Thursday, June 20, 2013

A train through the Impressionist Countryside

From the lovely people at Paris Hotels Rive Gauche.

A train decorated with paintings from the Musée d’Orsay

To celebrate its voyage through the landscapes that inspired many an Impressionist, a train running between Saint-Lazare station in Paris and Vernon-Gisors (where you get off if you want to visit Monet’s gardens in Giverny) has just been decorated with details from paintings by Monet, Pissarro and others.
And as all the paintings in question belong to the Musée d’Orsay, there are few images in the museum too! Here are a few photos and a film of how the giant stickers were applied…Un train décoré avec des toiles du Musée d'Orsayline J just got a little less dreary – six cars of a train have just been decorated withImpressionist art, with three themes: Paris and industrialisation, water and gardens, and landscapes of line J.
Lovely-looking? Or a Gd-awful hot mess? You decide. The photos are © Christophe Recoura.
Un train décoré avec des toiles du Musée d'OrsayUn train décoré avec des toiles du Musée d'OrsayUn train décoré avec des toiles du Musée d'OrsayUn train décoré avec des toiles du Musée d'OrsayPlus d’informations : ici

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Discover Paris of the Past with help from Hotels Paris Rive Gauche

The credit for writing this intriguing post does not go to me. In October 2010 I stayed with the Hotels Paris Rive Gauche group at the Hotel du Pantheon. This fascinating retrospective is part of the newsletter they email to those interested. If you are looking for a central left bank hotel in Paris, Hotels Paris Rive Gauche have five to chose from. Based on my personal adventures, I think you will have a wonderful, welcoming experience!
Discover Paris of the past with ‘The Commons’ on Flickr

Fifty venerable organisations – libraries, archives, museums – have got together to form ‘the commons‘, an rights-free image bank packed full of interesting stuff.

For example, the photos of Paris are fascinating, with parts of the city that have completely changed…

Paris Exposition: moving sidewalk, Paris, France, 1900. Moving Sidewalk Panorama Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection (S03_06_01_014 image 9893).

We think you really should go and check out the picture of Paris on Flickr, not those taken by today’s visitors, but shots from a century ago or more.

Paris has seen a lot of grand buildings that were later destroyed, especially those that feel after the universal expositions, but the city has also retained a number of iconic monuments that look today much as they did in the early 1900s. The city has nonetheless evolved, seen important events, been drastically remodelled by Baron Haussmann, been occupied by the Nazis, been rocked by riots…

The photos of the big expositions are impressive, especially when you know that not much of their huge constructions remains apart from the Eiffel Tower, le Pont Alexandre III bridge, the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais. In some photos, it’s hard to believe that one is in Paris at all…

Paris Exposition: Champ de Mars and Eiffel Tower, Paris, France, 1900. General view of the Chateau de Mars taken from the Chateau d'Eau; Eiffel Tower prominent in view.. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection (S03_06_01_015 image 9900).

Paris Exposition: Cambodian Pavilion, Paris, France, 1900. Palace of Cambodia. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection (S03_06_01_015 image 1934).

Paris Exposition: Russian Pavilion, Paris, France, 1900. The National Pavilion of Russia. It is within the Trocadero Gardens.  Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection (S03_06_01_014 image 1554).

Paris Exposition: Italian Pavilion, Paris, France, 1900. The Pavilion of Italy located on the Eastern portion of the Quai des Nations. Royal Italian Pavilion. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection (S03_06_01_014 image 1525).

Paris Exposition: Giralda Tower of Seville, Paris, France, 1900. The Giralda Tower of Seville in the distance. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection (S03_06_01_015 image 1983).

Paris Exposition: Palace of Electricity, Paris, France, 1900. Interior of the Palais de l'Electricite. Machinery Building. Paris Exposition. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection (S03_06_01_014 image 1536).

Paris Exposition: Swedish Pavilion, Paris, France, 1900. The Pavilion of Sweden located on the western portion of the Quai des Nations.  Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection (S03_06_01_014 image 1555).

Paris Exposition: Vieux Paris (Old Paris), Paris, France, 1900. Vieux Paris: restoration of Old Paris Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection (S03_06_01_015 image 2114).

Other photos show everyday, yet extraordinary, events…

Paris -- German Shop smashed by mob , between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915

Paris Fashions, 1912 1912 (date created or published later by Bain)

Barricade at Paris gate, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915

Taking Taxi from hole in Paris street, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915

Paris -- Newsboys waiting for "Extras" , between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915
You’ll bump into some celebrities too, like the Statue of Liberty, Salvador Dalí and the sculpture prepared for Oscar Wilde‘s grave, which is still in place today in Père Lachaise and has just been restored…

Digital ID: 1161043. View of the external area of the workshop in Paris, showing construction materials, the head of the Statue of Liberty, and a group of men gathered in front of the left foot of the statue. Fernique, Albert - Photographer. 1883

Portrait of Salvador Dali, Paris. Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964, photographer. 1934 June 16

Monument of Oscar Wilde, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915
And the area around our hotels is also well represented, with the Hôtel de Cluny (Cluny Museum) covered in lush ivy that is gone today, the Medici fountain in the Luxembourg Garden almost unchanged, and the Pantheon. But hey! What’s that on the right-hand side of the photo? Gosh, it’s the Hôtel du Panthéon! How amusing!

Paris - Hôtel de Cluny L. P. Giraudon (French, established 1877-present). Photograph date: ca. 1877-ca. 1895 Building Date: 1163-1345. Collection: A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library

Paris. Medici Fountain, Gardens of the Palais du Luxembourg. Architect: Salomon de Brosse (French, 1571-1626) Photographer: Bisson Freres (French, 1841-1862) Photograph date: 1857 Garden date: 1611-1629. Collection: A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library

Paris. Panthéon. Architect: Jacques-Germain Soufflot (French, 1713-1780) Photographer: Bisson Freres (French, 1841-1862). Photograph date: 1858 Building Date: 1757-1790. Collection: A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library

There are almost 900 photos to see in all, and wading through them is a wonderful way to see life as it was here 100 years ago.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Rue Descartes

photo: copyright Hazel Smith 2010

Photo copyright Hazel Smith 2010

Photo: copyright Hazel Smith 2010

The gist of this poem by Yves Bonnefoy is that although we pass a dirty city tree and look right through it, this is might be enough to remind us that it's still a part of nature, along with the sky, the birds and the wind. The poet asks the philosopher if he has looked at this tree on his street, if he did his thoughts will be freer.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Le Temps Passe Vite

I can't believe it's been a more than a year. Before winter falls, here are some more pictures of Giverny.

I didn't see him until now. I'll just pretend he's a ghost.

There are worse jobs.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Midnight in Paris

"Talk about a fulfilling movie. That's the kind of movie I could sit through again immediately" That's the sort of remarkable thing my husband sometimes says and what he said to my son and me as we exited our local rep cinema after watching Woody Allen's latest foray, Midnight in Paris. Our west-end Toronto street-scape is more like the Wild West than the cobbled, curvy streets of Paris but we sauntered home, with romance in our eyes, expounding on the virtues of this great film.

We're on a bit of a Woody Allen bender at the moment; seeing Annie Hall on Friday and Manhattan on Saturday. My two men were expecting another witty, urbane rom-com and they got it. What they weren't expecting was a little time travel thrown in.

In Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson plays a Hollywood screenwriter working on his first novel. He's totally besotted with Paris; its beauty and its foibles. Disenchanted with his life, he longs for the days of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. His fiance, exhibiting the worst xenophobic American traits, and his soon-to-be-in-laws are in tow, soaking up the best Paris has to offer but putting the city and the French down at the drop of a chapeau.

Wilson's character, Gil Pender, distances himself from his betrothed, her family and their new know-it-all friends. At the stroke of midnight he magically finds the portal that takes him to his favourite time period: Paris in the 20s.

He's startled  to be hobnobbing with Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda, and Cole Porter. No explanations are given for the time warp and Gil doesn't seem to want any. He just wants to go back again, and soon.

Actor Corey Stoll plays an excellent Hemingway; "Who wants to fight?". Marion Cotillard is Gil's 1920s lovely love interest. In another hiccup in time, Adriana (Cotillard) and Gil find themselves face to face with Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas and Gauguin.

Rachel McAdams plays Inez, Gil's fiance. Michael Sheen (whom I saw arm-in arm with McAdams on Toronto's Bloor Street, yay!)  plays their pendantic friend. France's First Lady Carla Bruni has a cameo as a guide at the Rodin Museum.

When I saw Kathy Bates' name in the opening credits, I thought who could she be but Gertrude Stein. Check mark! The Surrealists had no problem at all with Gil's time travel. Adrien Brody's turn as Dali (Rhinoceros!) was so perfect I had to see it again. I told my husband I wanted to rent the film as soon as it came out.  "Rent it," he said, "I want to buy it." Could there be a better endorsement?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Paris Piquant by Philippa Campsie

Le Comptoir Colonial.   photo: copyright Philippa Campsie and Norman Ball

So many flavours, so little time...

Philippa Campsie, professor at the University of Toronto and a blogger about things Parisian at Parisian Fields, has been writing about the more piquant side of Paris. Yes, there is more to Paris than the ubiquitous macaron. Here's a link to her article at Bonjour Paris.

Insider's Guide to Paris - Articles | Travel + Leisure

Auberge Ravoux, photo Hazel Smith

Despite the fact that I found ordering and eating out alone in Paris the most daunting of tasks, I did manage to have the requisite crepe, Berthillon ice cream, macaron, and onion soup and chocolat chaud on my trip to Paris in 2010.

There are many reasons to love Paris - food is only one of them. When my husband and I were younger and on a shoestring budget we were downright afraid to enter Parisian restaurants. Especially after he ordered a andouille sausage and the pungent chitlins and tripe slid over his plate after the initial cut. One day I ate nothing but chestnut crepes from a hole-in-the-wall window and Mentos for the train trip to Amsterdam. We found a dozen other things to do in Paris besides concentrating on food.

I like good, innovative food but, akin to drinking good wine, after the third glass it all tastes the same to me. For me, it's the surroundings, and the ambience - the way that the waitress had to cross the street and fill up her canvas bag with bread from the bakers so I could have a Croque Monsieur - or that I could sit and people watch at the end of the school day as little girls, Madeleine-like, with their swinging coats and satchels hurried home with their Papas. Some people care about their food a lot. Here's an article from Travel and Leisure. The first 12 pages detail cool and classic foodie destinations in Paris.
Insider's Guide to Paris - Articles | Travel + Leisure