Before I get this post underway: I’d like to invite all of you to this blog’s new Facebook page, which you can join by clicking Like over to the right, or by visiting directly here. When I’m not blogging I’m scouring the internet for cool Paris tidbits: rare photos, little-known facts and other secret treasures…only thing is, it’s impossible to blog about them all. The FB page will be a chance to share these smaller discoveries as I find them, and we might even build a bit of a community in the process. I hope you’ll join us! Ok, onto today’s post:
I recently entered a favorite bookstore with my friend Heather, a fellow blogger and Paris lover. The store sits inside a 17th-century city mansion called the Hôtel de Sully, and it’s one I’d visited plenty of times.
Maybe it was the distraction of the endless shelves of informative Paris books, but when I noticed Heather looking up instead, I realized with a certain guilt that after all these visits I’d never even bothered to check out the ceiling.
“How could I have missed that?!” I blurted, perhaps too loudly for a respectable place of commerce. Because I’ve always had sort of a personal maxim: when in an architecturally historical place — always look up! I clearly hadn’t followed my own advice here, passing time and again under what the shop’s employee informed us was an original hand-painted wooden ceiling from 1650.
1650! And I’d been blissfully ignoring it for a couple of years now. Talk about A French Fail in Paris.
But luckily for this blog I usually do look up, so this is a good time to take in some of the other fascinating views in Paris that dangle just above our heads. Depending on the locale they can range from Baroque uber-flash to subdued Gothic austerity, from the soft curves of stucco to the slicing lines of riveted iron; in any case you’ll never regret popping a glance up toward the heavens in a city like this.
Le Palais du Luxembourg
Le Petit Palais
Le Grand Palais
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
Les Archives Nationales
Château de Fontainbleau
La Tour Jean sans Peur
Sometimes if you see enough of them they start to look alike:
And occasionally a beautiful scene will pop up where it wasn’t even planned:
Nissim de Camondo
Finally the Louvre, with decorated ceilings that are paradoxically some of the most exquisite around but also the easiest to overlook, on account of the other pretty stuff hanging on the walls.
Oscar Wilde once wrote: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Am I one of these true stargazers? Not sure. But I like to think that by pausing today to admire a detail that yesterday I might have walked right past — by simply remembering to look up — I’m at least pointed in the right direction.