Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bonaparte Meets Monet and they talk of Proust and Medieval Illuminations (Paris)

Mamie and I just settled into a movie on arte about a coquettish woman in Paris 1900 - parfait! - so tonight will be brief, too brief, chers amis. :-) I'm always kind of ridiculous about leaving Paris and want to hang on to it to the very, very end - an arte movie about Paris c. 1900 is ideal. So was starting the day at Bon Marché at Sèvres-Babylone and finding teeny-tiny somethings for the kids (hi, guys!) - Bon Marché proved anything but, but the Epicerie was fabulous and the Monoprix provided amply for the kiddies.

Then off to lunch at one of my favorite places, the Café Bonaparte right near Saint-Germain-des-Prés. I used to go there as a grad student, to be close to the great church, but not spend all my money at the nearby Deux Magots. The waiters are really nice, too. And the glasses.

Happy memories!

With a salad Niçoise like this one, of course I'm happy!

Today, it was really all 19th century, now that I think about it (does Paris really move so often in themes of centuries?). I've been curious about the Musée Marmottan Monet for a while but (art history snob that I am) had held off on seeing too, too much Impressionist art. Boy was I wrong. The Monets are lush an surprising (many late period pieces) and there are lots of Berthe Morisots. The special exhibits are brilliant. The banner to the right announces the Salons held by women and frequented by Proust. What a world! First of all: that young man sure made the rounds - many, many salons (why do I always think of cucumber sandwiches as well as intrigue?). Second of all: these were really cool women: American heiresses, French women, loads of money, huge houses, all these young fervent ideological men - what a mix! And they themselves, these women, were painters and poets in their own right. We discovered Madeleine Lamaire, whose roses Degas described as being painted "with their dew." You may be wondering about the other banner - an utterly unexpected presentation of the Wildenstein collection of manuscripts - splendid! with quite a history. More on this as I photograph images from the catalogue.

The 16th is a whole other universe in Paris - unspeakably beautiful homes (lots of Art Nouveau architecture), many many parks, and tree-lined alleys such as this one. Mamie and I took the 63 bus which stretches through Saint-Germain, crossing the Seine at Place d'Iéna. This means that you get to see the Alexander III bridge and the Eiffel Tower. The kids won't believe that I was in Paris because I missed taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower - but I was here, guys, I promise!

And who lives here?

There's a little restaurant that has six tables across from the Hotel and it's called La Cambuse and I've eaten there alone several times. And tonight I had my mom with me, and the proprietor took this picture, and it makes me very happy indeed. And now this movie is on with its wonderful exploration of Salons just like the one we saw in the exhibition. Bonne nuit, Paris - until next time!

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