I met Claudia, and we went to an exhibition at the Cartier Fondation de l’Art Contemporain with an artist called Ron Mueck, a hyperrealist sculptor. He makes these incredibly life-like sculptures of all different sort of people. The exhibition had about 7 of his pieces. The one I thought was the best was an older couple sitting under a parasol. It really was amazing how real it looked, appart from the fact that it was quite large, you could see shaving spots on the woman’s legs, individual hairs on the eyebrows, and veins under the skin. He also did a woman carrying shopping bags and a baby tucked in her coat, one of a young couple and also one of the artists face which was rather eery. We then watched a documentary which showed how he had made these models which was fascinating. It takes a lot of work! We both really enjoyed the exhibition and I’d definitely go and see his work again if I had the opportunity.
Afterwards I went to Père Lachaise cemetery which I had long wanted to visit. I saw the graves of the great french writers Molière, La Fontaine, Balzac. And the famous grave of Oscar Wilde which is now clean, no longer covered with kisses, protected with glass and surrounded by a metal barrier…. It somewhat took the magic out of it I must say. The cemetery felt so very peaceful, and though huge, I enjoyed walking around it as it was such a beautiful day.
In my final week in Paris, we took a train out to Versailles to visit the world renowned palace. I had wanted to visit Versailles for so long, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. We were greeted with bright gold gates and an enormous palace behind. We walked straight through and out into the palatial gardens which were immaculately kept, and guarded by white marble statues. After a picnic on the steps outside the palace, we walked around the gardens whilst the weather was nice. I loved the main fountain which stood at the top of the long lake, called the Apollo fountain – he rides in a chariot, bursting out of the water pulled by gilded horses. It really is magnificent. We also saw Marie Antoinettes country house, which had a lovely flower garden. It soon started to rain so we went in the main palace, and walked around the kings and the queens apartments, both of which comprised of room upon room each in turn as lavish and ornate as the last. We all had the free audio guide which informed us about each room, and the significance of it. I saw the little doorway which Marie Antoinette escaped through with her children when the rioters arrived! My favourite room was the grandest of all, the hall of mirrors, La Grande Galerie, which was less of a room with lots of mirrors, but a long gallery with windows overlooking the gardens and the most beautiful chandeliers. The height of splendeur, where the masked ball for the wedding of Marie-Antoinette and the Dauphin was held. It was also here that the treaty of Versailles was signed on 28th June 1919, which sealed the end of the First World War. And apparently still used today by the presidents of the Republic of France to receive official guests..
Marie Antoinettes bed
The grounds of Versailles
The largest painting in Europe
On sunday, I took Pandora to my weekly market, and she couldn’t believe how many roast chickens there were! We then went to the Arc de Triumphe and climbed to the top to see my favourite view of Paris. After all the stairs, a Ladurée macaron was well deserved, and as usual they were to die for. We even got a free one each in the queue which we were chuffed with. We then walked to the Musée Rodin, and saw some impressive statues.
We walked through the Jardin de Luxembourg on the way to dinner, and watched some old men play Boules for a while, then went into the Pantheon, (famous for Foucault’s pendulum which unfortunately has been removed for 3 years!) and in the crypts we saw Victor Hugo’s tomb along with many other celebrated Frenchmen. For dinner we went Au P’tit Grec for the best savoury crepe in Paris. We had the galette du chef with mozzarella ham, onions, tomatos and lettuce – delicious! Then we had to go home for Pandoras massive bag (full of all my stuff) and go to the Gare du Nord, I was sad to see her go.
This weekend, there was a brocante on Avenue d’Italie! I had high hopes, but unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as those the south of France offer. There were quite a few stalls with a huge variety of things for sale, including a tarantula in a box! Lots of exotic stalls, one had lots of artefacts from China, traditional paintbrushes etc. We got the tube to Opéra and then to Uniqlo, who had done a collaboration with Ladurée to make the most lovely T-shirts! Pandora bought me one with macarons all over it – my favourite Parisian sweetie. We then got the metro to the Musée Marmottan Monet which has a large collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works, including some lovely Monet landscapes. We also saw an exhibition on Marie Laurencin, who painted during La Belle Epoque in Paris. From there we walked to the Eiffel Tower, and then onto the Palais de Tokyo to see an exhibition on Chanel No.5. We had to queue for a little bit, but the sun was out and it was worth the wait. It was an exhibition all about the life of Gabrielle Chanel, and how she created Chanel No.5. The name we learnt actually came about because it was the name of the sample created in the lab and also her lucky number. After the expo, we watched all the adverts for the perfume, including Pandora’s favourite by Baz Luhrmann. We sat there for a while and then went to meet Adam for dinner at Aux 2 Oliviers. For starters I had a creme brulée of Foie Gras with spiced toast which was unusual but yum, and followed by duck, with mashed potato and a wine poached pear. Overall we decided: ★★★
For dessert I took Pandora for a Berthillon ice cream on Ile Saint-Louis, I had salted caramel flavour and she had while chocolate!
Last friday Pandora arrived in the morning, and we started our day with a giant buttery pain au chocolat! We then ventured into the centre of Paris, walking through the flower market to Shakespeare & Co. Then I took her to the Haute Couture exhibition at the Hotel de Ville where we saw lots of amazing dresses, including the classic chanel suits. Afterwards we went to get a falafel to share from our favourite falafel shop – Chez Hana, which we devoured, on our way to the Pompidou centre. Even though I had been before there was a lot of new pieces I hadn’t seen, some of which were great. The one Pandora liked in particular was one of women praying, all in lines about 30 of them and the shapes of their bodies had been used to create moulds out of tin foil. The effect of them all lined up and each a different shape was very effective.. There was also a new exhibition by Jesús Rafael Soto, who similar to the artists in Dynamo created optical illusions with his art. We had to walk through these suspended skinny plastic poles one by one. We went back home and cooked dinner and watched a new french film about an old couple, called Amour. It was very sad!
Last week we went on a day trip to visit Le Château de Fontainebleau. I had never before seen photos, so wasn’t quite sure what to expect but the image in my head was somewhat of a small castle in a little Paris suburb. How wrong I was, the castle was HUGE! As were the grounds, all perfectly trimmed, square lakes with swans gliding along, preened cone shaped bushes and a horse and cart to complete this idealistic little spot.
It took us a while to get there as we missed our train with a ticket fiasco, then had to wait for a bus from the station to the Château, but eventually we arrived and found a little patch of grass to eat our picnic. Annoyingly there was a grass warden so we were soon bustled inside the Château. It was beautiful inside, the rooms were magnificent, such grandeur and luxury, chandeliers in every room, gold lacquered ceilings, ball rooms, murals, tapestries…. I could go on. I was amazed by it, but it really made me even more excited to visit Versailles which is I’ve heard even more grand and exquisite. At the end of the day we went on a little boat trip and had dinner at a little italian place in the village.
I met my friends at a burger place called Blend, so trendy that it asked to be instagrammed on the menu! But the burgers were delicious, I had the signature burger, with caramelised onions, bacon, blue cheese, emmental and fresh spinach in a brioche bun, with french fries….
Afterwards we went to the long awaited expo at the Grand Palais – Dynamo. Described as a celebration of the conceptual and visual fireworks of ‘perceptual art’, which takes a malicious pleasure in confusing the viewer. There were light installations, optical arts and mechanical sculptures. It was a stunning exhibition