A day of Van Gogh, Hiroshige, Madeleine church, Closerie de Lilas, Luxembourg Gardens

The next day, Tuesday January 22, we went to the Pinacothèque gallery on the Place de la Madeleine to see a twin show, Van Gogh, rêves du Japon together with Hiroshige, l’art du voyage.

Unfortunately, the guidebooks for the show weren't available in English. Time to brush up on my French.

I forgot to take my own shot of the gallery, so here's the Google street view of the Pinacotheque. Love the blurred out face on the poster.

We had been at the Pinacothèque before in 2010 to see a Munch show. Quite an enlightening show when all most people know of Munch is The Scream.

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Edward Hopper and Le Foodist dinner for 12 on the Seine by the Notre Dame

Most people know at least a few of Edward Hopper’s iconic images, the most popular being Nighthawks as the Diner. But given that this show was at the Grand Palais, we knew we were in for a big show.

Found this shot online. Wish the Grand Palais was like this when we were there. It was a popular show, and it was full, even on a Monday.

It was a blockbuster show, about 160 pieces from early sketches in his youth to paintings completed just before he died in 1967. The Parisian angle was that during the 1910s he made three trips to Paris to paint and study. One has the feeling that the French like the notion that anyone wanting to be a real artist has to come to France first, more specifically Paris.

After the show, we made a quick pit stop at the apartment, and headed out for the dinner we had reserved on the pénuche (flat-bottom barge), Bateau Daphné, on the Quai Montebello, which is right at the Notre Dame (around the corner from the apartment we had in 2012).

Looking in at the table setting, Notre Dame reflections in the glass.

The table is set, waiting for the guests.

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Birthday lunch at the Jules Verne on the Eiffel Tower

Monday, January 21 was my 60th birthday which was one of the reasons we were in Paris in January. Actually, we don’t really need a reason.

Paris breakfast

Start the day off slowly. Bread from Poilâne, preserves, cheese, coffee.

I had booked two special meals for us that day starting with lunch at the Jules Verne restaurant on the Eiffel Tower. While a restaurant like this may seem like the ultimate tourist trap, it is done very, very well. It’s managed by the Alain Ducasse organization which oversees top-end restaurants and inns around the world and know how to keep an eye on the details. Here’s what Ducasse says, “The Jules Verne has no other ambition than to remain true to itself: the most beautiful place in Paris to enjoy all the pleasures of contemporary and accessible French cuisine “. That’s about right….

On the Champs de Mars on way to the tower

On the Champs de Mars on way to the tower.

There’s a smart reservation policy in place given that it’s a global attraction – they accept online bookings only. So, no frantic long distance phone calls or mishaps. We booked months in advance and it worked out perfectly. Read the rest of this entry »


Napoleon’s tomb, French military history, Soutine, Paris ferris wheel…

It was Sunday morning and we got off to a slow start. I was up a bit early and decided to go out for a little photo walk in the Paris snow. It was just a couple of blocks to the Invalides so I headed over.

The dome of the Invalides tomb with the hospital building in foreground.

OK, this guy must be a tourist. No way any Frenchman is doing this!

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A Van Gogh or no?

A little break from Paris…. but here’s some local Van Gogh content.

Recently, we went to an art fair in Toronto. These are becoming popular around the globe with the most famous being the one held in Venice. The Toronto fair saw most of the major local galleries exhibiting along with a few from Europe and a notable one from Korea.

Like any trade show, this fair had a number of big booths down the centre with smaller ones relegated to the farther corners. We were nearly finished when I realized I hadn’t been down the furthest aisle.

I was glad I took the time. In the small booth of the de Jong Gallery, I was confronted with this:

A painting that looks like one of Van Gogh's cypresses, but also potentially a fake by Wacker.

The gallery owners, Monica and Michael de Jong, had a story about this painting. It's been much written about and debated.

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Dinner at Café Constant, Parisian art nouveau and more walking

From Serge’s deserted love palace we made our way home, stopping at Eric Kayser for bread (numerous locations in Paris, all good) and Nicholas for wine. Was surprised to see the most amazing vintages at Nicholas going for 50 – 60 Euros. Wow!

Cannons at Invalides, Eiffel Tower

The moat in front of Invalides, protected by cannons. Walked past here many times from the 5th and 6th back to our apartment in the 7th.

We were completely blissed out walking along Blvd St Germain and Rue de Grenelle on the way home. A bit tired, but feeling incredibly lucky to be here in this bright white beautiful city. Took some photos as we made our way to our apartment. After a little rest it was time for dinner. Read the rest of this entry »


Our favourite museum restaurant

From the apartment if was a fairly easy walk over to the Musée d’Orsay where we would have lunch and see the show Impressionism and Fashion. On our last trip we had discovered the restaurant on the second floor – what a find! We knew about the more casual one on the 5th floor behind the big clock – worth going to just for the view, but essentially it’s a cafeteria – but we wanted to go back to the more luxe one on the second.

Lunch, well, more accurately dessert in one of our favourite rooms.

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Back to Paris, this time in the winter

January 2013 was approaching and that meant a birthday for me that ends in a 0. What to do?

There’s an easy answer. Go to Paris.

I had never been to Paris in the winter. It wasn’t the typical time to go and I liked that. I know Paris in January can be damp and miserable, but I was willing to chance it.

Invalides in the snow

Our apartment was just east of Invalides and Napoleon's tomb. It kept snowing.

In November, we firmed up the dates. Leave on Friday night January 18, come back on Sunday the 27th. Got our airline tickets and then had to figure out where to stay. Read the rest of this entry »


The Cluny for Roman and medieval history in Paris

The Cluny Gardens

The view from the gardens. It's hard to see from Blvd St. Germain because of the fence and trees, but beautiful inside.

If you do a bit of reading about Paris, you’ll know that it was originally a Roman town. For example, Rue St Jacques is built over an original Roman road (lead to Rome one supposes). And right nearby, on Blvd St Germain at Blvd Saint-Michel you’ll find a site most people refer to simply as Cluny. Read the rest of this entry »


The Pantheon, a great building for the “great men”

The Pantheon is a building with an interesting background. It was originally commissioned by King Louis XV in 1755. He had a serious illness, and apparently made a deal with God that he would build a church if he recovered, and sure enough when he did, he commissioned what was originally called Abbey Sainte-Geneviève.

Pantheon Front

An imposing front entrance. Doesn't feel like a church at all, but then it was altered from its original drawings a number of times, so who knows what the original plan was.

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