February 8, 2012
For those of you lucky enough to be heading to Paris this month and looking for some interesting things to do, here is a roundup of great events and general goings on. Amusez-vous bien! – Erin Dahl
Through February 19: Les Femmes savantes, a favorite amongst Molière’s work and a satirical criticism of the ridiculous préciosité that penetrated 18th century French salons, is showing at the Théâtre de la Tempête.
Through February 19: Chic! Une grande maison at Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine – a look into the history of Paris architecture, specifically the lovely hôtels particuliers that dot the city. Child friendly.
Through March 15: You may know Maxim’s for its resto and boutique, but they also have an exhibition space and this month “Moi, Sarah Bernhardt” is on show. Bernhardt, often thought of as the world’s first and most famous actress, paved the way for female performers to come. Now you can take a peek into her life and passion.
December 17, 2011
Why was she impelled to remember him in print? Because, like so many others, she had stayed at Shakespeare and Company. George Whitman started a tradition of hosting writers, most famously members of the Beat generation, and the bookshop’s ‘Tumbleweed Hotel’ is still a place where literary dreamers can exchange a few hours’ work in the shop for a bed on a bench amongst the books of George’s personal open library on the first floor.
When I came to Shakespeare and Company a couple of years ago, it was a while before I actually met George. Already in his mid-90s, he spent his days in the apartment on the top floor.
He still owned the shop downstairs, now run expertly by his daughter Sylvia and her team, its ‘Tumbleweed Hotel’ principles intact.
When they arrive, Tumbleweeds are required to write a brief biography for the shop’s records. Employed by the shop to create stair murals, I decided I would do this later. Anyway I was here to draw, not write. I wasn’t a Tumbleweed.
The next time I stayed I didn’t write it either, but I did spend my time writing. I’d do it on the next visit.
Or the next…
The last time I visited the shop in October 2011 , Paris was cold. George had just suffered a stroke and was in hospital, ‘recovering well’. The writers’ room, with its tiny electric radiator, was warm. Under my window, tourists snapped continually; Tumbleweeds lunched at the little round table by the door; drunks gathered at the fountain; a busker turned up and performed Shakespeare’s most famous speeches in rotation. Later on, the drummers took over outside the cathedral.
I stopped writing to eat at the café across the road. The man at the next table was telling his teenage daughter – her first trip to Paris – about how he’d been to one of George’s famous Sunday teas and heard the bookseller relate how he had set off to walk from North to South America but had been forced to turn back in the impassible Central American jungle. He was like a child, the man said. It was like he didn’t understand why he just couldn’t go as far as he wanted to go.
But after opening Le Mistral in 1951, which became Shakespeare and Company in 1964, the traveler largely stayed put in Paris, dying peacefully last Wednesday in his apartment above the shop, two days after his 98th birthday.
I walked back from the café to the bookshop and got back to work.
I wrote. Notre Dame chimed ‘Three Blind Mice’ on the hour: the light went.
I thought about space: Kilometer Zero in front of Notre Dame; Place René Viviani next to the shop where the 2010 Shakespeare and Company Literary Festival was held – a free event into which the public could wander. That was the last time I had seen George downstairs; wearing an extravagant paisley jacket, he was carried in triumph through the shop on a sofa held shoulder-high by Tumbleweeds.
December 16, 2011
As soon as our timetable lets us go, my husband and I move from our base in Amsterdam to our tiny apartment in Paris.
We’ve lived here in Paris part time for more than 4 years now, but I still discover new places, neighborhoods, and restaurants every single time we go on a stroll. Paris is inexhaustible when it comes to surprising me in any unexpected ways.
My dear friend, stylist, photographer and author Pia Jane Bijkerk, used to live here too, and she wrote a wonderful guide that everyone should have when they go to Paris. It’s a little book that takes you on a tour of Paris’ best shops and ateliers for handmade goods. So that’s right up my alley, of course.
November 18, 2011
You’d think that as a travel photographer who’s endlessly enamored of Paris, finding infinite inspiration for things to shoot in the City of Light would be proverbial cake. Well, you’d be wrong. At least where this Francophile photog is concerned!
My problem with Paris (and what a wonderful challenge to have) is that after so many visits, what was once a mysterious new wonderland to discover and dissect through the lens is now a favorite, intimately familiar old haunt. So when I found myself “stuck” in Paris for two weeks last spring per that little volcanic kerfuffle in Iceland instead of down south in new-to-me Nice, I was actually un peu perturbed.
After settling into the reality that I’d be in Paris awhile — and potentially a really long while if that blasted Eyjafjallajökull didn’t pipe down already, I finally began to relax and reflect on how best to start a fresh relationship with this city I had captured through my lens so many times before. In the end, I don’t know what I was so worried about! With a few simple adjustments to my habitual Paris routines, seeing the city anew was easy.
Even though you’re not in Venice, go ahead and get lost.
Armed with my trusty copy of Michelin’s Paris par Arrondissement, I wandered sans worry. One of the most important things I learned was to take the time to explore and absorb at a leisurely clip – day or night. Rather than defaulting to the subway, the bus became my primary mode of public transportation. Better to survey large, unfamiliar chunks of the city that way, and scout new nooks and crannies to tackle à pied. Similarly, if I did ride the metro, I used it to reach pockets of Paris that I’d never seen or strolled before. It was fantastique.
Get up early, or stay out late.
As on any trip, I set my alarm to rise and shine before the sun and the city. I love doing this and particularly in a place like Paris, both for the dreamy photo opps and for the priceless experience of watching timeless cityscapes come to life. Plus it’s just about the only way you’re going to score some private time with landmarks like La Tour Eiffel. Unless you’re willing to stay out way after dark, which isn’t really my thing, but man — talk about interesting photo opportunities.
November 15, 2011
At the Rodin Museum, Paris (Stephen Boisvert)
The other week, as the famed Musée D’Orsay was about to celebrate a grand re-opening after two years of renovation, museum workers went on strike. The strike ended fairly quickly, but for a few agonizing days disappointed Impressionistas were left wondering how to get their art fix in Paris.
Which brings up a good point. The Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre are not exclusive guardians of the greatest art ever, despite what your guide book tells you. Yeah, yeah, you want to see the Mona Lisa. But why not get out of the big musées and discover places you never knew you wanted to? I mean, you’re in Paris, for God’s sake. You can’t throw a pavé without hitting beautiful pieces of art. They’re not all in museums. They’re in gardens, on bridges, down hidden streets. Art is everywhere. Walk around and stumble upon it.
Sculpture by Dali (Amelia Wells)
Or if you’re looking for a little more structure, here are a few ideas:
Find Monet elsewhere in Paris. If you want to see what inspired all the lily pad umbrellas and tote bags, head over to the Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries, renovated a few years ago. The enormity of Monet’s paintings alone is stunning. And just on the edge of Paris, near the Bois de Boulogne is the Musée Marmottan Monet, which houses over 100 works by Monsieur Monet.
Rodin’s “Eve” (Rachel So)
Ever heard of Rodin? There are more than 130 art museums in Paris. So don’t just pin your trip on the two BIG ones. I was never much of a fan of Picasso until I went to the Musée National Picasso. (Sorry, that one is closed for renovations until 2013). Instead, make it a priority to see museums like ones dedicated to Auguste Rodin or Salvador Dalí, depending on your tastes.
Experience Gertrude Stein’s Paris: Picasso, Matisse and Other Stein Favorites Reunited at the Grand Palais
November 4, 2011
It’s 1905 in Paris. Visitors to the Salon d’Automne are outraged. Who is that flamboyant woman with the audaciously colorful hat? Or rather who could have painted such a daring work? Matisse’s Woman with a Hat shocked most viewers. However, it was avidly appreciated, and swiftly purchased, by two new art connoisseurs; Gertrude and Leo Stein, sparking a fabulous legacy of 20th century art patronage and perhaps the greatest collection of Modern art of the era. This collection is currently brought together for the first time in decades in Paris, in a special exhibit at the Grand Palais.
The Stein family, based in San Francisco, first came to Paris in 1878 when the siblings Gertrude, Leo and Michael were still children. This initial visit must have struck a cord, as they each eventually gravitated back to Europe as adults by 1904. Having sold off their family’s holdings back in the U.S., the Steins could live a comfortable bohemian life in Paris and were quickly drawn to collecting art.
The Grand Palais exhibit opens with some fine examples of their earliest acquisitions, several works by late impressionist masters, in particular Renoir and Cezanne, purchased during their first visit to the Salon d’Automne in 1904. These works would not only adorn the walls of the Steins’ respective apartments on rue Madame and rue Fleurus, they would also serve as inspiration for the next generation of young artists who started frequenting the Steins’ Saturday night Salons, lively evenings of conversation and debate over the ensuing new ideas of the modernist movement.
The next year’s Salon d’Automne also featured the more “traditional” artists, however, just as the impressionists had shocked the art world with their innovative works forty years prior, new artists such as the bold Fauves were causing a stir. While it was Gertrude and Leo who purchased Matisse’s aforementioned masterpiece, it was Michael and Sarah who became avid collectors and friends of the artist. Over the next few decades, they almost exclusively focused their collection on his works, many of which are shown here, several displaying the unique bond Matisse had with Michael and Sarah such as the two portraits he made of them and some paintings featuring their son Allan.
Matisse might have been one of the most important leading artists of the turn of the 20th century, however, he was fervently rivaled by another visionary artist; Pablo Picasso – who in turn was greatly supported by Gertrude and Leo. Gertrude first met Picasso in 1906 and they quickly formed a strong, if not turbulent, friendship. The exhibition features a number of wonderful Picassos from their collection, including the imposing Cezanne inspired pre-cubist portrait of Gertrude, but perhaps the most intriguing are eight original sketches and studies for Picasso’s first cubist work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), tightly displayed together on one wall, just as they might have been hung on the walls rue Fleurus.
October 17, 2011
Restaurant at the Musée d’Orsay (Quyn Hanh Le Nguyen)
I’m a museum junky. I love nothing more than passing a day wandering through endless corridors of art and antiquities, but after a few hours standing on hard marble, I’m usually in need of cold drinks and some serious snacks. Unfortunately, most museums suffer from what I like to call “Disneyland Dining”, overpriced, poor-quality food with limited options, usually served cafeteria style. And that’s not the worst of it! With food in hand and nowhere to sit, hungry patrons usually have to stalk fellow diners to snag a (very dirty) table the second someone stands up – not exactly my idea of fun.
Café Richlieu-Angelina at the Louvre
There are, thankfully, a few exceptions to the rule. Lucky for me, they can also be found in some of Paris’ best museums. Delicious, well-prepared meals in beautifully decorated (and often historic) dining rooms; impeccable service and (gasp) clean tables… heaven!
October 4, 2011
Parisian shops devoted entirely to a single specialty (like olive oil, honey, or communist literature) are considered obvious fixtures in an urban landscape where commercial efficiency is, if anything, an afterthought. So, when my roommate Winnie showed me a place on our street specializing in piñatas, of all things, my only thought was, “Of course. Naturally.” It was, incidentally, just across the street from our radical left-wing bookstore.
Winnie, a journalist, was covering the shop in a story with an unusual social twist. The piñatas, it turns out, are made by prisoners.
September 30, 2011
Contemplating Van Gogh in Paris - Giovanni Giorgini
There are so many tours to choose from in Paris… Whether you want to be whisked off on your adventure by bike, boat, balloon, Segway or foot (I have yet to find a horseback tour, but I’m sure someone, somewhere is cooking one up), a tour exists to help make that dream come true.
Having that many options at your fingertips can be overwhelming. That’s why we make it our duty here at Haven in Paris to scour the city tirelessly for the very best tours to recommend to our clients. I’ve been lucky enough to meet more than my fair share and have compiled a list of four of my favorites, chosen because they are so original, in depth and because the people behind them are amazing characters themselves!
Musée D’Orsay (Manolo Blanco)
Sara Towle’s “Time Travelers Tour” StoryApp (downloadable to the iPhone) is one of the most original Paris tours I’ve experienced. This labor of love started out as a book geared towards children and has evolved into an fully interactive, fact-filled, historical adventure through Paris. The first tour in the series, “Beware of Madame la Guillotine”, reveals the stories behind the landmarks and personalities associated with the French Revolution. It’s perfect for adults and children alike (I had a great day out following the tour with my husband)!
September 6, 2011
Mini Palais at the Grand Palais
Art and food. Food and art. Of course the two dance deliciously together in the City of Light. But with this past year’s additions of the Gilles & Boissier-designed eateries inside the contemporary auction house Artcurial and the Mini Palais within the landmark Grand Palais, Paris’ art scenes are crossing over into prime dining destinations. Here are five top-notch spots to sample when you’re as hungry for good food as you are for fine art.
Tokyo Eat at Palais de Tokyo
Tokyo Eat and terrace (Justine Robinett)
This versatile restaurant inside the contemporary art museum is a favorite haunt of Parisian hipsters. That’s because, with its super-sized dining room, UFO-shaped lanterns and colorful mid-century furniture, it’s cool without trying too hard. The food and ambiance are also atypically refreshing. Open non-stop from noon until 1 in the morning, you might opt for a freshly squeezed carrot-ginger juice in the morning, a lunch of inventive coconut and pineapple ravioli, or a standard steak with plump frites at any hour. It’s great for solo dining as well as big crews.
13, avenue du President Wilson, 16eme, 01 47 20 00 29. Open every day except Monday, from noon until 1 a.m.
Mini-Palais at the Grand Palais
Mini Palais and the terrace at the Palais de Tokyo (Justine Robinett)
With a menu created by Michelin-starred chef Eric Frechon and overseen by executive chef Stéphane d’Aboville, dining in this elegant, lofty restaurant—designed in neutral colors like an artist’s atelier—goes way beyond your typical museum offerings. It starts with a warm brioche that’s as decadent as a southern popover, and then moves on to just about anything you’re craving. The roast chicken is generous and succulent, the cabillaud is delicately poached in ginger and lemongrass, and the burger is topped with foie gras, bien sur. Get there before autumn descends to take advantage of the magnificent outdoor terrace, with its grand imperial columns, mosaic floors and sheltered views of the Petit Palais.