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Only in Paris

"Family Romance" sculpture by Charles Ray, Centre Pompidou
"Family Romance" sculpture by Charles Ray, Centre Pompidou

A REAL FAKE THEATER IN MY “HOOD”

At the very bottom of rue de Saintonge is a theater hidden behind walls that look like any others. I pass it regularly and wonder each time what it looks like inside. For all the years I’ve lived nearby, there was no sign of life…until recently. Now, there are signs of activity and posted on the newly refaced building is a sign showing the legal permits for the reconstruction of the Hôtel Le Boudoir des Muses.

Signage for the soon to be Hotel Le Boudoir des Muse in Paris

The press call it a “real fake theater” which once hosted a helmet factory for the army, but will soon become a hotel. Stories have gotten passed around for years about this supposedly haunted theater at number 6, abandoned and listed in the Supplementary Inventory of Historical Monuments (ISMH) since June 5, 1972. In his book about the Marais, Alexandre Gady writes that the structure “contains an astonishing room on three levels all in wood which has been known incorrectly to have been a “Directoire” theater. The Directoire was a period that lasted four years—from 1795 to 1799—a transitional style which formed a connecting link between the Louis XVI and Empire styles. In a word, it was the Louis XVI ending, and the Empire beginning.

The facade of the soon to be Hotel le Boudoir des Muses

Some articles about it say there has probably never been a theater at number 6 rue de Saintonge because the theater of the Muses was located a few numbers away. I don’t believe that, given the structure that exists there, which looks very much like a theater. Nonetheless, a hotel will soon be opened there, if we are to believe the sign affixed to the facade. Issued on December 11, 2015, the building permit established in the name of the real estate company, SCI Six Eléphants, announcing the “rehabilitation of a building for commercial use into a tourist hotel” with a “floor area of 1,418 m2.” There is another entrance to the building at 117, rue Vieille du Temple.

The building is composed of four large circular levels around a vast central atrium. Emmanuel de Poulpiquet, director of the agency Féau Marais, with almost 40 years of experience in real estate, knows more than just about anyone since he sold this “real fake theater” in 2000 and told the press: “A Canadian in real estate bought it at the time on a whim, then sold it a few years later to a great photographer, Gregory Colbert, also Canadian, who never had time to take care of it, and in turn recently parted with it. The transaction with SCI Six Eléphants was concluded for €12.5 million. “In fact,” continued Emmanuel de Poulpiquet, “the building has been empty since 1980, the year of the sudden death of the antique dealer who had acquired the property lot by lot to turn it into an exhibition gallery. It is to her that we owe a part of the decor which decorates the place, but she did not have the time to complete the work she had undertaken. Her associates kept the building as it was until 2000.”

The interior atrium of the building soon to be the Hotel le Boudoir des Muses

Another article I found about it claims that it was closed in 1807 by order of Napoleon because “the ladies who exhibited there were too promiscuous…” But no one is certain of this explanation. It is true that Napoleon, suspicious and wishing above all to ensure order, had the theaters monitored, which the Prefect Dubois and his minister Fouché zealously applied. Except for these few elements, little is known about the theater (if it ever was one). It was “rediscovered” in 1965, at the end of the courtyard in the buildings, which until the Revolution, sheltered the Convent of the Daughters of Calvary. The Mayor of the 3rd arrondissement, when questioned on the subject, affirms that its previous owner, the known Canadian photographer, had respected the place.

Interior view of the building soon to be the Hotel le Boudoir des Muses in Paris

The press started talking about the theater at the end of 2009 when the building had been occupied for several weeks by the Mission Squat Médecins du Monde. And this is as much as is known about this mystery building just down the street from me.

For more information, visit their Facebook page.

NUDITY IN THE CITY OF LIGHT

Only in Paris…believe it or not, nudists were invited to peruse the Palais de Tokyo on May 5th to admire the art. I wasn’t there (shucks!), but CNN was, who reported on it.

I can’t reproduce the photos without copyright permissions, so you’re just going to have to see them for yourself, incredulous as they may seem. The only other place on the planet I can conceive of which would entertain such an idea is Germany…but don’t ask me why I think that!

Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of lifelike nudity in Paris, without the warm bodies. At the Centre Pompidou, Charles Ray (no, not Ray Charles) is having his first major monographic exhibition. This is an artist who was born in Chicago in 1953, but currently lives and works in Los Angeles. At the same time, La Bourse de Commerce–Pinault Collection is dedicating an exhibition of his work in close collaboration with the Centre Pompidou.

Life-size sculpture of a woman in a red dress by Charles Ray

Sculpture by Charles Ray

I can’t publish the frontal view of his “Family Romance” sculpture, consisting of two adults and two children, a male and female of each, but I can publish their backsides, which amazingly resemble the photo in CNN’s article about the nudist visit at the Palais de Tokyo.

DEPRESSED OR DEPRAVED

At the adjacent gallery (number 1) at the Centre Pompidou is “Germany/The 1920s/New Objectivity/August Sander”—on until September 5th, 2022. Don’t go unless you a) want to be depressed, b) love August Sander’s photographic work, like I do, or c) are fascinated by German culture and want to understand why only one photograph of one woman shows anything resembling happiness! The entire mood of the exhibition is Germanic with a Capital G. “Germans are stoic people who strive for perfectionism and precision in all aspects of their lives. They do not admit faults, even jokingly, and rarely hand out compliments. At first their attitude may seem unfriendly, but there is a keen sense of community and social conscience and a desire to belong.” (Source)

Poster for the August Sander exhibition at the Pompidou in Paris

The “multidisciplinary exhibition” is “dedicated to the artistic trend of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) in Germany and a large panorama of German art in the late 1920s.” The exhibition is massive and requires a lot of time to give it an in-depth look, but I found it torturous and couldn’t wait to escape, in spite of my love for Sander’s photos. If you know Otto Dix’s work, then you know exactly what I mean about “depressing” although my friend, Brenda, remarked, “The subjects of these works were either depressed or depraved.”

Photo by August Sander of the painting by Otto Dix

On the left, a painting by Otto Dix; on the right, a photo by August Sander

I’d skip this one, if I were you! But, don’t miss the fabulous views of the city from the sixth floor of the contemporary art museum!

The amazing view from the top of the Pompidou in Paris

LUXEMBOURG GEOMETRY

Blooming flower gardens at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris

Strolling through the Luxembourg Gardens on Sunday afternoon, before the rains came down, I noticed what a perfect time of year this is to visit the park. The chestnuts are in full regalia, the potted palm trees are placed in an arc around the central fountains, the flowers have come up nicely forming perfectly geometric patterns as only the French can do with living plants and the Statue of Liberty hides in a discreet spot that surprisingly seems to be found by many park visitors.

The Statue of Liberty in a corner of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris

PUPPY DOG EYES

We all see it—dogs that look just like their owners. My daughter spotted it on rue des Cannettes—an irresistible bulldog with his owner that proves the point. Actually, it’s scientifically proven that owners tend to look similar to their pups. A study published in 2004 n the journal Psychological Science found that photos of dogs and their owners were easily matched just based solely on physical similarities. Then in 2015, a study published in the journal Anthrozoös pointed out that similar eyes are what give it mostly away.

Bulldog and owner look alikes in Paris

Do you somehow resemble your canine?

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds with her "God-Dog," SimoneAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Adrian with her “God-Dog,” Simone

Montage of the authors speaking at Meet the Authors in NiceP.S. I’m headed to Nice this week for the Meet the Authors event on Saturday. If you’re in the “hood,” don’t miss it. See our events page for more information!

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4 Comments

  1. Michael Staubes on June 6, 2022 at 8:50 am

    Could you mention D-day?

    • Adrian Leeds Group on June 6, 2022 at 9:14 am

      Thank you for leaving your comments. Adrian was writing about her weekend in Paris. We’re sure that plenty of other news publications will be covering D-Day in France.

  2. pam gates on June 6, 2022 at 4:59 pm

    Love everything you do to keep us going with beautiful Paris!

    Merci!
    Pam

  3. M. Elisabeth Fitère on June 9, 2022 at 7:07 am

    Thé German were and sill are great adepts of nudity in places as varied as park , beaches , lakes … it is a confirmed a health theory. .It’s still have many adepts and the French slowly got converted to this practice .the biggest nudist beaches and nudist ‘ s camping parks are on the Vendée coast and in the Mediterranean Sea , on the island du Levant !

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