Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May 21 Marmottan and Morisot, Passages and Galerie Vivienne

After our breakfast of pastries from Manon on rue Saint-Antoine, the "regular" croissant supplemented by an almond financier and brioche, and amidst a gentle fine mist we headed out on the Metro for the far side of Paris. Specifically we were on our way to the Marmottan Museum in the 16th arrondissement.

One of my rare cultural objectives -- in fact I had only one but would learn of a second soon -- was to see the large collection of Berthe Morisot paintings at the Marmottan.

Morisot, Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas have become for me, for reasons still unclear, voices of color and three of my favorite painters from those early heady days when French Impressionism turned the world of art on its ear. A lifelong resident of the 16th who lived near the Trocadero, Morisot married Eugene Manet, Edouard's brother and they are all buried together in Passy Cemetery in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.  (Edouard's wife Suzanne Leenhoff is buried with them as well.)

Thankfully, the rain held off most of the day, or rather barely held off since the mist and drizzle pretty much continued through the daylight hours. We found the museum on the edge of a lush green section of the 16th and walked inside. The cost was nominal, the crowds small and the paintings gorgeous. We were wonderfully surprised by the featured exhibition of the work of Marie Laurencin -- of course, the exhibition was graphically displayed in a number of Metro stations (see photo above). (Oh, and Marie is buried in a plain, unassuming slab tomb in Pere-Lachaise, near the American ballerina Harriet Toby.)

After leaving the museum, we strolled back through a lovely part of the 16th, passing a unique bit of sculpture stuck out in the middle of nowhere. But this was Paris where sculpture appears in the least as well as the most likely of places.

After spending five minutes examining this bit of stone with an Australian couple, the four of us deduced that it was a statue created by J. Dumilatre and the monument itself was apparently designed by one Frantz Jourdain, architect, although the base of the statue is signed "1983 Correa". The significance of the bird (a raven?) giving the coin to a fox remains a mystery still.

Susie and I left the park and found our way to the Metro, heading once again to Gibert Jeune at Place Saint-Michel and the never-ending search for books in French. From there we headed back to the right bank and strolled to the Galerie Vivienne near Place des Victoires in search of "A Priori The," where we hoped to have lunch.

Recommended by Clotilde Dusoulier in her invaluable Edible Adventures in Paris, "A Priori The" was tucked away near the back of the galerie, one of the few remaining 19th century passages, or indoor shopping areas from old Paris. We sat down, relaxed and soon tucked ourselves into an incredible meal.

haricot verts and that's right, caramelized fennel bulb, with chicken

Fully satiated, the two of us left the galerie and strolled down rue Montmartre in the direction of Les Halles, Susie off to Librarie Gourmande, Mora and Detou, and me to the cafe Etienne Marcel to sit, have a coffee out of the drizzle and watch the world go by.

And go by it did. At one point a black Lamborghini chased an Audi R28 up rue Montmartre and after they left my view I could hear the roar of engines and the sound of burning tires. Anything's possible in Paris.

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