French with Prairie Pug: le poulet roti

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Yes, we know, we forgot the circumflex , but it IS in the drawing below.  Another wordpress language thing we haven’t mastered. Rose, the current Prairie Pug, isn’t the slightest concerned.

But, a friend’s (Charlotte) post (a guessing game we played re: her least favorite thing to clean in her house) prompted me to think of my own oven.

That is, what I was currently cooking in my own oven that was smoking up the house, le poulet roti. Well, it wasn’t really the chicken smoking, but my lack of housekeeping dans la cuisine (in the kitchen).  I refer to this as ‘seasoning.’

It’s the “o” that has the circumflex, but I didn’t get so far as to read how this affects the pronunciation of the word. I pretty much just say ‘ro’ pronounced (as we say in my western Kansas family word say-isms), “that’s a hard row to hoe.” We’ll work on ‘r’s’ later.

Now to get specific (as I have said this is Prairie Pug’s French lesson who is intending to make this a gig), I’ll break iti down.

It’s first ‘le’ pronounced like ‘look’ but without the ‘k.’  And yes, it means “the” which they use before nouns, no more info required at this point.

Then it’s ‘poo’, no explanation… Prairie PUG.

Next, ‘lay’, easy.  Sleeping dogs do not, but I do think maybe sleeping Princess Pugs do. Did I get this right?

Then ‘row’ ‘tee’ (as in tee-shirt).

Le poulet roti. If you know how to get the accents or French in wordpress, please let me know!

Oh? The recipe…WWJD (what would Julia do?) Two lemons, rosemary, salt and pepper the outside, 325 until it’s close like an hour 45, then higher to finish. Bon Appetit!  (yes, I know I’m missing the accent…) Madame Speidel would be ashamed…

Bastille Day with the KU Thetas! Running through Paris barefoot with heels in hand for dinner at La Tour d’Eiffel! Naked men at the Lido!

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Pont d'Iena. Vous ne pouvez pas passer, mademoiselle!

[note: this is word for word from my journal-sketchbook notes, my thoughts today in red.]

Monday July 14, 1980.  raining.

Woke at 9:00.  Susan Keck and Cindy Brown were at train station. Gave them directions to my hotel, headed to run 3 miles, breakfast, and waited for their arrival. They weren’t here until noon. They walked from Place de la Concorde!!!

Cindy Bean [Cindy was with KU French, the group I traveled with before Parsons] came over and we talked all afternoon. They, they headed to walk to the Eiffel Tower.

I went to le St. Germain Café for un café and letter writing. The sun did peep its head out for about 15 minutes. Yea!!

While running, I was able to see the military parade for Bastille Day. It was exciting, all blue coats, french flags and military music. The people that actually were in crowd at the parade got caught in the flow and were almost swept away! They said you have to move with the crowd or be trampled. Lots of grabbing hands that “wanted American Girls Bottoms,” they told me.

[darn, I missed it! No, honestly, the French men terrified me. I was just dying to see a good, wholesome & safe, midwestern boy in t-shirt  & bermudas with crew socks that summer, but there were none to be found in Paris. They were probably over in Amsterdam going going for the hard-core! :)].

Mom called back and I loved talking to her. [I had called my mother. Back in that day, one didn’t speak with their parents all summer if they were abroad. This was an emotional emergency after a stressful day with grand-mère.].

Dinner at 7:30-was supposed to be at the Hotel Regina to meet Granda at 6:30. Mom and I finished talking (I’m in jeans) and it’s 6:45.

[later, after the evening’s events]

I’m writing again with a report of mon soir de souvenir. After my earlier report,  I tore into a dress and headed out on this evening of adventure. Late. took off heels & put in my hand and ran! Running through the streets of Paris, barefoot w/ shoes & purse in hand. Arrived at 7:00, seeing my destination.

Thought I had PLENTY of time to get to Tour d’Eiffel. Our reservation, we were told, would be given away at 7:40.

but….the 5-10 minute was was not to happen ON BASTILLE DAY!!??

Métro stop Trocadero is across Seine. No big deal, except that all three bridges (one directly across & one on either side) to the tower were closed for fireworks.

I said, “Granda!  It’s the second floor of the Eiffel Tower!  I just ran it and I’ll do it again. WE ARE NOT going to lose this reservation!” So off go the heels and I sprint away.

Of course, the gendarmes found it very cute and amusing and American that I was all dressed up & jogging along the Seine again, but NOT cute enough to allow “passage speciale.”  They were setting up for the fireworks.

Arrived at 7:45 at the le tour d’Eiffel, pushed some money at the elevator operator man to get me to the front of the line and headed up.

Maitre d’ very nice and amused. “Mais, où est Grandmere?” I waited, knowing it had been a fifteen minute jog and thus a 30 minute walk.  I knew very well that I’d likely do dishes all night to pay for the “set menu” if she did not appear avec l’argent pour payer. Voila, elle arrive! The waiter could see my relief, and we had beaucoup d’attention après ça.

It was a nice dinner.




dessert, etc.

Mais, un problème. The Lido reservation at 10:30 (and it’s 10:00). The taxi driver says,”aahh, noonnn… there eez no way to go down le Champs-Elysées ce soir!”  So, I ask a man at the Sheraton-en francais-and tell him mon problème. Voila! I slip him 2 francs, we’re off, and arrive with 15 minutes to spare.

[while the Franc has changed quite a bit, especially since it’s now a Euro, I have to say that I was a bit scotch that summer with my money. I think this was like 50 cents so I don’t know that that translates to now. Being a woman from the era when it was an assumption that women were poor tippers though this is no longer valid or verified, I just wanted to get it on record that I now am an excellent tipper.]

The Lido was great. I could take the women, but the men were a bit much. [I sure wish I’d added more details here, or at least a good sketch as I cannot remember anything. They may have just be flamboyant in their dress. I’m sure if it were anything more it would have been embedded in my mind. I was with my Grandmother, Millie, but that being said I’m sure if it were racy we would have discussed it! 🙂]

There was a “Steal the Mona Lisa” Dance Act, a Japanese Act, a Broadway musical act, Atlantis act, and this gymnastic/dancer couple.  And, a magic show, juggler, dog trick show, and the kind that throws their voice.

30 minute trip to get home due to traffic, but the city was kicking!

Our going out to the Champs-Elysees & Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day in Paris is like going out in downtown Washington, D.C. on the 4th of July, 1976!  Très-stupide!!

We can survive anything.

To Bed.

Susan & Cindy, poor things, were wrapped in our bedspreads on the floor!!

And so, for your entertainment, the beautiful women (and their French Girl Bottoms) at the Lido in Paris. The Rockettes in thongs and with bare (pick your words, boys!)….



le sketch du jour. Sunday July 13, 1980. Every Day, Good and Bad, is a Lucky Day.

by admin

Paula walking the Streets of Paris losing her umbrella and carte d'orange in the rain.

Like a lot of people, there are things that I block immediately from my thoughts, but they sit there dark and unexplored until he thinks I can face up, grow up, move on, and feel grateful for everything in life that happens on the journey. But in the middle, on the way, I sometimes lose, or think I have lost my compass.

It was a Sunday which should be a day of rest and peace. And in hindsight, it was. My Grandmother and I had been to Giverny the day before, and I went to the Hotel Regina the next morning. From my journal, I had written:

-Went to Granda’s. Long story, not worth writing.  

Why could I be wise, but at times, so unwise now? For in the outpouring of words, there is a multitude of sin.

Mothers, Daughters, Grandmothers, Great-Grandmothers, women, sisters. We have the same stories, different players different roles but same love which is all that matters.

So…(from my journal notes)

-Home. Lunch at 4:00 at Café on south side of Pont Royale. Lost umbrella. walked around alot.

-Dinner with Robb Barnes [this was Gina’s older boyfriend by at least a year who was so nice that Dean and Ginny allowed her to break rule of only dating boys in her grade who I guess was traveling abroad?].

-Very nice. Good Dinner at Restaurant with sort of Neo-Classical dude’d-up [is this a French word, Paula? must have been homesick for Kansas] interior, Le Mobillard or Mollard in le Place du Havre by Gare D’Austerlitz. He is at the Hotel Atlantic on Rue de Londres-small but clean.

Dinner menu: (It was taken care of by R.B.-nice treat!) 


fillet of sole

green beans and

Baked Alaska! – Fun!

[and can you imagine how??  the big brother I never had]

Lost carte d’orange.

[this is the pass pour le métro which was to get me through my time in Paris. As I was on my self-induced budget with goal to bring home money to my mother for this great experience to which she had treated me, I was dismayed, mostly with myself. I still am unhappy with myself when I lose things because it happens when I do not focus. And when I am sometimes upset by things which are just a part of life, plus a major case of ADD unless I am hyperfocused on work. And of course the talking….need to listen.]

Home at 12:00. Bed.

P.S. Got to talk to mom-made my day & helped 100%.

I know now as a mother what angst this must have caused her for me to dump all these emotions I always seem to feel so deeply which went from generation to generation but no one seeing through each other’s glasses because it is always different. But at the time, her listening was just the soothing that homesick Paula needed. I need to do better about this. It is my time to listen to Lacy who so often has been my mom. To grow up.

All I really have to say is this:  Paris was the best preparation for life on the High Plains that I could have ever had. 

Places, People, Pictures

Boulevards, dirt roads,

Seine, Cimarron,

le café and the cafe,

au lait or black,

du vin or Jack,

it don’t matter, de rien 

home is where your heart is

and back again. 

And with this loss of my carte d’orange, I only really then began to meet Paris of the street.

Walking alone, seeing, thinking, processing alone.

I so need people and so like to be alone.

Alone is good, but needy is not.

Love God, love others as myself. That is my compass.


le sketch du jour: July 12, 1980. Dressing for Claude Monet….

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My mother Ginny Graves found these and called them our “Monet Water Lily Dresses.”

Above: My sister Gina, my cousin Laura Ward McCrary, and I are pictured above, dressed for the wedding of my mother’s cousin, Christie Lee Triplett, in St. Louis. Christie Lee was my Grandmother Millie Ward’s niece as Christie’s father, Floyd Lee is the brother of my grandmother, Mildred Lee Ward.

When Claude and I met. 

I knew Claude when I was in pre-school. That is because my mother taught art lessons at the Nelson Art Gallery, so this was my pre-school. But that’s another post.

Anyway, if you have been to the Nelson-Atkins Museum, as it is now called, you have seen the triptych of Monet’s Water Lilies. It  used to be in the large room just to the left of the Nelson Bookstore and Giftshop which are to the left as you enter the gallery turnstiles. Or do they still have the turnstiles?  Anyway, they were and still are mesmerizing to me.

So to visit this real place and the ponds and gardens where Monet painted 16 years after this picture was taken was like being in a dream. The paintings are actually more real than the place, but they are equally beautiful.

Monet Triptych at the Nelson.


Claude in his Gardens.

Saturday July 12, 1980. (from my journal and sketchbook)

Woke. Ran 3. Went to Breakfast.

Met Granda & we took Métro to Gare St. Lazare.  From there we took a train to Vernon and from Vernon a taxi to Giverny, the Gardens where Monet painted. They just re-opened this spring and everything is beautiful.

See the bachelor buttons...

The house is pink stucco with green trim and the gardens were full of bachelor buttons, thistles, and all sorts of little yellow, red, pink & orange blossoms.

Monet's House with Tile workshop at left. Arbors are along pathways throughout the Gardens. colored marker sketch by Paula, summer 1980.

We saw the curved bridges and lily ponds and willows that are in all the paintings.

There was a room of paintings in his house.  Off the entrance were some of his later works which are really dark, but interesting and beautiful but in a different way.

We stayed until 3:30 and took the taxi back to Vernon.  Sat in café with Granda and had a sandwich de jambon (ham sam) & a croque monsieur.

Our train leaves at 6:00 and we are waiting at the station. Dinner tonight is at Grandamolie’s hotel, the Regina, at 7:30. This is the hotel on right bank on the corner just across from the street from the wing of the Louvre where le museé des arts décoratifs is located (where I am going to school).

Seed pearl earring surrounded by suspended bezel of baby seed pearls on French Wires from the Hotel Regina Bijoux & Joaillier Anciens & Antiquaires

Granda gave me a very beautiful pair of antique gold earrings with baby seed pearls in the bezel from the hotel jewelry shop. Teensy tintsy intricate construction, they are about 1/4″ diameter drop on French wires.

(end of journal entry)

Monet's Pink Stucco house with Green Trim at Giverny. I used little sponges to do the trees. This was one of my first painting classes and I'll have to tell you, it identified early on why anal people aren't (initially or ever?) very good painters. Way too tedious and don't take enough artistic license. I'm still trying to get past this stage...oil on canvas by Paula, winter 1983.

The painting above was done later from a photograph in my album from that summer. It’s not an exciting painting, but the colors do capture the place.

So Claude, it was a pleasure to visit your home, and with my Grandmother Millie, which made it even more special. And if only I could paint like you, I would paint a picture of the crossing at the Cimarron River on the XIT Ranch, for it is as beautiful a place as any in your pictures. And, I may still do this. It is clearer in my mind each day.

sketch du jour July 8, 1980. Versailles? just warning you…and other neurotic tendencies.

by admin

Oh, goodness!

If I had only read through this journal and sketchbook from my summer in Paris 1980 over the last 32 years, I might have identified some of my mental disorders sooner.  But, it is funny (to me). And, I really should warn you about any desire to visit Versailles prepared....

[a friend posted that I had a great memory about Paris.  I don’t particularly, these posts to sketch du jour in my blog are directly from my journal & sketches that summer.]

Tues. July 8, 1980.  Raining  [pretty much every day if you haven’t noticed]

Woke-ran 3 1/2 to Ile-St. Louis.

Bought cooked artichoke for lunch at Versailles.

I mention artichokes so frequently, I thought I should show my painting I did in a cheap frame of how they look in the market. This is in my apt. in Wichita. Mike Savage told me to drop the frame. The William Zorach Madonna & Child marble in front make it look better. And it’s on a Taos painted chest so the greens go together nicely, which is such a decorator non-art way of looking at wall art for an art history major, but I don’t care.

Took bus from Louvre to Versailles.  Smelled awful on the bus-lots of wet bodies-steamy but freezing!  As you can see, the day did not start out well.

Are you getting a concept for the scale here?

Anyway, toured Versailles-very cold-and began at 10:00 am. We finished at 2:45. Everyone was rather unhappy because we were supposed to be at Trianon Palace at 3:30 & we were starving!

Actually it would be nice if examined at this perspective, but confronted with so much it all just jumbles together. As Rooney Sellars would say to Susan in context of moving, "it's all just @rap."

Since we're on chandeliers....

[here it comes…the confession…to???  my mom?  my dad? the teacher? God?  such a baaad girl…]

Anyway, shouldn’t admit this, but Alison & I took off! We found the train-took it to the first métro stop & headed to the hotel!!  I was wet & cold & knew I couldn’t take it!!

I’ve decided that it costs too much to pack more than I can handle into a day-especially when I don’t get a thing out of the interior history.

[now I do have to explain that last comment here for professional reasons as it might hurt some future career and credibility.

I spent hours in a lecture hall au musée des arts décoratifs in the Louvre, happy as a clam, learning about period armchairs just from France, not to speak of references to foundations from Greek and Roman and Medieval sources.  

This spoke of politics, people, production modes, geography, and social trends. The same with armoires, boulle chests, tapestries, ceramics, silver, glassware, etc.  And there is something to be gained from seeing all of these things, “set-up” in period rooms, placed within the paneling and wallcoverings that would be contextual to that period. But the whole Versailles concept, while beautiful and I love it that Louis did this, is just excessive, addictive, and out-of-control. And it did come back to bite them from the people. Or at least, that is my excuse. Perhaps if we’d done the tour in a slight jog with headsets editing the talking I could have handled it. Thank goodness I haven’t ever wanted to be a docent, what a nightmare to be on my tour.]

This is the kind of stuff I did like to look at in detail relative to period, how it was produced, intricacy of art and craftsmanship. Versailles does not allow for this unless you are staying for a few years.

I’m going to get a lot out of the architecture but if the interiors are not interesting I’m going to use the time to do all the other neat museums and places in Paris that I don’t have time to do. Marie doesn’t know if we’re there are not [oh yes, Marie, I am afraid of Marie the teacher finding out! Marie had one pair of very very expensive shoes she wore everyday, very stylish. She was a fag hag, first time I ever had heard that term. There was a very good-looking blond superior-intellectual-acting Michigan fraternity boy who worked both games in our Parsons program with whom she hung, not to make a pun here.] 

Imagine just walking through thousands of halls like this....getting the picture(s)...

I may take the test, but if it is extensive I just won’t get the credit-even if I get the credit, I shouldn’t because it’s way over my head. [omg seriously neurotic, someone else please examine all this, I’m tired. I’m flunking it before I’ve taken it anticipating failure? Then feeling guilty that I might undeservedly pass it? and cheat them out of credits they would bestow upon me for all of my mother’s expense and my hours???]

Anyway-home-Chinese Restaurant. Bed.  [speaking of…found this nice picture, see below]

I actually remember this gold bedroom, though all the bedrooms looked similar. I am sure I only remember it because a) it sounded so awful for people to come in and dress me in the morning or b) I was fascinated that the King and Queen did not sleep in the same bed or c) there was a homosexual prince who cavorted in here.

So, any questions about Versailles? I think if you’ve made it to here, you have passed the test and get full credit.

Enjoy you day of architecture, shopping and eating in Paris when you decide you don’t really need to do Versailles.  I am confident you are in the company of the majority of Frenchmen. And please give me full credit for skipping out. :). 

le sketch du jour: Mon. July 7th, 1980. Trapped in Wallpaper nightmares…

by admin

It is funny because I just repeated a story to someone else about a friend who had made the comment, “if it’s not one addiction, it’s another.”

He went on to tell about how he’d decided that he would wallpaper this room. He said it looked so good, that he decided to do another. With each room, he started to feel better about his wallpapering abilities, and thus about himself. So then he shared that he started letting his thoughts race and get ahead of themselves. “I’m pretty good at this, I ought to start a business” and so on, and so on. If you don’t relate, just move on. Anyway, you get the idea, pretty soon, ego out of control, he was a Wallpaper(ing) Magnate, at least in his head.

Well anyway, I just thought I would relate because there are those people who really do focus on wallpaper and know their stuff.  Unfortunately, I had the opportunity to spend one of my afternoons in Paris au musée des art décoratifs with this very person: the Curator of Wallpapers.

I respect the art of the design of wall coverings in paper. I love the color, pattern, texture, historical motifs, etc. After living in a 100+ year old house, I now also understand the functionality in old houses with cracked plaster. A bandaid is much cheaper than complete re-haul of skin. But even later in my own home, I preferred to continue to spackle; I claimed these fissures in my own walls as the wrinkles that told the history.

So to generalize, architects don’t do wallpaper. And at that time, while not an architect, I was the daughter of an architect. Maybe this is all just an excuse, but I was BORED OUT OF MY MIND.

Here are the notes from my journal, Mon. July 7th, 1980:

Lecture at le musée.  Headed to Institute of France (Baroque) and east façade of Louvre.

Instead of lunch, went to jeu de paume-the impressionist museum in the Tuileries. Loved it. Saw the Degas ballerinas…the one in the cafés, all that you’d ever recognize.

Lecture in P.M. & then we saw the wallpapers….Quelle nightmare. She pulled out rows after rows that all looked the same and kept us until 5:45. The technique and earlier examples were interesting, but…


Climbing the wallpaper.

[More about paying for bus fare to London, 276 Francs, $70 for bus and Hovercraft.]

Home at 7:30. Got spinach and artichoke for dinner.  Cindy (Bean) came over and confirmed train reservations to Barcelona. Sun, warmth, no rain, above 60 degrees :). Wrote letters to hotels in Barcelona. Bed.

and a note:

Later when working for Bobby Smith at Jack Rees Interiors, I had the job of picking wallpaper for an older home off of Overbrook in Mission Hills. In many of these homes, the bathrooms are small, the original small white hexagonals still intact on the floor. They were well done, grout well maintained, and if it ain’t broke….Plus, old money, slow as honey, and there’s a lot to be said for not moving with the latest trends. Ranchers live like this, but to an even greater extreme since a home on a ranch is of virtually no value and there is no return on investment.

Point is, a little must have soaked in after viewing all of those many many bird & bee, basketweave, fleur de lys, strawberry, chinoiserie, toile, blah blah blah across western Europe papers.  I was able to weed through vast samples to find the appropriate color, scale of print, and historic meanings to give the owner a selection of edited choices from which she might choose. And, it was fun! Not boring at all.

le sketch du jour: Sun. July 6, 1980. Beware of Italians in the Louvre admiring your sketches….

by admin

I still have flashbacks to this day at the Louvre. Especially because sometimes even now I will get myself into situations where I am thinking one thing and engaging, but realizing a little too far into it that it is turning out to be something else entirely. And, it usually starts with flattery. In particular, flattery to my work or artwork. This generally happens when I am in the field and drawing, so I am alone. If it happens before I am through with my sketch and the man lingers to talk, it has the opposite effect. I cannot talk and draw.

Some Italian man probably just pretending to be an architectural engineer who admired my sketches and me, Louvre.

From my journal Sun. July 6th, 1980. 6:30 pm, 1980.

Went to Louvre & Marché aux Puces this afternoon.  Had an awful experience. This engineer from Rome walked up behind me while I was sketching the Museum of Decorative Arts from across the lawn on the south side of the Louvre.  He was very complimentary of my drawing at present and asked to see others.  Then, he offered to “show a Young American Girl the Louvre.” I was thinking that this sounded like a wonderful adventure, an Italian engineer showing me Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre… 

He walked abound the whole Louvre, not really stopping to tell me anything in depth, but speaking with the guards. So, I thought he must be a regular.  Then, he started taking my hands, putting his arm around me, and would touch my face with his hands. I did not like it and it was awful, but I did not really know how to handle it.

He then took me to the snack bar and bought me coffee, speaking with the employees on a first-name  basis. I was embarrassed because they seemed like nice people and I couldn’t imagine what they thought of me as a young American girl who would allow an older man to touch her face.

By the end of the tour, I was just trying to get away but he didn’t seem to understand. I said I had to go home, and he would say that he would take me. I was afraid to go outside. I didn’t know if he would kidnap me or what. Finally, I got away after being downright rude. It was humiliating & awful & I will never get myself in a situation like that again!

Flea Market is huge and packed with people!!

Went to a Tunisien restaurant & had some kind of tuna sandwich & an ice cream cone.  Headed back home. 

Charlie was back, but out to dinner again tonight. She showed me all these clothes that this guy from Kuwait bought for her.  To bed. 

So, the moral of this story is…

…a woman has to be wary of a man who invites her up to see his sketches.

…for a woman who provides her own drawings, she might think to be wary of the man who admires them.

…unless of course, he then offers some good constructive criticism. 


le sketch du jour: le musée des arts décoratifs and the senses of place.

by admin

107 rue de Rivoli, my school summer of '80

This is the Museum of Decorative Arts.  This is where I studied the history of bone china, boulle cabinets, tapestries, French armchairs, silver, and every functional yet decorative piece imaginable with which we trap ourselves today :).

I learned about

things and stuff and who used what and why

and how all the low influenced the high.  And vice versa. 

It is the north wing of the Louvre and is entered from Rue de Rivoli. The Rue de Rivoli is a famous shopping street running through Paris that was cut into the city by Napoleon and was named after his early victory against the Austrian army, the battle of Rivoli, fought in 1797.

It cut into the area on the north side of the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens, but a bit of history on these two places that everyone visits on vacation.

The Louvre

The Louvre’s beginnings were as a fortress to Philip II in the 12th century.  It became a palace during the Middle Ages serving numerous Kings, but it was François Premier who decided the Louvre would house his art collection.  All the while, the Louvre continued to grow in size as a palace. It is only after Louis XIV chose Versailles as his residence in 1682, that constructions on the palace slowed. But this move to the country then allowed the Louvre to be used to house artists. Later the academy of painting and sculpture resided in the Louvre where salons were held to exhibit works and they would remain there for a hundred years.

In 174,7 there was a call for display of the Royal Collection and proposals for a public gallery. And under Louis XVI, le Roi du Soleil, the Royal Museum Concept officially became policy.

Thus, private art for the public domain began in France.

The Tuileries

The Tuileries Gardens were part of the Tuileries Palace that was named for the former tileworks that resided on this land in Paris just west of the Louvre. As will sometimes happen, after the death of Henry II of France in 1559, his widow Catherine de’Medici planned a new palace. Her architect was Philibert de l’Orme but André le Nôtre did not begin the formal gardens and parterres until the reign on Louis XIV in 1664. As he and later Louis’s soon departed, this left the lovely palace abandoned, to be used only as a theater, and the gardens because a fashionable spot for Parisians.

So full circle, when Napoleon cut this swath through the city with the rue de Rivoli, it was a transitional compromise between an urbanism of prestige monuments and aristocratic squares and the forms of modern town planning by official regulation. This included the arcaded shopping streets of the rue de Rivoli, retail ground floor always and ideally covered.

And, before Haussmann and all the later work by Parisian urban planners to make Paris the city of avenues, public monuments, squares, cafés, churches, shops, and vistas in every direction, this place began as a lookout spot.

It was a new center of Paris for the Middle Ages, built above and close to its earlier history of Roman catacombs and before that tribes of Gauls and before that…

It began with a fortress and a field. And it brought together, if not the King and his subjects, his art and his beauty to share and mix with the beauty and culture of the real people.

And, I think this was a pretty good idea. The building, evolving and partial planning of a city that bring a true feeling of ownership to all who are lucky enough to have this experience which can be anywhere.

We all have it when we see it, taste it, smell it, touch it; the senses of place.



le sketch du jour: June 4, 1980. le Grand Palais. Paris, France.

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drawing, le Grand Palais. Right bank of Seine. Paris, France. by Paula Graves

Le Grand Palais is located on the right bank of the Seine as seen in this map of my running route in Paris. It is across the way and east a bit of the Eiffel Tower, and just west of the Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries, and the Louvre. This was the west leg of my no-brainer running route (where I would not get lost) when I lived at the Hotel Cayré on Boulevard Raspail.

Paula's running route with Grand Palais to left of Tuileries Gardens in light green.

Here's the aerial. right to left: Petit Palais, Grand Palais, Pont d'Alexandre spanning Seine.

It was constructed in 1897 of iron and steel with a glass barrel-vault and was one of the last buildings of this type inspired by the Crystal Palace in London, for the Exposition of 1851. These glass and steel structures were necessary for large gatherings of people before the age of electricity.

Crystal Palace, London. 185l.


The left wing has been a science museum since 1937, the south wing is occupied by the University of Paris IV, and there is a planetarium which is one of the first of its kind.

The construction of le Grand Palais began in 1897, following the demo of the Palace of Industry, in preparation for the Universal Exposition of 1900. This project also included an adjacent building, le Petit Palais, and le Pont d’Alexandre III which many consider to be the most beautiful and is definitely the most opulent bridge in Paris. But I won’t digress into bridges…

It is a Beaux Arts building with a formal floor plan but used contemporary innovations of the glass vault, iron and light steel framing, and reinforced concrete.

Its original purpose was to house the great artistic events of the city of Paris. I think it is interesting that this project was awarded to four architects, Henri Deglane, Albert Louvet, Albert Thomas and Charles Girault each with a separate are of responsibility. Not big famous names that are particularly memorable to the masses, comme moi, but a great display of teamwork in design, often a feat in itself.

There are a number of allegorical statue groups including work by sculptors Paul Gasq, Camille Lefèvre, Alfred Boucher, Alphonse-Amédée Cordonnier and Raoul Verlet. The two statue groupings on the pylons are the Champs-Élysées side depicting Immortality prevailing over Time and the one on the Seine side of Harmony triumphing over Discord. [I can’t find big enough images and I get them mixed up, but one is a woman in gown and another has a penis and they are both standing over fallen figures. So, I’m pretty sure the Immortality is the man and the Harmony is the woman].

Statue groupings surrounding le Grand Palais.

Later Function

After the Exposition, the palace was the site of different kinds of shows in addition to the intended art exhibitions from a riding competition (1901 to 1957) but were mainly dedicated to innovation and modernity: the automobile, aviation, household appliances…think “home show” until 1947. The first major Matisse retrospective after his death was held at the Grand Palais in 1970 and was an incredible success.

Problems, or should we say in the field, issues and challenges to address.

The structure itself was problematic from the start, mainly as a result of subsidence caused by a drop in the water table. The builders attempted to compensate for this subsidence by sinking supporting posts down to firmer soil so as not to delay construction, but measures were only partially successful. A show about locomotives and horseshow runoff also took their toll on the space. Differential rates of expansion and contraction between cast iron and steel allowed water to enter and corrode until a glass ceiling panel fell in 1993, and it was not fully reopened until 2007.

I think it’s interesting that the Grand Palais has a major police station in the basement which helps protect the exhibits on show in the Galeries National and the “salons” (picture spaces) of la Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, Salon d’Automne, and Salon Comparaisons. I mean, hey, the Nelson has guards and the Duane Hanson Guard which I found equally frightening in my younger days, but not a real cops headquarters for art.


For the fashionistas, Chanel hosts many of its fashion shows here.

For the sabreurs, it was host of the 2010 Fencing Championships.

And for the WWI & II aficionados

The Palais served as a military hospital during World War I, employing local artists that had not deployed to the front to decorate hospital rooms or to make moulds for prosthetic limbs.

The Nazis used the Palais as a truck depot and for two Nazi propaganda exhibitions. The Parisian resistance used as headquarters during the Liberation of Paris. On August 23, 1944, a peace officer fired on the advancing Germans from a window and the Germans responded with a tank attack on the Palais which ignited hay set up for a circus show and two days of black smoke severely damaged the building [those Frenchman…always keep the circus going while you’re resisting the Germans…:)].

Et, c’est tout! C’est merveilleuse. At least, run by!


le sketch du jour: 4 July, 1980. “Happy 4th! It is not celebrated here at ALL.” running, and my wild roommate.

by admin

One of my running routes: 6 1/4 miles, île de la cité to la tour eiffel

[Please tell me that I am joking at times when I wrote things like this below at American holidays…unfortunately, I don’t think I am]

Friday, July 4th, 1980.

Happy 4th!  It is not celebrated here at ALL.


Anyway…woke at 9:00 AM- Didn’t get moving until about 10:00 though.  Ran about 6 1/4 miles. I ran down to the bridge that crosses the Seine across from Eiffel Tower.  Then back towards Louvre to the 2nd little island.  (see map:  I actually ran to Île St. Louis).  Then, back down along the Seine to Louvre, then home.  

Had breakfat in little room downstairs, croissant & thé. Everyone seemed to have slept late-everyone was eating at it was 11:00.


Went to bank to get money for train (bus-that is) to London.  It is going to be $70.00.  Couldn’t confirm reservations all the way thru so I need to return Mon. The Place is actually accueil de jeunes-france, 124 Rue St. Martin (métro stop rambuteau).  It is just across from Pompidou Center.  They also give you 25% off on train fares & speak English.   [highly recommended when traveling though have no horror story to tell yet].

[see Beauborg sketch and post]


Charlie called.  I found a note that she said she’d left for Cannes in the middle of the night last night [Charlie was my wild roommate from the little town of Toledo, Texas. She had short very dark brown hair, kind of almond eyes, and was a fairly big girl, that is hefty). Anyway, she had met a guy from Kuwait who wanted to take her shopping & to Cannes.  They couldn’t get reservations (they are going next weekend).  So, she was at some hotel.  She said she was going to dinner with him tonight & wouldln’t probably see me until tomorrow but she did want to go dancing with us (Parsons people) tomorrow night and did I want to go?  She said “I don’t know if this guy will come or not, but if he does, it’s a free night.” [hmmm….]  I was a little vague- but if anyone else goes, I will, too.  Sounds like it could be interesting.  That’s all I know-I didn’t ask any questions!

Well, about it-see you tomorrow!

P.S. The man at the desk here is darling!  he told me to run down to the Luxembourg Gardens-He said he lives near there and ran for 2 weeks and quit (he said he even bought a running suit so he wouldn’t quit and did!).  He showed me lots of good museums to go to & asked my opinion of Beaubourg.