Sunday, May 29, 2011

Satuday Night in Paris

 Bill and I sat found a street side table at Au Petit Fer a Cheval (At the Little Horseshoe) yesterday evening. We'd noticed the tiny horseshoe-shaped bar and been attracted to the general ambiance of the place and it's denizens during previous wanders through the neighbourhood but it was always packed
It's across the street from a sister bar, La Belle Hortense. From where we sat we had a lovely view of Hortense and her goings on.
The lovely lady on the left is Hortense's bartender. We met her later in the evening. La Belle Hortense is a mixed bookstore, bar, gallery and music venue.
It's Saturday night in Paris where the people-watching is some of the best on Earth.
Especially here in the Marais at the corner of Rues Vieille du Temple and Croix de la Bretonnerie.
Many couples stopped to have one partner's picture taken in front of our bar. When we sat down, Bill and I didn't realize we were sitting somewhere famous. We just thought it looked very cool.
But judging from the faces of the people checking it out, everybody seemed to know about it but us.
We drank their reasonably-priced drinks and enjoyed the flow.
At one point our waiter straightened up some of the bicycles parked outside and then plopped himself down in one of the seats.
As the bills for each new drink piled up under the ashtray our waiter brought us a tasty snack of anchovies on paste. Lovely!
We fell in love with Paris all over again.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Surprise Flea Market

On Friday as John and I approached the Enfants Rouges Market for lunch along Rue du Temple in the Upper Marais we were surprised to come upon a bustling flea market that surrounded the Square du Temple, ran all along Rue de Bretagne to Rue de Turenne and spread into many side streets. It was mentioned nowhere in our guide books or on the net
 Merchants were selling everything one could want from a Parisian flea market;
bric-a-brac and household curiosities,
 vintage clothes
and accessories,
period furnishings,
second-hand books and old paintings,
even some artisanal bread
and cheese stalls.
John's favourite was a stall specializing in scientific equipment. We would be visiting this market every week and furnishing our apartment from it if we lived in Paris and we're pretty sure we know now where our hosts, the Daros got the funky letters to decorate their living room wall!

Canal St-Martin

John and I had never visited the Canal St-Martin during any of our earlier visits to Paris so today when we were headed for lunch at the Enfants Rouges Market we decided to head up to it first.
We headed up Blvd Richard-Levoir and when we arrived at the canal a colourful little houseboat was just passing through the locks.
I climbed up one of the footbridges to get a better view.
Then hurried along to the next footbridge and swing-bridge to get some more shots.
The swing-bridge was just opening as I climbed the footbridge above it.
And the houseboat quickly passed through. All very toy-town for a lad brought up along the Welland Canal and the big lakers and ocean ships passing through the Great Lakes of Ontario as part of the St Lawrence Seaway but picturesque nonetheless and right in the center of Paris.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Musée Jacquemart-André

Last week John and I visited the art collection of 19th century banker, Eduoard André and his wife, Nélie Jacquemart in their palatial home on  Boulevard Hausmann just below Parc Monceau.
The house itself is an amazing example of Second Empire grandeur and the collection of furnishings and art superb.
Every detail is perfectly arranged.
 We're not familiar with J. M. Nattier (1685-1766) this sculptor, but we like this Portrait de la marquise d'Antin.
The visitor is first led through the formal reception rooms like this, the Tapestry Room. Love that chaise lounge!
The suggestion is of life on a grand scale and attention to detail. These ground floors also feature their collection of European art including paintings by Fragonard, Boucher, Rembrant and van Dyck.
We love this idea of displaying a painting on a book-stand. We have two wooden book-stands at home. We're going to try rotating some of our art on them.
One of our favourite rooms is the Smoking Room set to one side
and furnished with comfortable furniture and English 18th century portraits.
A grand spiral leads up to the upper floor,
featuring a grand fresco by Tiepolo at the top, of which this is only a detail. It represents the reception of Henry III at the Villa Contarini in Venice.
It is the introduction to the fantastic rooms of Italian painting that obsessed the art-collecting couple, featuring Uccello, Botticelli, Mantegna, Donatello and Crivelli. When we visited there was also an excellent special exhibition of the paintings of French Impressionist, Gustave Caillebotte, and his brother, Martial, a photographer.
 Returning to the ground floor, we were treated to a glimpse of the private apartments including Nélie's bedroom
and another favourite for us, the couple's private morning room.
If you want to soak in the grandeur, you could have a seat in the Tea Room before heading back into the street.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris

Bill and I just saw Woody Allen's new movie: Midnight in Paris. It's one of his great movies -- which was a nice surprise. He does for Paris what he did for NYC in Manhattan.

A huge bonus for us was walking out of the magical Paris of the movie into the actual streets of Paris, which we suddenly saw with new eyes -- the wide avenue lined with chestnut trees, the well dressed strollers, the sidewalk cafes. We crossed the street, turned down our street and found ourselves once more in our beloved Place des Vosges and decided to do a little stroll around the block.

It's always beautiful, but you get used to a place and stop seeing it. Tonight we saw it again as it for the first time. Here are Bill's snaps -- under the influence --

Please double-click to see the trailer full-sized.

Parisians 3