I got up early this morning, admired the view out of our window of rue Jacques Callot four floors below for a bit, and then headed out in search of a good cup of coffee, since our cupboard was bare. Paris doesn’t seem to do much of anything at 0700 in the morning. All of the shops and cafés were closed and there were very few people out and about except for me, the trash men, and the street cleaners, but I enjoyed the walk through the streets in the crisp morning air. Then, lo, the skies parted, cherubs sang, and my heart bounded when I turned the corner from rue Mazarine onto rue Saint-Andre des Arts and saw the welcoming mermaid sign over an open Starbucks. I ambled right in, ordered a venti café de la semaine and enjoyed some leisurely time surfing the free WiFi while drinking my coffee and enjoying a fresh croissant. After picking up Miss Cyd a cup of her favorite morning beverage (a skinny latte with sugar-free vanilla syrup; just imagine my joy in getting that order right despite my fractured French) and more croissants for the flat, I walked back through the beginning-to-stir streets and climbed the 54 wooden steps up to our flat.
I also found a convenience store just around the corner on rue Mazarine, so we can fill that bare cupboard for the next two weeks. Now we just need to find a local boulangerie so we can get some daily baguettes of excellent French bread and other delicious baked goods. We are beginning to stir a bit now and getting ready to go out for the day, so I think I will take my sketching materials with me today as we walk along the Seine to reconnoiter for Les Ponts. Who knows when or where the muse may strike.
We headed out for the Ile de la Cite to focus our initial reconnoiter on the bridges connecting that island and the Ile Saint Louis with the Left and Right banks. There is also one bridge that connects the two islands and we found the perfect location for that painting. It was pretty obvious right away that the time of day was going to dictate the layout of each painting as there are some significant backlighting issues depending on whether a particular bridge is painted in the morning or the afternoon. Another consideration includes the surrounding elements: What are the interesting structures or features that add value to a painting? I took some extensive notes and many pictures as we walked up and down the Seine to help predetermine the best place to set my easel to capture both the image of each bridge and its terroir.
Miss Cyd and I spent most of today looking at a couple of bridges downstream from the Ile de la Cite (the Pont de Carousel and the Pont des Artes) as well as the Pont Neuf, which cuts across the downstream tip of the Ile de la Cite and connects the Ile de la Cite with both Left and Right Banks. We then moved onto the bridges connecting the islands. Bridges connecting the Left Bank with the Ile de la Cite, in order going back upstream are the Pont St. Michel, the Petit Pont, the Pont au Double, and the Pont de l’Archevêché. These four bridges have more or less excellent settings with the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, so that is an important element for those paintings. Continuing upstream, the Pont St. Louis connects the two islands, while the Pont de la Tournelle connects the Ile Saint Louis with the Left Bank. The Pont du Sully crosses the upstream tip of the Ile Saint Louis and connects both banks.
Moving back downstream, there are the Pont Marie and Pont Louis Philippe connecting the Ile Saint Louis with the Right Bank. There are three additional bridges connecting the Ile de la Cite with the Right Bank, the Pont d’Arcole, the Pont Notre Dame, and the Pont au Change. Although my original plan called for painting all 37 bridges crossing the Seine within the Boulevard Périphérique, logistically, that is just not going to happen on this trip. If I can get all of these 14 bridges, which together represent the historic center of Paris, painted within the available time for this trip, it will be a major coup. If not, I will settle for some quality painting of the ones I can fit in, the rest must await later studio time.
Joe and Cyd