Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil

 

Our first full day in the city we joined the Parisians on their morning commute. The train clattered along its tracks, but inside the carriage there was a communal silence. We were the only passengers to alight at the Porte d’Auteuil, and we emerged from the métro station to the most incredible day. The rising sun cut through the cold, crisp air and gently warmed our skin. We set off on the short walk to the botanical garden.

We approached the 19th century greenhouses in wonder—their surfaces were simultaneously touched by time and beautifully preserved. The plants pressed up against the textured glass and painted surfaces—we soaked up the compositions and made our way around the structures.

As we entered the warmth, humidity, and quiet enveloped us. The fragrance of the moist soil and plant life filled our noses. In the largest greenhouse we encountered a small group of school children, an aviary of chattering birds, and the sun giving us the most spectacular light. We wandered around in awe.

In the cactus house we were approached by an older gardener needing to lock up. He was very kind and patient with us as we muddled through the language barrier. We ended our tour there and caught a train to the 15th arrondissement to visit the Musée Bourdelle.

The rest of our time in the city felt rushed and brief, but that early autumn morning at the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil was meditative and picturesque. It captured Paris for us—c’était magique.

 

 

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The Chapel of St. Basil at the University of St. Thomas

An alluring piece of architecture, the Chapel of St. Basil is situated opposite the Doherty Library on the University of St. Thomas campus. It’s of no surprise the history of the chapel began with the deMenils, something that is true of so much in Houston. They hired Philip Johnson originally to design the campus, and years after the Academic Hall was built he designed the Chapel. One of the most intriguing qualities of the chapel is its lack of artificial light. The sun illuminates the space in a fluid way, and the experience is remarkable. We visited the chapel on several occasions to try to capture this feeling.

 

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