Paris II

Day II

Fortresses, graves, hot chocolate, and a toothache.

  • In short, “Day II” was a walk-a-thon around some of the older parts of Paris or less renovated by Baron Haussmann´s 19th century reconstruction. We started by taking the metro from Montmartre to  Place de la RépubliqueFrom there, we walked down the Boulevard du Temple. In the late 18th century and up until the revolution, it was the place to be and be seen.

Historic note: The Boulevard du Temple follows the path of the city wall constructed by Charles V (between 1356 and 1383) and demolished under Louis XIV. The boulevard, lined with trees, was built between 1656 and 1705. From the time of Louis XVI (1774–1792) until the July Monarchy in 1830, the Boulevard du Temple was home to a popular fashion: it became a place for walking and recreation. Cafés and theatres previously at the Saint-Laurent and Saint-Germain fairs moved here. After a time, it was nicknamed the Boulevard du Crime after the crime melodramas that were so popular in its many theaters. In 1782, Philippe Curtius, Madame Tussaud’s tutor in wax modeling, opened his second exhibition on this Boulevard. – From Jefferson´s Paris, Howard C. Rice.

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  • We stopped at this landmark which is all that´s really left of the Paris Temple. A medieval fortress built in the 12th century by knights impassioned by their crusade mission. Over the years the fortress expanded and evolved into a prison. The same prison where Louis XVI and his family were held captive. This stone ode outlines the demolished building in the left corner.
  • From Place du Temple, we walked to the Hôtel de Ville. This grand edifice has been the seat of the Paris Municipality since the early 14th century. It was also the stronghold of the French Revolution in 1789. More on this building in the next book.
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Hôtel de Ville

  • It was hard to imagine men like Robespierre and Danton professing their manifestos in square that was being used as an ice rink and with the smell of warm crepes wafting through the chilly air.
  • From this political powerhouse, we took a side trip to the Père Lachaise Cemetery.  Although it has only been around since the beginning of the 19th century, I was still interested in walking through this city of sleeping souls. France has moved many famous persons to this cemetery including the famous lovers Abelard and Heloise.
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Jim Morrison´s Grave

Fun fact: My holiday read, Forbidden Fruit: From the Letters of Abelard and Heloise, was leant to my by a friend of mine, Heather. While she was studying in Paris, she purchased the book at the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. The lovers and their words deserve an entire blog post but for now, I suggest readers pick up a copy.

  • After our nostalgic walk, we traveled back to the Marais district and stopping by the Place des Vosges. This beautiful plaza is the oldest planned square in Paris and  was once a literary hub for writers and dreamers alike. The author Victor Hugo once lived in one the tall buildings with iron balconies that overlook the pleasant park. Today, the square is lined with contemporary art galleries and cafés.
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Place des Vosges

Travel woe: Jorge had a seriously bad toothache, so my concern and his pain slowed us down a bit. HE was a terrific sport about it. It was lucky that it did not happen to me because I´m a real baby about that sort of thing.

  • Place de la Bastille was our next stop. Unfortunately, the Bastille, a fortress built in the 14th  century, no longer stands. It was destroyed by Louis XVI after the famous Bastille Day, (July 14, 1789) when hundreds of people stormed the fortress in search of arms and prisoners. Even though History has enveloped it completely, I still wanted to visit its sacred foundations. I cannot see it but Viola  and all those that read her upcoming adventure will.
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Pyramid

  • Clearly the best way to end the day was with a steamy cup of chococat chaud. Jorge and I swung by the Louvre to catch a glimpse of the lit pyramid before shuffling down Rue Rivoli to reach Angelina´s. This particular tea room boasts the best hot chocolate in Paris. Jorge is a chocolate aficionado and was willing to make the hour-long line. I was skeptical but eventually enticed by the romantic setting glowing from beyond the glass doors. I have to admit that after the chilly wait, it was well worth it. The room was dressed in holiday attire with wreaths and strings of light. The divine chocolate flowed like syrup but was not overly sweet. A heavenly way to complete the day.
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Angelina´s Hot Chocolate

 

To be continued…

 

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Paris I

Last week was my first week in Paris… Ever.

I planned and plotted this trip around research for the next book in the Histories of Idan series. Before I boarded the plane, I meant to have a seamless itinerary but our travel plans unraveled for serendipitous reasons and because of a serious case of jet lag.

In the next few posts, I will add some of my Parisian observations as well as my itinerary for that particular day. Ready, set, jet!

Day 1

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Apartment in Montmartre

  • We arrived in Paris on a Friday morning. Specks of water hit our glasses and cheeks as we made our way from Montmartre´s Lamarck-Caulaincourt station up to the apartment we had rented on AirBnB. Our host, Antoine, greeted us with a bottle of champagne and some local tips about the neighborhood.

Historic note: During the days of Vincent van Gogh, Montmartre was known for being Paris´s artistic neighborhood, but also for St. Denis´s decapitation and the nocturnal scenes of artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

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At the Moulin Rouge, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, 1892–1895

  • Although eager to return to the streets of Paris we had a power nap. Then I did what any sensible person would do, I ate my first authentic croissant at the pink boulanger (119 rue caulaincourt) around the corner from our apartment.

Observation: Winter rain is different in Paris. It falls in minute drops, that barely spray your face and clothing. It´s almost hard to tell it´s raining but for the slippery stone pathways and shallow puddles. The closest thing to it might be Portland, Oregon´s drizzle but it seems to come fall from all directions instead of from above.

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Café Crème and Croissant

  • We then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. The main reason we went to this museum is that Jorge, my partner in crime, is an Exhibition Designer at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Science Museum in Miami. The inspiring woman who conceptualized all the institution´s amazing accessibility initiatives, guided us through the many exhibitions. Herself being blind, she was attentive to every label detail as well as extremely knowledgable about all visual aspects of the museum. Meeting her was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life because of her accomplishments but also her humility. In addition to being naturally kind, she was more humble than anyone I have ever met.
  • On our return trip, we zigzagged down towards the center of Montmartre, past La Basilique du Sacré Couer, and got our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. Which, to be honest, is much more magical than I had anticipated. We walked down to the rue des trois frères until we reached Lánnex restaurant. There we supped on duck breast, honeyed potato mash, asparagus, artichoke purée, and a variety of cheeses. We washed down the savory dinner with a smooth French red. The service was awesome because there were only three couples in the restaurant. Lánnex is a wonderful secret, if you are ever in the neighborhood.

Fun fact: I took about three years of French in college but I´m sad to say, I speak poorly. My pronunciation isn´t terrible though, so I tried my best. I found that French people really appreciated it when I tried to speak French. Even if we ended up speaking English. I kept trying to answer at least partly in French. Consequently, I always felt well treated everywhere we went. No one was rude to us but instead affable and curious.

To be continued…

Mini Post – Paris

Bonjour mes Amis! 

I will soon be off to the City of Lights, croissants, love, absinthe, art, cheese, water lilies, tombs, and a million other lovely things. As an art historian and writer, this is my pilgrimage and Paris my Mecca.

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Early Morning Planning

Although you cannot come with me, I will do my best to immerse all of you into my travels and discoveries. Soon, I will post pictures and videos about my exploration into Parisian culture and the city’s rich history. Although to truly experience the inspiration this research adventure will spark, you will have to wait until the second book of The Histories of Idan.

I can promise you, that each day I will eat a buttery pastry, drink at least two Café au lait , walk until my feet fall off, write until my fingers are numb, and gaze myself into an art coma.

À bientôt!

P.S. If you have a favorite nook or site in Paris you love, please clue me in!

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A brilliant chaos.

This week, I spent several hours stuck in traffic, crawling my way through the Miami Beach causeway and Miami design neighborhoods. The millions of art aficionados that circulate through Miami put me in a constant state of ecstasy brimming on anxiety. In 2002, the Art Basel Fair came to Miami Beach for the first time. Over the past thirteen years, the fair and the creative spirit it inspires have grown to the point that it’s nearly impossible to outline where it begins and ends. Miami’s first week of December drowns in art works, patrons, critics, artists, and the art lovers that flock to Miami Beach each year. Many still call the week “Art Basel” but truthfully, it is no longer just about one art fair.

Since Monday, I have navigated Art Basel, Design Miami, satellite exhibitions, parties, gallery openings, and pop-up shows that have electrified the city. I am still digesting all the eye candy, so please stay tuned to this post as it will morph and expand as this week wraps up. There will also be a follow-up post next week. In the meantime, I leave you with these…

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16 ft Long Lace, Mark Flood, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, Rubell Collection

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Let Them Taste Cake, Jennifer Rubell, 2014, Rubell Collection

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Messy Selfie in Copper at Art Basel

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Le Peintre et la tête d’animal rouge, Marc Chagall, 1959-1985, Oil, gouache, watercolor and colored chalk on paper laid down on canvas, Hammer Gallery, NY

Resting at Basel

Resting at Basel