Monday, May 2, 2011

Early Autumn in Paris 1966

There’s no city more enticing than Paris. A city where Chopin wrote some of his finest compositions, a city which beauty had bewitched Charles Baudelaire to write his famously “Les Fleurs du mal”, a city of love where Igor Stravinsky had an affair with Coco Chanel. Nevertheless, everybody wants to go to Paris. So did my grandpa who brought his beloved wife to taste some of the most beautiful romance on the early autumn of 1966.

Enjoying the cool morning air of Paris, my grandma walked down the promenade of the celebrated L’avenue des Champs-Élysées. Along the avenue, she could spot the baroque-influenced architecture of the grandiose street, which is typical of the Haussmann boulevard style. So many cities have adopted the concept of Champs-Élysées, including the Andràssy Avenue in Budapest, Hungary. The Champs-Élysées itself ends at L’arc de Triomphe, built by Napoleon Bonaparte to honour his victories.

Then she arrived at the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889, it's the tallest building in Paris until present. Named for its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair – the ultimate moment when Claude Debussy heard the Javanese gamelan for the first time and made it as the basic of his composition "Pagodes". Perhaps it was like a déjà-vu for my grandma, if only her thought drifted to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York in which she and my grandpa had attended two years previously.

Without any doubt: The majestic Basilique du Sacré-Coeur! A famous landmark of Paris, the basilica is located at the summit of Montmartre hill. The area itself (Montmartre) is a place where artists live together, forming a unique artistic atmosphere. Meanwhile, its location offers a tremendously beautiful panorama, overlooking the city of Paris. In a solitary mood, my grandma seemed so pensive to adore the monumental view of Paris.

After Montmartre, she landed at Musée du Louvre. Hailed as one of the largest museums in the world, she could easily spot Leonardo da Vinci “Monalisa”, Michelangelo statues, or remains of Egyptian Pharaoh. Too bad, the Inverted Pyramid made of glass hasn’t been built at the time (it was built in 1983). Exactly beside the Louvre Museum, there’s Jardin des Tuileries, a public garden created by Catherine de Medici as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564. It was first opened to the public in 1667 and became a public park after the French Revolution. In the 19th and 20th century, it was the place where the Parisienne celebrated important events, met, promenaded, and relaxed.

Then she walked toward the Pont Alexandre III, an ornamental bridge that spans the Seine, connecting L’avenue Champs-Élysées and Les Invalides. Pont Alexandre III is widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in Paris. Meanwhile, Les Invalides is a museum and monument which contains the burial site of Napoleon Bonaparte.

La Conciergerie, was once used as a prison where hundreds of prisoners during the French Revolution were taken from the eerie antechamber to be executed on the guillotine at a number of locations around Paris. Those famous prisoners included Queen Marie Antoinette, Madame du Barry, and the Girondins. Without a sense of trepidation, my grandma observed the building while walking on the Seine riverbanks.

And the journey ended at Notre Dame Cathedral. It seemed that my grandpa never let his camera out of his hands. Perhaps he didn’t take many pictures, but his passion for taking my grandma’s figure reminds us of the legendary love story between photographer Henry Cartier-Bresson and Ratna Mohini.

Nevertheless, Charles de Gaulle Airport also kept a lot of love stories inspired by the romantic city. Adieu, Paris! Je ne vous oublierai jamais :)


Anonymous said...

Incrível! Parabéns pelas fotos. Adorei seu post

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I loved your post. His grandmother made an unforgettable trip!

Aditya P Setiadi said...

Obrigado por visitar o meu blog. Eu estou apenas tentando trazer de volta as memórias antigas :)