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15 April 2011

Paris, my Paris!

Bonjour mon petite choux fleurs! When I wasn't worrying about what I was going to do for the 'England, my England' festival I was in Paris exploring the Catacombs, Sewers and of course The Louvre (in that order). For a while, forget England and immerse yourself in a few of the highlights that 'Paris, my Paris' has to offer... 1) Palais de Tokyo: Located next to the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Palais de Tokyo a.k.a Site de création contemporaine is a massive space that hosts contemporary art exhibitions. Nothing new there, I hear you say, but take into consideration that it is currently undergoing a major refurbishment/construction on a massive scale it soon becomes all the more interesting and with good reason...It was a complete delight to see the building site of a space being used to project several contemporary videos. So crumbling brick walls become transformed into an interesting surface to project a pair of hands with fingers running over a typewriter's keys, and the vast hollow shell makes great acoustic space to have a violinist playing complete with projected image on another one of the worn walls. Surprising and really great to see a space being used in this way.
2) Montparnasse cemetery: A lively place full of all your favourite deceased artists, poets, philosophers and musicians. Brancusi, Man Ray, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Baudrillard and more. Really interesting in a slightly creepy way.
3)Ponts des arts bridge: A truly brilliant little bridge, it is directly adjacent to Pont Neuf bridge over the river Seine and has all these padlocks all over it. The idea being that couples write their names on a padlock and attach it to the bridge. Sweet!
4) Monet at the L'Orangerie: Pretty self explanatory, these paintings in the flesh really are worth seeing. They're far rougher and painterly than I had ever imagined and equally beautiful and engaging from a distance.
5) Don't ask me where exactly this was? Somewhere around St Germain maybe? However, its proof that sometimes the most simple graffiti is still the best.
6) Musee du Montparnasse: Located very discretely and modestly off a road in Montparnasse is this beautiful ivy clad ally that once was occupied by the likes of Picasso, Leger and Soutine amongst many other famous artists who either had studios here or would socialise in this space. Compared to all the showy and huge 'look at me!' galleries that Paris is famous for, I was really pleased and welcomed this more modest and quiet little retreat away from its flamboyant neighbours. So quiet in its location, in fact that I nearly missed it. I'm glad I didn't because it was one of the more humbling moments during the trip. There was an Andre Masson exhibition on in the gallery and a few studios around in the alley had some interesting work on show, but I think I liked just being there the best and spent (a very rare) few moments just sitting in this space, thinking.

I hope this would all be good research for the 'England, my England' festival....after all you don't really know what England is until you experience someplace else. Here's to you Paris! Its been great!

This was my first visit to Paris, let me know if you have any recommendations of places to visit/things to see in Paris or anywhere and we'll see what we can do? As always leave a comment or email me on:

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