Paris: The Photographer’s Dream Backdrop
After dinner with a friend Friday night at one of my favorite restaurants in the 6th arrondissement (“Le Mazarin,” which I consider to be one of the few real French bistrots left in this district, thanks to the onslaught of tourist-traps, 42, rue Mazarine), I chose to walk home rather than Métro, bus, “Vélib” or taxi. The route from Point A (Saint-Germain-des-Prés) to Point B (the “haut Marais”) can always be different and IS always beautiful, no matter which is chosen.
That evening I let my nose take lead down rue Saint-André-des-Arts to Place Saint-Michel, traversing the Latin Quarter along rue de la Huchette (where the Greek restaurants still smash white plates on the street to attract diners), then to stop at Shakespeare & Company on rue de la Bûcherie for a brief look at the newest books on Paris, of which there are many. (It’s the world’s most visited city, and also the most written about.)
After a while, having made no purchase, I continued on the route taking a right along the northern side of Nôtre Dame to cross the Pont Saint-Louis and the Ile-Saint-Louis where the lines were still long to buy a cone or cup of Berthillon ice cream, then on and over to the Right Bank, looking down from the bridge onto Paris Plage where games of “boules” were being played. Just beyond, rue Pont Louis Philippe has gorgeous shops to ogle (just having ordered some special hand-painted furnishings at “Absolu,” number 5/7) where I moseyed up taking in the “eye candy” then crossing rue de Rivoli to rue Vieille du Temple. There I stopped for a drink at my favorite café, L’Etoile Manquante, which has a perfect people-watching perspective down rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie, before finally reaching home about midnight.
The entire route was awash with late-night strollers and street performers attracting much attention. I had a trusty digital camera in hand to capture what glorious sights there were. Shooting Paris at night, properly capturing its illuminated beauty, is
no easy task, but any day, any time, Paris makes a photographer’s backdrop a dream come true.
That was true for Willy Maywald. In a tribute to this German-born photographer, the Musée Carnavalet has on exhibition till September 30th, approximately 250 recently acquired works by donation taken pre-and post-war…of daily life, the streets of Paris, construction of the World Exhibition in 1937, inside artists’ workshops in Montparnasse and post-war portraits of celebrities and fashion shots for Christian Dior, Jacques Heim and Jacques Fath. Paris was a natural backdrop for his creative talent, illustrating his strong links with the French capital city throughout his life.
Sunday afternoon was the perfect moment to view this magnificent body of work, while the rain came pouring down, stopping just in time after the visit to take in the rays of the sun in the perfectly manicured formal garden of the Hôtel Carnavalet (23, rue de Sévigné, 4th). The garden is also accessible from rue des Francs Bourgeois without having to enter the museum. As an added bonus, the museum bookshop is selling a limited edition special hard-cover book of his photos at the ridiculous price of 12€, but don’t wait long as there was only a short stack to be had.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
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