Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Montmartre and a Sunny, Warmish Parisian Day

"Cafe Bords du Seine," oil, 12"h x 8"w, copyright Jill Banks 2013
The Sun Shines!!!
Hallelujah! It was Randy and my first day on our own in Paris (after the group left this morning), the sun shone, and we were actually comfortable.

Trip to Montmartre
Top on the agenda was to visit Montmartre, where I knew artists sat up their easels on the square, and a more Bohemian version of Paris awaited. 

It was a simply wonderful day. We took the Metro to the Abbesses stop.  Believe it or not, you get to the stop only to face 90 steps upward to daylight. Whoa. They wouldn't do that in the U.S.  (Sunday, Randy and I climbed 240-ish steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and yesterday, we trekked all over Giverny -- Monet's Garden -- so we're trying to work off all this great food.)

Montmartre is so beautiful. It's like San Francisco plus some.  There was a piece of art -- just recently handed down to (son) Sam and (daughter-in-law) Michelle from my parents that must have been created here.  The streets are up and down while curving, buildings vary in heights and it makes the whole area seem magical and kind of crazy at the same time.  It just seems like that straight verticals and horizontals have no place here.

We visited the square populated by artists at their easels ... with paintings around central cafes ... and then rows of and strolling portrait painters. The light was incredible ... and we'd climbed after those 90 steps way up to the top of the hill where La Basilica du Sacre Coeur du Montrmartre reigns.  We thought about ascending another 300 steps ... and paying the 6 euros each for the privilege of another great view of Paris ... but decided to not do so. I'm not as fond of the high views as right in the thick of things versions. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

"Notre Dame Afternoon," 12"h x 8"w, oil, copyright Jill Banks 2013
Zebra Lunch
Lunch was the best meal of our entire trip (and that's saying something.) We ate at Un Zebre a Montmartre -- a very neat bar/restaurant/cafe, wonderfully decorated, so much fun and an absolutely incredible steak/potatoes/green beans/caramelized onions.  Randy and I keep sharing meals ... (I'm sure that's not too popular but it's all we want to eat) ... but we were ooh-ing and aah-ing over every bite. YUM.

Plein Air in Paris
The day was so beautiful we HAD to head back to the hotel so I could get some painting in while there was a chance.  Back we went. And I found THE best spot to paint. I was on the main street beside the Seine -- on the right bank -- but in a corner away from the crowd's and wind's way. It was perfect.  Two paintings resulted from the afternoon.  The first, a view into the Cafe Bords du Seine -- a really pretty restaurant where we've dined a couple of times.  The second, a view across the water to Notre Dame, where we attended Easter Mass.

Funny thing was -- people did really assume I was a regular with my easel set up on the streets of Paris.  Everyone spoke French to me, at a quick pace.  If they had anything negative to say, at least I didn't understand it.  And, if they did, they found me smiling widely, saying "Merci."

At the same time that they figured I was a fixture ... it seemed like it wasn't everyday that someone set up there easel about town. 

Both "Cafe Bords du Seine" and "Notre Dame Afternoon" were painted on two halves of the same oil-primed, linen-lined board -- to be separated when we get home.  As visitors came to look at my easel, I hoped they "got" that I was painting two separate views -- although they were side by side. Amazing how much you can actually worry about.

All I can say is that we've had SO much fun here.  I've been treasuring every moment and just want to come back. Our stay isn't over ... but it's getting close.

Web: www.jillbanks.com
Blog: jillbanks.blogspot.com
100 Faces in 100 Days Project
Phone: 703.403.7435

Events and Exhibits

Don't miss out. Sign up now for Spring Classes that start April 9 (Still Life in Oils -- but you can work on your own projects from reference materials in this class as well, Tuesdays, 9:30am-1:30pm, $375) and April 10 (Painting the Landscape, Wednesdays, 9:30am-1:30pm, $375 -- full of plein air adventures) offered through the Great Falls School of Art, Great Falls, VA.  Go to my web site: www.JillBanks.com, click on Classes for supply list and registration info.  You need to be pre-registered for classes -- especially for landscape -- to know where each class will be held. Class size is limited.  I hope you can join us!

More events and exhibit info available through my web site. 

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