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Paris Street Walker

I've been walking the streets of Paris for the past three weeks. I don't speak French. I'm a descendant of the first French settlers of Canada, but my grandparents chose to assimilate as they worked their way down the New England coast, dropping the French language with each move. Canadian French may not be so useful after all, as films from Canada have subtitles here, but I only wish. For the most part I've picked up enough to get by and many Parisians speak several languages including English -- I'm working on it.

The advantages of a longterm stay in this city are many. My favorite is not having to rush in tourist mode, checking off a to-do list: I can get lost, go with the flow, and enjoy the amazing light that makes this city so special to me. I arrived at the end of August, the last of the tourist crush. The Louvre was a mob scene, no different than the Met has been, I might add. It's wonderful that so many consider the great museums as destinations. Whole families are experiencing art, many for the first time, and these crowds bring in big money. My one suggestion is, please, look at the art, it's the real deal. Put the cameras away! That's coming from someone who has no problem with taking a few snaps in the galleries. It's gotten crazy.

Once September came, it was like magic, as most all of the tourists were gone. No mobs; shops that were closed for holiday are now open; school is open, and it's a whole new scene. The lines at the Musée d' Orsay are much smaller, enabling me to get a good fix of some of my favorites: Bonnard, Vuillard, Vallotton, and Redon -- it's a great collection. The exhibition Misia, Queen of Paris, which Charles mentioned recently, closes this week. What a life, what a collection of artists, musicians and writers she treated and entertained -- those were parties.

The fashion line Louis Vuitton may be known these days for its bling appeal or excess. I came away from the Vuitton Marc Jacobs exhibit at Les Art Décoratifs with new respect for his design innovation in the turn-of-the-century steamer trunk trade, which is how he got started. Steam ship leisure travel was growing and couture clothing needs couture luggage -- amazing craftmanship. That nefarious logo is everywhere these days. It originated by a need to waxcoat the cases to waterproof them. The original logo was raised wax, very practical almost by accident, without the kitsch. More posts coming, and pictures are on my Flickr site.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Which brings me to the question - when IS the best time to see, taste, hear, experience, etc Paris for an art lover? Specifically for me, someone who wants to catch as many of the classical (tending towards the early music) concerts?

I've sort of made an entry into next year's calendar for April (there are some items in the Cité de la Musique's programme that interest me), but I'm sure there are better windows.