Rare Film of Monet, Renoir, Rodin and Degas
Fine art enthusiasts will appreciate these fascinating 100-year-old film clips of four of the most celebrated artists in history; Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, and Edgar Degas. In 1915, with the newly innovated film camera, a young Russian-born, French actor named Sacha Guitry captured some of France’s greatest artists and authors.
Behold Le Marias!
This famous district began its life in the history of Paris as the home of the king and the capitol city’s many aristocrats. Le Marais spreads across parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in Paris, on the Rive Droite.
Today Le Marais is enjoying the latest of its many incarnations as the trendiest shopping district in Paris with the top stores in Rue des Francs-Bourgeois and Rue des Rosiers. The most famous stores are BHV Marais, Merci, and Uniqlo Le Marais.
From the 13th century forward, Le Marais was developed as the French nobility’s favorite place of residence. Things reached a crescendo in 1605 when King Henri IV of France built Place Royale (today called the Place des Vosges), and subsequently French nobles built their urban mansions, or hôtels particuliers, such as the Hôtel de Sens, the Hôtel de Sully, and the Hôtel de Beauvais, throughout the district, so they could be near the seat of power.
The Royal Square is also notable because it was the oldest planned square in Paris. Comprised as a true square (140 m × 140 m), the Place embodied the first European program of royal city planning.
One of the many new aspects about the Place Royale in 1612 was that the house fronts were all built to the same design, probably by Jean Baptiste Androuet du Cerceau.
The facades are all composed of red brick with strips of stone quoins over vaulted arcades that stand on square pillars. The steeply-pitched blue slate roofs are pierced with discreet small-paned dormers above the pedimented dormers that stand upon the cornices.
One section of the square’s 4 long vaulted arcades:
This section of the arcade is the home to this small but fine art gallery:
This section of the arcade is also home to one of the city’s most exclusive restaurants. Our guide told us that Michelle and Barack Obama were taken here during their state visit. He promised us that they won’t let Trump come there…just checking to see that you are still reading my text!
Le Marais is the closest you will get to the feel of medieval Paris and has more pre-revolutionary buildings and streets left intact than any other area in Paris. A glance at some of the beautiful buildings and houses indicates the wealthy status of the former residents. After the French Revolution, much of the area was abandoned by the rich, and poor bohemian types moved in. You should keep in mind that before Napoleon showed up the Marais is what most of Paris looked like— a labyrinth of cobblestone alleys.
The rest of Paris was razed by Napoleon and Haussman who wanted to build huge avenues and gigantic squares such as the Place Concorde. These are now the glory of Paris, but they were originally conceived so that armies and artillery could be moved around the city to keep the poor in check and defeat invaders.
On a more metaphysical level, the purpose of such broad space is to make the citizen feel small and powerless when faced with the giant civic machine of government, or an obedient army. In the Marais we are privy to the small and approachable Paris of the past, the place to wander in maddening circles and never find your way, the place to hole up and read Sartre or Camus in a café window or watch the Parisian life go by.
The Marais is also the most famous Jewish quarter in Paris and in much of Europe, still maintaining strong traditions.
The area was considered so squalid at this point it was nearly destroyed by city officials who wanted to modernize Paris. (A huge avenue cutting through the center of the Marais was only avoided by the start of WWI.) Fortunately, Le Marais was one of the first areas in Paris to establish very strict preservation laws. Beginning in the 1960’s, efforts have been made to restore and preserve the façades of historically important (in the case of The Hotel Albert for instance) and typically Parisian (in the case of charming early 20th-century boulangeries for instance). That’s why in this neighborhood, you’ll see bars with Boulangerie signs and a Nike store that looks like a bookstore from the outside.
The apex of the gorgeous avenue of the Champs-Élysées in Paris is the Arc de Triomphe. I was there recently and here are my pictures. It was a gorgeous winter afternoon.
Christmas afternoon on the Champs-Élysées. Sunny and chilly. Perfect winter day in the perfect city!
Random things that struck me, found on the Champs-Élysées:
One of the most charming aspects of Christmas in Paris to me is all the hand-painted decorations on the store windows. Some are really graphic and cool like this one:
But more of them are really sweet and old-fashioned, like the next bunch:
Okay, back to the fun holiday decorations and great architecture of the Champs-Élysées:
The next set of pictures are of what is to me the most beautiful building on the Champs-Élysées.
Other striking aspects of the Champs-Élysées:
And, finally, I’ll close this post because this is already so long. But, before I do, pictures of some of the cool advertising I saw in the subway on my way to the Champs-Élysées:
Oh, and P.S.: here’s a very cool old picture of the layout of this area from the point of view of the Arc de Triomphe. The Eiffel Tower hadn’t even been dreamed of yet!
What a lovely small city is Verona. I understand why Shakespeare chose it as his setting for Romeo and Juliet!
I had the good fortune to spend a few days in Verona recently and the city was all decked out for Christmas.
To begin, here is our home away from home, with a beautiful terrace next to the Adige River. A large persimmon (cachi in Italiano) tree attracted many local ucelli!
Here are some of my favorite pictures:
L’amore materno–Mother Love
I love a decorative octopus!
Check out the foot still attached to this prosciutto! OMG!
Verona’s magnificent Duomo below:
The bell tower:
The apron front of the facade reminded me of church architecture in Lucca.
The altar below is painted and has matching sculptures in front. I’d never seen anything like this before.
The altar below beckons from across the church. Such lavish gold, again, I’ve never seen anything quite like this and I’ve seen a lot of altars in my day. I love that Italy is always surprising me.
See what I mean below:
The ubiquitous December creche scene: the figure of the baby Jesus will not appear until midnight of the 25th.
I guess the placard below is for those sinners who don’t remember or know how to confess.
These pictures are from the interior of the duomo in Verona. It is a beautiful church. Verona was obviously a wealthy city during the Renaissance and after, as it still is today.
I’ve looked at a lot of paintings in my day, but I’ve never seen such a foreshortened putto flying in from this angle, to crown with laurel the knight in armor.
While this sculpted doorway below looks to be monumental, it was actually at my eye level on a wall in the duomo, and measured about 12 inches tall.
Back out in the lovely streets of Verona, I admired this art nouveau wrought iron in a window. It’s unusual for Italy and I love it.
Below is the gorgeous facade of the duomo.
There are Roman ruins on the hillsides in Verona. I took this picture to remind me of this new (to me) fact: I want to go back and see more of the town.
The facade below is getting some TLC.
Walking along on the sidewalk along a wall, there are death notices posted. I find these fascinating.
Flower shops are magnets to me:
I am obsessed with this crystal lamp with the red tassels. Obsessed.
Obsessed I tell you!
Finally, the end. A shout out to my girl, Jenny, for being an awesome traveling companion. More to come, I am sure!
Oh, and p.s., I have a few more Verona posts coming, including Giardino Giusti. Watch this space!
A while back I took the opportunity to pay a visit to the famous Florentine church, built in a former granary. It is opulent and lovely.
Above the church is a museum where all of the significant Renaissance sculptures originally placed in niches on the 4 facades of the church are now housed. Copies of these grand works are now in the niches on the building’s facade.
Here are some of the original works:
The views of the city from the 2nd floor of Orsan Michele are pretty amazing.