Thursday, October 21, 2010

Eating and Exhibitions

 I know that most of the news from Paris has focused on the strikes, the blocking of fuel supplies and other serious topics, most of which have not affected us very much personally.  The bus I was on today was diverted from its usual route by a manifestation, but that only meant I got to my stop a bit faster, so you can see that to date at least, we haven't felt it much.  We are planning to get on a plane this weekend though, so it may hit with a bang if there's no fuel, the air controllers aren't working, or the road to Roissy is blockaded.   For the moment however, we've been having our usual kind of time.

We spent Sunday afternoon in the Marais having brunch with a friend at a jammed little bistro called Bonnes Soeurs.  It was jammed because the 21 euro brunch was a delicious bargain, including fresh juice, eggs, bacon, frites, salad, pancakes and coffee.  Yes, pancakes.  With maple syrup.  The jammers were virtually all under 30 and we brought the collective age up substantially, but we're going back, just as soon as we lose the weight we gained there.

After brunch we waddled over to the Musée Carnavalet to see the exhibit about Louis Vuitton and how that luggage company grew with the travel industry in the 19th century to become the epitome of how to pack anything to go anywhere.  Definitely worth seeing, including the film of the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889, the one where the Eiffel Tower was the big draw.  Photos were prohibited so I don't have anything to show you except the lovely garden of the museum and the bad photo of a poster that I got off an advertising kiosk.

The other exhibit we saw this week was a surprise.  We had been unexpectedly given an invitation to the opening (vernissage in French) of a new show of David Hockney works at the Fondation Yves Saint Laurent by someone who couldn't go.  This was an event in several ways: it was pretty exclusive, with the invitations checked at the door and many people dressed to the nines (not us, I'm afraid, we passed as bohemians, along with a few artsy types); and the work was great.

Called Fleurs Fraiches (Fresh Flowers) all the work was done on iPhones and iPads!  There was a short video showing him working on an iPad using a finger as a brush.  I wish I knew which application he was using.  It seemed to me that as he got used to the medium the work became more refined since many of the pictures were rather primitive, using broad strokes and less detail, while others were very nuanced, with backgrounds on thin diagonal lines and much foreground detail.  Of course I may be all wrong and he just likes working in different ways, but I found it all very cool in any case.  The pieces were displayed in walls of iPhones, iPads and shifting large slides and transfixed many of the viewers.  I heard "Formidable!" more than once.  And then there were the folks standing around in the salon drinking and gossiping.

Leaving the gallery we looked around for a place to have some dinner and remembered a café across the street from the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, around the corner.  I still don't know what was going on that night, but there was a troupe of Gardes Républicaines at attention out front and a red carpet with photographers poised to record someone or other.  They took a lot of pictures of people who posed for them before entering the theater, but I suspect the Garde was there for a minister or other government official.  President Sarkozy was otherwise engaged that night.

After watching people we didn't know posing for magazines we don't read, we went on to the café, where we ordered exactly what we had come for, the world's best, richest croque monsieur.  We had been there with someone else once who told us she always ordered it and had since her parents brought her to the theater as a child.  We scoffed.  A croque monsieur for dinner, ha! and ordered something else which wasn't very good.  But when we saw her croque we understood.

More of a Welsh rarebit with a little bread and ham, it was a cheesy, bubbling dish of luxury that I remembered to take a picture of only after I was nearly done.  I gave up after about three more bites.  This is comfort food par excellence, even if you didn't grow up with it.

Now if the cook at the Bar du Théâtre ever goes on strike, that would hit me where it counts.


Anne said...

That's the restaurant in the movie Fauteuils d'Orchestre (or Avenue Montaigne as it was billed in the U.S.)!

Shelli said...

Yup, it sure is; and we sat at the table where Sydney Pollack sat!

Susan said...

How nice to hear of something lovely and not the protests. Thank you for your lovely photographs (some delicious ones, too), and lively commentary!