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If you have been anything like me lately and practically running around like a chicken with its head cut off, you’ll know that there is nothing more desirable than a peaceful place to escape to in order to leave the bustle and stress of Paris behind. While this place could have a variety  of names (Cote d’Azur, Biarritz…to name a few), there is one that you might not have thought of and that won’t break your bank.

It’s called Giverny. Yes, like in Claude Monet‘s Giverny. A glorious place where a serene calm reigns and a natural beauty is in abundance. Only an hour from Paris by car, and an hour and a half by train (trains leave out of Gare St. Lazare and get into Vernon – from Vernon it’s a 15 miunute bus ride), Giverny is close enough to do a day trip, and well worth a weekend stay. A small ivy covered town, its a step back into the past to a time when artists such as Claude Monet flocked to the countryside to capture pictoresque landscapes on their canvases and sip tea in a blossoming garden. Giverny, with its quaint cafes and darling bread and breakfasts allows one to slow down and take in what was the great inspiration behind some of the most stunning chef d’oeuvres of the 19th century. Lily ponds, flower gardens, orchards, row boats… Giverny has preseved it all and is a must see at any time of the year.

For museum information visit the Claude Monet Foundation’s website. The museum holds original pieces and often has great exhibitions, the current one is impressionism featuring. I highly recommend visiting Claude Monet’s house and garden, which allows you to see how he lived at the time, and to visit his unique gardens and lily pond. The walls of his house are adorned by an exquisite collection of Japanese art that Monet cherished – so also very much worth the visit. For those who love impressionism, viewing the actual lily pond is truly a spectacular sight that could keep you gazing dreamily for hours! My photos don’t do it justice!

© Institut de France – Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris

Having recently seen Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” and re-lived the magical rich layers of culture that Paris possesses, I decided right then that I was going to wake up from my daily grind and end my “cultural education” hiatus. When on my way to work the following day I saw the poster for the current Caillebotte exhibit, I said to myself, “Okay, Daniella, let’s start here.”

The Caillebotte exhibit is currently on display at what was unexpectedly the most magnificent hôtel particulier I have seen. Dating back to 1875, it was the demeure of Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart. The couple was passionate about art, and thus the museum now houses one the most ravishing private collections of art in Paris. While I originally went to see the Caillebotte exhibit, I ended up spending most of my time exploring the hotel and the private collection than the exihibit itself.

@ Parisbestlodge

The Jacquemart-André museum bings to life the luxury and lifestyle of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and includes an extaordinary staircase designed by Henri Parent, the biggest rival of Charles Garnier, architect of the Opera Garnier. Wandering throught the rooms, and spending time in the courtyards or café, you forget that you are in the heart of Paris, and a five minute walk from the famous Champs-Elysées. You tend to feel a bit like Cinderella, and can just imagine a carriage pulling up and picking you up to go to the next ball.

While I do highly recommend the Caillebotte exhibit to those interested in impressionist art and its juxtaposition against photography, a new technology at the time, the museum itself is worth a visit any day of the week, special exhibit or not. It is definitely my new favorite museum in Paris!!

To get a little taste of the extravagance, here is link to the museum photo galleries: http://www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com/fr/jacquemart/607-galerie_photos/

Musée Jacquemart-André

158, bd Haussmann

75008 Paris

Tél. : 01 45 62 11 59

http://www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com/

A far cry from documentary photography, the photo exhibition presented by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France entitled “Rose, c’est Paris,” by Bettina Rheims and Serge Bramly, is an erotic black and white surrealist fantasy. Taking place across the patchwork landscape of Paris – Montmartre, Palais de Justice, the Observatory – one follows the fictional search of “B.” a blond bombshell trying to uncover the wherabouts of her twin sister Rose.

"Rose, c’est Paris. Joyau de l’art gothique." © Bettina Rheims. Courtesy Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Paris

Bramly’s narrative is spun throughout four short intriguing movie segments which present a series of small enigmatic theories regarding what happened to Rose – kidnapping, victim of a conspiracy, an affair gone wrong – each providing a context for the mysterious and often haunted photos of Ms. Rheims. B. encounters the likes of a volutoptous Monica Belucci, a stoic and almost frumpy Charlotte Rampling, a haughty Valerie Lemercier and an Ines Sastre as hindu dancer…characters that also represent the intimate circle of friends of Rheims and Bramly.

B. and the ghost of Rose appear more often naked than clothed,  and a provocative nudity abounds in these edgy photos…enough to redden the cheeks. Yet despite its weird and blatant display of female sexuality, there is a certain  preservation of the classical beauty of the naked female form. The body seems to always remain the center focus of the photos, drawing the viewer in with its milky white contrast to the gray and black shadows of Paris.

"Rose, c’est Paris. Joyau de l’art gothique." © Bettina Rheims. Courtesy Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Paris

There is also an unmistakable harkening to Marcel Duchamp, a French Dadaist of the early 1900’s, with it’s title “Rose, c’est Paris,” and Duchamp’s fictive character Rrose Selavy (Rose c’est la vie). One photo exclusively mentions the artist in its title while displaying the ghost of Rose or B. languidly lying amonst the most banal utillitarian objects found in a warehouse such as lightbulbs, electric cords, and planks of wood.

However more subtly is Rheims photograph of a nude woman stopping the timer as she wins a chess game against a man looking suspiciously a lot like Mr. Duchamp in a photo he posed in for photographer Julian Wasser.

Photograph of Marcel Duchamp and Eve Babitz posing for the photographer Julian Wasser during the Duchamp retrospective at the Pasadena Museum of Art, 1963

The mystery, the audacity, the creativity, and the intrigue  of Rheims and Bramly’s photography trump the daily grind and bustle of Paris and revive the capital as a place full of questions and curiosities that have no answers, a sensual city that is not without its cruelness, and moreover a place that nourishes and inspires the artist’s soul.

Practical Information:

Rose, c’est Paris

Richelieu (Metro Bourse)

Tuesday-Saturday from 10h to 19h

Sunday from 12h-19h

Adult 7 euros

Under 26, 5 euros

 

http://www.bnf.fr/fr/evenements_et_culture/calendrier_expositions/f.rose_cest_paris.html

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