Charles Marville photographed Paris as it was converting to boulevards and grand buildings, and the photos he took show us what was left of a ancient city turned medieval city turned modern city…breathtakingly romantic and festering at the same time.
The drawing above was from one of his photographs that I can’t seem to find now, but you get the idea of the light and darks of the narrow streets, and the deteriorating buildings. You’ll find such narrow streets in the Marais area of Paris still, but the rest of the city has wide streets with grand buildings which replace what would have been many streets back in the day.
It was this setting whose rooftops were the initial inspiration for all those rooftop rabbit paintings!
Children’s Book project – Paris Rooftop Adventure image 1
After my last trip to France I kept daydreaming of rooftops and chimneys, so now I’m working on a Children’s Book project about a boy afraid of heights chasing his grandmother’s escaped rabbit across the rooftops of Paris. Now, let’s just pretend that there is no gravity and no danger and that nobody ever falls, ok?!
I love riding into Paris by train. The fields and small towns go by and the modern, depressing tall apartment buildings complexes sprout up out of nowhere. They have patches of graffiti and parking lots huddled around their foundations. Maybe a shantytown. And then the architecture suddenly becomes majestic. It happens so quick.
The Abbaye de Chaalis is a Cistercian monastery, the church of which is now in ruins. It must have been enormous, it had 25 chapels and in the abbey’s heyday of the 1300s the abbots were very successful indeed between the game in the woods and the fish in their many ponds. They also had the benefit of money being donated constantly by their local congregation! Now the grounds belong to France and you can visit the works of art–mostly Italian–and the abbot’s chapel with frescoes by Francesco Primaticcio. We got there at nightfall (before 5pm in winter, such a short day!) and I did a sketch of the chapel through the ruins of the church.