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Day 212: Musée de l’Orangerie

Given a mention of Paris and Impressionist art, most would think Musée d’Orsay right off the bat. I don’t blame them. It is a magnificent museum and perhaps my favourite among the many in this city. However, just across the Seine, there is a smaller museum that boasts a quaint collection of Impressionist art. It’s a pity that this place is often overlooked by visitors but for me, that’s good news because it means it’s never too crowded at Musée de l’Orangerie.

The main attraction of this museum though lies in two oval rooms, forming the sign of the infinity loop. Within the rooms, eight rectangular painted landscapes with waterlily can be found. This is where Monet’s masterpieces are on display for everyone to admire. It is so very easy to just sit in quietly (there are benches in the centre of the rooms) and gaze at the paintings. Of course, to get the real thing, I could also take a trip out to Giverny. If only time is not such a premium nowadays…

Day 211: Cimetière du Montparnasse

Culturally, I’ve been taught that cemetery is one place you don’t go to unless (1) it’s part of funeral/burial ritual, (2) it’s a designated prayer day, and (3) it’s dictated as part of specific ceremony. My grandma would be horrified to know that I’m visiting one as if it’s a place of attraction. However, in Paris, that’s what some of them are considered. You could even get a map that marks out the graves of the “stars” of the cemetery.

Perhaps there’s an energy of morbidity around. With Hungry Ghost Festival taking place soon, and having just visited an exhibition on Voodooism at Fondation Cartier, it seems natural to take a walk at Cimetière du Montparnasse nearby. Truly, it’s a very well-kept compound, with a sense of calm and zen. It is also fascinating, given it’s a multi-denominational cemetery, with interesting and varied monuments setting one grave aside from another. Just look at the one above. It could have easily passed for an art display anywhere, if you discount the other graves that you could see in the background.

Day 210: Mr Chat

Mr Chat!

I’ve walked rue Bonaparte quite regularly, thanks to the presence of a number of delicious shops along the street, but tonight, for the first time, I spotted this Mr Chat. Of course I don’t see it during the day, since it’s hidden within the shutters of this shop, lowered only after close of business.

I particularly like it that Mr Chat is so happy, reading away his time. I’m not unlike him actually. Have I told you how book-buying happy I’ve become lately? I’d say, by now, if I am to move, I would need at least 2 boxes for the books that I’ve acquired. And I’ve only live here for a few months. I think this habit is just going to get worse with time, but in a good way, right? I mean, it’s books, and it’s about reading. Surely it can’t be bad… ;)

Day 209: So alone…

The risk of dreaming is loneliness? At least that the hypothesis postulated by Aerosol in this art-graffiti wall of his.

Dream is a two-edge sword. On one hand, we could not not dream. To not have dreams is to live a monotonous existence, without anything to look forward to and nor something to aspire for. At the same time, to dream also means to put ourselves in a state of fantasy, imagining something that we may put too much hope on, and hurtful when it’s misguided.

What we should aim for is a balance between the two. Afterall, isn’t much of our lives about balance in one way or another? Too much of something is bad enough, too much of nothing is just as tough. However, I don’t see loneliness in either scheme of dream. Am I missing some obvious link?

Day 208: Everybody goes to the Louvre

The city is becoming void of locals as everyone goes away for their summer holiday. Its effects be seen everywhere. Shops closed for their congés annuels, less passengers on the bus (still plenty on the métro though, which tourists feel more secure taking than buses), free flowing traffic for a change… When August rolls in, there would be even more who leaves Paris. I wonder if there would be more tourists than residents then?

Over at Louvre though, there are still throngs of people passing through at all time. Quite a stark contrast in comparison to the quartier where I work. It seems regardless of the time or day that I go by the palais, the queue is always long and a ton more other people are posing for various photos including play look-I-can-pinch-the-top-of-IM Pei’s-pyramid. Obviously this is the social quartier of the season ;)

Day 207: Little Red goes to the wood

The marketing team behind this poster has quite a sense of humour.

The mairie is currently encouraging its residents and visitors to appreciate the green spaces and tropical woods surrounding the city. They are not wrong you know. There are a lot of beautiful green spots in Paris that one could explore, and I don’t mean just Luxembourg or Tuilleries Gardens. In particular, the focus is on Parc de Bagatelle, Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes.

Anyway, I digressed. So while the mairie is trying to forge a culture close to nature, are we all supposed to turn into a curious Little Red Riding Hood? There is a wolf lurking somewhere out there, with a sly grin in his face. Hmmm… Still, the poster brings a smile to my face every time I see it. While a photograph of a poster is not terribly exciting, I still feel it should be shared :D

Day 206: Cultural station – Kiosque des Noctambules

The very first time I walked past the kiosque des noctambules (sure, I didn’t know the name back then either) I was perplexed by its colourful bejewelled state (who installed a glass bead-like art sculpture here?) and then noticed people coming up from underneath. Curious. A quick investigative effort revealed that it is the entrance to the métro station of Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre.

A contemporary art piece by Jean-Michel Othoniel, it was commissioned for the centenary celebration of the inauguration of métro in Paris. First introduced in 1900, métro line 1 was used to transport visitors of the city to enjoy the sites and sights during the Exposition Universelle of 1900. Back then, the line runs between Porte Maillot and Porte de Vincennes and Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre was one of the eight stops of the line. Pretty steep in history eh?

Day 205: Aftermath of a fire

A few days ago, en route to work, I spotted firemen at Cité U. Normally, they can be seen during sunny weekend morning playing baseball at the pitch, but on a weekday morning, that could only mean trouble. Sure enough, I looked up at the building next to where they were and big gaping holes with black charred beams were staring back at me. Ooops.

The fire broke out on the night before (and nope, I didn’t hear any siren even though my building is not too far from it) and has ravaged through the roof of that particular wing. A video that I found online showed it to be a pretty huge fire although well-contained that it didn’t spread further. For now, the residents of the building have been temporarily housed elsewhere in Cité U.

Day 204: Black swans

There is a pair of black swans at Parc Montsouris with bright red bills. This is rather unusual, as the swans normally spotted around this part of the world are white. A quick wiki check told me that black swans are more commonly found in Australia and New Zealand. I can only assume then this pair is part of introduced population? It is a veeeery long way to migrate from Oz to France otherwise.

While I was there, park visitors were amusingly throwing grass in to feed the swans. A woman even remarked “Do you think they eat grass? I hope they won’t get stomach ache.” Well, seeing the swans are herbivores, I’d say they’ll be alright. Sure, the grass is not the same as vegetations found in the lake but it’s not too far off either. Eat, swans, eat.

Day 203: La Marguerite

You know I’m always on the look out for nice pastries. However, it is also prudent that I don’t overdo it. As of present, I seem to be stepping in a pâtisserie about once every fortnight and for the intermittent weeks, perhaps a chocolaterie every second fortnight?

Arnaud Delmontel is a bit out of the way and quite a chance discovery. I had trodded my way to Montmartre in search of a small shop where I’ve previously bought some lovely matcha madeleine but unfortunately the shop is currently closed for its congé annuel. However, right across the street is Delmontel and its cakes on display just called out to me. Like moth to a light, I fluttered my way over and bought les petits gateaux for myself and Anne. The verdict? Mine was rich an creamy but Anne’s was a tad dry on the outside. A place to revisit when I’m in the area again next but perhaps not one to deliberately journey out for.

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