Almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning you can find me walking around my town between the hours of 6:30 am and 8:30 am. I do this as my form of exercise, but it also is an opportunity for me to “see” the things in my neighborhood and town up close. I am usually driving to most of my destinations and attempts to keep my eyes solely on the road fail me as my eyes wander off to look at things I had observed earlier in the day. An addition being built on a house I have admired, a new garden being planted, a house getting a fresh coat of paint color, a fence with a very attractive detail, the seasonal changes of the foliage and flora, etc. It makes me feel connected to my environment by being observant.
This past month, I travelled to Paris, France to visit with my son who has been studying in Germany since April. He flew to Paris to travel around with my father and I for the better part of a week. I had planned the trip as a whirlwind museum tour to seek inspiration. We had been to Paris for a few days about 18 years ago and seen the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Arch de Triomphe and a few other destinations, but this time around I had created an excel spread sheet of all of the additional sights I wanted to visit. Each day was packed with visiting at least three destinations: museum, Cathedral or monument. My intention for this trip included: being able to spend some valuable time with my son and father, to enjoy being in Paris in the summer time, walking the streets of Paris and being able to take in all that it had to offer and seek inspiration from my observations to bring back to my personal and business life.
Saint Chapelle – gorgeous stained glass windows and golden statues.
Notre Dame – of course, the stained glass rose windows, but also the magnitude of the structure both inside and out impressed me yet again.
Centre Georges Pompidou – I loved all of the contemporary artwork. I was surprised as we ascended to the top of the museum on the exterior escalator and found we were listening to Mickey Hart’s (of the Grateful Dead) recording of Sacred chants of the Gyuoto Monks Tantric Choir! It fit the environment so well. I think I photographed every piece in the museum!
Musee des Arts Decoratifs – Ralph Lauren’s car exhibit (August and I sneaked in as we did not have a special ticket) and the amazing jewelry display upstairs.
Seine Cruise – the best way to get a feel for all of the buildings and sights along the river. We even witnessed an intense work out class.
Musee Quai Branly – the most interesting contemporary/organic structure with an amazing collection of indigenous art from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
Eiffel Tower – where I had the best chocolate croissant EVER! Oh yes, and the views were breath taking…
Palais de Tokyo – another contemporary museum. They were in the process of installing new exhibits, so we did not go into the museum. However, we explored their great bookstore. I purchased a book on Paris Design.
Musee d’Orsay – Beautiful and inspiring! The building, the Tea Room and the artwork were just wonderful. (No photos allowed).
Espace Montmarte – Salvitor Dali – I LOVE DALI! What a wild man.
Sacre Coeur – We arrived to hear the nuns singing and afterwards sat on the steps watching street performers and looking at the views of Paris. I purchased a small watercolor painting by one of the talented artists in the square which I must get framed.
Arc de Triomphe – the elevator was not working, so August and I climb the 250 spiral stairs to the top! Talk about a cardio work out first thing in the morning.
Musee Jacquemart and Andre – over the top residence of famous art collecting couple. The interiors were spectacular, the artwork – amazing and the furnishings – incredible.
Versailles – Spent the entire day enjoying the Palace (amazing), eating the best lunch in my life at Angelina’s, and then touring the gardens (with classical music playing throughout).
We dined at wonderful cafes and bistros enjoying French onion soup, cheese platters, hot chocolates, crepes, foie gras, escargot, macaroons, champagnes, decadent desserts, and even pizza. We travelled on the metro and bus to all of our destinations. We stayed near the Louvre in a boutique hotel with a very personable staff that were helpful when we needed guidance. Paris is an easy city to navigate, so it made seeking our destinations uncomplicated.
I can only speak for my visit, but I had a fantastic time and returned home filled with inspiration not only from the sights we saw, but also the experience of travelling to a foreign country (where I don’t speak the language) and really engaging all of my senses and being open to the experiences that unfolded. I look forward to incorporating some of my observations into client projects and to another visit to Paris. Perhaps this next time will be spent just walking the city blocks and observing, the way I do each week here in my own hometown.