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May 2010 Archives

May 1, 2010

Bienvenue a Paris

After a good and seemingly quick flight while enthralled with The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson, I arrived at the apartment much earlier than expected. As the taxi driver looked for rue Galande, I noticed a coffee/breakfast place with outdoor seating, so when he dropped me off I went, suitcase and all, to sit outside with a decaf creme. I hadn't had any luck connecting with wifi to do a text message in the airport and when it came time to meet and be let into the apartment, I still had no service to send a text message and was stuck outside at the door. In desperation I stopped a woman walking by, asked if she spoke English, beginning of course with the all purpose French plea, 'excusez moi de vous deranger, mai j'ai un probleme'. She did speak English, listened to my explanation and promptly said, I'll call upstairs for you. I gave her the number, she called and a minute later, someone came down to let me in.

Fortunately, the network connection in the apartment worked smoothly and my email to Meg got me the answer for how to make my phone work - turn on the free expanded international roaming. I did, the bars reappeared on my iPhone and I was back in the fully connected world, at least for texting.

The next problem was figuring out how to lock the apartment door so I could get out to the market before everything was closed on Sunday. I couldn't get it locked, so I dashed out anyway, with the door just closed but still safely beyond two other coded entry doors. With food in the pantry and sleep overwhelming me, I settled in for a restorative nap. It was so good that when I woke up I immediately figured out the door locking problem - just don't push the key all the way in. The sweet spot was about a quarter inch out, and then it worked as smoothly as a door that looked to be from a century earlier should work.

Here are some very quick shots from my late afternoon walk.

May 2, 2010

New England Weather in Paris

Who says New England is the one with the changeable weather? Paris is just as bad, at least today, catching me outside in the rain at two different times. I'd gone back inside after the first time for some lunch, and to get ready to walk to the Louvre for the first Sunday of the month when entry is free to the public. By the time I got out the front door though, I discovered it had started raining again. In turn that meant by the time I got to the Louvre, between free entry and rain outside, the line to get in wrapped well around the pyramid. Luckily, I remembered you could also enter through the Carousel, the shopping and parking area underneath the Tuileries, so down I went. Once inside I headed for the Richelieu Wing to see the Napoleon Apartments. I had loved walking through them the last time I was here, imagining myself in the heavy gowns and pointy shoes of the time, and worrying about what ever I would have done with my hair. Unfortunately, this second time through still did not result in a hair solution, but it did make me eager to see the interiors of Vaux le Vicomte, where I plan to go next week with Barbara.

My new discovery was not one, but two, merry go rounds on the rue de Rivoli, just perfect for when Ollie and Minna come to visit. I wonder if I can ride along with them? I do love a good merry go round. See my photos of the day.

May 4, 2010

Alas Winter and More

Somehow it appears that winter has come back a bit in Paris - temperatures are in the low fifties, there's a lot of wind and almost no sun. We've got every possible layer on but have continued to venture out (if only we had the Trudy silk underwear and Heli Hansen). Today, however, something like Montezuma's Revenge (unfortunately I don't have the French translation for that) struck Barbara first and now me. You'll have to wait until it's all resolved to see pictures of our further adventures.

We think we've figured out the proper translation of our stomach problems from yesterday. Rather than Montezuma's revenge, it might be the spite of Marie Antoinette when she said 'Let them eat choucroute'. After a good night's sleep and breakfast of tea and toast, quite the sacrifice in the land of pain au chocolat, we're ready to venture out again. Alors, à notre santé.

May 5, 2010

Further Adventures

We survived the revenge of Montezuma and the spite of Marie Antoinette to set off today for the Musee Jacquemart-Andre, a museum that is best compared to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It contains the personal art collection of a husband and wife, gathered in their magnificent home in the 8th arrondissment. We spent the morning there, followed by a lovely lunch in the museum cafe. From there we walked along Bd. Haussman to the Opera Garnier, where we toured the fabulous building itself and then spent more time enthralled by the videos of various ballet productions. All our efforts to get tickets to the current production 'Homage a Jerome Robbins' have been in vain - perhaps they just don't sell them online or could they be sold out? -certainly we've tried. Getting back from Opera Garnier, I made a mistake in reading the Metro map. Once we straightened it out and got on the correct Metro, we realized that two additional stops would bring us directly to Tour Montparnasse, the view of the entire surroundings of Paris that Barbara was especially interested in seeing. So of course, we went those two extra stops to see it. We rode the fastest elevator in Paris (there may not really be that many) to get to the 56th floor and the view was quite spectacular. We also went up to the 59th floor terrasse, an outdoor viewing deck, but the wind made it quite uncomfortable and we only stayed a few minutes. Instead we went back down, found a table and had deux coupe de champagnes while we watched the sun set and lights come on in the city below. A nice ending to another day in Paris. See photos from the last two days.

May 11, 2010

Late Start But Full Day

Somehow we just didn't get right to bed after our late night Tour Montparnasse visit, so this day began well after noon time. Our first stop was Sainte Chapelle where the line was so long we abandoned it for the moment. Instead we backtracked to the Musee de Cluny, just a couple of blocks from the apartment. It's famous for the Unicorn tapestries, but full of other equally interesting collections. I do love the room from Roman times called the Fridgidarium. Then, fortified with a crepe at a street stand, we perservered in line and visited Sainte Chapelle. Back outside, we walked yet again, up Bld. Saint Michelle to Jardin du Luxembourg, stopping across the way for coffee and a rest for weary feet. We ended the day strolling through the Jardin, past the Pantheon all the way to Arene de Lutece, and capped it off at a particularly nice outdoor cafe almost back to Place Maubert. Some photo reminders and one especially for Ollie.

May 12, 2010

A Long Walking Day

Our initial plan to visit the Louvre, Palais Royal and two of the lovely covered shopping streets called Passages, worked out just right. After the mandatory viewing of the Mona Lisa, we continued through the large French paintings and then looked for the advertised exhibit of Cy Twombly's ceiling in the Salle des Bronzes, which I thought was a temporary exhibit but apparently is not. When we came outside again, the weather had warmed a bit as we walked through the Tuileries and then over to the Palais Royal where I love the striped bollards in the first courtyard. Continuing through the gardens we walked out the other side and up rue Vivienne to the Passage Vivienne. The Passage has a number of upscale clothing stores good for window shopping, and a delightful toy store where I bought a book for Ollie. It's full of pictures and identifies everything in French, so I've been using it ever since to increase my vocabulary with words like bandaid, un pansement, and playground slide, un toboggan. We didn't backtrack through the passage but came out instead on a new street where I got completely turned around. It took Barbara and much map reading to get us home again, making for our very long walking day.

May 13, 2010

Vaux le Vicomte - Triumph and Tragedy

You may have realized that I'm still catching up on my posts while Barbara was here. She went home on Monday, delayed a bit by ash clouds, but finally arrived safely on an uneventful flight. Meantime, I'm just enjoying my neighborhood exploration, finding all the little streets and corners I remember from past visits and checking out the stores old and new.

So back to last Saturday and our trip to Vaux le Vicomte, un chateau spectaculaire built by Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV's Minister of Finance. We took the local train from Gare de Lyon to Melun, about a 25 minute ride. Just as the guidebooks said, we discovered there was not much going on in the town, and on a Saturday, it was hard to find a place open for lunch. We ended up at what was kind of a Turkish sub shop, but had tasty kebobs and a sample of their baklava, thanks to a sweet, young waitress. Then we hopped on the Chateau bus for another short ride to the 82 acre site. I can't say what was my favorite: the rooms designed for Fouquet himself or those designed for King Louis, the climb up steep stairs through the roof structure or the view once you reached the outside of the dome. Then there was the garden, or series of many different gardens, each leading you further and further from the chateau toward a massive sculpture of Hercules. Oh did I mention the canal, hidden from view until you came upon it, that forced a perpendicular side trip, adding steps and challenge to actually reaching the monument. And we thought we walked a lot yesterday! We stayed late for the special candlelight evening, duplicating a bit of what it was like the night of August 17th, 1661, and the party for King Louis which began the unfortunate and unfair downfall of Nicolas Fouquet. What a special visit this was; thanks for your recommendation Marcia. Afterwards folks at the Chateau called a cab for us and we crossed our fingers each time the cab's motor died, just hoping to make it back to the train station. We did and caught the next train back to Paris. Photos here.

May 14, 2010

Relaxing End

For the final day of Barbara's visit we slowed down our walking and stayed close by. Even then, the neighborhood provided enough stops of interest that we missed the lunch hour at Aux Charpentiers and had to return at dinner time instead. We first turned off into the alley and sort of covered passageway called rue de l'Ancienne Comedie, where the restaurant Procope is located. Back on track to St. Germain des Pres, we paused for some jazz musicians playing to the crowd on Bld. St. Germain where Barbara spotted a poster for the upcoming jazz festival (something to plan on when Peter gets here). Then we spent considerable time in the church of St. Germain des Pres itself, marvelling at the very ancient beginnings of the structure, since ever. Lunch was quite late at la Fourmi Ailee, a spot I've enjoyed before with my Mom and Aunt Doris as well as Trudy. The sounds of Vivaldi's Four Seasons in the wonderful acoustics of Sainte Chapelle ended the evening and Barbara's visit. See a few photos.

A Week of Flaneuring

So now I'm sitting here with a glass of wine, new shoes on my feet and the feeling that Paris is the place I'm meant to be. I'm not sure whether that's the wine speaking or the fact that I've finally found some really comfortable walking shoes that can be worn with socks, so they're warm enough for this colder than typical May weather. Not to worry though, the 10-day forecast shows a warming trend, plus the arrival of all the family will undoubtedly warm things up as well.

I've collected a set of photos from this past week, which may be hard to figure out but essentially are just shots of things that caught my eye while out and about wandering in Paris. Somehow I just can't get myself out of bed before 8:30 am and then with posting to heyjud, and a bit of a workout, I'm usually out the door from noontime on. While I'm out, I've done much window shopping in the Marais and around Sevres-Babylones, and although I promised myself not to, I did stop in one time at Starbucks for a decaf latte. It was really good and less expensive than a not-so-good decaf creme at any number of cafes I've tried, plus it's got way more milk than the others, which we all know is important for the prevention of osteoporosis. So now have I justified further stops at Starbucks?

The only museum I visited was Les Arts Decoratifs and as you'll see by the photos, I was perhaps more interested in the views from the windows on the upper floors than I was in les arts decoratifs. I know I should be admonished for that but the week is mine to spend as I please and that's what I'm doing. After this full week of window shopping, I'm pleased to report that finally today I made some purchases. First off, a wonderful and very French blouse - hard to imagine since I hardly ever wear blouses. Then there was the miraculous appearance, just today, of a shoe store I remembered from 2001 in the Marais, where I finally bought a second pair of comfortable walking shoes that could be worn with socks. Why did I think that one pair of walking shoes and three pairs of sandals would be all I needed for this trip? Was I not thinking about the effects of global warming and it's counterintuitive god damn cold weather? Well now that I've found them it will probably warm right up but that's okay. I'll be able to switch from the two pairs of long pants I've alternated with since arriving, and wear some of the skirts, dresses and capris I thought would be so appropriate.

Tomorrow I'm off to do some grocery shopping for Meg and family's arrival on Sunday. Then I'll see which of the museum's I want to go to for the special night of the museums event. Stay tuned for that in my next post.

May 15, 2010

Day of Many Stairs

It seems like I climbed to the third floor at least five times, maybe six, this morning between various trips to get groceries in for when Meg, Jason and the kids arrive tomorrow. I didn't want to wait until Sunday because lots of the good places are closed, so now my tiny fridge is loaded full up. When they get in tomorrow late afternoon on the bullet train from Geneva, I'll be there to greet them, help with the bags and getting back to their apartment, and have something good waiting for supper.

Once all that grocery shopping was done, I checked out their neighborhood, which is just up the hill from mine, towards the Sorbonne and the Pantheon. Their street in particular is cobblestoned, narrow as an alley and looks charmingly French. On the way there I found some great street art that I bet Ollie will like, especially the zebras. Because the sun was out, I took an afternoon break to sit outside and start the book Barbara left behind for me, The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. At the end of the day, I stayed close to home again, visiting the Musee de l'Assistance Publique - Hopitaux de Paris for a classical music concert and some short dances as part of la Nuit des Musees. Of course, there are photos.

And now a glass of wine and to bed.

May 18, 2010


The past two days I've become expert, or at least much more knowledgeable, about mass transit in Paris. On Sunday afternoon I met Meg and Jason's train from Geneva at Gare du Nord, a station I was familiar with from my trip to Vaux-le-Vicomte. What I didn't realize was, in addition to the blue series of platforms where we had taken the train, there was another whole series of yellow platforms. Because of station renovations, you had to walk around the exterior of the station to get to them. Once their trains' arrival platform was finally posted, I walked all around to meet a herd of people getting off the train already. Weaving through the crowds in the opposite direction, I kept going and going, to find the family and all their luggage next to the very last car, #18. When we started back towards the station, Ollie was so busy looking around at everything, he kept walking right into poles and benches and anything else that got in the way. The taxi line zigged and zagged and looked to be at least an hour wait but, it turns out if you've got a baby with you, you can go straight to the head of the line. Thank you Minna for getting us our taxi. Once we got to the apartment, we did go out to a nearby playground for Ollie to get in some running around, but otherwise stayed in, unpacking and eating dinner together in the nice big kitchen.

The next morning I was up early to catch the RER B to the airport and meet Peter. I chuckled along the ride out, remembering the disastrous and humorous attempt to meet him on another Paris visit. If we had only had cell phones that time it would have been easy to handle the mishaps; this time since we did have cell phones, of course there were no problems. After napping, we hooked up with the family, found another playground for Ollie's boundless energy, did some more grocery shopping and stayed in again for dinner together, this time with Grand Pere Boppie joining us. I only got a couple of photos but Meg has some nice ones of their morning adventures while waiting for us.

May 19, 2010

Family Day Two in Paris

After sleeping in so Peter could get caught up a bit, we met everyone for lunch at Brasserie Balzar. As expected of French children, both kids behaved admirably well in the restaurant. When Ollie got antsy toward the end, I had just finished my fabulous steak tartare (my second time to Balzar to have the same thing which I just couldn't resist) so we went off to the nearby Cluny playground while the others finished up. Later in the afternoon while Ollie napped, we walked over to the Marais looking for a second stroller for him. What we found however, were some of the most fabulous little dresses for Minna, so Meg stocked up for the fall and next summer. Ollie wasn't entirely forgotten and you'll probably see a picture of him soon in his French froggie sunglasses. Perhaps tomorrow we'll have better luck finding a cheap umbroller stroller like the yellow one we used to have. We had dinner together in the big apartment kitchen and then took a neighborhood walk around Notre Dame before heading home to bed. Shots from the day.

May 20, 2010

Seeing Paris by Playgrounds

Another day, another great playground, this time at le Jardin du Luxembourg. Today we chose it specifically because the boat rental man would be there. At this time of year he's there on the weekends, but during the week only on Wednesday when French schools are off. Kids can rent sailboats and special long sticks for pushing the boats out into the center of the pond to let the wind take them wherever. The fun is in the chase around to the other side to meet the boat, push it off in a different direction and chase around again. And fun it was for Ollie who kept it up for a double boat rental that was an hour long.

Then we stopped for a bit in the kids playground on the other side of the garden before our long stroll to marvel at the selections in la Grande Epicerie, the incredible food market that's part of the department store, le Bon Marche. On the way Ollie spotted an outdoor ice cream stand, so we came back by the same corner to get him a vanilla cone. With just a few bites gone and cone in hand he came around the next corner at exactly the same moment as a little girl on her scooter. He got brushed by the scooter as she passed, and was left still standing but holding only the bottom of the cone. The whole top half with all the ice cream was knocked to the ground. We'll be looking for another ice cream place tomorrow for a replacement, and maybe chairs to sit in while it's eaten.

Our final playground stop was back on rue des Ecoles, where Ollie still had plenty of running around energy and the rest of us could sit and watch. Late in the day like that it gets pretty crowded, but Ollie squeezed his way in to try everything. As we left for home, we saw a bedraggled Mom rushing to rescue her dinner baguette from a duel between her daughter and another young girl dressed in full white fencing regalia with screened mask and foil pointed. I fear the baguette would have been the loser. Photos as always.

May 21, 2010

More Paris by Playground Days

On Thursday we got a late start and joined the kids just after they finished lunch and their visit to the zoo at the Jardin des Plantes. From there we strolled back along the river and up the main street of Ile St. Louis, relaxed while some played in the park behind Notre Dame, watched roller skaters in front of the cathedral, shopped for cheese and headed for home.

Friday we met up at the Eiffel Tower for the start of an epic day of walking that made yesterday's strolling seem like, well, a vacation. It took us from the Tour Eiffel over to a moules frites lunch on the Champs Elysees, through the Tuileries with a stop for a carousel ride, and finally back to our side of the river. Peter dubbed it the FFM, for Family Forced March, but it just made our final late afternoon cafe break all the more enjoyable. Here are our pictures but be sure to check Meg's for Minna and Boppie sharing a moka milkshake - priceless.

May 23, 2010

Final Family Days

Saturday morning Meg and I did some shopping while Jason and Peter took the kids to the Jardin du Luxembourg. When we met up with them later, Ollie was off on the far side of the playground with Jason, venturing into new territory now that he felt comfortable there. Between her little hanging bee toy and her very own toes, Minna entertained herself in her stroller, staying the very happy little girl she was throughout her visit. From the Jardin we cut through the 6th, stopping for macarons at Pierre Hermes to see if they indeed were Paris' best, and for superb steak frites at le Relais Entrecote where they specialize in that alone. We crossed the river for a stop at Dehillerin so Ollie could get some new baking equipment - be on the lookout for his Tour Eiffel cookies. Past the Pompidou we stopped at the sculpture fountain, which unfortunately is being repaired. A few of the sculptures still had their brightly colored skins on but many were just the inside black mechanicals. Nonetheless it was still a good spot for some running around time before heading back for dinner at home.

On our last family day we, and hordes of other tourists, headed for the Marais and a falafel lunch. The line was extra long at l'As du Falafel but Meg recommended Mi Va Mi across the street, with no line and tastier falafel. We stepped right up and ordered, and by the time we got our sandwiches, the line behind us was at least 20 people long. And were those sandwiches good; sitting on benches in the Place des Vosges, we just devoured them. Then it was off to the other side of the Place to the children's playground with Ollie and Minna while Jason and Meg did some unfortunately unparisian, but successful, shopping at Camper and Muji. Unable to face a last meal at the apartment, Meg made reservations again for Brasserie Balzar. Ollie got dressed up in his red checked shirt, just like Jason with his new shirt on. Just as all young French kids are trained to be, both kids were exceptionally well behaved from aperitifs and appetizers right through the final espressos. Ollie and Boppie worked on how to use a knife and how to eat properly with a fork, even for french fries, when in a fancy restaurant. One last stop at the nearby Cluny playground settled Ollie down for the night, so he was ready to head for the airport first thing in the morning. No one else needed settling down and we all headed for an early bedtime, already reliving the happy memories of our final family days of Paris by Playground.

May 24, 2010

Champs Elysees Transformed

The day Meg and Jason left turned out to be a French holiday, Whit Monday or Pentecost. Last year in Norway Trudy and I ran into this same holiday weekend with abstemious results. Wine in Norway is only available in state-run shops, all of which were closed for the last three days of our trip. Of course that was not the case in France and Peter and I have continued to enjoy our new favorite wine, Domaine du Joncier, Lirac, Cru des Cotes de Rhone, 2008, non-stop.

For the holiday weekend, the Champes Elysees was closed to traffic for an event sponsored by Nature Capitale and les Jeunes Agriculteurs. Across all six lanes, the young farmers had covered the pavement with mulch, topped with all sized boxes of plants. We metroed to the Arc de Triomphe and walked back down the Champs from there, passing through a section of enormous boxes planted with at least 20 foot trees depicting various kinds of forests. In the middle was a display of farm animals surrounded by so many kids in strollers that we couldn't really get near it. After that, came vegetable gardens, most displaying the many varieties of a single vegetable. We watched a scissor lift at the far end, hoisting professional photographers up to get that one fabulous shot sweeping all the way back up to the Arc de Triomphe.

On our earlier walk with the kids we had seen booths set up all along the lower Champs Elysees. Today they were filled with vendors from every section of France, offering up all sorts of regional specialties. We chose a sandwich lunch; one aiguillettes canard and one foie gras plus une verre du vin for just 5 euros each. At the end of all the booths a French translation of the timeless food pyramid towered above the crowds. We cut over to the river past the Grand and Petit Palais and walked home in the shade of the left bank. Photos from the day.

May 25, 2010

Revisiting le Jardin des Plantes

Since we had only stayed briefly after meeting the family there last week, we wanted to go back for a more leisurely stroll and to find le Jardin Alpin. I had looked down into it as we walked to the playground and wondered why I hadn't really noticed it before, separated by a fence from the walkway and dropped down a whole level.

Before we got to the Jardin though, we stopped for a quick tour of the Institut du Monde Arabe. Not only is the building's architecture a big draw, but there is also an outstanding viewing deck on the top floor, plus it's all open to the public and free. Then we circled around through the Faculte des Sciences buildings and arrived again at the side entrance to le Jardin des Plantes.

First off was a walk through the maze of bushes, winding up and up to the very top neoclassical tower. Along the way we passed several huge trees with signs dating them from the 1700's, and which ironically reminded me of the Marin coast, I guess mostly because of the immense Cedar tree. Down at the bottom again, having passed up the kids' shortcut through the maze, we headed for the Jardin Alpin, enticingly close but all fenced in. Getting in turned out to be tricky, until Peter pointed out the tunnel connecting to it from another garden that was not all fenced in. Coming out of the tunnel into the Alpine Garden was like entering a miniature, closely planted world of outcroppings covered with moss and tiny flowers, small steps leading up and around, and almost hidden paths under dense foliage. Once back through the tunnel we headed for the main path through the garden but were put off by windy gusts raising mini tornadoes of dust. Steering to the far side, we discovered the Iris Garden in full bloom, an apt replacement for my favorite fall display of dahlias. As with the dahlias, the iris collection was incredibly broad, showcasing much more than the basic purple. Who knew a brown iris could be so beautiful.

When we happened to walk down rue de Poissy, we made our last discovery for the day, le College des Bernardins, a renovated abbey from the 13th century now used for art displays, concerts and spiritual reflection. We wouldn't have realized it was open to the public but for a Frenchman who saw us admiring the exterior and stopped to urge us to visit inside. We had espressos in the cafe, marveled at the vaulted ceilings, admired some modern art, and reflected in silence in the small chapel - a thoughtful ending to another Paris day.

May 26, 2010

Centre Pompidou

Rainy day plans called for a museum and we chose the Pompidou. There were no lines early on, though by late afternoon when we took a break in the cafe, they were snaking around the ticket maze and jammed up at the door to get through security. We rode the escalator to the top for the view, shooting some along the way as well and hanging out a bit to see if the sun would come out over Sacre Coeur. It didn't, so we headed down to the Dreamlands exhibition.

Too bad we couldn't take any photos inside the museum because Dreamlands had many opportunities. Starting with slides of the original Dreamland that opened at Coney Island in 1904, we were truly drawn into a fantasy world, not just of entertainment but of envisioning other places and ways of life. There were reminders of the Buffalo Worlds' Fair exhibit we saw some years ago, and a Learning from Las Vegas video that I sat through twice. Once because of my familiarity and interest in Las Vegas, and twice because sitting felt so good. Peter made a note to get the Learning from Las Vegas book, and to look up two sixties references, Ron Herron's Instant City Urban Action Tune Up from and Cedric Price's Fun Palace. I discovered that Disney had actually proposed, but never built, a whole new community and city, as part of Epcot. Only the theme park was built and Walt Disney died before it was completed.

Next up was the exhibition, Promises of the Past, with the forbidding sub-title A Discontinuous History of Art in Former Eastern Europe. We went in for a quick look but stayed, fascinated by the amazing painted buildings in Tirana, the capital city of Albania, and the story of how they got that way. Edi Rama, the mayor and an artist himself, proposed painting the buildings as a way of covering up the sterile Soviet gray cement with brightly colored designs that would let the people reclaim their public space and their own independence. The transformations are just amazing, and though there was more to the show, these buildings were the highlight.

After that we needed a cafe break but cut it short because there were still two floors of the permanent collection to be seen. All our favorite names were included but most of their works on display were unfamiliar to us. That was the bonus that filled the last two rainy hours of the day and let us walk back home again under clear skies. Photos here.

May 27, 2010

Musee des Arts et Metiers

Besides providing an excellent place to stay out of the rain, Arts et Metiers had enough incredibly well crafted, and often surprisingly beautiful quotidian objects, to keep us fascinated through many days of bad weather. Only the photos can give you an idea of the variety of displays covering the time from before 1750 to after 1950. After walking through the exhibits floor by floor, coming out into the renovated church filled with ramps of old automobiles leading up to early flying machines suspended from the ceiling, was both impressive and, for me, a bit acrophobic. Best lesson learned was the three laws of robotics: first, a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; second, a robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law; third, a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law. But why should that just be for robots?

May 28, 2010

Winding Through Montmartre

Not for us is the direct upward route to Sacre Coeur. Instead, continuing the FFM tradition, Peter chose a winding walk, back and forth and up and down, so that we saw almost every neighborhood street. The photo opportunities were endless and I'm seriously considering a Montmartre apartment rental for our next Paris visit. The neighborhood vitality, the cafes with their treacherously placed tables and chairs lined up to capture the best views, the potential bargain shopping, all make me think a couple of weeks time for further exploring would be well worth it. One extra treat during our flaneuring was coming across a graffiti artist just beginning to spray paint a new work, but I'm going to cover that in a separate post when I get back home.

May 29, 2010

Maison La Roche

Exactly nine years ago today, we took the metro to the 16th arrondissement to visit Le Corbusier's Maison La Roche for the first time. Today we repeated the exact trip and found the building to be just as inspiring, if not more so. Since we were last there, the house had been renovated, with special attention to restoring the original wall colors. The dining room with its raw sienna palate was much more inviting than the stark white we had seen earlier, and the ultramarine blue in the anteroom was a complete surprise. Seeing the newly added examples of furniture specifically chosen or designed by Le Corbusier for the house, and several pieces of artwork, also gave a truer sense of the living experience within. Though we still weren't able to go out on the roof deck, access was allowed to the doorway where you could get see quite well what a wonderful space it was. Even on the gray day of our visit, the interior light quality coupled with the variety of views, both across the spaces within and out to the exterior, made for an extraordinary building that I just didn't want to leave.

About May 2010

This page contains all entries posted to hey jud in May 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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