Tag Archives: Paris

When Natalie Clifford Barney Met Oscar Wilde

Barney, you may know, was an expat American writer who lived in Paris. She held a famous salon for over 60 years at 20 rue Jacob, and championed some radical causes.

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I find this story to be rather charming

When Barney was five years old her family spent the summer at New York’s Long Beach Hotel where Oscar Wilde happened to be speaking on his American lecture tour. Wilde scooped her up as she ran past him fleeing a group of small boys, held her out of their reach then sat her down on his knee and told her a story.[7] The next day he joined Barney and her mother on the beach, where their conversation changed the course of Alice’s life, inspiring her to pursue art seriously, despite, years later, her husband’s disapproval.[8] She later studied under Carolus-Duran and James McNeill Whistler.[9] Many of Alice Pike Barney’s paintings are now in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.[10]

Barney was indeed, quite a character. And her residence at 20 rue Jacob was quite a place

The pavillon at 20, rue Jacob, Paris. For over 60 years, Natalie Clifford Barney hosted a literary salon, a weekly gathering at which people met to socialize and discuss literature, art, music and any other topic of interest. Barney strove to feature...

It was a magical place

What made No. 20 a kind of miracle on the Left Bank was its garden, a small oasis in a jungle of tightly packed streets, and a remnant of the great seventeenth- and eighteenth-century gardens which once stretched from the rue Jacob down to the Seine. It contained a tiny Doric “Temple d’Amitie,” now decreed a national monument and probably built during the First Empire or the Restoration, and a disused well which Natalie Barney never bothered to explore. The Germans cleared it out during World War II and found that it led to an underground cave and a passage going underneath the Seine to the Louvre.

Here is an image from inside

The most popular biography of Natalie is called “Wild Heart“.

She is included in Nomadic Matt’s tour of “Paris in the 20’s”.

Hitting the Food Stands at the Salon de L’Agriculture

I just added this event to my annual calendar. Late February, early March to Paris for this display of the various regional foods of France. Of course, it is more than that. You get to see lots of animals as well.

This might get you in the mood

Hit the food stands first, unless you enjoy eating with the scent of manure clinging stuck to your clothes. The food pavilion is organized by region so you can stroll & eat your way through each départment of France. Seek out Brittany and its oyster bars to start off light. Head to the Southwest for something more substantial. Duck sausage with onions? Duck rillettes? Follow this with at least two kinds of cheesy potatoes cooked in an enormous pan, preferably aligot from Auvergne and tartiflette from Alsace. They are lowbrow delights, but delicious ones.

Hey! Who is that guy making nice with a cow?

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The Pompidou Centre Anniversary

The Pompidou Centre arrived on the Parisian cultural stage 40 years ago and mouths have been agape ever since. You either love it or hate the “inside out” building.

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For its anniversary, Pompidou is about to get a very expensive facelift. Kim Willshire writes for the Guardian

The anniversary is to be celebrated with preparations for a two-year facelift expected to cost at least €100m. But architectural traditionalists hoping for a more sober, conventional look will be disappointed. According to plans disclosed to the Observer, the refurbished building, once described as resembling an oil refinery, will look just as inside-out as ever.

You might be surprised how the design came about

Piano and Rogers, young and unknown in 1977, intentionally created something extraordinary on the assumption that they stood no chance of winning a building design competition that had attracted more than 600 international entries.

The design reflects a peculiar sort of French cultural militancy. And as such, it deserves is central spot, don’t you think?

Paris May Soon be the Gondola Capital of the World!

Paris is serious about using gondolas for commuter transport.  From CityLab

What marks Paris’ plan a… different (from the not so successful London experiment) is that it will be the first European city to use a gondola as a genuine commuter route across relatively flat terrain. It’s also being pitched as the beginning of a wider national network: The Île-de-France region is currently considering 12 other gondola plans. The region’s premier, Valérie Pécresse, has all but staked her reputation on gondolas, telling newspaper the Journal Du Dimanche last week that:

Pretty interesting. Something in Paris that is not for tourists?

In Paris, Local is Seriously Hip!

Richard Vines offers this thought from Bloomberg

Paris, with its Old World charms, had begun to look old hat as a dining destination in recent years after London, New York and other cities grabbed attention as centers for creative cooking.

Sacre bleu1 Say it is not so!

It is not so, and even Richard admits it.

French chefs are looking again at how to build on their country’s culinary traditions, absorbing ideas from around the world while retaining the integrity of their cuisine. There’s a new spirit of imagination and focus.

Ok. Enough BS. Where is the list of casual places to go! Richard delivers!

I asked some of France’s most celebrated chefs – culinary masters weighed down with Michelin stars and other accolades – for pointers on casual places to eat great food at reasonable prices. They named 21 bistrots and brasseries that alone justify a trip to a city that has found its mojo.

I will post this in my Paris page under the Travel n z above.

Parisian Luxury on the Water

Hotel concepts abound these days

There’s a hotel for pretty much every taste—from ones made of ice, to ones in bubbles, to one without walls. Now, a new destination in Paris is taking lodging off land entirely. It’s a hotel that sits on the waters of the Seine river.

Bravo! This concept is not as radical as some of the others

As Condé Nast Traveler reports, OFF Paris Seine is France’s first floating hotel (though many others exist around the world) and is part of a wider effort to reconnect the city with the waterway. The hotel opened in June, features 58 rooms, and is moored near the Gare d’Austerlitz. There’s a pool, summer terrace, and a cocktail and tapas bar (which is open to non-residents), and design elements that utilize the environment, like 8800 suspended metal squares, which move with the boat.

I might even try it.