Pont des Arts
This is the Left Bank end of the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge, facing the Louvre. I didn't take the camera out with me the first day, because I was tired to the point of desperation (I had taken a night flight and hadn't slept) and forgot to bring it along when I went out exploring in the city. That first day, I wandered down the Rue Mazarine and found the Institut de France, then stumbled onto the Seine and the Pont des Arts. Over the four days I spent in Paris, I saw the bridge play host to tourists (including one passed-out guy lying in the middle, with people stepping over him), businesspeople on their way to work, street performers, midnight picnickers, African drummers, and lovers kissing passionately.

That first day, Kimberley and I walked over to Notre Dame, then parted company for a while, and I rode on a Ferris wheel next to the Tuileries (pictured later), then headed to the Musée d'Orsay to look at sculptures and Arts and Crafts furniture and Impressionist paintings, and to sit in a chair and doze off for a while. My feet were throbbing and I was so tired that all of that wonderful art started to look like just so many pretty colors and shapes. I did, however, manage to soak up:

  • at least one Ingres painting -- his work fascinates me, with its anatomically impossible women and their freakishly perfect skin
  • lots of sculptures by Aristide Malliol, whose name I'd never heard before but whose work I quite liked
  • a cutaway model of the Paris Opéra
  • the Art Nouveau wing, which was filled with stunning furniture and stained glass windows
  • some furniture by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Whistler's Mother
  • two large paintings by Henri Rousseau, one of my favorite artists
  • a striking Van Gogh self-portrait (is there any other kind?)
The museum is an old train station, finished in 1900, back when people knew how to build train stations: there are great big glass arches and huge clocks and big open airy spaces with lots and lots of light. The art collection picks up chronologically where the Louvre leaves off.

All this doesn't have much to do with the Pont des Arts, but as I said, I don't have any pictures from my first day, and I wanted to write about that day anyway. I went back to the Pont on my second day, when I took this picture, and crossed it only to be stopped by a very smooooooth Frenchman who talked to me for an hour and a half and was all set for me to call him that evening and show up at his place and hop into bed with him. He was interesting, and it was nice to practice my French, but it all got a little weird when he wouldn't let go of my hand and started trying to kiss me. I did manage to extricate myself from the situation as politely as I could (I think I'm turning into a Canadian), but found myself wishing not for the first or last time that Dave had come with me. It all reminded me of this Onion column.

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Emily Way (emily@vex.net)
Last updated August 19, 1999