Temporary Parisians

June 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

The city is familiar now. We love our neighborhood. The lady in Carton now sells me baguettes with a wink and a smile. The gentleman who owns the Pharmacie close by is friendly and has been most helpful when we needed it. When we go now to pick up a few things he recognizes us and comes out from behind the counter to find what we’re looking for. The lady at the dry cleaners does not ask us to pay when we drop our clothes off. The other night after dinner in, I nudged Tom into going for a walk. It was 10:00 pm yet still light. We walked up a street we had not been on before, eventually coming to an intersection where some musicians were playing….as we got closer we could see a woman dancing. At first I thought she may have been passing by, but when the music stopped she took a little bow and stepped back to stand next to the trio. In less than a minute they began playing again, and out she came. A “woman of a certain age” (perhaps 75 or 80), she was dressed in a skirt with little bits of delicate fabric peeking out from the hem, topped by a long sweater. There were rings on her fingers and decorations in her hair. She wore more makeup than she needed. She moved to the music in a rather staccato fashion, repeating the same step over and over, then twirling around holding her skirt up a bit. When she turned in our direction I could see her eyes. They revealed a faded sparkle that she seemed to be holding onto. Perhaps she danced for the joy of it, perhaps she danced for the few coins she would get at the end of the night. Perhaps she was a good friend of someone in the trio…her expression seemed to me to be one of “It’s not the same now. For now this is what I can do”. I looked up into the sky, now dark, and at the cafés around us. Elsewhere in the world all kinds of things were going on. People getting up. Going to bed. In their offices. Picking up children from school. Paris is just Paris. One poignant moment after another. 🌾🌾🌾 I love the door to our apartment. It’s not a fancy door. There is a very simple handle high up on the left you can use to pull it shut when you leave. There is a small pull in the middle of the door – small in scale for the door size, mounted just where one would place a door knocker. I think that came later. image     The stairs are a lovely old wood and wind gracefully from the entrance. One or two pieces of the balustrade are loose. If you hold on to the rail as you go along there is a pleasing sound the loose ones make, perhaps to remind you to treat it gently.         We went to Le Bon Marché, famous in Paris, and beyond I suppose, a fashion design mecca. It was actually a pleasant surprise. image It is decidedly upscale, but not stuffy. A chance to see on a larger scale what you only see one or two of in fashion magazines. Not the beehive of tourists like Galeries Lafayette turned out to be where you could hardly make your way through the crowds of shoppers the day we went there. image image image Tom went to Le Grand Epicerie, which is part of it, but in an adjacent building. This is only one image of the grand scale of product displays. image While he ogles this “wall of chocolate”, olive oil and fois gras, I’m salivating over handbags of butter soft leather. I worked my way around to scarves and found a lovely one. I didn’t hesitate. It certainly cost less than the handbag I had my eye on! I made it up to the second floor but had to leave to meet Tom or else I might still be in there…..   We agree to meet in the beautiful little park across the street from Bon Marché. Another surprise. image image image image   From le Bon Marché we walked down rue Sevres where it changes to rue de Four. Take note ladies…. Lovely shops all along the way. Don’t skip the side streets. Some names you know and many you don’t. Time for lunch. We head to La Cigale Recamier…. We liked it so much the first time Tom insists we go back. I decide on the shrimp soufflé for lunch, which turned out to be incredibly wonderful, and a Grand Marnier soufflé for dessert! Tom stuck to his soufflé aux champignons and the Valhrona chocolate for dessert. I want to add here that we have eaten shrimp several times so far and they are sweet and succulent. They taste ever so much better than those we eat in the U.S.

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We went back to the Philharmonie to a Daniel Barenboim concert. Just him and a piano on stage. Two Schubert concertos. The acoustics are remarkable. We were seated very high up and it was no different than sitting in the front row as far as the sound goes. To hear him play was indeed a pleasure. Getting to our seats was another story! We were top tier and I was so frightened as I made my way between those standing to let me pass and the chair backs on the next row that I was totally undone by the time I reached my seat. I felt as if I would topple onto the orchestra seats far below. I made myself concentrate on the beautiful surroundings. When Barenboim sat at the piano and began to play, the music floating through the air soothed my jangled nerves. Barenboim1 Barenboim3   Barenboim2   image   We finally visited the Louvre…. we began walking through and decided the best approach was to pick what we really wanted to see and off we went. The same principal applies here as to walking the streets of Paris where it is impossible for me to just walk along because each window display draws my eye. (Something that makes Tom just a little crazy… a lot crazy actually, until he finally decided it was useless and now his reaction is “there she goes. C’est la vie“). So here we are in the Louvre. We keep losing each other. Or it’s “wow, look at this”. Glorious paintings and sculpture that take your breath away. It’s not our first visit but one forgets what a treasure trove it is. We decide to see Napoleon’s Apartments… Napoleon III. image

Originally the apartments of the Minister of State, they were created for Achille Fould, four times minister of finance under Louis Napoleon, but he never lived there. They were first occupied by his successor, Count Alexandre Colonna-Walewski natural son of Napoleon I and his mistress, Maria Walewsi. The apartments were occupied by the Finance Ministry from 1872 to 1989. After 1989 they were opened to the public.

image One jaw dropping room after another. They are now furnished with pieces that reflect the time or that belonged to a royal…. The bedroom of Charles X is simple, yet striking. Beautiful blue tapestries on the wall. It is arranged as bedrooms were, with chairs set about where members of his court would sit. Being in your bed, if you were a king, was quite a public affair. People all around. The public was allowed to just stream through. image image Le Grand Palais. Built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition. We went to see two exhibits – a John Paul Gaultier retrospective that everyone was raving about, and a smaller one about The Lumière family, pioneers in the development of photography and motion pictures …

John Paul Gaultier

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Can Can Dress

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Wedding Dresses

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Lumière

Despite Edison’s work, the Lumiere Brothers are considered the true inventors of the motion picture and produced the first film shown to a public audience in 1894.

Lumiere Brothers

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The exhibit includes this 30-foot high wall displaying thousands of motion pictures running simultaneously. The history of motion pictures is told in a fastinating documentary and through the display of equipment, sets and costumes that have played an important role in the advancement of the art.

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We’ve had hits and misses. But mostly hits, which is really nice to be able to say. and I’m not ready to leave. Not ready at all.

David Bowie Is

May 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

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David Bowie is has come to Paris after opening to record crowds in London. The venue is Philharmonie 1 at Cité de la Musique – think Kennedy Center in Washington DC or Lincoln Center in Manhattan.  The dramatic architectural design is a stunning backdrop for performances and music education for all ages.

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Philharmonie 1

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image imageWe loved the exhibition.

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A state-of-the-art multi-media assault on almost all of the senses which turns out to be exactly what’s needed to present the diversity of David Bowie’s talents.  The sound portion of the experience was developed by Sennheiser.  Everyone wears a pair of Sennheiser earphones which have been equipped with sensors to play the audio associated with your current location in the exhibit and, of course, the sound is spectacular.

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If you’re a David Bowie fan you may already know this but, David Bowie was born David Jones.  When his career started to take off he changed his name to avoid the being confused with Davey Jones, the then-popular singer in The Monkeys.  He chose the stage name Bowie for the American pioneer Jim Bowie, an association with the pioneer spirit he displayed throughout his career.

We were familiar with his music and one of his persona, Ziggy Stardust, but it turns out that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  He has had many other persona, has appeared in more than a dozen feature films, is an accomplished mime and a rather good painter.

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We spent over two hours in the exhibit without realizing so much time had passed.  Well worth it!.

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I tried to strike a similar pose.  As you can see that didn’t work, perhaps because I wasn’t wearing something a bit more edgy and “feeling the vibe!”

Paris Couture

May 19, 2015 § 2 Comments

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Just a few blocks from the Galerie-musée Baccarat is the Musée Brignole-Galliera where we saw the Jeanne Lanvin exhibition.   There were so many beautiful gowns on display but the lighting did not allow us to capture well on camera.  All but the ivory gown you see here are very early pieces from her collection.  They were beautiful for their time but very simple looking styles for today….the later designs are breathtakingly beautiful and I would love to be able to show them all so you could see.

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Madame was known for her overstitching which transformed fabrics into works of art. She used the most delicate silks and luxurious satin. There is a gold coat in the exhibition that is so extraordinary – yards and yards of overstitching – perhaps you can find the image on line. Not only were her designs feminine, I think when a woman put on a Lanvin gown she would have been completely comfortable because it hung or draped so perfectly on her body. And she would have certainly felt very beautiful.

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Women of all ages were at the exhibition. Students sketching. Older women pausing for long periods of time….made me wonder if perhaps they were thinking of their younger days and the evenings they wore beautiful gowns….

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