Wednesday, May 1, 2019

April 30 Paris

April 30 2019 - Paris France

Tuesday on our own

I had spotted this museum, for want of a better word, on Facebook in March and immediately booked our tickets. It is considered to be Paris' first digital art center featuring 120 video-projectors and a spatial discrete audio (50 Nexo speakers with controlled directivity) for immersive exhibitions.

Our tickets were for 10 AM opening time. It was too far to walk so we took a cab, 30 euros but worth the drive through crazy Paris traffic, plus it gave us our directions back to the hotel.

l’Atelier des Lumières hardly seems to stand out when we arrive, it is closed up.

We found a local cafe and ordered coffee and croissants. OOPS coffee meant a tiny cup of espresso.

When we headed back to the museum the line was growing. Eventually they split the group into ticket holders so we were the second couple in line and others who were buying tickets.
Lots of rules.

l’Atelier des Lumières is definitely going to become to become one of Paris’s newest "must-see" spots.

Situated  on the right bank between Bastille, République and Le Marais it is set in a former smelting plant from the 19th century.  The former iron foundry created in 1835 by the PLICHON family was given a makeover.

We walk into the foundry and are surrounded by towers, bare walls and an illuminated water tank.

More photos and some repeats.

We get our bearings in the darkness Then music blasts around the room and sets thousands of images in motion. We’re mesmerized as 360-degree views of artworks flash around the room.

Using state-of-the-art visuals and audio, artists’ works are transformed as images of their paintings are projected (using 140 laser video projectors) on to (and across) 10-metre-high walls over the vast 3,300 square metre surface area of the renovated 19th-century building. These images provide an immersive and panoramic show throughout the space, to a sound track of music by Wagner, Chopin, Beethoven and others, using an innovative “motion design” sound system, with 50 speakers programmed to complement the 3D visual experience.

Vincent van Gogh’s life is the focus of an immersive experience with hundreds of the Dutchman’s paintings transformed using art and music technology. For 35 minutes, visitors roam around his work, from the dreamy Sunflowers (1888) to the tormented spires of Starry Night (1889).

Large blobs of paint – purple, pink, green, yellow, orange – are scattered on the walls, floor and ceiling. His paintbrush is hurriedly introduced: deep, decisive brush strokes turning the bareness of the foundry into a colourful space.

One of the most striking elements of the exhibition is the use of contemporary music. Nina Simone’s Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood  plays as we view some of the famous works, including The Siesta which Van Gogh painted while living in an asylum; the words of the song mirror a cry for understanding in his time of darkness.

Finally we hear heavy rain getting louder as a stormy sky emerges overhead. Wheat rustles in the breeze and the golden hues of Wheat Field with Crows brighten up the floor. 

As the crows take flight overhead, you can no longer see the sky. In its place are Van Gogh’s self-portraits.

A short program shown between screenings explains the influence of Japanese art on Van Gogh’s work. A specially commissioned piece, Dreamed Japan: Images of the Floating World, depicts the simple beauty of cherry blossoms, geishas, samurai warriors and spirits. 

Waves crash around us to the sound of Claude Debussy’s The Sea and to the fast beat of the Japanese drums.

From there we headed to Pere Lachaise cemetery. Père Lachaise Cemetery (French: Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, formerly, cimetière de l'Est, "Cemetery of the East") is the largest cemetery in Paris, France (44 hectares or 110 acres). With more than 3.5 million visitors annually, it is the most visited necropolis in the world.

The cemetery of Père Lachaise opened in 1804. The cemetery takes its name from the confessor to Louis XIV, Père François de la Chaise (1624–1709), who lived in the Jesuit house rebuilt during 1682 on the site of the chapel.

Many, many famous people are buried here. But it had gotten cold and miserable so I made an executive decision to not continue.

 Instead we stopped for coffee and I put on John's sweater. So much for a forecast of 18 degrees!

By instinct from the cab ride we found our way back to Place de Bastille.

 This was a great working class neighbourhood with butchers and fishmongers.

Situated in the prestigious Place de Vosges in the heart of the Marais district, the Maison de Victor Hugo invites visitors into the private home of the famous French writer, who lived on the second floor of the mansion from 1832 to 1848 and wrote some of his major works there, including a large part of 'Les Misérables'.

Sully's residence. Built from 1625 near Place Royale (today Place des Vosges), this townhouse was a development commissioned by King Henry IV of France and overseen by Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully (1559-1641). The Duke bought the residence in 1634. It stayed in the Sully family until the mid-18th century. Madame de Sévigné and Voltaire both stayed there.

A public building. It was bought by the French state and its restoration, which started in the 1950s, kick started the redevelopment of the entire district. The building has been used as the headquarters of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux since 1967.

At the entrance to Sully's.

A stop into St. Paul's, another post.

Still relying on our sense of direction we find the Hotel de Ville as we had passed it this morning in the cab.

Once again there is fencing everywhere. And it finally is getting warm.

The Hôtel de Ville de Paris has been the seat of the Paris City Council since 1357. The current building, with a neo-renaissance style, was built by architects Théodore Ballu and Edouard Deperthes on the site of the former Hôtel de Ville which burnt down during the Paris Commune in 1871.

Starting in the 14th-century, the Hotel de Ville place was execution central where crowds would gather to watch the gory spectacle. In 1792, a guillotine was installed, which would get a lot of use during the French Revolution. Luckily, the last execution took place in 1830.

The Hotel de Ville is the official office of the Mayor of Paris and of local government. In case you're wondering, the current mayor is Spanish-born Anne Hidalgo, the first woman ever to hold the office, who's making innovative proposals like curtailing traffic in the heart of the city.

The Tour Saint-Jacques stands alone in the middle of a little garden of the same name. A tower in the flamboyant Gothic style, built between 1509 and 1523, the Tour Saint-Jacques is the only remaining vestige of the Eglise Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie destroyed in 1797. This sanctuary was the meeting point on the Via Toronensis (or Tours route) of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle). The statue of Blaise Pascal, at the base of the tower, is a reminder that it was here that he repeated his barometric experiments carried out in Puy-de-Dôme. On the north-west corner, a statue of Saint Jacques le Majeur dominates the platform on which a small meteorological station was established in 1891. It belongs to the Observatoire de Montsouris. The sculpted symbols of the four evangelists (the lion, bull, eagle and man), appear on the corners. These statues were restored during the last century, along with the gargoyles and the 18 statues of saints that decorate the walls of the tower.

John decided we had to try macarons so we stopped to buy some.

Passing the Louvre once again, John gets a great shot.

Suddenly before us is this.

The Paris Opera House rose to pre-eminence in the eighteenth century. After the Revolution it was restored to its leading position in Paris by Napoleon in the reforms of 1807.

Anyone familiar with a large opera house would testify that it is an extraordinary labyrinth of people and passageways, but the Paris Opera House of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, in which Gaston Leroux set The Phantom of the Opera, was remarkable by any standards. The huge building was constructed to designs by Charles Garnier from 1861-1875. It was a hotbed of politics and factions. From prima donna to stage-hand, the Opera House was governed by intrigue and rumor; everyone jostling for position, defending their own territory and scrabbling for new. At the time in which the novel is set, the Opera House boasted over fifteen hundred employees and had its own stables of white horses for the opera troupe underneath the forecourt. Even today, it employs over a thousand people and contains two permanent ballet schools within the building.

We happen upon a street of umbrellas, these streets around the world have become very Instgrammable so I was thrilled to happen upon the Parisian one at Rue Royale 25.

By now we both are dragging our butts, no more photos.

Steps 24,973 18.8 km 11.7 miles

Links to previous posts about this trip:
April 27-28 Toronto to Paris
April 29 Paris
Love Locks
Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral


  1. The Opera House is quite a show stopper!

  2. The Van Gogh show must have been fabulous! I never visited the Cemetery in Paris. Great photos Jackie

  3. I want to see the Van Gogh show so bad!


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