WPC: The City of Light and Lines

Paris is a city that embraces symmetry, orderliness, style, and the straight line.  Its boulevards radiate out from the Champs Elysee like the spokes of a wheel.  Its bridges curve gracefully over the Seine in measured intervals.  Its beautiful, stately buildings, many painted in light shades of gray, beige, or white, gleam in the sun.  The public gardens are  immaculate and tended with care.  They are laid out in grids, with orderly rectangles of grass and flowers interspersed with wide pebbled paths.

Every morning during our stay in Paris, I’d turn on the kettle for tea and look out the windows of our charming attic apartment in Le Marais.  (I made the reservation on a romantic whim–remembering the books I’d read about Paris when I was young.) The view was quintessentially Parisian: classic Renaissance-style apartment buildings with interior courtyards, gabled roofs, and a series of wide double windows framed with shutters or sheer curtains.  Terraces–no matter how small–are often decorated with elaborate wrought-iron railings.

In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines
In two straight lines they broke their bread
And brushed their teeth and went to bed.
They left the house at half past nine
In two straight lines in rain or shine-
The smallest one was Madeline.― Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeline 

Our View of the Rooftops of Paris. Shot with a Fuji X-T2

On our visits to historic sites, even the tassels on the window draperies were elegant and orderly.

Broken lines do not know what they want. With their caprices they cut time up, abuse routes, slash the joyous flowers and split the peaceful fruits with their corners.~Rene Crevel

Elegant Tassels, Paris Opera House.  Shot with a Fuji X-t2

Here’s the magnificent Paris Opera House a few hours before an evening performance.  No one can deny that the French have a heritage of style.  The plush, velvet-backed chairs, the elaborately gilded balconies in gently curved rows….c’èst magnifique!

Style is a continuum. Style never changes. It’s a straight line. It’s a refinement of the same vocabulary. Style takes you from day to evening, season to season.~Ralph Rucci

Lines inside the Paris Opera House. Shot with a Fuji X-t2.

In this view of the ferris wheel and a lamp-post in Le Jardin du Luxembourg, lines predominate.

What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.~Tennessee Williams

The Ferris Wheel in the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, France. Shot with a Fuji X-T2.

And yet, I think there is an inherent contradiction in the French.  Despite their love of symmetry and order, they encourage and honor their artists and original thinkers who break with tradition, striking out in new directions in art, literature, politics, philosophy, dance, and music and creating some magnificent disruption and chaos in the world–for the better.

Does you embrace order?  To what degree do you tolerate disorder?  I like a mixture of both–orderly with a little chaos–given my left-brain/right-brain orientation!

Have an inspiring week–no matter where you are in the world!

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27 replies »

  1. One of my favorite of your many beautiful posts Patti. You’ve captured some wonderful lines and your admiration for the artistic passion of the French comes shining through. I spent many a day in Paris when I studied in France, and again over the years in business. It’s a glorious place to visit but I’m so sad they’ve become a terrorist’s hot spot. I could just taste their croissants and cafe au lait as I was reading your post! Loved your quotes this week too – just a wonderful post.

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  2. Thank you. 🙂 Thank you. 🙂 What a wonderful compliment! I didn’t know you studied in Paris. How terrific is that! So do you use your French still? I have not been good about using mine. I’m working on Italian now.

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  3. I love how you bring together images, quotes and insights so beautifully in your posts.

    I think I like order with a dash of chaos too. 🙂 I also see this contrast in Japanese culture.

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    • Thank you so much, Bron! 🙂 I really love hearing from you! So you and I are alike that way…order plus a dash of chaos. So you see the same in the Japanese culture, then? What about in Australia? Is it the same as well?

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      • Thanks Patti, I feel the same 😊 Yes in Japan there are contrasts that result from the more austere Buddhist influences and the older traditions of Shinto.

        I’m actually from South Africa, which is more on the side of chaos . I miss it sometimes, esp. being surrounded by so many languages and cultures.

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    • The Sony Alpha A7 III camera is now getting a lot of attention. The mirrorless model is said to take over most brands, including Canon. I have so much Canon glass, that jumping into Sony is a bit uphill. But even Canon is supposed to go mirrorless soon.

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