Sunday, June 19, 2011

We'll Always Have Paris...

    To quote Humphrey Bogart. I really did mean to write while we were in Paris earlier this month but... hope these posts will make up for it.
    Anyway, this time, for our week-long stay, we made our home in a different quartier--Le Marais--just north of the Pompidou Centre. The apartment was on the first floor accessible by kindly (as in not too steep) stairs or an elevator so minuscule that the two of us and our luggage couldn't fit in at the same time.
    The apartment was tiny too with a kitchen the size of a shower stall. You could literally stand in the middle and cook or do the washing-up without moving. I think, in total, we lived in about 24 square meters, and that's not the smallest apartment I've seen advertised--that was around 130 square feet.
   We took the train there and back, abandoning the Renault at Pamiers station, catching the train to Toulouse, and then whooshing across a large chunk of France on the TGV. It always fascinates me how, travelling north, as the scenery flattens out, the rooftops do too, changing from russet-y tiles to slates. Gare Montparnasse is where you land and I'd sort of forgotten that it's a 30-minute hike underground to the Montparnasse Metro station. You would think they'd have had the decency to give them different names!
   Our major reason for heading off to Paris when we did were the various art exhibitions we wanted to see. In no particular order, we took in the giant Manet exhibit at the Musée d'Orsay, works by one of the Fauvists, Kees Van Dongen at the Musée d'Art Modene. Finally, we saw a fantastic exhibition at Le Grand Palais of drawings, lithographs, paintings and--Odilon Redon was a versatile chap--designs for carpets and upholstered chairs. I love the intense gaze of the young man in the Manet above (and the waiter looking on). Put that one on my Christmas lists and, if I were a squintillionaire, here are a couple of other works I would hang on my walls.
I just loved Van Dongen's great slabs of primary colours.

Odilon Redon's malevolent Smiling Spider. Isn't this wonderfully creepy? A companion drawing--"The Crying Spider"--is in a private collection but, sadly, wasn't included in the exhibition.

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