Monday 9 April 2012

Saturday in Paris - a market & more art

[Ed: the full set of pictures can be found on my flickr page, but a selection appears below.]

After sleeping off the previous evening's indulgence, we got a little later start than strictly desirable, but headed off anyway to the Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt (The Flea Market at Clignancourt). This was a particular request of Erica's, and a very enjoyable way to spend a grey Saturday morning.

Despite a late start, when we got there it wasn't very crowded once we got back into the older part of the market. The stalls lining the street were full of the usual modern market rip-offs. But back here it felt a little more like the treasure trove it was reputed to be.

Erica, kid in a candy store

shiny things in the window

A cool stall that felt like a cross with an artists studio.

I loved this little ensemble

More bargain hunters

After a few hours of trawling through all the lovely and interesting things, we were starting to get hungry. So we headed back into the centre and off to one of our favourite little cafes - La Loire dans la Théière (the dormouse in the teapot - yes, that's an Alice in Wonderland reference).

And they keep to the spirit of their moniker.

It does one of the best brunches in Paris, and it's obvious because if you're timing is wrong (or in tune with the rest of the city's) the line is down the street. Fortunately, we didn't have too long to wait, before we were seated and eating. Sadly, I had to resist a slice of the taste citron (aka lemon meringue pie) as everyone else was ready to head to the next stop - Musee d'Orsay via L'Orangerie. The latter is where several of Monnet's Les Nymphéas (The Waterlillies) are housed in custom built rooms (there is a cool virtual tour here). Their permanent collection is also rather a treat and they had a pretty cool exhibit on Debussy and the Impressionists. Fascinating stuff.

The Musee d'Orsay, just across the Seine from & a sister museum to L'Orangerie, is set in an old train station and focuses on late 19th and early 20th century art. I managed a quick snap before noticing the "no photography sign" and a very disappointing frown from one of the museum volunteers.

Worth getting a frown for, no?

We focused our time on seeing the Art Nouveau sections (including a really stunning set of original rooms) as well as a fascinating set of galleries focusing on orientalism. I think for most Westerners, when we think "oriental", we think the Far East - Japan, China, Thailand, etc. For French speakers, "oriental" means rather the Near East - (modern) Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia. This was particularly interesting for us, having just recently been to Israel & Jordan. As English speakers most of our understanding of the region is filtered through English language historians, so to see it from at least a nominally French perspective was fascinating.

From there it was nearly time for dinner, so back to the flat to get cleaned up and changed. We had managed to book into Cafe Panique, which we had been to last time with Bobby & Erica and had promptly forgotten the name. A scouring of our guidebooks gave us a few likely alternatives, but we were very pleased to arrive again to this lovely spot (and amazing food). We splurged a bit on the wine, as it was Nathan's birthday celebrations, and it really couldn't have been much better. The staff are amazing, very accommodating and keen to ensure that we taste the best their corner of Paris has to offer. Yay!

From there it was back to the flat and asleep to get ready for our final day. . .

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