Princess Diana

Is there anyone alive who doesn’t know that Princess Diana died in a horrendous auto accident entering a tunnel near the Pont de l’Alma?  It happened 21 years ago this past August.  Emerging from the Alma-Marceau metro and walking towards the bridge (Pont de l’Alma), you have to pass a large flame that to this day is always covered with flowers and photos of  Princess Di.

IMG_1699.jpg

Several times a week, I cross Pont de l’Alma coming from the American Library headed to the metro and home.  I’m often with someone else and I always ask, pointing at the site, “Do you know what that is?”  Usually I get back “A memorial to Princess Diana?” or “I’m not sure, what?”  Having come to Paris many times over the last 50 years, I knew that that monument had been there before Princess Di died.  But I didn’t know what it was.  So I asked someone.

IMG_1696.jpg

It is the flame that our Lady of Liberty, given to the US by the French, holds for all peoples, immigrants and others, to see as they enter the Port of New York.  “Erected in 1986, the 12 foot metal fire is a made of copper covered in actual gold leaf. Donated to the city by the International Herald Tribune, the flame officially commemorates not only the paper’s hundredth year of business as well as acting as a token of thanks to France itself for some restorative metalwork which the country had provided to the actual Statue of Liberty. Even with the air of global familiarity emanating from the sculpture like heat from a flame, the site has taken on a grimmer association in recent years.”   AtlasObscura.com

IMG_1984.jpg

Princess Dianna had her tragic accident just under the monument and not knowing where to express grief, people began putting flowers, photos and expressions of love at the base of the flame.  The younger generations have no idea why it was originally constructed.IMG_1983.jpg      Almost every day and, certainly on the anniversary of her death, something new is added.  I’ve passed the flame when flowers were six inches deep.  There is always a crowd around the Flame, always there for Diana and not Lady Liberty.  Today, many people think the Flame was built for Diana.IMG_1701 2.jpg

IMG_1698.jpg

Thirty-two years after the Flame was built, relations between France and the US are not very good.  President Trump has refused to meet with President Macron when he arrives in France Sunday to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the end of WWI.  Vigils are being planned for Saturday night and all day Sunday protesting Trump’s behaviour and the lack of liberty in the US at the moment.

The Flame now seems to represent tragedy.  On a smaller scale–that a Princess died underneath on the roads of Paris and on a much grander scale–Liberty being exchanged for Autocratic rule and Dictatorship.  Trite as it sounds, one can only hope that the flame of liberty never goes out and there is always hope.

A bientôt,

Sara

Le Musée Marmottan-Monet

People traveling to Paris always seem to have high on their list of “Must See” first the Eiffel Tower then The Louvre followed by the Musee d”Orsay.  If you were to ask them who their favourite French painter is, more than likely 60% or more of them would respond “Monet”.  So I have made it a project of mine to introduce Americans to the Musée Marmottan-Monet.

IMG_1941.jpg

It just happens to be about three blocks from where I live but that is only one of the reasons I love it.  In no particular order, I love it because 1–it is small and easily negotiable without getting overwhelmed or tired.  2– it has the largest collection of Monet paintings in the world 3–it has the largest collection of Berte Morrissot paintings and drawings and 4–it is a wonderful example of what an old hunting lodge turned town house looked like back in the days when this part of Paris was actually outside of Paris and men came in the Autumn to hunt.

The website of the Musée Marmottan has this to say about the history of the building and the permanent Collection.  “Former hunting lodge of Christophe Edmond Kellerman, Duke of Valmy, the Marmottan Monet Museum was bought in 1882 by Jules Marmottan. His son Paul settled in it, and had another hunting lodge built to house his private collection of art pieces and First Empire paintings.

Upon his death he bequeathed all his collections, his town house – which will become the Marmottan Monet Museum in 1934 – and the Boulogne Library’s historical rich historical archives to the French Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1957, the Marmottan Monet Museum received the private collection of Madame Victorine Donop de Monchy as a donation inherited from her father, Doctor Georges de Bellio, one of the first lovers’ of impressionism whose patients included Manet, Monet, Pissaro, Sisley, and Renoir.

In 1966, Michel Monet, the painter’s second son, bequeathed his property in Giverny to the French Academy of Fine Arts and his collection of paintings, inherited from his father, to the Marmottan Monet Museum. This donation endowed the Museum with the largest Claude Monet collection in the world. On this occasion, the academician architect and museum curator, Jacques Carlu, built a room inspired from the Grandes Décorations in the Tuilerie’s Orangerie to house the collection.

IMG_1935.JPG

The Denis and Annie Rouart Foundation was created in 1996 within the Marmottan Monet Museum, in compliance with the benefactress’ wishes. The Museum was hence enriched with prestigious works by Berthe Morisot, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Henri Rouart.

In 1980, Daniel Wildstein gave the Museum the exceptional illumination collection put together by his father. Throughout the years, other major donations have come to enrich the Marmottan Monet Museum collections: Emile Bastien Lepage, Vincens Bourguereau, Henri Le Riche, Jean Paul Léon, André Billecocq, Gaston Schulmann, Florence Gould Foundation, Cila Dreyfus, and Thérèse Rouart.”

Affiche Coll Privées.png

As well as the extraordinary room downstairs that houses many of the Monet’s, the Museum has twice yearly exhibitions.  The one that is there from September 13, 2018–February 10, 2019 is called Private Collections: From Impressionism to the Fauves.  The entire exhibition is paintings taken from private collections, many have never been seen before.

IMG_1915.jpg

It seems only right that the exhibition opens with paintings by Monet.

IMG_1914.jpg

Caillebotte, who I never studied in University as an Art History major, has become an artist that I highly respect and I have grown to love his work.  The poster announcing the exhibition is by Caillebotte.

IMG_1924.JPG
I’ve never seen this work by Gauguin

 

IMG_1925.jpg
or this one!!

These two Gauguin paintings are examples of his work from the time he lived in Pont-Aven, Brittany.  I had to include The School of Pont-Aven as I visited friends there last summer.  That is when I first learned of the school and the Gauguin stayed there between Paris and French Polynesia.

IMG_1923.jpg

I have taken up way too much of your time so I will introduce you to Berte Morisot and her paintings at another time.  If you are coming to Paris, please make sure to visit the museum.  You take the metro 9 to La Muette.  From there you walk through the wonderful Parc de Ranelagh.  The park ends at the museum.  If you love art, you will not be sorry.

And to wet your appetite in case you are not visiting until next Spring, the next exhibition is posted here!!

L'orient des peintres.png

For more information on the Musée Marmottan-Monet: http://www.marmottan.fr/page.asp?ref_arbo=2507

And Paris??  It is cold, cold, cold.  The days have been in the high 40s and low 50s.  The nights have fallen to the high 30s.  Out have come the wooly caps and scarves, down jackets and doubling up on socks in one’s boots.  Restaurants have brought out their large heaters so that Parisians can still sit outside if they choose.  Seats have blankets on them to serve as lap warmers!!!  How wonderful is Paris?!

So wherever you are, stay warm.

Everyone in Paris is praying and wishing the United States Bon Chance and Bon Courage on November 6.

A bientot

Sara

 

Les baskets

I receive a number of blogs informing me of events in Paris, fashion, food, etc.  They are fun reading and, occasionally, I get a really good tip.   At the beginning of this week, I received one that asked the question “How to dress like a Parisian woman.”  Among the many tips was the caution that Parisian women never ever go out wearing their gym clothes or yoga gear.  It just isn’t done.  And they never wear sneakers that they work out in.  They do wear sneakers–called les baskets here in France–but fashionable ones.  Since almost everyone wears sneakers much of the time, I thought I would investigate who is wearing what.  The best place to do that is in the metro or bus.

IMG_1741.jpg

The most popular sneakers are Adidas and Converse.  The girl on the left is wearing Adidas with a black label at the back.  Usually it is a green label and it is just the same as wearing something by Burberry that has the marque name glaring at you.  For some reason, women would never wear these same sneakers to run or work out in.  The girl in the middle is wearing Converse.  These are low top.  More popular are the high tops.  It’s my understanding that Converse are made for fashion, to be seen in.

IMG_1742.jpg

I think these are also Converse.  Why? Because of the red line along the bottom.  They sparkle and as the weather cools and the holidays come, more and more sneakers will have “bling” on them.  Younger Parisians love their sparkly shoes… and sweaters… and jackets…and T-shirts.  Even I have a blingy T-shirt and blingy winter jacket.  I’m very proud of them!!

IMG_1744.jpg

In the middle, we have white leather sneakers.  Mine are made by Aigle.  Aigle, to me, is high-class LL Bean.  Aigle is most famous for making rain boots, high and low.  They come in many colours and children love them.

IMG_1823.jpg

Pink and Bling!!!!

IMG_1824.jpg

Off to work in black and white sneakers!

IMG_1849.jpg      IMG_1850.jpg

These baskets are for sale in a fashionable small women’s clothing store near me.

IMG_1845.jpg

Two blocks up Avenue Mozart is this wonderful store.  These sneakers never go on sale even during the Winter and Summer Sales.

So thanks for reading my first blog on Parisian fashion!!!

A bientôt,

Sara

La Rentree

bonne-rentree_008.jpgLa Rentrée in France is as much a time of year as Christmas Week and Easter Week.  It is the time when the French return to wherever they live. Many have spent the whole summer away in the south of France or in their country houses in Normandie.  Now it’s return to work and return to school.  In America, we see Back To School signs in department stores and book stores.  Think quadrupling that energy and you might get close to the fuss that is La Rentrée.

Unknown.jpeg

In the larger grocery stores that also sell clothing and supplies, a whole section of the store will be devoted to La Rentrée.  Whatever else had been there has been removed for the duration.  I was in Carrefour (which is a HyperCarrefour) and doing a big shopping: loads of TP and Paper towels, cat food and cat litter.  Things that I hope will last for awhile.  Hoards of students were there in La Rentrée section.  One rarely sees students in grocery stores.  Backpacks, pencils, pens and refills, writing books, on and on and on.  When I asked one of the women who works there where the gardening stuff had been moved to, she shook her head and lifted her shoulders: “It’s not here for awhile, madame” as if to say ‘what can you do?’

images-3.jpeg

Although it is only September 4 and I just returned from Brittany, it is definitely not summer anymore.  Though warm and lovely, the air feels like Fall. Very young children are screaming in happiness during their play breaks and the sound drifts up to my apartment.  The metros are crowded again.  The RER A, which always takes a summer break for repairs, is running again (This is the RER that goes from the west suburbs into Paris).  All the stores are open and the streets are teeming with shoppers, people hurrying to the bus and students once more hanging out on all the corners.

images.jpeg

For those of us who have always lived by the academic calendar, the year is now beginning.  Time to organise everything.  Time to put everything away that relates to summer.  Time to get out those pens and pencils and get to work!!!

So from Paris, I wish you all a Bonne Rentrée!

A bientot,

Sara

images-1.jpeg

Paris: Back Home

Anyone who has ever visited Paris in August immediately senses that something is out of whack.  Other than the Parvis in front of Notre-Dame or the Tour Eiffel, Paris is practically empty.  It is the Congée Annuelle otherwise known as August.  There are plenty of parking spots on the street, seats are empty on the metro.  At least half the retail stores are closed for the month with a sign thanking us for our understanding.

IMG_1637.JPG

I walked outside of my apartment building this morning at 10:45.  There wasn’t a person to be seen.  It was eerily quiet.  The Boulangerie on the corner is closed.  Two out of the three fruit and vegetable markets are closed.  The Greek deli is closed. The pizza and sandwich shop is closed.  The one and only Women’s clothing shop is closed.  The chocolate shop is open with an ice cream stand outside the door.

IMG_1630.JPG

Where Parisians live, it is silent.  Where tourists gather, there are more people than ever.  Trying to walk across the Parvis to meet a friend at a cafe was like negotiating one of the hardest obstacle slalom courses one could find.  Tourists don’t walk.  They amble—as they should.  How else is one to take in the beauty that is Paris?  However, if you live here, as I do, tourist places should be avoided at all costs.  Especially if you need to be somewhere.  It is a good reminder of the awe that most of us felt when we first arrived.  When rambling was the height of entertainment.

IMG_1627.JPG
Walking towards Cathedral Notre-Dame
IMG_1628.jpg
Line snaking around the Parvis–waiting to go inside Notre Dame.  Not nearly as crowded as the day I tried to cross it to get to a cafe.

Quinze Août (August 15th–The Assumption of Mary) is a holiday within the vacation month.  Then absolutely everything shuts down.  I asked Barbara, “Isn’t it a contradiction to have everyone celebrating a Catholic holiday in a Socialist Country?”                           She responded “no, not at all.  Unlike the US, we have total separation of church and state.”                                                                                                                                                    (Note: now that Macron is President, France is no longer a Socialist country).

IMG_1631.JPG

The stores that are open have tiny signs in their windows telling us that things are still at “very small prices.”  Les Soldes is over but they hope to get rid of all their stock before La Rentrée.  La Rentrée which literally means The Re-Entry.  When everyone comes back to Paris, back to work and back to school.

But we have one more week of August yet to go!!!

A bientôt,

Sara

IMG_1636 2.jpg

 

 

Paris Plages

 

IMG_1163.jpg

In 2002, the Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who was well-known for launching ambitious municipal events, decided that everyone has the right to go to the beach in the summer.  Not everyone can afford to go to the Cote d’Azur or Brittany or the West of France.  So beaches were brought to Paris.  For four weeks, sand lay on the quai of the right bank of the Seine from Hotel de Ville to Pont Neuf. It was so popular that it was brought back the next year.  By 2007,  4 million visitors were recorded.

This year, Paris Plages is lasting from July 7 (the first day of school vacation) until Sept 2. I walked down there today from Hotel de Ville.  I didn’t see any sand but all the umbrellas were up and lounge chairs were out with people sunning and reading.

IMG_1164.JPG

IMG_1170.jpg

One of the reasons that the Paris Plages look different this year may be a political one. The beaches were built free of charge by LafargeHolcim from 2002 to 2017, when the city of Paris discontinued their contract in retaliation for LafargeHolcim’s proposal to build the wall on the Mexico-United States border promised by U.S. President Donald Trump. (Wikipedia)

IMG_1168.jpg

IMG_1166.jpg

I don’t think the sunbathers or the children playing with the above games cared one way or the other.  School is out for the summer and they can all go to the “beach”.

IMG_1167.jpg

IMG_1169.jpg
In past years, this quai up to the bridge would have been sand with beach showers and water games.

paris-plages-france-461559829-5919cba43df78cf5fa3c031e.jpg

In  another part of Paris, at the “Bassin de la Villette” is another beach.  This one has three different pools.  Photos will have to wait until I return from Le Gers.  From TripSavvy:  Stretching from the Rotonde de Ledoux near the Jaurès Metro station to the former Magasins Généraux on Rue de Crimee, this is the beach to choose if you’d like to see a more contemporary side of Paris, and are interested in getting in the water. For water sports enthusiasts, the beach of choice will be at La Villette, where the Canal de l’Ourq affords participants a choice between a variety of relaxed water sports. Kayaks, pedal boats, sailboats, canoes, and more are open to the public at no charge until 9:00 p.m. with instructors on the scene to help ensure a safe experience. You’ll be able to glide along over 53,000 square feet of water, and after boating, a cold drink on one of the beach’s waterside cafes will be in order.

So those who can’t travel, summer at the beach has come to them!!!

A bientôt,

Sara

Joan Baez in Paris

Joan Baez.  Just saying her name conjures up civil rights, protest marches, Bob Dylan, folk songs, social justice, Vietnam and on and on.  Joan Baez is a National Treasure.  I should say International Treasure.  The Parisians adore her.

IMG_1129.jpg

I was waiting for the metro one day last October and saw a huge poster advertising 10 days of Joan Baez concerts in June 2018.  The poster said it was her Fare Well Tour. I called my friend Barbara to see if she wanted to go with me.  Yes, indeed, she did.  So I bought tickets, made her put them in a safe place (I was afraid I’d forget where my safe place was) and last Sunday, we went to the Olympia in the 9th arrondissement to see and hear her.

IMG_1120.jpg

I was fifteen years old when I went to my first Joan Baez concert.  My family had just returned from a year living in Geneva, Switzerland. Some new friends took me to an outdoor stadium in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  She mostly sang folk songs then and played only an acoustic guitar. I had two of her records and knew every song.  Halfway through the concert, she introduced us to a friend of hers she thought we all should know:  Bob Dylan.  That was the summer of 1963.

I bought a guitar and tried to learn without taking lessons.  I grew my hair long so I’d look like a real folk singer.  I had a good voice so my parents let me play a song at family gatherings even if I only knew three chords on the guitar.

Over the years, she came in and out of my life.  When the album Diamonds and Rust came out, a relationship had just ended.  I played that album over and over and over.  I still can’t hear Diamonds and Rust without picturing myself in that small apartment in Berkeley, Calif crying my heart out for a boy I deeply loved.

She got herself arrested at an anti Vietnam march and met David Harris, Peace Activist, who she married and had her son, Gabriel, with.  “I went to jail for 11 days for disturbing the peace; I was trying to disturb the war.” Joan Baez, 1967 (Pop Chronicles interview.)  Her passion inspired so many of us.  I probably went to two more concerts over the five years following.

Last Spring, I went on YouTube and watched a concert she had given herself for her 75th birthday (She is 77 years old now).  So she was in the foreground of my mind when I saw that poster.  I kept telling people that Joan Baez was my first ever concert and now here it was  55 years later and she could well be my last concert.  It is amazing to think that for 60 years, Joan Baez has been a beacon of social justice in the world and she has done it a lot through music.  I don’t think she has ever slowed down.

IMG_1123.jpg

The Olympia is a lovely venue in the 9th.  It reminded me of the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, Ca but not as pretty.  There is probably not a bad seat in the whole place. I had gotten seats in the 2nd section of the Orchestra and we had tons of leg room.  After opening with Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, she played three or four songs I didn’t recognise.  Then she sang “It’s all over now, Baby Blue.” Out of nowhere I got tears in my eyes and I couldn’t stop them for the rest of the concert.  Every song from then on was an “oldie but goodie”.  Some her’s, some Dylan’s, one Woody Guthrie and one Pete Seeger.  I couldn’t tell you what I was crying about.  Maybe the rush of memories when I had such a passion for social justice (I still do but can’t often show up and do the footwork), for marching in protest of Vietnam and segregation. And maybe  a few tears because we had so much hope and nothing has changed, possibly it’s worse.

IMG_1125.jpg

She sang two songs solo then brought out the rest of her “band”. Her son, Gabriel, a percussionist, and Dirk Powell playing so many different instruments, I stopped counting. Grace Stumberg, who has a strong country-like voice joined her for three songs and at the end for the encores.

Did I mention how much the Parisians love her!!  I could see why.  She spoke French as much as she could.  With each song, she told the audience, in French, what it was about.  They clapped at everything and, in the end, gave her a standing ovation making her come back out four times.  All ten shows sold out and five more were added in February 2019 (this FareWell Tour could well last a very long time.  No one wants to see her go).  I tried to buy tickets when I got home and all five dates were sold out.  I don’t think there is another city that had nearly this many performances.

I bought a good poster inside the Olympia then a cheapie outside on the street.  They are now hanging on the inside of the bathroom door.

IMG_1138.jpg

And for those of you who didn’t get to hear her but would love to, the Olympia has made it available to everyone. Enjoy and cry your own tears!!!

https://www.arte.tv/en/videos/083355-000-A/joan-baez-at-the-olympia-in-paris/

220px-Joan_Baez_Bob_Dylan.jpg
Joan Baez and Bob Dylan at the March on Washington, 1963

A bientôt,

Sara