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Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Grandest Avenue by Margot Justes

A visit to Paris must include a stroll on the grandest avenue of them all, the Champs Elysees. Trees border the wide avenue. My imagination always takes root, and I see a fanciful lush border that outlines the street, a gigantic sweep of branches that almost caress the ground, as the cars speed in manic hurry. Exhilarating.

The site is a delight to the senses. Wide, open, elegant and vital. Brimming with life.

You have arrived at the shoppers Mecca in Paris. No, it is not the haute couture center, although fine boutiques abound, it is simply an exciting mixture of stores, cafes, cinemas and tourists. Many tourists, no matter time of year.

The avenue’s beginning is simple, an Elysian field-hence the name- became a strolling pathway in 1616, under Marie De Medici’s guidance.

Today it stretches from the Place de la Concorde, the renowned obelisk marks the starting point all the way up to the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de l’Etoile (place of stars), over a mile long, it is easily the most recognized avenue in the world.

Once you reach the Arc de Triomphe and go upstairs, Paris will be at your feet, look down, you’ll see why it is called the place of stars. It has since been renamed Place Charles du Gaulle, but for me it will always be the place of stars.

I have often heard it said that if you sit in a café on the Champs Elysees long enough, you will eventually meet someone you know. I never had, but am willing to test the hypothesis.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Catch Margot Justes' interview on Sunday, April 19 at Books and Blogs on Blog Talk Radio at http://blogtalkradio.com/booksandblogs from 4-4:15pm Central Daylight Savings Time (Illinois time)

Romance in Paris by Margot Justes

It is spring at least according to the calendar. It is cold, damp and dreary, the flowers are barely sprouting, grass is still brown and potential for snow not an impossibility. You keep waiting for it to improve. And it will. Eventually.

Ah, that is because you’re home. It’s the everyday expectation in our existence. We perform our daily rituals.

So instead, let’s hop on a plane and go for a ride, a change of scenery if you will.
Let’s imagine we’re in Paris in the spring, walking along in the Luxembourg Gardens. The gentle mist falling on the tree branches leaving a crystal reflection, a heavenly clean earthy smell permeates your nostrils as you take a deep breath.

Walk along the gravel path and hear it crunch beneath your feet. Listen to the birds chirp as they spread their wings and take flight only to land perched on a shoulder of a statue.

Watch the grass as it seems to become greener right in front of your eyes, the rain still falling and sinking deep into the earth.

Leave the peace of the gardens and walk out through the wrought iron fence. Go across the street while the gentle rain is still falling, sit down in the café, order your favorite brew and observe the wet wrought iron glisten in the golden sun peeking through the clouds.

While in Paris, I have done exactly that many times and have found that a gentle rain, overcast sky can be as romantic as anything else-whether you’re alone strolling and day dreaming or walking with someone special by your side. It’s what you make of any given moment.

Truly, in Paris every little thing that you take for granted at home becomes incredibly special. Every moment counts and is treasured. There is something magical about the city.

Maybe that tell us we should not take anything for granted when at home but seize every moment. I’ll leave that up to you.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Louvre by Margot Justes

A fortress. A palace. A world renowned museum. The building has a grand and passionate history. Began in the 12th or 13th century, depending what and where you do your research. Suffice it to say, it is old. It has been build upon to keep invaders out, kings in extreme luxury and masterpieces comfortable and lovingly cared for.

The size is astounding, 60,000 square feet, give or take a foot or two, and hosts over 35,000 pieces of art. When I said it was huge, I was not exaggerating.

The building, altered over the years gives you a glimpse of its complete history, if you take the time to look around you. Even Catherine De Medici had a hand in the re-design by combining the Louvre and the Palais des Tuileries. There were additions, rebuilding and destruction, but what remains to this day is simply inspiring.

Having lived at the Palais Louvre, in 1672, Louis XIV moved to better accommodations-Versailles-and he left the Louvre Palace to predominantly display the royal art collection.

The museum opened its doors to the public in 1793. Changes made by Louis XIV, Napoleon and many others over the centuries have added an incredible imprint on the size of the building as well as the collection the museum houses today.

Surrounded by the Tuileries gardens, the mammoth Romanesque structure is awe inspiring at first sight. It cannot be missed. The serene quiet elegance outside, belies the richness of the galleries and collection on exhibit inside.

The immense history of the Louvre from the first laid stone to now matches its gargantuan size.

Take a leisurely stroll in the gorgeous gardens, admire the building from afar and imagine someone calling it home.


Till next Time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
http://www.mjustes.com/
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Winged Victory by Margot Justes

Also known as the Winged Victory of Samothrace or Nike of Samothrace-the goddess Nike (meaning Victory in Greek) is an astounding massive piece standing at 328 cm. That’s almost 11 ft from the top of her shoulders to her feet and she’s standing on a ship.

Placed at the center of the landing in the grand Daru staircase in the Louvre, the statue takes your breath away. It is overwhelming in its sheer power, beauty and size.

The Victory made of Parian marble from Paros, Greece, circa 220-190 BC-can we say old-is so beautifully sculpted. The head is missing, as are the arms, but the sense of the power, the gigantic windblown wings held back, the seemingly wet garments flowing about the legs fighting the sea wind, displaying a stance of power, ferocity and victory, overrides everything else.

A graceful, ebullient and wind swept Nike coming down to earth standing on the prow of a ship declaring victory. The sculpture was discovered in 1863 on the small island Samothrace in the Aegean, by Charles Champoiseau, French Vice-Consul to a city in Turkey. Just in case you were wondering about the French connection.

The first time I came face to face with the statue-I know it’s an odd thing to say ‘face to face’ with a headless statue, but the idiom fits. I wasn’t very graceful, so awestruck I wasn’t paying attention, missed a couple of steps and paid appropriate homage-on my knees-face down or up since I was staring at the magnificent site at the time. A clumsy introduction like that is memorable to say the least.

It is a talent I have kept up to this day, my head tends to be up, eyes focused on a tall building or something else that catches my attention and if someone is with me, I get pulled up by my coat, shirt, whatever is handy, or yelled at to stop and watch where I’m going.

I think everyone has heard of the Louvre and the many treasures it houses, but I wonder how many of us actually thought about the historic building that so many masterpieces call home. As you might have guessed, I happen to like buildings too.

Till next Time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
Heat of the Moment ISBN 978-1-59080-596-1
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com