Here are links to my 2019 Google Photos photo sets. You might enjoy browsing through these by topic, even though smaller versions of most photos have already been included in earlier posts. This will also let you download full-sized images if any are of particular interest (please contact me for permission to publish them, unless you are in the picture, in which case be my guest).
I thought I had “only” 1,234 to go, but imagine my bemusement when I opened the app this year and found that Invader had added more than 100 works, totalling 1,401: I was falling behind!
Fortunately, C.N., Sherard and Jared all got into the game and helped me add another 90 images — despite three weeks without a cell phone — bringing my Paris haul to a respectable 141, just shy of 10% of the total.
The newer works are quite varied. Some are big and bold, taking advantage of the fact that Invader is now the toast of Paris rather than someone who has to sneak around in the dark of night to put up guerrilla artworks.
Here are a couple more really big ones.
Some are rather cleverly camouflaged.
Others spell out words.
Some of the new ones are rather mysterious.
Others are just plain witty and fun.
Picard is a frozen food store, so this one is particularly apropos.
One I hadn’t seen before was right outside the window of my 2019 apartment on rue Montorgueil!
There’s only one type of the new artworks that I don’t much like. These are large composite images that spell out a sentence, somewhat like a rebus. I don’t find them artful enough.
Sherard pointed out that Invader has an Instagram account on which he posts tantalizing images of newly-added works. It’s fun.
I see from Invader’s web site that he has put up 3,776 images in 78 cities, but only in New York and Miami on the East Coast. Keep your eyes peeled when you go on vacation, however, since he’s been all around the world.
There are a surprising number of faux Invaders in Paris. Some are obviously fake but others look real to my rather experienced eye. Here, just for fun, is a rogue’s gallery of fake Invaders:
Sunday was a lovely day, sunny like every day over the last two weeks, but comfortably warm rather than scorching. Jared and I decided to take full advantage of the fine weather by going on one last day trip. We chose Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which is easily accessible by RER, and which neither of us had ever visited.
The centerpiece of the town is the impressive Renaissance château where Louis XIV — as well as many of his predecessors — was born.
While it is quite beautiful in its own way one can understand why Louis XIV wanted something even grander, hence Versailles.
After a walk in the vast forest that was used for royal hunts we circled back to the town and had lunch at a café directly across from the Château. We were pleased to find that we could eat almost as well in the provinces as we do in Paris.
The Château no longer has its original furnishings, but can be visited since it’s now the national museum of paleontology. It has a mind-boggling collection of artifacts created by prehistoric humans (including Neanderthals). Some fall into the dreaded category of “cracked pots,” but many others are beautiful and/or curious.
The museum also had a temporary exhibition on Henry II and his family, which was mildly interesting.
There are apparently other things to see in the city, such as the home of painter Maurice Denis, but we were satisfied with our trip so headed back in time for the farewell events I described in the previous post.
Saturday was Paris Pride (La Marche des Fiertés). Jared and I met up with Ari and several of his friends to watch, despite the 95 degree heat.
As usual, it was a huge parade. One distinctive characteristic of Paris Pride is that many individual people jump in and walk along, only punctuated from time to time by floats (chars) and groups with banners. My photos this year weren’t that great but here they are for the record. Pride is always somewhat fun, but I’m coming to realize that, like with so many things, one can never recapture the thrill of the first time.
I finished my Pride experience by walking back home along the line of almost-stopped floats so I could see everything without having to wait interminably. I was then delighted to get a text from Eugène, suggesting a before-dinner apéro. The drink turned into dinner, at Le Bon Coin, a restaurant I had enjoyed with Jared and Zoltán the previous week.
Jared and I hope that Eugène may be able to visit us in Boston this September, and he will be in Santiago for six months after that…
That evening Jared learned that his flight back to the U.S. on Sunday had been delayed by several hours, so he would miss his connecting flight to Boston. He was faced with a choice: spending the night in some random hotel in Newark and getting home Monday morning, or staying one more night (which we had already reserved) in our cozy Paris apartment, having an extra Sunday in Paris, and getting back Monday afternoon. What to do? Fortunately, Jared made the sensible choice, which enabled us to take a day trip on Sunday (next post), and allowed him to join for farewells on Sunday evening.
The first farewell was when our charming Airbnb host, Alexandre, invited us to a local café for an apéro . We enjoyed learning more about his interesting life, and adding an element of personal friendship to our cordial owner-guest relationship. One particular kindness was his offer to let me stay in the apartment until 3 pm, when I leave for the airport, instead of the typical 11 am checkout time.
Our last farewell was an Iranian feast at the apartment of my friend Ali, also including Zhizhong, who Jared and I both knew independently from his grad student days at Harvard, and who has also been close with both Ali and my cousin Lisa (and her daughter Aya). It was hello-goodbye for Jared and Ali, since they were meeting for the first time, but it was a real farewell between me and Ali and me and Zhizhong, since we had spent time together on several occasions this year (as well as on many prior years).
Jared had to catch an early flight on Monday morning so we had to head home after dinner. We walked Zhizhong over to the métro and finished our farewells there. Jared and I had a mini-farewell on Monday morning, but it was more of a joint farewell to Paris since we will both be back in Boston by this evening.
On Friday we headed over to the nearby Jardin des Plantes. I had strolled through it before Jared arrived but didn’t really do it justice. We both felt that the central gardens seemed rather thin (especially compared with 2010), and were bored by the repetitive patterns that characterize a formal French garden.
Our impression wasn’t improved by a visit to the quirky little botanical museum.
We were mesmerized, however, by the water drops at the center of these huge water lily leaves, which looked like liquid silver.
The greenhouses (serres) were lush with vegetation, in striking contrast to the central lawn.
My favorite spot in the Jardin des Plantes, however, was the English-style Alpine Garden, which I’d somehow managed to miss in all my visits to Paris. It’s both lush and lovely! You do have to dodge the sprinklers but it’s worth the effort.
We had lunch at Desvouges, Jared’s favorite among the restaurants we’ve eaten at this year, and one of my favorites as well.
After lunch Jared did some shopping, I did some blogging, and we both took naps. We had dinner at home, the highlight of which was a blind taste test comparing a baguette from the nearby supermarket with one from the neighborhood boulangerie. I was surprised to find that I liked the supermarket baguette better! But we agreed that both were perfectly fine.
We then headed across to the right bank to see a one-woman performance of Hiroshima Mon Amour by the renowned actress Fanny Ardant. It was, as I expected, powerful, moving, and somewhat difficult for me to follow. The theater was beautiful but we realized that it wasn’t air conditioned when they handed us fans and water bottles! It was warm but not too bad, and the theater made it seem downright cool when we stepped outside.
We strolled up to the Experimental Cocktail Club to have a couple of drinks for old times sake, then over to the Marais to see the pre-Pride buzz. It was a beautiful evening for a walk. We ended up jumping on the métro at Bastille.
Addendum: A funny thing happened on the way over to the theater. As Jared and I stepped onto the métro I felt a tap on my shoulder. Having been recently pickpocketed I spun around with an unfriendly expression, but instead of an evildoer there was Tom, now with platinum blond hair! He was meeting friends for a pre-Pride party but we had a chance to say hello and goodbye. It was nice to see him one more time before the end of this year’s petit séjour.
The deadly canicule that had been predicted really hasn’t materialized. It’s been hot, around 90 degrees, each of the last few days. But the nights have been blissfully cool, in the high 60s, so it’s been pleasant outdoors and we’ve been able to cool down the apartment enough to keep it liveable all day.
Jared spent Wednesday with one of his French friends. I slept in, then started working on my blog, which had fallen several days behind. I had breakfast and a light lunch at home, then suddenly realized that it was dinner time! I jumped on The Fork and found a highly-rated local Indian restaurant — Goa Beach — that offered a 40% discount on their already reasonable prices. They had no space on the terrace so asked me to wait at an inside table for something to open up. When a table didn’t free up quickly they just picked up my table and plunked it down on the spacious sidewalk. Pourquoi pas ? The meal was nice and the service was really friendly. I left a tip, which I don’t normally do in Paris.
Tuesday morning we got up early because we wanted to see the last day of chamber music concerts by graduating students at the Paris Conservatory of Music (the Conservatoire national supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris) at La Villette. We got there a bit late for the first one, and the last one had been canceled, but we were in time for a wonderful saxophone concert by four young women, called Ensemble Rayuela. The first piece was written for them by a fellow Conservatory student, Benoît Sitzia. Jared found it too modern but I thought it was terrific, there being no disputing about taste. We both loved the last piece, Mussorgsky’s Pictures From an Exhibition, arranged for piano and four saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone). I really wish photos were allowed since the glinting saxophones were stunning against the black outfits of the four performers.
After our last musical experience in Paris this year we strolled through the Parc de La Villette to the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie for an exhibition on the TGV, the French high speed train, which has held the world speed record of 357 MPH since 2007. (Normal TGV trains run “only” up to 200 MPH.) The exhibit was interesting but not amazing. My favorite thing was this near-life-size art piece, which was in strange contrast to the modernity and obsessive safety of the TGV itself.
After the exhibit that had drawn us in we had the first poor meal I’ve had in Paris this year in the museum’s sad restaurant. I had to put in my ear plugs to deal with the hordes of screaming children! After lunch we wandered about but didn’t see much that was compelling until after Jared left; then I did enjoy interactive exhibits on sound and on the mind, and a presentation on robots. The museum is primarily for children, but if you remember your ear plugs there are also some exhibits of interest to adults.
After the museum I took the tram over to Porte des Lilas where I jumped off to snap a Space Invader, then stayed to get a haircut. I passed up several places offering 10 euro haircuts on the theory that you get what you pay for, but had a very nice cut, and a pleasant experience, at a place that charged me 19 euros. Once again, softie that I am, I left a tip!
At 8 pm I met Jared at the Château de Vincennes and we walked over to the absolutely stunning apartment of a French friend he had met in Boston a few years back. Yves and his partner made us a delightful summery meal, which we enjoyed on their balcony overlooking the treetops of the Bois de Vincennes.
After solving the problems of life, love, culture and politics with Yves and his friends, Jared and I went home on the métro, threw open the windows, and had a good night’s sleep.
Conveniently, the Beaux-Arts exhibit was just a few blocks along the Seine. Canicule or not, the view of the Pont des Arts was still quite gorgeous.
It was a pleasure to be greeted by Lucas in the lobby, and he graciously let me take this photograph of him with his paintings.
After chatting with Lucas for a few minutes I explored the rest of the show.
A few pieces by other recent graduates caught my eye.
Finally, as I was walking down the stairs to leave I noticed these interesting sculptures by Koong Shengqi on the landing. The only caption I saw referred to them as Théâtre Anatomique but I’m not sure whether that referred to only one of them.
After the Beaux-Arts show I headed across the river to meet Jared and another friend he had met during his college year abroad. Ari is from New York but he fell in love with Paris during his own year abroad and moved here permanently after graduating from NYU. I was delighted when he proposed dinner at Champeauxboth because I like it and because I would be able to use another 1,000 La Forchette/The Fork “Yums” to et us a 10 euro discount. The food and wine were exactly the same as my previous two meals there: perfectly nice.
This time the manager’s greeting was very warm but the service was spotty, the opposite of my first visit. My 10 euro discount wasn’t reflected on the original bill but the manager quickly rectified the problem. Despite the glitches it was once again an overall good experience, for a quite reasonable price.
After dinner Jared and Ari asked for a picture together so I posed them in front of the nearby listening head sculpture, Ecoute.
Jared and I walked Ari back to his neighborhood, near Bastille, then took the (air conditioned) line 5 back home.
A terrific show of the impressionist art of Berthe Morisot opened at the Musée d’Orsay last week. Morisot was a friend and colleague of many of the most famous impressionist artists, such as Manet, Monet, Degas and Renoir. I find her work to be in the same league, so I suspect that her reputation was a victim of sexism, especially since her subject matter was often more domestic and “feminine” than that of her male peers. She also died rather young, at 54.
Both Jared and Eugène were also interested, so we met at the museum on Tuesday morning. I slowed them down with all my picture taking, but they were gracious. After the show we had a satisfactory lunch in the fifth floor café. Eugène headed out to an appointment while Jared and I saw the Modèle Noir exhibition that I had also seen with Sherard, then explored the permanent collection (all the while enjoying the rather good a/c).
Here are a dozen Morisot paintings that I particularly liked, but I strongly recommend going to the show if you’re able. Many of the works are in private collections, so there may never be another opportunity to see them.
There is also a nice room of paintings by Morisot at the Musée Marmottan-Monet, which Eugène and I visited a few weeks back.
Jared spent Monday with a French friend he has known since his college year here, so I headed over to the Palais de Tokyo to see their summer show. This was one of the three main reasons I stayed to the end of June this year, along with the fête de la musique and Paris Pride. In prior years the Palais de Tokyo has sometimes been absolutely stunning, and Jackie and I enjoyed the spring show. But while I found a few things to like in the summer show, overall I wouldn’t strongly encourage anyone to go. (Also, the air conditioning wasn’t that good.)
Most everything in the show was in the aesthetic category that I call “messy,” that is a lot of stuff jumbled together. Here are two examples of messy art in this show that I viscerally disliked.
But while I would have said that I don’t like “messy” art, some of the works in this show that I did like were equally “messy.” My aesthetic category may be incoherent as well as idiosyncratic!
This orca whale could hardly have been messier, but the assemblage had a certain appeal and the detail was interesting.
While these strippers were pretty messy they had a distinct appeal, especially when you noticed how the mirrors were being used.
The stairway down to the lower level was, cartoony but striking.
One of my favorite rooms contained these witty “outsider art” sculptures. A pano didn’t work so I just caught a few of them in two shots. Each sculpture rewarded a closer look.
A pop-up café with wearable “alien” helmets was silly, and certainly messy, but in all honesty also fun.
I had a juice drink at the café although the server didn’t have straws that would fit through my helmet.
As I finish this post I have to admit that I did enjoy several parts of the show. I think I’ve been spoiled a bit by past years when Palais de Tokyo was truly incredible.
I’ve experienced hot weather in Paris before, for a day or two, but the forecast for our last week is daunting: highs in the 90’s — or even 100 degrees — almost every day!
The French call this a canicule. They usually happen in July and August — a big reason why I visit in May and June — but this year it’s early. Forecasts suggest that this week may be even worse than the historic heat wave of August, 2003, which caused the death of 15,000 people in France. Most of those people were already sick or elderly (!?), but it’s nevertheless a daunting figure!
Paris apartments rarely have air conditioning, nor does ours. We do have pretty decent cross-ventilation between courtyards on two sides, we don’t get much direct sun, and we have exterior shutters. Our strategy is to open the windows overnight when it’s cool(er), then keep the windows and shutters closed during the heat of the day.
The apartment came with a fancy Dyson fan but I went out on Saturday afternoon to buy a second fan for the other bedroom. There were lines of Parisians at Darty and a huge stack of fans right by the entrance, just like stores do with umbrellas when it rains.
When we go out we plan to spend as much time as possible in air conditioned places like museums and movie theaters. Jared has even researched which métro lines have a/c: 1,2,5,9 and 14.Wish us luck!
Update June 26, 2019: Fortunately, the forecast has become more moderate so it’s basically just a week of sunny, hot weather, not a deadly canicule. The strategy of opening up all our the windows at night (when it’s been deliciously cool) and closing both shutters and windows during the day has worked beautifully to keep our apartment cool, and it hasn’t been too hot to spend time outdoors either. Thanks to the friends and family who saw the news and/or my original post, but it looks as though all will be well!
Mot du jour: « plan c ». Eugène explained that on social networking sites this refers to a « plan climatisation », when you meet someone to take advantage of their a/c.