Carefree Days and Nights in the City of Light



Spiderman at Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine, La Nuit Blanche

Carefree Days and Nights in the City of Light

 

Parler Paris Nouvellettre®
Your taste of life in Paris and France
ParlerParis.com
Monday, October 5, 2009
Paris, France

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Dear Parler Paris Reader,

There is nothing quite like taking a REAL weekend in my number one favorite city (you guessed it, Paris). It’s not often that we working residents of the City of Light actually get to enjoy it like a tourist does, but this was that kind of weekend. The computer shut down on Friday midday and the sound of “You’ve Got Mail” didn’t chime until this morning. There were simply too many things going on, not to mention a visiting friend, to do anything, but take it all in.

A few years ago a Mexican friend introduced me to the world of Flamenco by scoring cheap tickets to see Sara Baras perform Ballet Flamenco at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in the ‘nose-bleed’ seats. That didn’t matter — it was the first time to have experienced the soul of the music, singing and dance of Flamenco. I was mesmerized and made a habit of seeing her perform at every opportunity.

Then not long ago, another Mexican friend re-introduced me to a local association — “Flamenco en France” which holds performances regularly in a small theater in the 20th arrondissement on rue des Vignoles (number 33). And so it happened that Manuel Gutierrez Cabello, a dancer, accompanied by j2999é and Antonio Cortés singing with Pepe Fernandez on guitar, performed at the little theater that by showtime was SRO.

Cabello’s feet, wedged into slick leather high heeled boots, in each scene of a different color, moved so quickly that his whole body vibrated. The Cortés’ singing was so painfully soulful that their faces wrenched into contortions with each note and Fernandez’ playing was as ‘sexy’ as any Spanish guitar could be. No one wanted it to end, particularly me.

To see the video of Cabello from the torso up, click here:

Or visit:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lExCY-EDTYs

And to see the video of Cabello from the torso down, click here:

Or visit:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-bYhmDOxZs

For more information on Flamenco en France, visit:
http://flamencoenfrance.fr/

But it did end and made way for Saturday night — the annual Sleepless Night (“La Nuit Blanche”) that had everyone out on the streets to take in Contemporary
Art, whether they liked it or not!

There were three circuits this year: Buttes-Chaumont, Châtelet-Marais and Quartier Latin. It made sense to stay in the “hood” (Le Marais), as it was decided this was the perfect moment to have a special ‘vacation’ overnight at “Le Palace des Vosges” in order to be the “Guinea pigs” to test out the accommodations…make sure the appliances are working well, that the fractional ownership apartment newly completed isn’t missing anything, ensuring its comfort and functionality, etc.

The streets were awash with culture-seekers and revelers. On route to Notre Dame to see Sylvie Fleury’s “cristaux” (crystals) display, several young women were promoting “Free Hugs” and getting their fair share of them along the way. Entering the cathedral was like herding cattle into the coral, but was peaceful and easy as is always seems to be with these public events. Of note is how little security and police one sees on the streets at such potentially rowdy events — the French are so civilized and the authorities are sure to NOT take too defensive or threatening a position…so it all works well and quite orderly, plus you don’t see drinking on the streets like you might in other places, hence no drunkenness.

Nonetheless, there were several installations that got our attention: Vincent Olinet’s flowering carpet tree at the Hôtel d’Albret on rue des Francs Bourgeois, Michael Elion’s “Halo” at the Archives Nationales and in particular, Voisimages’ Spiderman at Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine. I was told by my daughter that we missed the best display of all — JR’s “Women” video at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal on boulevard Morland, although we saw part of it at the Mairie du 4ème unknowingly.

We didn’t stay up all night like much of the culture creatures of the night, anxious to test out the luxuriousness of the Place des Vosges apartment, with its claw-foot Marie-Antoinette style bathtub and Falcon gas stove. We discovered that even with all the ‘hullabaloo’ going on just outside on the square, one could hear even a pin drop in the quiet and solitude of that back corner courtyard, with its beautiful view on the Hôtel de Sully…’heaven’ in the middle of the city.

Sunday afternoon we headed across town and over the river to Boulogne-Billancourt to the Espace Landowski where every inch of Brigitte Bardot is on display in an exhibition titled “Les Années Insouciance” (The Carefree Years). In honor of her 75th birthday (28 September 1934), the French “sex kitten,” who since 1962, literally fights for the rights of cats as part of her public denouncement of the methods of slaughter of animals, was immortalized with about 2000 photos, films and mementos.

I couldn’t wait to see the images of the woman who put Saint-Tropez on the map and whose name graces my “studette” (“La Brigitte”) associated with my “viager” studio apartment, “Le Saint-Tropez,” currently under renovation for rental early next year. Scenes of her in her Saint-Tropez home provided much fodder for decorative ideas, but what I learned was way more. This is a woman who knew how to make love to the camera from her earliest years as a young child and who had a “coquettish allure like no other actress of her time”…having changed the face of movies forever.

Her illusory presence will hopefully do the same for the eight square meters of space overlooking two courtyards in Le Marais!

For more information, visit: http://www.expobrigittebardot.com/

And so the weekend came to an end, with a second viewing of “Julie and Julia” on the Champs-Elysées and light dinner on rue Trésor before saying so long to my friend and a few very carefree, but wildly culture-enriched days and nights in the City of Light.

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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