A to Z Abroad: Rodin’s Treasures

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Since 1919, the Rodin Museum has preserved and displayed the prized works of Auguste Rodin. Housed in Rodin’s former workshop, the museum harbors a collection of 6,600 sculptures, 8,000 drawings, 8,000 old photographs and 7,000 art objects.

Among the most famous of Rodin’s sculptures is The Kiss. I must have stood in front of this piece for far longer than what would be considered polite in a museum. There is something ethereal, soulful, and breathtakingly human about the emotional embrace depicted. I’ve seen images of this sculpture many times, but seeing it in person is something else entirely.  Rodin somehow made marble express what it feels like to be in love.

The Kiss at the Rodin Museum
Photo by: c.b.w. 2003

Interestingly, the museum displays several bronze sculptures outside in an elaborate garden of fountains, flowers, and manicured hedges. A lovely break from an enclosed space, the garden offers a breath of fresh air while viewing extraordinary works of art.

Sitting on a tall pillar is one of Rodin’s masterpieces, The Thinker. This sculpture has been recast and reproduced multiple times, but the piece on display in the garden is the original. I never expected to find such a famous work of art outside, but I suppose it makes sense as the garden is often a place of contemplation.

The Thinker at the Rodin Museum
Photo by: c.b.w. 2003

Throughout the gardens, bronze sculptures dot the landscape and adorn fountains and ponds. A day could easily be spent among the green and graceful lines of Rodin’s aesthetic.

Garden green at the Rodin Museum
Photo by: c.b.w. 2003

From one garden vantage point, the Eiffel Tower pokes through the skyline!

Garden view of the Eiffel Tower
Photo by: c.b.w. 2003

The Rodin Museum may be small, but it’s treasures are immeasurable. Art lovers and those who could never pass up an afternoon surrounded by beauty are sure to enjoy this Parisian haven.

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This is my 500th post! Yay!

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Part of the A to Z Challenge!

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c.b.w. 2013

A to Z Abroad: Les Invalides

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My habit of wandering off from the tour group has taken me to some pretty interesting places over the years, but one of my favorite wanderings brought me in direct contact with a favorite historical figure – Napoleon Bonaparte.

Not far from the Eiffel Tower, is the lesser known site Les Invalides or L’Hôtel national des Invalides. The golden steeple of the dome shimmers in the sun like a beacon to every history geek and architecture nerd within a 50-mile radius.

Les Invalides was built in the 17th century at the behest of Louis XIV. Naturally, all the opulence of his era is encrusted in every facet of the building, from its decorative gardens to the crowning jewel of a dome in the adjoining chapel. For any fan of Late Baroque architecture, Les Invalides is an absolute marvel.

Les Invalides, Paris
Photo by: c.b.w. 2003

First commissioned as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers, Les Invalides remains a haven for war veterans in the same tradition today. However, the complex has expanded to include museums and monuments relating to the military history of France. In addition, Les Invalides serves as a burial site for France’s war heroes.

I wandered through the galleries that hold weapons and uniforms spanning several centuries. I’ve never been one for military history, but when I walked into a room dedicated to artifacts from Napoleonic France, I started to drool, (I have a slight obsession with this era in history that I can’t explain). Honestly, only a history teacher can get away with salivating over Napoleon’s clothing and other personal effects. And I just about died at the sight of a dress worn by his wife Josephine.

Imagine my excitement when I walked into the chapel and realized I was in the presence of Napoleon’s tomb! Beneath the gold encrusted and beautifully painted dome, lies a red quartzite sarcophagus elevated on a slab of green granite.

The dome of Les Invalides
Photo by: c.b.w. 2003

Napoleon’s Tomb (not the best shot, but it’s all I’ve got!)
Photo by: c.b.w. 2003

Hero or villain, the jury is still out for historians, but to visit the tomb of a man who literally changed the political landscape of Europe made for an incredible adventure in Paris.

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Part of the A to Z Challenge!

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c.b.w. 2013

A to Z Abroad: Deportation Memorial (Paris)

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Behind the infamous Notre Dame Cathedral is a deeply moving memorial to the people who were deported from Vichy France to Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

Upon entering the memorial, a sense of claustrophobia is created by tall walls that block all views of the surrounding city and streets. Any sense of freedom is gone, but for the sky above. However, a foreboding iron gate serves as a reminder that there was no exit for those imprisoned.

Somehow, I ended up alone in the memorial, which gave me the eerie experience of total silence. With no tourists chatting and snapping pictures, I was left with nothing but the walls, the sky, and spirits of those who did not return. I stood and closed my eyes and simply allowed the moment to become part of me.

Deportation Memorial in Paris
Photo by: c.b.w. 2013

In an inner chamber, 200,000 illuminated crystals line the walls and symbolize each of the deportees who died at Nazi hands.  I put my finger on one crystal and wondered which soul it represented. What kind of life did this person lead? How much did they suffer? Did they still have hope, even at the end?

Within the same chamber is the tomb of an unknown deportee who died at the Neustadt camp and the urns of ashes from the camps.  It’s here that I stand and say a little prayer with hope that all those lost are truly at peace.

Upon leaving the memorial, the same engraving found at almost all sites memorializing victims of the Holocaust can be found: “Forgive, but never forget.”

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Information Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mémorial_des_Martyrs_de_la_Déportation

http://www.fodors.com/world/europe/france/paris/review-136743.html

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Part of the A to Z Challenge!

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c.b.w. 2013

Pondering in Paris

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Rodin’s The Thinker at The Rodin Museum in Paris, Photo by: c.b.w. 2003

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This is the first time I’ve tried anything this artistic with my photographs and words. My muse wanted play with a new medium and I let her run free. It turned out rather interesting, don’t you think?

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c.b.w. 2012