A Tourist in My Own Town
Trekking to the top of the Eiffel Tower was just the beginning of behaving like a tourist in my own town.
At the Louvre we saw the ever charming and smiling Mona Lisa discussing why she is the most famous painting in the world. It wasn’t difficult to get lost in its endless corridors and chuckle that it would make a great title for a book: “Lost in the Louvre.” We were awed by the opulent interiors of the Second Empire Napoleon III Apartments with their gilded bronze decoration and painted ceilings and overwhelmed by the museum’s vast collection of antiquities. Le Louvre is not just for first time tourists — but for every-time tourists, don’t you agree? For more information visit http://www.louvre.fr
Is it completely coincidental that the brothers whose name is “Lumière” (Auguste and Louis, “lumière” meaning “light”) should have invented the “autochrome” color photography process? It was patented in 1903 in France and remained the principal process until the advent of color film in the 1930’s. At the Hôtel de Ville, the free exhibition “Paris en Couleurs: des Frères Lumière à Martin Parr” opened in December (on until March 31st), but the line to enter the striking red-backdropped showing of more than 300 works was always too long to consider. Thanks to inclement weather all last week, only the hardiest of tourists (such as ourselves) persevered and entered with no wait at all! If you love Paris, you will love seeing photos of the city in color from long ago eras that knew only black and white. I suggest a different name for this exhibition: “Paris: La Ville de Lu
mière” (Paris: The City of Light). For more information, visit http://www.paris.fr
If you can’t get enough reminiscent images of the City of Light (like the photo-junkie I am), the Maison Européenne de la Photographie is showing Edouard Boubat’s humanistic view on the world through his memorable photos (until March 30th). Born and raised in Montmartre, Jacques Prévert called him a “Peace Correspondent,” having “traveled through France and around the world as a reporter, capturing fleeting moments of happiness.” The retrospective presents over 150 images, from his first photograph (“La petite fille aux feuilles mortes”) to his late photogrammes. By Sunday afternoon, the weather had became stunningly sunny and beautiful, so the lines to enter ran down and around the block. Before 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon is the best time to arrive for a shorter wait. For more information, visit http://www.mep-fr.org
For a good laugh, we tapped into Karel Beer’s Laughing Matters stand-up comedians. The “one and only, uniquely inimitably, original” British Simon “I’m not a pot-head” Munnery played at La Java last Tuesday (105, rue du faubourg du Temple, 10th), coincidently all the while tapping into beer after beer until he was ‘pissed’ (English expression) and even funnier. Munnery, a.k.a. Billy Buckethead and Alan Parker, the Urban Warrior and The League Against Tedium, performs mainly to an “alternative audience” but went mainstream on a BBC Radio show in 1997 and television series “Attention Scum!” in 2001. For more information, visit http://www.anythingmatters.com or call Karel Beer at 01.53.19.98.88 to be on his emailing list so you’ll always know what’s in store on the comedy scene.
In 2007, I recorded having dined at more than 400 restaurants in Paris (that’s almost eight per week) at an average of 20€ per meal! Not bad considering most French meals consist of two to three courses, wine and coffee! Last week was no different, except that a few ‘never-had-tried’ were tried. Auberge Nicolas Flamel, in the oldest house in Paris (1407) on rue Montmorency in the 3rd, was a particular treat. Ancient under the 15th-century beams and contemporary all at the same time, much like the contrast of Le Louvre and its Pyramid, it’s a romantic setting and a class A dining experience. Reserve now for Alan Al Geaam’s Saint Valentine’s Day’s Special Menu at 49€ or 69€ (with drinks) by visiting their Web site at http://auberge-nicolas-flamel.f
Findi Italian Restaurant on avenue George V (number 24) was a perfect pre-theater dining spot. Entering down the long staircase puts you and the diners on show, particularly if you have the key table at the bottom of the stairs as we did. Decor is elegant, cuisine excellent and service impeccable. For more information and again, to reserve for the Saint Valentine’s Day’s Special Menu (69€) visit http://www.findi.net
Findi is just down the street from the Crazy Horse Saloon, for a little Sex in the City of Light to round out the perfect week of playing tourist in my own town. There is simply nothing like the Crazy Horse. The dancers are nude and virtually all have the same bodies — same height, same shape, same size breasts, making it almost impossible to tell one from another. Their precision dancing is perfection — not a single out-of-step movement — and the special lighting effects are like nothing you’ve ever seen. It’s an institution in Paris, opened by Alain Bernardin in 1951 and personally operated by him until his death by suicide in 1994. THE Pamela Anderson is doing four exclusive shows on February 13th and 13th, so if you’re a fan, reserve now! Visit http://www.lecrazyhorseparis.com/ for more information.
Meanwhile, 53-year-old President Nicolas Sarkozy and 40-year-old model-turned-pop singer Carla Bruni got married this weekend while we weren’t looking — only a few months since his divorce from Cecelia, threatening to drop his popularity ratings even further.
And taxi drivers went on strike against deregulation making it even more difficult than ever to spot one “libre.” Our driver was quick to point out the difficulties of earning a proper living driving a taxi and the reasons so few taxis are available have to do with restrictions on when and how they can work. For a really good article on the issue, visit http://www.bloomberg.com
All the while Vélib (free bike) riders are out in record numbers, traveling any which way they want causing accidents all around them while thinking they are pedestrians on wheels, rather than vehicles on the road that should respect the traffic rules.
And tomorrow is Super Tuesday…so Expats, don’t forget to vote…by Internet, mail/fax or in person. For more information, visit http://www.DemocratsAbroad.org or in person, you can vote tomorrow from 12 noon to 10 p.m. at the American Church in Paris, 65 quai d’Orsay, 7th.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. There are a few more spots available at “Writing from the Heart…in the Heart of Champagne…March 23-29, 2008” — a wonderful opportunity to relax in the same beautiful French village that inspired and nourished the creative genius of Pierre Auguste and Jean Renoir, among other artists; work on your writing (or begin to write for the f
irst time) with others in a nonjudgmental, supportive small-group workshop; enjoy fine French cuisine in the heart of the Champagne region; explore a beautiful and relatively undiscovered part of France just 2.5 hours away from Paris. For more information, visit /frenchproperty/conference/, email Janet Hulstrand at [email protected]or call 1-202-744-7338.