This is the first time I’ve been back to Paris since 2008. That trip I managed to squeeze in a visit in 12hrs. This time I had a little more time in-between work, meetings and capturing data from a really cool microscope made by LLTech. 3 days in Paris really is not enough time, particularly when you only really have one day to do things that are not work, but its better than no days.
Unfortunately, it rained pretty much the entire time I was in Paris, or at least in those hours I was able to get outside, but that did not stop me from trying to do photography. The evening I booked it over to the Eiffel Tower, most of the time the top was shrouded in clouds. I was rewarded with some persistence out at the Eiffel Tower when the clouds broke and the sun shone through during sunset and I was able to get the introductory image at the top.
Most of the time in Paris was spent working or in meetings. I teased a little bit on what I was doing with LLTech here, but their OCT microscope is a very cool tool and I hope to be able to find the funding to get one which would enable a whole bunch of things in the lab. My thanks to Eugénie for her time and conversation and help in showing me the system and to Bertrand for the conversation and an outstanding dinner.
Being Paris, there is always something interesting to see, even when walking back and forth to work. The Montparnasse cemetery was in between my hotel and the hospital which made for a rather unique walking commute. Since this cemetery has been around since being created from 3 farms in 1824, there is a tremendous amount of history here. Just walking through, you are bound to find any number of graves or memorials. For instance, the one above belongs to Jules Dumont d’Urville, a famous French explorer and naval rear admiral who explored the Pacific ocean, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica. There are famous authors buried there, the sculptor of the Statue of liberty, pioneering women pilots, the legal defender of Marie-Antoinette, Prime Ministers and Presidents of France, numerous scientists, mathematicians, photographers, film makers, and more.
I stayed a couple of miles away from the hospital where I was working which gave me a chance to walk around some and especially at night after work. On Sunday, I managed to make it to mass at Eglise Saint-Sulpice and then get out and cover 23 miles through the rainy streets of Paris and through museums on foot according to my Fitbit. More on that in a later post.
While I’ve seen the Cathedral de Notre Dame a couple of times, I’ve yet to make it inside as the crowds always turn me off. I suppose at some point, I’ll have to suck it up and endure the crowds and long lines. Its such a tourist thing to do, but it is an amazing structure.
I’m not quite sure when the trend of placing locks on bridges originated. The last time I was here in 2008, I certainly did not see this sort of thing, though I did see it in China in 2008 up on Mt. Emei where people would make vows, place a lock on a bridge or railing, then throw the key over the edge. Kinda a fun idea, but this many locks on bridges is a problem for maintenance and it sure does block the view of the river…
The Grand Palais is an amazing structure that must have been a world wonder when completed in 1900. There is a rich history of this building particularly through WWII and there have been some phenomenal exhibits at the Grans Palais, like the Salon de la locomotion aérienne in 1909, an early version of the Paris Air Show, another thing that I need to get back to Paris for.
At night is when I spent most of my time out on the streets and had one particularly memorable meal at Le 6 Paul Bert where I was also introduced to Green Chartreuse which was a total surprise. Someone told me that anything made by monks is probably worth trying and in this case, it is totally true.
The other thing that surprised me in sharp contrast to my luxurious meals on this trip vs. the last trip in 2008 was the apparent increase in the number of homeless on the streets. The global economic recovery is missing huge swaths of humanity that have been bypassed by any economic gains. Formal numbers I’ve looked at seem to indicate that the numbers of homeless are decreasing, but that does not seem to be my impression in a number of cities around the world.