creators decision to charge for, or get paid for, their works. A derivative or an homage is fine, though there is a fine line between inspiration and copying.
But credit should be given. People should have respect for the people who create, even if the creation is owned by some big, money driven, corporation. If you don’t want people stealing your work, don’t steal from others. I think this should be taught in school, to make sure everyone understands the laws and how to follow them or how to work to change them. Vote with your wallet, if the item is not worth the price being asked then don’t buy it, and don’t steal it, just don’t consume it. In a capitalist system voting with your wallet is the most effective thing you can do. And if you are able vote in election, if you disagree with the power corporations have over copyright and patents the only way to change that is to vote in politicians who will change the laws and empower regulators to enforce limits, to nominate and confirm judges who can hold the companies to account in the courts.
I am part of the Napster generation, I stole a lot of music, downloaded a lot of Warez. I don’t blame kids and college broke students for piracy, but I don’t support big corporations suing the individuals for outrageous amounts of money, I understand they want to protect their work and business but it’s the wrong message to me.
I do have an issue with adults continuing to steal long after they are old enough to know it’s wrong. When I started making a living producing work that could be stolen, computer code in my case, I came to understand that it is theft and it is wrong (even if, in my case, it was not a work that was likely to be stolen by people, I never wrote that type of software).
I deleted so much music… Today, I don’t produce anything in my career that would be pirated but I release the works I create as part of my hobby, my photographs, so that others can use it. They can use it even if I don’t like what they make from it or how they use it. Creative Commons [creativecommons.org] tried to make this simple in the digital world with their licenses (they are 20 this year! So go and vote with your wallet, donate a few dollars). Flickr is a great source of Commons licensed works that you can use and makes it easy for it’s members to choose a CC license. But it still requires people to understand that you should respect others work.
We live in a complicated world, educate yourself and think about your actions. It does not take much effort to find a way to get others work for free, but is that how you would want others to treat a work your created? More power to you if you choose to release your work for others for free, but if you choose to charge for it or get paid by making something for someone else do you want others to steal it?
Ok, enough. It’s a complicated subject. In summary, if you are going to use someone else’s work, have some respect and learn the rules of the game, follow them. Don’t steal. Treat others works the way you want your works treated.
So much for her immortality. 96 is a good run. 70 years as Queen. More than three generations. In any English speaking place The Queen refers only to her, and will for some time I expect. It will be a hard act to follow. And maybe it’s time to put an end to the whole thing, send the monarchy out while it’s on top.
I took the photo above on June 4, 2002 [confusion.cc], when the UK was celebrating The Queen’s 50th Jubilee. Stumbled on the motorcade a few blocks from the Guildhall. I was literally 6 meters from The Queen. Amazing.