Monday, June 16, 2008


I have been rather negligent in updating on the daily happenings in my life for the last week... I think this is mostly because the last week was more about settling into a schedule rather than going out and doing exciting things for which I would take a lot of pictures. starting work at 11 AM sounds late enough that I could get out and do exciting things before work, but this doesn't happen very often... for one, I like sleeping, and for two... I always seem to find something to occupy me at the apartment. Anyway, here is a brief summary of what happened during the week, which will probably be more for my own posterity than the edification of anyone else so if you are bored, I am sorry.

Tuesday, June 10
In the morning, I went for a run. I went down to the Place de la République, and then took Blvd Saint Martin and followed 'it' (the street changes names a lot of times, so I guess I don't know exactly what street/s I was on...) until the HUGE store Printemps, in the 8e arrondissement, and then I turned the corner and essentially took a straight path home. It was a nice run through a pretty commercial district.
At work I called an artist in Toronto to discuss his commission for the Hong Kong airport for the Olympic games - the equestrian competitors will be arriving through Hong Kong, and they have commissioned Max Streicher to make 5 enormous (10 m long!) inflatable horses to hang in one of the terminals. The horses will be lit to match the colors of the Olympic rings. It's amazing how global this little Parisian gallery is!
It was the warmest it has been, about 80 degrees, and completely sunny - the opposite of the week before! I ate lunch in the Place des Vosges, a beautiful little park in Le Marais, the oldest neighborhood in Paris and, interestingly, the Jewish district. I work just to the North of the Marais. I got a baguette as part of my lunch from Le Levain au Marais - that one is certainly worth the recommendation Jamie Cahill gives it.
In the evening, we went to see La Cantatrice Chauve by Ionesco. The class studying French culture and theater just finished reading the play, so I am sure it made more sense to them than it did to me! I was able to understand a lot, but there were a few actors in particular who spoke very quickly. However, it is an absurdist play, so you don't really need to understand all the words to understand the point - which actually is essentially how meaningless a lot of modern conversation is. I read a little of the play, which seemed funny to me on the page... but on the stage, it was more just, erm, bizarre.

Wednesday, June 11
During my lunch, I visited the Musée Picasso. I believe that the story for the museum is something like after Picasso's death, to pay off taxes or something his family donated 1/4 of their collection to the city, which became this museum... But I am not sure about that. After my class last fall, I was familiar with his work up to about 1917, and there were a few early pieces I was very interested to see - especially Still Life with Chair Caning, which is a landmark piece in modern art as, according to Picasso, the first collage (although Braque would certainly beg to differ). Whoever was the first, I didn't know they had this piece, and it was very cool to get to see it in person finally. However, as his career lasted until the 1960s, and I knew very little about the last 40+ years, I am afraid to say I was not entirely interested....... While I apreciate his genius, he is certainly not my favorite artist; however, the museum is within about 5 minutes of where I work and, since I am an art history student, it was free, so it was certainly worth the visit.
Since we had seen the play Tuesday night, my family dinner got moved to Wednesday, instead. Dinner was not so exciting as previous weeks - not a specifically French dish as before, but simply what was essentially a stir fry of bacon, pearl onions, peas, and some other kind of vegetable (maybe potato?) However, as I had said the week before how much I like rhubarb, Catherine made a rhubarb tart for dessert, which was delicious. It was different from how I would make it - tarte, by definition, has a crust on the bottom and not on the top. You could also really taste the tart-ness (no pun intended, I really just mean the acidity) of the rhubarb, as I would have been inclined to put considerably more sugar! However, it was still delicious. I love me some rhubarb.

Thursday, June 12
I lunched with a friend from the BU program, Lian. She works near to where I do, in some kind of fashion industry. I don't know exactly what it is, but she told me about how they just got the new collection in and had spent a lot of time moving boxes. It was nice to have company for lunch, for a change! Not that I don't enjoy being a flaneuse (essentially, a wanderer) and discovering the city during my lunch break.
That evening, my class met to visit Les Passages. (It was immediately prior to this visit that I had my bad experience with Boulangerie Julien, as explained a few posts ago). In the first half of the 19th century, as Paris became the new center of the world for conversation and commerce, and the new idea of "pret a porter" - ready to wear - became important, someone had the brilliant idea to put stores inside, protected from the elements. So over 100 passages were built - these are essentially long hallways cutting through city blocks to directly connect streets. The halls are covered in glass - a very new innovation for the time. The street level is filled with shops, restaurants, and cafés, whereas the second floor is apartments. Today there exist only about 30 of the original hundred, as they did not fit very well into the urban plans of Haussman, who was prefet de la ville (essentially, the mayor, although this post didn't exist until Jacques Chirac) in the 1860s. He completely reorganized the city making hundreds of new, large roads to make circulation easier and to try to avoid the possibility for the construction of barricades, which played a huge role in each of Paris' big revolutions (1789, 1830, and 1848). But back to the passages... They were built to be beautiful, often with mosaic floors and neoclassical architecture. Unfortunately, I did not take pictures, as I was taking notes instead! I do intend to return to the most beautiful of them, galerie Vivienne, to visit a good Salon du Thé that Isabelle recommended, so I will be sure to take pictures then. Essentially, they are like the Passage filled with Indian restaurants and markets I showed you a few weeks ago (I have since found out that is called "passage Brady," I believe) except that they are much prettier, and not filled with as many Indians.

Friday, June 13
Maybe it was because it was Friday the 13th that I had such terrible luck with Maison Brocco and their royales, which I spoke about a few days ago! Whatever the reason, that was, unfortunately, the most momentous event of the day. I didn't make any notes to myself regarding any other activities so I can't give you any other, more positive anecdotes on the day. Tant pis.

For the weekend, I did actually visit some more exciting places and take pictures. However, I have a midterm in just over an hour, and a commute of 1/2 an hour to get to the BU center to take it, so those more exciting (and pretty) posts will have to wait a little while.

Alors, à bientôt!

1 comment:

I need orange said...

How cool that you are helping get things organized for the Olympics!

I have yet to have any rhubarb this year. If I'm going to, I'd better get right on it!

Interesting about les passages. I bet they started with glass roofs because artificial lighting was dirty and dangerous then.... Now it's cheaper to have artificial lighting, and people don't seem to mind giving up the natural light.