Saturday, July 30, 2011

Slow Club's Two Cousins

Bill and I found this British video today on Andrew Sullivan's The Dish. Two Cousins features dancers Ryan Francois and Remy Kouame. A class act!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Paris Apartment 2011

Bill at the door of our 6th floor apartment in Paris.
He walks into the living room, hangs up his hat and bag,
and relaxes on the sofa/bed to read some Moravia.
I read Colette's Cheri novellas-- so gripping, so vivid!
In the afternoon, Bill usually enjoyed a power nap while I processed my photos of the day,
 and then he would wake up to our totem animal, our landlords' little leopard rug.
The Daro's kitchen is a model of functional organization. We loved it!
We had so much fun equipping our kitchen. Here's a view of our larder with coffee, olive oil, wine, potato chips, almond cookies and spaghetti. Just the necessities.
Bill enjoyed cooking in the galley kitchen. I wish you could taste these pork chops,
or these roast chickens with boiled new potatoes, which we bought at the Richard-Lenoir market,
or how about this aglio e olio pasta (olive oil, garlic and parmigiano cheese) and, of course, a green salad and a demi-baguette.
Our host, Bruno Daro, and his wife Julia, designed the state of the art bathroom.
Our friend in Toronto, Shelly Savor based one of her linocuts on one of Bruno's photos. We bought one for the Daro's and mailed it to them. They had the print framed and put it in their bathroom.
Here's a jpeg of our copy of Shelley's "Salle de Bain" print so you can see the wonderful detail she incorporated. Hand-painted too! We can't thank you enough for sharing your pied-a-terre, Bruno and Julia!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Parisian rooftops

John and I were fascinated by the views from the windows at the Daró apartment last May in Paris. I liked these chimneys and their treatments seen out the kitchen window.
But our favourite view was  from the hall window, especially at night or sunset. That's the Beaubourg on the horizon toward the right.
The rooftops further to the right often made a dramatic silhouette.
Our little slice of dusk. I think this shot looks like a scene from the animated film Les Belles Soeurs de Belleville. Fun.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Visiting Reta

Bill and I went to St Catharines to visit his mother Reta yesterday. She was in fine form -- sharp, elegant and mischievous as ever. She served us lunch, and we watched Love and Other Drugs.
Then we walked over to Coppola's, our favourite Italian restaurant in St Kitts -- the staff are so welcoming and efficient.  Their Vegeteriano Pizza is delicious.
We three shared a lovely piece of Raspberry Mousse Cake for dessert. Scrumptious!
Reta likes to stop by the Buns Master on our way home for local fruit and vegetables.
We were so stuffed that we walked straight past Mr Frostee, our heads held high, as we delivered her to her door.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

City of the Dead

In the 11th arrondissement just east of the Bastille neighbourhood in Paris, John and I revisited the Père Lachaise Cemetery. At the end of the entrance avenue, one finds Paul Albert Bartholomé's stunning Monument aux Morts dedicated to all those buried here.
It truly is a city of the dead. It has long been favoured as a resting place for the rich and famous. You can purchase a map at the gate to help navigate your way through its avenues and footpaths between the tombs and mausoleums. 
You can also join a tour group with an expert guide to find the grave sites of artists like Molière, Chopin, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Oscar Wilde, Isadora Duncan, Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Piaf, Simone Signoret and Yves Montand and even Jim Morrison just to name a few.
 Or climb the forested hill overlooking Paris on your own and wonder at the many tombs and sculptures. That's what we did and even with a map we got lost and failed to find some of the most famous resting places. Mind you many of the graves of the 20th century dead are modest compared to the grand structures and sculptures of the 19th century rich.
John, of course, revelled in photographing the details of the tombs
like these peep-holes in the metal doors hinting at the stained glass within.
We are both fascinated by the beautiful, life-sized figure of Victor Noir, a young, activist journalist shot by Prince Pierre Bonaparte in the 19th century. He lies prostrate as if he has just been killed. The handsome young man has become a hero and a fertility symbol. Women wishing to become pregnant visit his image and kiss his lips
whilst rubbing his crotch and then leave flowers in his top hat to gain the desired effect. From the gleaming metal, one can see how many visitors he has had.
John loved this touching tribute left in his left hand.
Come to wander and enjoy the interesting sculpture and the resting places of the famous.
We always find the experience both moving and restful. The major cemeteries of Europe are like none other. There is much beauty and magic to be found there.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Musée Cognacq-Jay

Another wonderful, free museum near our apartment in the Marais in Paris was the Cognacq-Jay, at 8 Rue Elzévir. The beautiful, little Hôtel Donon, built in 1575, with an 18th century extension and facade, now houses the collection of 18th century art and furniture collected by Ernest Cognacq and his wife, Marie-Louise Jaÿ.
The couple made their fortune by founding La Samartine department store in the 1st arrondissement. Their small, beautiful collection is well worth a visit.
It's also one of those intimate, little-visited museums that can be so delightful.
Bill particularly loved Marie-Louise's gorgeous 18th century bed
and this marble sculpture of a Faun and goat (1751) by Jacques-François-Joseph  Saly. It would look beautiful in our library.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Musée Carnavalet

During our stay in Paris last May, John and I walked by the gates of the Hôtel Carnavalet every day since it is situated on the major Marais street, Rue Francs-Bourgeois, which leads from Les Halles to Place des Vosges.
During the day often the gates were open and one could enter the courtyard. The building was built in 1648 and later renovated in the 18th century. It was here that the famous 17th century letter writer, Madame de Sévigné lived.
Hotel Carnavalet and its neighbour, Hotel Le Peletier, now house the huge, free museum of the history of Paris. The beautiful parterre gardens in the courtyard
are painstakingly cared for by a team of gardeners.
John took this photo of the garden and a hose that seemed to be mimicking its baroque patterns.
The museum houses objects and whole rooms dating from prehistory and Gallo-Roman periods to early 20th century furnishings. For example, in the 18th century room above a collection of figures and painting inspired by the commedia dell'arte are displayed.
John positioned the reflections "just-so" on the cover of this early edition of the works of 18th century Romantic writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau
and liked this 19th century stained-glass window from a demolished church.
Here we see him admiring a huge, stairwell mural painted by the Brunetti brothers and moved here from a demolished mansion in the St Germain neighbourhood.
Even the signage for the mural was worthy of our attention.
The bookstore for the Carnavalet Museum has many books and souvenirs related to the history of Paris. John liked this painting of Napoleon III and Baron Hausmann used on two different books on Hausmann's city planning.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Arrival in Paris

When Bill and I arrived at our apartment in Paris, Bruno our host said, "Have you heard the news?" Now this was the morning of the Canadian election and I thought, "He's heard who the new Prime Minister is?!"
"They've killed Bin Laden!" -- that was the news. We'd arrived the day Bin Laden was killed and Stephen Harper won a majority in Canada. The British Royal wedding had just happened too - witness this Parisian kiosk.