paris 2013 – day 3

Day 3 – 4/8/13


Photos taken by me – 283

Miles walked – 10

It was an early start for those who had ambitions for a sunrise shot of the Eiffel Tower. I really fancied this, but it involved not only getting up at 4am, but also walking 2km to the Trocadero, which offers the best viewpoint for this purpose, as the Metro doesn’t start running until sensible people get up. Head won out over heart, as I knew that such an early start would render me useless for the rest of the day, so it was a small but determined party who headed out in the dark whilst I and the less energetic continued snoring. I understand that it was still dark when they got there, with a few undesirable looking characters hanging around. Undeterred, our hardy core set to, with spectacular results:

James Eiffel Sunrise

Photo courtesy of the talented James Farley.

They returned to their respective hotels and collapsed back into their beds, leaving the rest of us to rise at a civilised hour. After a leisurely breakfast, the bleary eyed contingent joined us, and it was off to L’Opera.


This is an amazing piece of architecture, but quite challenging as a photographic subject. It’s incredibly ornate, but dark inside, and teeming with tourists (funny how we always think of “them others” as tourists, but not ourselves!). So patience was necessary to wait for random people to wander leisurely out of your shot, hoping upon hope that a new batch didn’t wander into shot again in the meantime. Really quite a lot of patience! Worth it, though:


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Here I had a stroke of luck. Les, Will and I all noticed a young tourist standing in the window of a long hall pulling ballet poses and trying to photograph himself with an iPad (no mean feat). As he packed up, in an unprecedented moment of courage I approached him and after a brief conversation in broken French (get me!) discovered that he was Puerta Rican and in Europe trying to get into a Monte Carlo dance troupe. Thankfully Nataniel spoke a little English, and when I asked if he would pose for me he agreed. Although in tourist garb (the tiniest of white shorts!), he cut a fine figure with his ballet poses in that wonderful environment, attracting the attention of tourists, who then pursued their favourite pastime of getting into the background of the shot. Thank goodness for Photoshop!

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Most of our party had drifted to a cafe across the road by this time, although Will appeared just in time to get some shots of the dancer too. I joined them over there, and we headed out to Les Invalides, an impressive military museum. Unfortunately the lack of sleep for those who had risen in the small hours combined with excessively hot weather made us a bit of a lacklustre crowd in the midday sun. Consequently I am guilty of having spent most of my time in the Cafe getting my Orangina fix rather than exploring the slightly austere looking buildings. I did manage a walk around outside, a quick tour of the 20th century war museum, and a peek into the church:




A quick stop back at our hotels to collect tripods again, and it was off to Beaubourg and the Pompidou Centre. This place is photographic gold! So many interesting features, without even going in:





After a thorough analysis of the local cafe menus, we opted for a pizza place, where Lee accompanied her pizza with a glass of champagne. Guess what I was drinking!

We then headed off in the direction of Notre Dame, finding some interesting subject matter en route, along with a wonderful sunset over the Seine, where James shortened Lee’s life expectancy by sticking his camera through railings in a bridge:





By the time we got as far as the Notre Dame, energy reserves had hit zero. I managed to get one interesting shot of a guy selling his wares in front of the cathedral before we returned to our hotels:


Amazingly, the sunrise gang got their second wind at L’Etoile, and had a go at some traffic trails, one of our number catching the eye of the gendarmes by failing to use the subway to cross the road, even though traffic levels were light at this time of night. However enough was enough for me, and I headed back to my private stash of Orangina.

The official event was over, and delegates started to drift off home, but a small group remained for one final exploration of the city the next day.


Gill McGowan