Here are links to my 2018 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).
Anti-Macron, Anti-Macron demonstration, apartment, bande dessinée, Belleville, Café des Anges, church, departure, Grand Fête, head on a platter, John the Baptist, Jourdain, Latin Quarter, Le Jourdain, Lisa, Macron, meals, Metro, neighborhoods, Paris, Place Saint-Michel, tourists, touristy, typanum, Village Jourdain, Zhizhong
The open studios walk Andy and I took a couple weeks back ended up in a neighborhood of Belleville called the Village Jourdain. I had noticed a banner for a festival being held there on my last weekend, so on Saturday morning I headed over to see what it was like.
The festival was very charming and almost 100% local. There was a brocante (tag sale), shops and restaurants, a stage with local performances, and lots of convivial people. Anti-Macron demonstrators took advantage of the crowd to organize an impromptu sing-along, with lyrics on banners set to a popular tune.
There were many budget lunch options but since it was my last weekend I felt like going a bit upscale. Fortunately I was able to get a seat at the bar of Le Jourdain, a delightful seafood tapas place a few blocks from the center.
The service was friendly and professional and the food was excellent; the kitchen was somewhat slow but I was in no hurry.
After lunch, on a whim, I strolled up to the pretty neo-Gothic church on rue de Belleville, across the street from the Jourdain métro station, for a tour offered by the parish priest. I assumed that it would take about half an hour but I didn’t anticipate the gusto with which the priest would explain every facet of the church’s history, architecture and decor: it ended up taking 90 minutes!
I understood almost everything the priest said! (Addressing a group is a key professional skill for a preacher: he was speaking so slowly and distinctly that any fool could understand him.)
I had been anticipating a photo opportunity from climbing up the bell tower but in fact the most interesting view was of the excavation for modernization and extension of métro line 11.
That evening I thought it would be nostalgic to go over to the Latin Quarter, where I had always used to stay, from my student days through the 2008 trip with Andy. I tend to avoid it these days, but I do have a soft spot for the area, if not for the throngs of tourists.
My plan had been to eat in the tourist district, as I had done for so many years, but I simply couldn’t bear it! I walked a few blocks further, to a Vietnamese place in a quieter area.
I had planned a photo shoot along the banks of the Seine for after dinner but it started to rain so I high-tailed it home and called it a night.
On Sunday I spent most of the day at the Grand Palais (described in my previous post).
My last week had been fairly solitary, since most of the people I spent time with this year had already left. Even Zhizhong had unexpectedly been called away to China on business, but fortunately he got back in time for us to have a farewell dinner on Sunday night at one of his favorite local places, Café des Anges on rue de la Roquette near Bastille.
Packing at the end of a trip is infinitely easier than packing at the start, since there are almost no decisions: you just throw everything into a suitcase (after triaging liquids, sharp objects and spare lithium batteries). The only issue I encountered on Sunday morning was weight. I travel with a hand-held scale, which showed that my checked suitcase was two pounds overweight. I moved a book to my carry-on and ditched some replaceable bottles to duck under the 50 pound limit. Then I tidied the apartment, wrote my previous blog post and checked out.
The process of getting to the airport, checking in, going through security, etc. was predictably annoying, but not in any interesting ways. The flight itself, on Air France, was surprisingly tolerable. Among the 200 movies they offered I chose Jules et Jim, directed by François Truffaut, in French with English subtitles. I found all the characters believable and relateable. Jules and Jim were both in love with the same woman but in the end I was even more deeply moved by the affectionate and respectful friendship between them.
Astana Columns, Christa Sommerer, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau, contemporary art, Elias Crespin, Grand Hexanet, Grand Palais, Laurent Mignonneau, Lionel Moura, Michael Hansmeyer, nave, nave of the Grand Palais, nef, Paris, Patrick Tresset, Peter Kogler, Portrait on the Fly, robot art, robotic art, robots, Takashi Murakami
I had been avoiding an exhibition at the Grand Palais called Artistes & Robots, but I decided to see it this Sunday since I read a good review. My reluctance to see the show had been because I find randomly-created art soulless; an important part of my reaction to an artwork is the idea that it came from the mind of another human being. My concerns weren’t completely misplaced. It was mesmerizing to watch these little robots wander around a sheet of paper making random marks, but I found the results uninteresting.
I was charmed, however, by another of the robot-art pieces in the early part of the show. This involved three robot “artists,” each using a camera and a pen to draw a still life. Some of them were quite talented! The artwork was for sale in the gift shop, but I found that a bridge too far.
Another piece I liked was installed in a grand stairway. It’s composed of an array copper tubes suspended in mid-air by almost invisible lines, which gently move them in graceful, ever-changing patterns. Even if there’s an element of randomness, the patterns seemed meaningful and satisfied me.
Yet another installation that impressed me was a room of computer-generated and 3d-printed columns. While there was an element of randomness in their details, their overall symmetry was satisfying, and the experience of walking among them was intriguing
One piece that seemed stale was a room decorated with flowing black and white patterns. Yes, it’s a selfie-magnet, but I was underwhelmed.
One of my favorite pieces was a variation of a now-standard video work that presents a distorted image of the viewer. The unique feature of this piece was the fact that the image was created by a swarm of digital flies. It’s “Portrait on the Fly” by Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau.
My hands-down favorite, however, was this Takashi Murakami robot. It didn’t do much except roll its four eyes and mumble, but it was gorgeous and creepy to look at. Part of my appreciation, I think, is that it was a robot made by an artist rather than “art” made by a robot.
An additional reason for going to the show was that the nave (nef) of the Grand Palais was open to visitors for just two weekends this spring. Although I have been to shows many times elsewhere in the enormous building this was the first time I have been in the central space. Just an huge empty room, but with lovely glass and metal roofs.
Cleverly, they set up a gelato stand, which I was happy to patronize.
7 Doits a la Main, beard, champagne, collapsing building, Comme Chez Maman, Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, jeroboam, La Hasard Ludique, La Petite Ceinture, La Régalade de Conservatoire, magnum, Nathan Mierdl, Neil Armstrong, Récitals de fin d’année, violin
Monday evening I had my farewell dinner with “Theseus,” at Comme Chez Maman in Batignolles. The meal itself was just ok, but there was a funny moment. I noticed our waitress pouring glasses for another table from an enormous champagne bottle (either a magnum or a jeroboam I think). I asked if I could take her picture, after which the host, a genial American, treated me to a glass of rather good champagne!
On Tuesday I met a young Chinese guy who is studying the perfume business in Versailles. We had a very nice lunch, and perhaps will meet again in a later year. It’s striking that he’s only the second local guy I’ve met through online apps this year. This mostly reflects a reduction in my own level of interest, but also an increased level of caution after my Australia/New Zealand trip.
On Wednesday evening I took the métro out to Pont de Sèvres, at the end of line 9, to see the Canadian group called 7 Doits a la Main (7 Fingers to the Hand). I had wanted to see them when they were in Boston but didn’t get it organized so I thought this would be a good choice. They offer a combination of acrobatics, modern dance and theater that doesn’t involve much language. I got only a general idea of short monologues in French at the beginning and end, but for the most part I fully enjoyed their physical performances. It was a worthwhile outing.
On Thursday afternoon I finally made it over to the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris at La Villette to see some thesis performances by graduating students). They are free and open to the public. The starting point for finding them is to Google “Récitals de fin d’année [Year Date].” This will bring you to a booklet like the one at this link, which gives the overall schedule for when the performances for particular instruments, etc. will be held, usually from mid-May to the first week of July. Then you go to the Conservatory and pick up the schedule for the current week, which shows who is performing when. I was lucky enough to hear the thesis performance of a superb young violinist, Nathan Mirdl.
I had another expected surprise earlier in the week when David contacted me to say that he and his partner Sean would be visiting Paris for a few days at the end of my stay. We got together on Thursday evening for a glass of rosé at my place, a walk around the Village Montorgueil, and dinner at La Régalade de Conservatoire, which we thoroughly enjoyed despite the fact that the service, while well-intentioned, was stretched by the full house.
Meanwhile, I’ve continued to wander around Paris and take pictures:
Afro, Afro Libio Basaldella, art, Canal d’Ourcq, Concert for a Fly, contemporary art, David Hockney, Ecoute, Galerie Béatrice Soulié, Galerie Lelong & Co., Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Gérard Cambon, Henry de Miller, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, L'Opéra, L'Opéra Garnier, Marais, Nambia, parc de la Villette, Parc Monceau, Paris, Saint Eustache, street art, Tornabuoni
This statue, in front of Saint-Eustache, survived the five-year redevelopment of Les Halles. Click here for a pic of the work site from 2012 showing the head tenuously protected by barriers.
The gallery show that most strongly impressed me this year was of Afro Libio Basaldella (1912-1976), better known as “Afro,” at the Tornabuoni Art gallery in the Marais. The artist — who I hadn’t heard of — was born in Italy and worked there and in the U.S. One example is below, but if you like it please look at: [“Afro” Photo Set]
Naturally I was interested in owning one of these excellent paintings! The price list was held behind the counter, but a gallerist offered to tell me the price of any specific work I was interested in. This one, for example, was priced at 4,900,000 euros. Negotiable, I’m sure, but still a bit rich for my blood.
These odd sculptures are from the imaginary country of “Nambia,” inspired by a bourde of Donald Trump.
I was quite impressed by Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in the Marais– not the art, which I didn’t find memorable until the top floor — but the gallery itself, which is a large and beautiful space.
I did respect, on the top floor, the reprise of a Palais de Tokyo show by Patrick Neu I had liked in 2015, and enjoyed a quirky little installation, which you’ll have to enlarge to fully appreciate:
A few weeks back I stumbled on the vernissage (opening party) for a David Hockney show at a newly opened branch of Galerie Lelong & Co. Some functionary tried to shoo me away because it hadn’t officially started but the gallery owner waved me in. #seniorprivilege
I’ve many times appreciated the mostly-buried bicycle wheel at the back of this photo as I’ve strolled through the Parc de la Villette but this year is the first time I noticed the rest of the bicycle!
Mot du Jour: bourde. Blunder, boner, mishap.
13 prairial an 2, battaile de 13 prairial an 2, Canal Saint-Martin, Charlie Hebdo, Coulée verte, flâneur, folie, folies, Gare Saint-Lazare, La Grande Canopée, mannikins, Nuit Debout, parc de la Villette, Parc Monceau, Paris, Promenade plantée, rue des petits carreaux, rue Richard Lenoir
While I’ve mostly posted on specific topics and visits this year I’ve continued to log my Paris walking average of seven miles a day. This post collects some of the interesting or attractive things I’ve run across in my wanderings (saving art for a later post).
One of my favorite walks in Paris is along the Promenade plantée (also called the Coulée verte), which transformed abandoned railroad infrastructure into a leafy linear park. It begins near the Place de la Bastille and runs several miles to the Parc Vincennes. The first section is elevated, connected with a short level stretch, through a tunnel, with a depressed section.
The monument in the center of the Place de la Republique was totally renovated in 2010-13, then trashed after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015 and during the Nuit Debout protests in 2016. It has now been restored, ready for the next popular uprising.
There’s a lot of history on the plaques around the base of the monument. This one commemorates the biggest naval victory of the First French Republic, over the British fleet. In our calendar it took place on June 1, 1794, but the Revolution established a new calendar starting at year 1, including new names for the months.
There are officially sanctioned skateboard areas all around Paris. This one is right on the Place de la Republique.
The Parc de la Villette in the northeast corner of Paris contains a dozen or more “folies.” Some have uses but many, like this one, are purely decorative.
There are a lot of ancient-looking ruins in Parc Monceau. The columns themselves are fairly old, but they have been repositioned for aesthetic effect much more recently: “The Naumachie of the Park was built with the columns of the ancient Rotunda of Valois, ordered by Catherine de Medicis to house Henry II tomb.” [Source]
Mot du jour: 2CV. The Citroën 2CV, 1948-90. 2CV literally means deux chevaux, “two horsepower,” but the original version actually had nine.
Each year it turns out that friends will be visiting Paris while I’m here. This has become so predictable that I call it an “expected surprise.” Usually we just meet up for meals, drinks or activities, as with Brian, Sheila, Rick and Cheryl in May. But not infrequently my not-very-surprising visitors will stay with me for a few days. Thus I wasn’t actually surprised when I learned a week or so back that my old friend Stan would be arriving with “Q” the day after Andy left.
They ended up staying for two nights, before jetting off to Ibiza for their first-ever beach vacation. They treated me to a couple of drinks and breakfasts, and most kindly took me out on their last night to La Bocca, an Italian restaurant I have eaten at just about every year. I had exactly the same meal as in 2016 with Zhizhong, and enjoyed it just as much.
I had gotten farther behind on my blog than ever before so I spent much of the weekend catching up. While blogging takes time away from experiencing it’s part of my Paris life that I’m not (yet?) ready to give up. If you’re reading this, thanks for your attention. You are the digital flâneurwho is necessary to complete my project.
The sun came out on Sunday afternoon, so I strolled over to the 7ème, to which I have given short shrift in prior years, to visit the magnificent garden of the Hôtel de Matignon, the residence of the French Prime Minister. The garden is open to the public only three days each year. Security was intense but after emptying my pockets I entered a lovely hidden garden. The full photoset is here: [Hôtel de Matignon Photo Set] but a few samples are below.
Update: Here’s a Google photo set with full-sized versions of all my photos of the Garden of the Hôtel de Matignon: Garden of the Hôtel de Matignon
art, au-delà des limites, Beyond the Limits, contemporary art, decanting, Design et Nature, Egon Schiele, food porn, Galerie Vivienne, Hundertwasser, Il Tre, Klimt, La Grappe d'Or, La Régalade Conservatoire, L’Atelier des Lumières, meals, Montorgueil, Palais Royal, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Paris, Paris food porn, Passage des Panoramas, Passage Jouffroy, passages, Rosa Bonheur, Schiele
On Wednesday we went to one of the two immersive light exhibitions currently on view in Paris. Since I had previously seen Au dela des Limites, we went instead to the Klimt/Egon Schiele/Hundertwasser show at L’Atelier des Lumières. I thought this would be interesting because I like all three artists (yes, even the relatively obscure Hundertwasser). Both exhibitions use hundreds of video projectors managed by a massive computer system to create an immersive environment, with light projected on the walls and floor, as well as on visitors. This exhibition is made up of several shows, one mixing Klimt and Schiele, one on Hundertwasser and one that just plays with digital motifs.
We both enjoyed this exhibition, but it’s different in several key respects from the other one:
- This show is based on classic fine art, so at times it offers an intense shock of recognition. The other one has many lovely artistic elements, but all newly created by the developers.
- The space is a former foundry, retaining many architectural elements. These can be interesting but also distracting. There also seem to be more awkwardly placed exit lights.
- Basically the same video shows on all the walls at the same time, so you only move around to get a more interesting angle.
- The video isn’t interactive.
After the Klimt show we had reservations at La Régalade Conservatoire, which I had enjoyed earlier in this stay. So … stay tuned for more food porn!
We were ready for the restaurant with time to spare so I took us on a circuitous route, down rue d’Aboukir to see Design et Nature, the most famous taxidermy store in Paris that allows photography (Deyrolle does not).
Our preprandial walk continued to the nearby garden of the Palais Royale, then through the series of passages (covered arcades) that start with the 1823 Galerie Vivienne, continuing through the 1799 Passage des Panoramas and the 1836 Passage Jouffroy. We arrived just in time for our 7:30 reservation. We were the first patrons, but the restaurant quickly filled up. There was a bit of language confusion at the start, but otherwise I enjoyed the meal almost as much as my earlier one there.
On Thursday morning we started with breakfast and people watching at La Grappe d’Or on rue des Petits Carreaux, which is the name for a segment of the same street between rue Montorogueil and my current rue Poissonière. I’m glad that Andy enjoys the passing show here as much as I do.
Andy had wanted to see the Catacombs, but they were closed due to a strike, so on Thursday we went instead to the other light show. We both enjoyed it, even though I had been before. Instead of posting separately I added our pics to my earlier post: Au dela des limites.
After the light show we walked up to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and each enjoyed a beer at Rosa Bonheur.
I was puzzled at first by the calmness and peacefulness of both park and ginguette, but then I realized that I have always been there on Sunday, when the park is filled with families and the bar is filled, by early afternoon, with gay men.
We had a quick Italian dinner at Il Tre and made it an early evening since Andy had to be up at the crack of dawn the next morning to catch his flights back home. It was a pleasure to explore Paris again with him, and we agreed that next time he should plan to stay longer!
apéro, Blanco, Bouillon Chartier, Diving suit, escargot, Experimental Cocktail Club, Hispano-Suiza, Hoppy, L'Absinthe Café, Musée des Arts et Métiers, Scaphandre, Scaphandre rigide, snail, steam punk, Steampunk
On Sunday afternoon Andy and I headed back from Belleville around 6 pm to get ready for an apéro at Rick and Cheryl’s place. Two of Rick’s nieces were staying with them so we thought it would be fun to get them together with Andy. Rick and Cheryl also invited their friend Carl and his nephew Alex, so we ended up with four aunts and uncles and four nieces and nephews. (I thought I was so original but it seems that quite few uncles invite their nieces and nephews to visit them in Paris!)
It turned out that one of the girls was best friends with one of Andy’s former roommates, who gave him a good review. After snacks and several bottles of champagne the young-uns went out on the town while Rick and Cheryl and I had a nightcap at Blanco.
There was talk of another 20-something outing for Monday night, after Andy’s and my second day in Belleville, but thunderstorms were predicted so everyone stayed in.
On Tuesday Andy and I walked over to the Musée des Arts et Métiers. He loved it as much as I expected. I’ve taken so many pictures in prior years that I only added a few to my extensive [Musée des Arts et Métiers Photo Set]. The museum is hard to describe but here’s a try: It’s an historical museum of engineering, design and science; basically the attic where every French gadget that’s too cool to throw away ends up.
Loved this diving suit! It never worked but has nevertheless become something of a steampunk icon.
We had lunch at the nearby l’Absinthe Café so we could easily return to finish the museum. It used to be a classic neighborhood restaurant, recommended by my friend Elliot, who formerly lived in the area. I have seen it change over the years, adding burgers a few years ago and this year doubling or tripling the price of a carafe of wine. It’s still ok but I miss the old days!
For dinner we walked over to Bouillon Chartier, an old favorite that has retained its classic character, despite being a tourist attraction.
At Bouillon Chartier you are seated with other patrons. This couple met when they were both 20; the American guy was a serviceman stationed in France, the woman was a local girl, and the rest is history. We had a lovely conversation with them.
When I mentioned that Andy had never eaten a snail the woman offered him one of hers. To my surprise, he accepted!
We were still thirsty after dinner so we stopped off at Hoppy for what turned into a couple of beers.
That only made us thirstier so we finished the evening at another old favorite, Experimental Cocktail Club.
Mot du jour: Scaphandre rigide: Diving suit. You can never be sure when this may come in handy!
Andy, art, Ateliers d'Artistes de Belleville, Belleville, Belleville Open Studios, contemporary art, Jean-Christophe Adenis, João Ferreira, Open Studios, Paris, quartier populaire, Sophie Herszkowicz, street art
On Sunday and again on Monday Andy and I spent most of the day wandering around Belleville, visiting art studios and galleries during the four-day Belleville Open Studios, which takes place each year around the end of May. I had enjoyed this event in 2011 and 2015, though I had never engaged with it as deeply as we did this year.
On Sunday after brunch we walked over to Belleville, getting a map at the first studio we noticed (by its balloons), then wending our way up to the Ateliers d’Artistes de Belleville (AAB) gallery at 1 rue Picabia (M° Couronnes). At the main gallery we looked at samples by each artist and circled the studios we wanted to visit. We had to do this to organize our walk since over one hundred locations are listed, several showing work by half a dozen artists! But we also looked in on all the studios along our route, whether circled or not; we realized that we enjoyed the ones we hadn’t circled about as much as the ones we had, but it was still worth using the selected studios to organize our path.
It’s hard to pick favorites among so many interesting artists, but here are a few that one or both of us really liked:
I liked several witty and/or trenchant sculptures by João Ferreira, in a group show in the Crypte de l’Eglise Notre Dame de la Croix, which was also outstanding in 2015.
I really liked the realistic Paris paintings of Jean-Christophe Adenis. So much that I would have purchased his painting from the main gallery for 45 euros if it hadn’t already sold. But when we caught up with him in person he asked 200 euros for other works of the same size. Not unreasonable, but I wasn’t quite prepared to spend that much (even though I did the next day for a cute three-dimensional work from another artist).
Andy and I both liked the studio of Sophie Herszkowicz. I may actually go back and buy one of her smaller paintings.
This video gives you a somewhat better idea of this highly recommended exhibition:
Here’s the link to my full photo set, starting with some vivid Belleville street art we saw along the way, and including additional works by most of the artists mentioned: https://photos.app.goo.gl/qtwx5ec67DYJA1Aw2
We ended up getting to nearly all of the circled galleries before running out of time and energy. The project was a very satisfying way to start Andy’s visit. Not only did we see a lot of fascinating art (diluted but not obscured by the inevitable mediocre stuff), but we explored a lively and non-touristy quartier populaire, got to see the insides of many artist studios and apartments, and met some nice and interesting people. It may in fact be the most-non-touristy beginning to any of my guest visits!
Update: Here’s a photo set that includes more Belleville Art: Art of Belleville, Paris
Mot du jour: quartier populaire. Lisa explained earlier in my stay that this means a neighborhood of down to earth folks, i.e. workers, artists, unemployed people and other not-rich citizens. Like Belleville!