Street Art and Last Group Dinner

Street Art

July 13th

Today we went to the most fabulous area in Paris, the “belle ville!” (beautiful city). We took the metro from “Hôtel de ville” all the way to that beautiful city. The reason why we went to there is because we can see many street arts in that neighborhood. To be honest, I did not expect that much incredible arts down there.

From this picture, we can see that there are two rabbits on the wall. So our guide said it’s called “two rabbits,” it was created in 2017. This art has not been cover too much as we can see. I have learned that usually street arts will be covered by many other artists in less than two weeks, and you will see a totally different wall. Even though people kept this one intactly, we can still see some small creation beside these rabbits. And yes, the blue and pink dancing ladies were not part of this street art. Furthermore, those tattoos on their arms are also created by other artists.

After the two rabbits, we walked into a narrow alley and we saw these two walls. As I mentioned, this is what it looks like when artists’ works get covered again and again. If we look closer, we can see that they also painted those poles. This is why they don’t seem to violate. Can you see there is actually a door on picture #3? This is called integrity in painting. It means that everything needs to be consistent in one plane. Therefore, they painted the door and it won’t open unless someone want to ruin the arts on the wall. So that door might not be open permanently.

There are a lot of street art in the places we pass by. Before understanding street art, I thought it was just a group of people who were bored and casually painting. But every piece of work has meaning and artist’s thoughts in it. For example, those people on the first picture seems died because they have no eye balls, but we can see they are wearing different clothes. What does that mean? This artist wanted to say that even though we want to or try to be a different person from the outside, the society will change us to all the same person from inside. As we can see, many street artists have visualized many conceptual things, so these are much easier for us to understand.

After the street, we went to the top of “Parc de Belleville.” I have to say that the view was so beautiful from there. You can overlook the whole view of Paris, just like Montmartre! To be honest, if you do not like crowding and like cats, this place is highly recommended. Besides, you can see some street arts up there, so why not. 

Last but not least, we went to the fancy restaurant called “ les baux de Paris” for our last group diner. We had our wonderful last diner with everyone and we also celebrated Jennifer’s Birthday there. Everyone was kind of sad since we are leaving Paris. But we all know that we had the best two weeks in La belle ville avec nos professeurs! 

Our trip is coming to the end, I cannot imagine two weeks have passed so fast. We have been to a lot of museums and famous streets and places. The most impressive place for me is Giverny. Because walking in Monet’s garden is like walking in a painting. I cannot forget that garden, the lake, la papillons, libellule bleue… All those things are unforgettable. I hope that I will use what I have learned this time when I come to this beautiful city next time!

Au revoir!

Trip to Monmartre and the Trocadero

On July 12th, Thursday, we took a trip to Montmarte and the Trocadero! Montmartre is located in the north of Paris, which today is a more economically disadvantaged region of Paris.

Montmartre was for a very long time not a part of Paris, and still even today it feels as though it is mostly on the outside of the city. Montmartre as we discussed, was where many of the American writers of the 1920s, usually referred to as “The Lost Generation” gathered to live because it was inexpensive and because traditionally Paris is where artists go to flourish. As we walked towards “Le Sacré-Cœur” the enormous church that sits on top of the hill of Montmartre, the view of the city of Paris below began to become better and better.

The church itself was beautiful on the inside, and there was actually a mass going on while we were inside which was really interesting to see. In all of the times I have been fortunate enough to travel to Europe and see these great churches, I have never been inside of one while a mass was in session. Once we climbed the many stairs and hills to get to the top, the view made it worth it!

After visiting “Le Sacré-Cœur” we headed to go eat at the restaurant from the movie we watched for film class “Amelie.” Amelie is a very quirky, French movie, that draws inspiration from George Meiles’s “A Trip to the Moon.” In the movie, Amelie is a woman who begins to attempt to make the lives of the people around her better and bring them happiness. In the movie, she works at a restaurant, and we ate at that very restaurant today, Cafe des 2 Moulins, which was really cool!

After the restaurant we headed to the Trocadero, the area of Paris where you have a direct and very clear view of the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately for us, there was a special filming of Mission Impossible: Fallout with Tom Cruise, and we could not access the Trocadero like normal. However, despite this, the Trocadero museum itself offered great views of the Eiffel Tower as well as a fantastic tour of the museum of monuments and architecture. We learned about the Romanesque period of architecture and its transition into Gothic art. This was most notably shown through the transition into using “flying buttresses” like on the Notre Dame cathedral. Also on this tour I got to see architecture from the Notre Dame d’Amiens which when I first learned about art history and architecture we spent a lot of time discussing because it was one of the first buildings to really show this transition, so seeing parts of that in person was really cool for me!

Romanesque style architecture

Architecture from Notre Dame d’Amiens

In general today was a really interesting day packed with a lot of different things that we got to see around Paris. Of course, finishing the day at the Trocadero it is only right that I have to post a really great photo that I managed to take of the Eiffel Tower. I look forward to the rest of the trip!


Picasso, Politics, & Paume

Today we went to the Picasso Museum that was holding an entire exhibition talking about Picasso’s most famous work, Guernica. Guernica was a painting by Picasso, finished in 1937 that depicted a Nazi and Italian fascist attack on the town of Guernica in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The Germans and Italians supported Franco to become dictator of Spain so they attacked Guernica, a town mostly full of women and children at the time because of the civil war. Picasso created this painting to capture that scene and it has gone on to become very well known and famous.

At the end of the different artist recreations of Guernica, there was a small hidden room that I found that lead me to one of my favorite pieces in the museum. This cartoon was created by cartoonist Plantu which was made in November of 2015. The picture reads “We wanted to see the Picasso exposition at the Grand Palais but the museums were closed because of the tragedies in Paris. We didn’t see Guernica at the museum. Guernica was in the streets of Paris.” This cartoon really spoke to me because it brought me back to the time when this incident had occurred. I remember a lot of people were scared because they feared what they said or wrote would leave them the same way. Many people posted on Facebook and held demonstrations around the world that said Je Suis Charlie to stand for those journalists who were killed by the terrorists. I think this was very important because it spoke about how this stuff didn’t just happen and then it was over (Guernica bombing) these tragedies still continue today in different forms and another work that spoke about that was.

The Nazis had a profound effect on the people of the world during the 30’s and even art. Hitler stole a lot of art when the Nazi regime began to destroy Europe during World War II. Later at night, me and Aidan went to see the Jeu de Paume which is situated at the end of the Tuileries Garden across from the Orangerie where we had gone earlier last week. For me it was really important to visit the Jeu de Paume because in one of my classes this past year, we learned about the Nazi’s and Hitlers love and disgust for different pieces of art. Rose Valland worked at the Jeu de Paume as a volunteer and spied on the Nazis, secretly recording where they were shipping stolen artwork from all around Europe. The Nazis were unaware of the spying because they assumed she did not understand them because they spoke German but Rose was very educated. Because of this, when the war ended, the allies were able to quickly recover a countless number of missing, priceless, works of art. When we went to the Jeu de Paume there was a small plaque on the outside of the building that talked about who Rose Valland was and what she did but other than that small sign on the side of the building there was virtually nothing about her. The inside had very contemporary art pieces featuring photography and videos however there was no sign of the history of the building and how important it really was to saving art. Even at the bookshop I was at least expecting something but all i could find was a children’s book about Rose Valland. This upset me because she was very important to the art world and this time and what she did could have had her easily killed if she spoke to the wrong person. I think this is why it is very important to look at history and not forget about it whether it be good or bad. This is why I enjoyed all the artists recreations of Guernica because it helps the tragedy live on so hopefully we can move past it but still acknowledge that it happened. I think there should at least be a statue or a small room about the Nazi occupation of the building and that she should be more commemorated.

Allez lez bleus!

I started my day by swinging by a café to grab an espresso, and a delicious croissant baked with nutella. This small cafe is becoming a bit of a favorite I’m mine, everything is delicious fairly affordable. As soon as we all meet up we start making our way to a guided tour of Les Halles. On the way there we were already making plans for going out and watching the game. France and Belgium were playing, and we all understood the hype.

When we got to Les Halles we met up with Mary Ellen, our guide. She was from Minnesota so everything was very clear. We began walking though this market as she pointed out the remnants of the original market that dates back to the Seventeen hundreds. It was extremely interesting thinking how old some of these things are. Mary Ellen pointed out the oldest bakery in France, Patisserie Stohrer which dates back to 1730. Looking back, I really wish I bought a pastry.

Throughout this stop I noticed the work of Invader throughout the city. This Anonymous artist is probably my favorite street artist, and it is so exciting to see his work. I’ve noticed his work earlier but I see a lot of it in this area. This is so exciting for some reason. It’s really making me look forward to the street art tour.

Our tour guide leads the tour to its final destination Saint Eustache. A marvelous cathedral that is an incredible showcase of architecture. These cathedrals have to be the most impactful things I have seen on this trip. It is hard to wrap my head around process of erecting such a thing. Something surprised me too was that the parish was featuring modern and contemporary works of art. I would consider going to church if I got to walk into that every Sunday.

Later that evening. A group of us went out in search of a place that had food, drink, and a tv to watch France and Belgium go head to head in the 2018 World Cup semifinals. It was incredible, everyone was feeding of each other’s energy. I wish I knew the French national anthem, for everyone in the restaurant sang it before the game, and after when France won. The response in the streets was madness. France is going to the final game. Allez les bleus!

Day trip to Giverny

July 9th

When we first got the itinerary for this trip and I saw that we were going to go to Giverny I was very excited! Being such a huge fan of Monet’s works, it was a goal of mine to see his garden and the lily pond that inspired his famous series “Les Nymphéas” that we were able to see at the musee de l’orangerie a week ago. It was quite a trip to get to Normandy, first we had to take the metro from our homestay, then we all met up and took a train to Vernon, and then we took a shuttle to Giverny. For me though, the traveling was worth it!

We had a tour guide who led us through the gardens first. There are two gardens, the water garden and the flower garden, and we started by walking through the water garden first. It definitely lived up to my expectations! We walked along a river that was next to a forest of bamboo. Then we crossed over to get to the main area of this garden where the infamous water lily pond and Japanese bridge is. The pictures really don’t do it justice it was beautiful. We learned also that Monet didn’t create this garden at first with the intention of painting it. The flower garden was more designed for painting, however as we know, Monet does eventually start painting the water garden, specifically the water lilies and the Japanese bridge.

We also learned that Monet moved to Giverny because he was attracted to the constantly changing light, which we saw first hand. It was a beautiful day and it’s true that one second it was almost blindingly bright, and the next the light dimmed when the clouds moved. Monet was very interested in capturing this change in light in his paintings which is why he would create many series that focused on one place or thing during different weather, time of day, and season.

Our tour guide also talked to us more about Monet’s life at Giverny. When he first arrived he did not have a lot of money, as his paintings where not popular with the french people at all. So, at first he worked in the gardens himself. Eventually, with the help of art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel and Mary Cassatt, an American Impressionist artist, Monet’s works were sold to Americans who, unlike the french, were huge fans of impressionist works.

He quickly garnered a lot of success and became quite rich. So, he was able to hire workers to help with his garden. He had around seven other people helping him at one point. Today, there are ten full time gardeners, as well as volunteers who maintain the two gardens.

We made our way to the second garden which was filled with various different kinds of flowers, with butterflies and honey bees flying all around, and the house at the far edge of the garden. The main path through the garden to the house has beautiful green arches that frame the house and pull the garden together.

Inside the house we saw replicas of Monet’s vast collection of Japanese wood block prints. These prints were very popular among impressionists and their compositions, including a lot of interesting diagonals and odd croppings, influences a lot of impressionist works. We also saw Monet’s bright yellow dining room. We were told that the room was painted so bright in order to better show off his Japanese wood block prints.

It was amazing that I was able to see the place that inspired so many of Monet’s most famous works. And I can definitely say our trip to Giverny was a very memorable one!!

Louvre et l’aquarium

Today we went to the louvre and the aquarium. Two other students and I met at the ISA and walked over to the Louvre. We had to be tourists for a minute so we took pictures with the triangle before we went in. you have to go underground to get into the museum. You go in the pyramide du louvre and go down some stairs and you’re in.

The first room we went in had three paintings we had learned about already. We saw the Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault. This artist used fellow painters and real dead bodies as models for the people in this painting.

The next painting we immediately recognized was Bonaparte Visits the Plague Stricken in Jaffa. This painting depicts Napoleon visiting his plague stricken soldiers. This painting shows him comforting them and promisinghe will get them help and they will be ok. As he was leaving the room where they all were he told one of his soldiers who wasn’t sick “kill them all” and they were all killed. He had this painting commissioned to make him look like the good guy so people wouldn’t think he had his own sick soldiers killed, when in fact he did.

After that we saw la Grande Odalisqueby Jean Augsuste Dominique Ingres This is a famous painting that incurred a lot of criticism because the artist really distorted this woman’s body. The painting is beautiful but the proportions and the way her legs are unnaturally crossed is unsettling. The woman in the painting was painted with two or three, some even say five, extra vertebrae so her back appears more elongated. It is still unknown why the artist did this, but it is thought to be an intentional decision rather than a mistake.

We saw the Mona Lisa of course. It was all blocked off and covered in layers of glass and you can’t get close to it, but it was still very amazing to see. The architecture of the building alone is incredible, the paintings were amazing and I really enjoyed the Egyptian exhibit.

After the Louvre we went to the aquarium. On our way to the aquarium a group of little girls that couldn’t have been older than 11 tried to steal this woman’s purse, but she stopped them. It was very different from any aquarium I have been to in the United States. my favorite part was the touch tank. It was a touch tank of huge koi fish. They came right up to you and let you pat them it was really fun.

Day 5: More art!

Another day in France! Today we went to the Fondation Louis Vuitton and toured the building, along with the several floors of art. (Yay, more art!) the building was absolutely massive, I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it was. It really was more of a sculpture than simply a building. It was meant to represent the city of Paris, which is why it appears to be very boat-like. I really liked learning about the origins of the boat imagery and how the Huns almost took over Paris. And the way that the building captured opposites within the structure was really cool— nature versus artificial, sturdy steel beams versus curved, elegant surfaces. The water around the building was collected rainwater, creating a more environmentally efficient structure as well.

Some of the art at the galleries were really great to see. I got to see Yves Klein blue! I still am not crazy about him because of the way he treated women but seeing the blue in person was exciting, it really is beautiful— almost entrancing. There was a pretty neat video called Nightlife by Cyprien Gaillard that was done really well. The video mixed audio and visuals really well and the 3D effect reminded me a lot of painting. The bits that came forward in the video looked like a layer of paint that sat on top of the rest of the painting. Super satisfying. Takashi Murakami was also exhibiting his work there but it really wasn’t my thing. The last room of his that we looked at was better because you could see the influence of traditional Japanese art and storytelling in his work but the other galleries really felt like they were primarily adhering to mass consumerism.

Anyways, after the Louis Vuitton Fondation we got lunch at a little cafe next to ISA. Adel and I split bruschetta with goat cheese honey and walnuts. I’ve already eaten so much goat cheese and I am so ok with it.

We wrapped up the day with a boat tour on La Seine and that was pretty relaxing. It was hot but there was a nice breeze toward the back of the boat. It was really neat looking at Paris from a different perspective. I think it helped me connect all the different spots we’ve been to so far as well. I feel like I really know where everythig is in relation to La Seine.

Lastly, France won the soccer game today! Everyone was celebrating in the streets and at cafes. It was so cool. I love that we’re here during the World Cup. There’s one more game tonight: Brazil vs. Belgium. I’m about to head out and watch the game! Woo!

Au Revoir,


Day 4 – aventures!

Les aventures du quatrième jour – A day that differs from the rest due to the rich collection of artwork at the Musée D’Orsay. Long blog post, but I felt it was necessary.

Our journey through the city of Paris continued today as we visited the 7th arrondissement to see the breathtaking Musée D’Orsay. This was just my second trip to an art museum in the past 5 years, the first being only three days ago. This morning after breakfast was served, we all made our ways over to the ISA to meet. We left the ISA promptly at 9h30 to take the RER one stop over to the old train station which has now been transformed into the Musée D’Orsay. The RER is a great system that the city of Paris has, as it stops less frequently than the metro and travels farther between the stops. I appreciate both the metro and the RER because of how easy and convenient they are.

We arrived to the Musée D’Orsay and immediately dove right into a pool of knowledge that was previously unknown to me. We began by learning about the Academy and their standards for “acceptable artwork”. We discussed and were able to observe linear perspective, truncation, and the portraying of proper human anatomy in all the Academy accepted artworks. One of the most amazing works that we saw in the beginning of our tour was the Summary Execution by Regnault. It was clear that the Summary Execution represented norms of painting established by the Academy. We discussed how this Italian Baroque painting displayed the man who was beheaded almost popping out of the photo because of the truncation used when painting the body parts. The linear perspective and accurate depiction of human anatomy was also discussed when viewing this artwork.

The next work of art that I found to be very intriguing was Les Glaneuses by Milet. We discussed how this painting displayed three women in the fields gleaning. An important point that was made in our lesson was that the three women had to have been below the poverty level and likely did not have enough food to make it through the winter with their families. The harvest appeared to have been complete, but these three women remained gleaning in the field. This painting sends an important political message about the worker’s revolution, as it was completed in 1848. We also learned that the difference between realism and naturalism in art is that a realism work will always convey a political message.

One last work of art from the first floor that I found to have an amazing story was the Gold Prize Academy winner painted by Rosa Bonheur. This painting is called the Labourage Nivernais. In 1849, women did not have the type of access and training when it came to learning how to correctly display human anatomy. Bonheur resorted to learning how to depict animal anatomy instead. The story becomes very interesting when it is realized that women also did not have access to slaughter houses. Bonheur cross-dressed to appear as a man and enter slaughterhouses to learn more about animal anatomy. Get this: cross-dressing was also illegal! Bonheur had to apply annually with the police to cross-dress. There were about 30 applications found in her desk drawer of her home!

The more paintings we saw, the more I learned and became even more intrigued throughout the day. We saw incredible works of Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, and Caillebotte. We learned about the Salon de refusée created by Napoleon. More people visited this than the actual salon because they wanted to understand why the art was rejected by the Academy. We also saw the work of Courbet and the work of the orientalist era.

After the museum, we all went to lunch and then to our afternoon film class. Our afternoon class was packed with interesting information about the origin of French film as well as the progression over the years. We related movies that we watched before coming to class to some of the very first “booms” in the world of French film. Hearing the thoughts of others through our class discussion was very important to me as well.

This was an extremely valuable day for me, as I typically would go to an art museum and look at the different works without knowing the true stories behind them. As a visual learner, I was able to absorb so much information today by looking closely at each work of art while listening to what was being taught to us. I wish that I could explain more of what I learned about these works, but there were just so many unbelievable works of art in the Musée D’Orsay.



Day 3!

Today we went to see some of the first department stores that are still around from the 19th century. They had massive stained glass domes and were extremely decadent and detailed. On the way there we got to take the Metro and see the Opera house. In that part of Paris it is easy to see Haussmann influence on the city. There are a lot of stores in that area and it is Le Soldes (the sales) so the whole area was very busy. Later when we got back to our homestead we had the most amazing dinner. We had quiche for and appetizer, then this cheesy-baked potato dish that was pure goodness, then cheese and bread (of course), and for dessert we had fruit and cookies that were amazing. 

Day 2 in the City of Love!

Almost oozing with excessive love for the magical city and a desire to know of everything Parisian, we were all ready to dive right into the beautifully preserved history of the city in an open bus tour aptly called the Paris Grand Tour. Our day obviously started with a walk along the Seine stopping occasionally for bits of information about monuments and fountains that came along the way. For example, we learned that the word l’hotel is a multifaceted word in French, doubling as a word for a hotel and a hospital, and its meaning depends on the context it is being used for in the sentence. We made our way through the maze of underground train lines to Opera where we were supposed to board the bus. Interestingly, we learned of the confusing yet super-fast and extremely integral to the Parisian train system called the RER. It is represented with a letter as opposed to a number used to represent the various metro lines and runs along East-West and North-South of Paris.

Next, soaking up the Parisian sun we started our guided audio tour on the roof of the bus and were lucky enough to catch glimpses of various historical buildings such as Palais-Royal, Musee du Louvre, Concorde, Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Tour Eiffel, and the boulevards along Madeleine. Drawing from my experience of the American life, I think Champs-Elysees is the Upper East side of Paris. 🙂

P.S keep yourself hydrated.

P.P.S always use sunblock. *precious words of advice from our very experienced professors. *

The bus tour came to an end after two hours of historical immersion and we bid adieu to our professors. We had the evening free to continue our exploration of the city.

An impromptu plan of going to the interestingly infamous Catacombs of Paris was made by the group totally disregarding the long queue and aimless waiting hours that lie ahead of us. We made our way to the closest metro stop to the Catacombs using our newly acquired knowledge of the RER system. For some of us, long queue meant an opportunity to meet and interact with fellow Catacomb-explorers from all over the world while for others, it presented an excellent opportunity to just sit in the grass and think of nothing and everything, breathing the Parisian air. Talk about making the best out of something (or nothing)!

It is beyond one’s imagination to think that the beautiful city of love harbors something as horrific and spooky as the Catacombs built into what were earlier old quarries.

Taking 132 steps and twenty meters under, we were transferred to a cool (in all sense of the word, the temperature is 58 degrees) and dark-twisted tunnelway of the ossuary that was lined with bones of nearly six million Parisians arranged in an artistic manner, keeping in line with everything else Parisian. It is a unique site that is definitely to be experienced once if you happen to be in the city!

Paris is meant to fall in love- with the city, its beauty, its history, its haute couture, and of course, with the Parisians (albeit having a terribly snobbish and self-obsessed reputation).

Until next time, onto next day! A bientot!