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Posts tagged ‘Paris metro’

No. 299-300: Le Petit Palais et la Belle Époque

Kitcat was in town last weekend and since she is my “expo-kid”, we decided to make a leisurely visit to le Petit Palais and the wonderful exhibition ‘Paris 1900, The City of Entertainment’. I know I am a cliché, but I adore this period of French history, la belle époque, and turn-of-the-century Paris. I suspect there are many American Francophiles who do. If I had a time machine, I would slap on my button boots, slip on my pouter-pigeon blouse and trumpet-skirt, grab my feathered chapeau and set the dial for Paris, June 1900 and la Exposition Universelle

Mais malheureusement, time machines are still a vision of the future, so an afternoon at le Petit Palais will have to suffice. Amazingly there are over 600 works on display in the gorgeous ‘small palace’ that was designed by Charles Girault for the exposition. I cannot imagine a more perfect venue than these halls where the hatted and coiffed western world came to discover what the new century held. It must have been a real lollapalooza!

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The exhibition is organized into six ‘pavilions’ beginning with ‘Paris, window on the world’ featuring Gare de Lyon, Gare d’Orsay and Gare des Invalides, as well as Hector Guimard’s fabulous métro entrances. The expo ends with two pavilions focusing on the posh and wild world of entertainment on offer in Paris at the turn of the century—from opera to café singing, to Sarah Bernhardt and Debussy to brothels and circus acts, to everything else Baz Luhrmann would have us imagine in his fanciful film Moulin Rouge.

Filling the space in the middle are art nouveau posters and paintings, costumes, gowns, jewelry, everyday objects, objets d’art, sculptures, furniture, fine-arts, stained-glass windows, photographs and corridors filled with life-sized footage of revelers and curious fair-goers. A whole ‘pavillion’ is devoted to the myth of la Parisienne—the elegant Parisian women whose mystique still captures the imagination of women (and men) around the world.

 

Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Vuillard, are featured alongside Gérôme, Bouguereau, Gervex, Béraud, Degas, Besnard and, of course, Rodin and Toulouse-Lautrec…le Chat Noir, anyone?

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In lieu of a vrai time machine, this marvelous time capsule housed at le Petit Palais until August 17 will provide you with your Belle Époque fix and dazzle you with the promise and creativity from a storybook era long gone.

Vocabulaire

Mais malheureusement: But unfortunately

vraireal

No. 150: Métro, Boulot, DoDo

I love my new French phrase: métro, boulot, dodo.

I’ll be using it a lot when winter break is over, and we’re back to keeping our noses to the grindstone.

Métro:

Boulot:

…back to work for Taz in Paris...

…back to work for Taz in Paris…

DoDo:

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La routine: commute, work and sleep; the rat race

No. 110: Musicians on the Métro

Paris MetroI ride the métro a fair bit, especially when I am taking French classes. It’s not my preferred form of transport, that would be my feet or the Velib (the fantastic bike share program found throughout France). If those options won’t get me where I need to be, than I try to hop on a bus before heading underground.

But when I do have to head down under, the Paris métro is fast and efficient. It could be a little cleaner and I’d like it if it was less crowded, but all in all, it’s a marvelous system. Some days though, like in any big city, jumping on the métro in Paris can just be a slog. Everyone is cranky, no one smiles, and sometimes people smell.

It always cheers me up though when I open a carriage to find a musician entertaining the commuters. I’m not sure how the French feel about them. Not many travelers open their wallets when the musicians pass their cup, but they always brighten my day, and if I have cash, I toss something in.

Sometimes they are just singers alone with their speaker and microphone. Sometimes one musician may have six instruments. I have even seen a five-piece band. I was completely devastated when I missed the Hungarian sting quartet struggling to get their cellist off the métro just as I was getting on.

Paris Musicians on the Metro

And in case you are wondering, there is absolutely no shortage of accordion maestros in this town.

I’ve heard a lot of really bad Frank Sinatra, some so-so Edith Piaf, some crazy, lyrical poetry jam, some pretty decent opera, and a lot of average Paris café music.

Paris musicians

I give these people a lot of credit, we are not the friendliest crowd. But I for one am glad they choose to get up every day and try to earn a living. The good, the bad and the great, they all make me smile.