Alone in the European Union
Alone in the European Union
Parler Paris–your taste of life in Paris and France
Monday, May 30, 2005
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
I had no idea when I took this photo Saturday that this woman alone with her memoirs and her memories would symbolize all of France as the first nation to reject the European Constitution, standing alone and individual as the French pride themselves to be.
With the news that 55% of the French preferred to protect their national identity and sovereignty and guard against the influx of cheap labor to reduce high unemployment rather than constructing a strong and unified Europe, which to those supporters is a forward move, not a backwards one, I feel every bit as alone as this woman reflecting life on the bench along the Seine.
One positive outcome for those of us spending U.S. dollars in an inflated Euro world, it is predicted there will be a short term decline in the strength of the Euro. Plan your trips to Europe now — it will cost you a lot less.
For the 30 folks form the Ultimate Travel Photographers Workshop who spent last week exploring the city, setting their camera’s eye on the interesting and unusual, the beautiful and mysterious sights of Paris with the “one-third” rule in the back of their minds, the vote meant little. Seasoned and professional photographers, Rich Wagner and Blair Howard, shared their secrets to award-winning and saleable photos — something very few professionals are willing to do. We all learned a lot, evidenced by the amazing results the participants produced at the end of just four days…without the instructors setting the shots and on their own in the City of Light.
The snap-happy photo journalists woke up before dawn to see the sun rise over Paris from the top of Montmartre, then took the rest of the day to explore the café scenes in Le Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Prés and along the Champs-Elysées. We explored the Passages from the Pyramide at Le Louvre, through the gardens of the Palais Royal all the way northward via the covered passageways to Restaurant Chartier and beyond. Under the stars, we photographed the luminous monuments and bridges in all their glory. In the brightest of sunlight, we captured Paris gardens as unconstructed as the woods of the Jardins du Luxembourg to the manicured hedges at Le Musée Carnavalet, to the grassy plains on the Place des Vosges where sunbathers tan and families picnic.
On the last day, we relaxed on the Paris Canal Cruise that took us gliding along the Seine and through the locks of the Canal Saint-Martin. Captain, tour guide, barman, musician and sales manager Steven Zade, welcomed us aboard, told us tall tales and hysterical anecdotes, served us coffee and played an eerie tune on his clarinet as the barge glided lithely on the water in the echoing tunnel under boulevard Richard Lenoir. We stopped to allow the waters to rise at each lock before continuing on as onlookers gazed from the bridges and quays. Cameras never stopping opening and closing their shutters — the views of life along the edge of the river and the canals were endlessly fascinating.
Over dinner that evening chez Leeds, we reflected on the last four days of getting to know Paris through the images taken on our digital cameras…and getting to know each other, too, all single-minded in our quest to understand better how an image can speak a 1000 words added to the journalistic words we’ve already written or not yet written.
And today, we are alone along the Seine, wondering how Europe will ever become united if the French nationalists insist on protecting the imaginary lines drawn only on maps and in our minds.
To learn more about the next Ultimate Travel Photographer’s Workshop, email Schuyler
For photography aficionados, don’t miss the satirical Martin Parr exhibit now through September 18th at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, 82 rue François Miron, 75004 Paris, 01.44.78.75.00, http://www.mep-fr.org/expo_1.htm
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Leeds Marais Apartment
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