Posts Tagged With: art

Normandy France, Day 3

Rouen today!  Cathedrals, big clocks, and half-timbered houses galore.

Our day started out with an hour drive to the Southeast, a little later than I would have liked, but that came to be the norm.  But there was so much to do today, and I knew we wouldn’t have time, so we had to pick and choose.

I had wanted to go to Rouen on Saturday, as that was the big “market day.”  We started out at the Place du Vieux Marche and walked through the market – not nearly as exciting as I was hoping for.  Granted, I didn’t have much of a chance to really immerse myself in it.

We walked down past the palais de justice, a restored gothic building complete with gargoyles.  They had a great display on the Southwest side describing the damage to the building in WWII and the reconstruction.

Then we hit the Cathedral, which has a very rich history.  It contains the tombs of Richard the Lionheart and the Viking Rollo.    The Cathedral was painted quite often by Monet, and I hear that during the summer, they project these images on the facade of the Cathedral at night.

It was around 1pm, so a lot of the places we wanted to see were closed, so we went tot he Musee des Beaux-Arts and wandered around for a couple of hours.  They have a large collection of 17th century religious paintings – not my favorite school of art.  However, they did have a couple of cool things:

This was an installation in the stairwell (I didn’t get the artist’s name) – in the mirror, you can see that it’s a bullseye, but it’s distorted on the wall.

“Anamorphose d’apres L’Erection de la Croix de Pierre Paul Rubens” by Domenico Piola – this was pretty cool, you can see that it’s done in like a circular, distorted fashion, but when you have the reflection pole in the middle, it turns into something viewable.

After the museum, we were quite thirsty, so we stopped in at a nearby Brasserie and had some wine and a bit to eat.  I ordered the tomato and mozzerella appetizer, and Stephen ordered the charcuterie, and the waiter was like, “That’s it?  Are you sure?”  We wondered if we were going to get small plates, but no, it was plenty for us for a small lunch!

Then we hit the Ironworks Museum (link in French, you’ll need to translate).  I had read that this museum was pretty good, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to waste my time there.  But Stephen wants to do ironworking when he retires, so we stopped to check it out, and I’m glad we did – it was really great!  They have around 14,000 pieces of ironwork – lots of keys, but also signs that would have hung outside business, chests, sewing bobbins, scissors, swords, knives, and a ton of other stuff!

That’s a big gun…and if it’s iron, can you imagine how heavy it is?!

A sewing bobbin

Swiss Army Knife with eating utensils?

Hair irons

Did they have Hershey Bars 200 years ago?

We wandered down toward what turned out to be the Hotel de Ville, so we stopped in next door and toured St. Maclou.  The flying butresses and rose window were definite highlights.

After that, I wanted to check out the Plague Cemetery, but we missed it and got turned around (not sure how – we were right there).  Instead, we headed up to Le Gros Herloge (the Big Clock) just in time to get to walk to the top.  The audio tour was great, explaining a lot of what we were seeing, including the different parts of the building, the operation of the clock, and the history.  At the top, you can go outside and get a bird’s eye view of the city.

A view from inside the tower – see the little lamb pointing toward the hour (6)?

The view from the top – that’s the cathedral on the right, and the Church of St Ouen on the left, and in front of the cathedral you can see the mass of people on Rue Saint-Romain.

Some miscellaneous pictures from around town:

Half-timber buildings

A little park behind St Maclou

Stay tuned for Day 4: Taking it easy around Deauville and Trouville.

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Normandy France, Day 2

Today, we drove over Pont de Normandie, walked around Le Havre, made a quick stop in Saint Adresse, then hiked the cliffs at Etretat.

Knowing we would be walking a lot on Saturday in Rouen, running around trying to fit everything in, we decided to take it a bit easy on Friday and wander up the coast.

Pont de Normandie

This bridge crosses the Seine between Honfleur and Le Havre, with a toll of 5,30€ each way.  I knew this bridge was big – 700ft high and 1.3 miles across, the second biggest cable-stayed bridge in the world.  Now, those who know me know that one of my big fears is bridges over water.  As we approached, I believe a couple of cuss words escaped my lips.  The thing was HUGE!!

Le Havre

This city is a large, busy, modern-ish city, since much of the city was destroyed in WWII.  We took some time to walk along the waterfront, stopping at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which has the second largest impressionist collection outside of Paris.  Unfortunately, part of the museum was closed while we were there, but we still got to see some paintings by Monet, Sisley, Degas, and Renoir, not to mention a ton of Boudin.

“La Seine au Point-du-jour” by Alfred Sisley

I said “a ton” of Boudin, right? These are just a few in which he painted cows. He *really* liked cows.

Next we made a stop at the Church of St Joseph, a modern concrete and stained glass structure that stands like a lighthouse at 107 meters tall.  I thought I had read that you could climb the stairs to the top for a great view, but if that’s true, it was closed the day we went.

Note the circular staircase to the left – that would have been a fun, if dizzying, climb!

(By the way, Le Havre is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.)


This is the number one reason I picked Normandy to visit.  This town.  It’s silly really.  You  see, I have forever loved the painting Jardin à Sainte-Adresse by Monet.  It’s my all-time favorite painting.  I wanted to see this spot, the spot that I’ve loved for so many years without actually having seen it.  It’s almost as if I have a memory of this spot, it’s so strong.  Unfortunately, the day was grey, and I didn’t see many gardens, but that didn’t stop me from wandering down the boardwalk, looking up at the houses along the hillside, wondering which terrace Monet painted.


You’ve seen Étretat, even if you don’t think you have.  It’s been in numerous wall calendars, on desktop backgrounds, painted by Monet, and pinned on Pinterest often.  The white cliffs, with their natural arches, are just as beautiful and awe-inspiring in person.  I only wish I could have captured the water color better, the deep blue changing to turquoise turning to green.

I believe this is Monet…I could be wrong, though.

The colors on the beach/rocks at low tide are beautiful.

Stay tuned for Day 3 in Normandy:  Rouen.

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Finnish Artist Juhani Linnovaara

The colors.  My god, the colors!

The Lönnström Art Museum’s current exhibit features the entire work of Finnish painter Juhani Linnovaara, including sculptures, jewelry, and paintings.  Three of us went, paid our 5€ each, and started roaming,

The first room included a couple of still life paintings.  I was less than impressed.  Then I went into the second room.

Holy Vibrant Colors, Batman!  Me and one of the ladies I was with were floored.  And in love.  Wow.  The pictures I took really don’t do the paintings justice, but here’s a few.

Madame Pompadour, 1966, by Juhani Linnovaara

Here we are coming, 1983-84, by Juhani Linnovaara

I should mention, these paintings we huge.  Like, six foot canvases.

Check out this video of the artist at what I believe is the grand opening of this exhibit (sorry, it’s in Finnish) – Here we are coming is right at 3 minutes in (I bought a print of this one).


Image search for Juhani Linnovaara.

Wikipedia US doesn’t have an entry on this artist, but wiki Finland does.  If you have the option to translate the page, you can read a little bit more about him.

“Juhani Linnovaara, Power of Fantasies” is showing at the Lönnström Art Museum in Rauma, Finland through May 20th, 2012.

Categories: Finland | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Contest: Where should we go for our first vacation?

My husband is probably going to kill me for this.  He’s left it up to me to choose where we take our first vacation, and I am at a loss.  The problem?  I’ve never been to Europe, and I want to go EVERYWHERE. How the hell am I supposed to narrow it down to one place?  Where should we go first?  Hence…

THE CONTEST.  Tell me where we should go and why, and what we should see and do while we’re there.  Is it a vacation that you’ve been on and enjoyed?  Is it a dream vacation you’ve always wanted to take?  Is there a festival that we absolutely must attend?

DETAILS: We’re going for about 7 days, around the end of May, early June.  We like art and architecture, food, wine, history, and the outdoors.  I’ve never been to Europe before moving to Finland.  Hubster lived in Germany for a spell, and has traveled some, including Paris and Rome.

THE PRIZE:  A nice little gift from wherever we go.  Do you collect anything – snow globes, shot glasses, ornaments?  Is there something in particular you want from the area – soap, textiles?  A pretty piece of handmade jewelry?  Let me know if you want something in particular!  (Don’t tell me in the comments – I’ll contact the winner to find out what you want.)

Leave your suggestions in the comments below by 4pm GMT, Wednesday February 29th.  (That’s 11am EST.)

(FYI – currently on the Want To Travel To List, in no particular order:  UK, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, Poland, Budapest, Prague, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and more.  You can see my issue about trying to determine where to go first!)

Ready.  Set.  GO!

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Sand Art and Awesome Independent Booksellers – Weekend Roundup

Sand is just sand, right?  Not so!  Magnify it, and it becomes this:

magnified sand grains from

Check out more artwork at

There are rumors floating around that bookstores may be dying.  Remember WaldenBooks, or B. Dalton?  They were bought by Borders and Barnes & Nobles, respectively, both of which offered books at a lower cost – or at least it seemed that way.  Now Amazon has come along, offering books (and more) at an even lower cost, and doing its share to make e-books a Big Thing.  So, is this the end to brick and mortar bookstores?

Personally, I think it might be the end to the big, cold, impersonal bookstore,  but the winners of this are the cool, personal, independent bookstores.  The key is being different, to be about a love of books and not money, and, of course, to not have five such stores on a city block.

Denver has Tattered Cover Bookstore.  Charlotte had  Park Road Books.  And check out these 10 Unconventional Bookstores.

Have you been to a wonderful independent bookstore lately?  Please share!

Categories: Random, Writer Sara Johnson | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Unfinished Novels, Typewriter Art, Photographs in Photographs, and The Million Dollar Question – Weekend Roundup

I read a lot of blogs in Google Reader, and I’m horribly far behind right now on posting some things I’ve been wanting to post about.  Let’s see how many I can sneak in today, shall we?

Ah, that unfinished novel.  The one you’ve completely given up on, you’ve lost half of it to a bad hard drive and aren’t possible able to recreate it.  The one you wrote ten years ago and never got back to.  The one you’ve given up on finding a way out of.  Post it at

Keira Rathbone makes art with a typewriter – visual art.  “One of Keira’s mediums is the use of vintage typewriters to create her art. Typing out letters, numbers and symbols in place of brush strokes and pixels results in beautiful enigmatic images.”  Very cool:

Keira Rathbone – Typewriter Art

Loving this site:  Dear Photograph.  Old pictures in new pictures are nifty:

Rachelle Gardner posed an intriguing question over on her blog:  Would you rather receive a million dollars for a book that no one will ever read, or have one million people read your book but never make a dime?  I have to say, reading through only some of the comments, I’m in the minority.  Yes, I write not because of the money, but because I have to – if I didn’t write, I would go crazy.  But for exactly that reason, I would be perfectly okay with no one ever reading a specific book I write – because there will be another.  And I’ll have a million dollars.  I don’t know, that’s how I feel – what about you?

How do you keep track of  the books you’ve read (or want to read)?  I started using WeRead through Facebook, but I’ve also heard of GoodReads.  Is one better than the other?  Is it worth trying to bring everything over from one site to the other?  Thoughts, anyone?

Categories: On Writing, Writer Sara Johnson | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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