I have been to the Louvre many times over the years but the night I took this photograph was the most memorable experience I have ever had at this magnificent place. It was late November 1997 – it was windy with a cold driving rain. I was walking around near the base of the Eiffel Tower when I got talking to a local who alerted me to the fact that on Thursday evenings, the Louvre is open until 10 PM and there is no admission charge. I jumped on the “Metro” and made my way to the Louvre. Those of you who have been to the Louvre and have had to endure the endless line ups and huge crowds may not believe me but that night, I had the museum virtually all to myself. In some of the rooms there wasn’t even a guard present. In fact, at times, particularly in the more remote corners of the museum it even felt eerie. This photograph of I. M. Pei’s addition to the Louvre (completed 1989), was taken from a second floor window off a corridor leading between rooms. It still brings back vivid memories of the wind lashing against the windows and making them rattle. At that moment I felt safe and warm, and rather than a large cavernous building, in my mind, the Louvre was reduced to a cosy “well decorated” country home that I was privileged to visit. I doubt whether I will ever be able to replicate that experience particularly given today’s security. And I don’t think I want to. The magic of that night lies in the fact that it was so particular and that it can’t be repeated. This is not a great photograph of the Louvre Pyramid but for me it has the ability to instantly take me back to that night where for a brief few hours I had the Louvre and its treasures to myself
Well talk about a fork in the road and making a tough decision. I was staying in Macon in southern Burgundy. That morning I decided to take a drive along one of many wine routes in this area. Some of you may be familiar with the wines having labels that say “Macon Villages”. Well this is where they come from. But I was more interested in seeking out the source of one of my favourite white wines – Pouilly Fuisse. Little did I know when I set out that this wine comes from the area in the vicinity of two little villages – Pouilly and Fuisse and that’s where it gets its name. After mulling the signs for a little while and taking in the stillness of the countryside, I decided to follow the road to Pouilly. I ended up coming across several large farms growing what I’m sure were grapes that go into making this excellent wine. By the way you can buy a bottle of Puilly Fuisse at the LCBO for about $ 32.00 a bottle – it’s great with fish.