Temporary exhibition

The love locks have left the Pont des Arts (see previous post here), new glass panels make it again possible to get an unobstructed view of the Seine. The city is now renewing a previous tradition to expose art on the “art bridge”. Under the title “La Passerelle Enchantée“ (The Enchanted Footbridge) there is at present a solo show of sculptures - by Daniel Hourdé - to be seen – until June 12.

I was there a few hours before the official opening and the installations were still in progress.

I returned the following day.

A lot of reflecting material is used.

The mayor runs a “Love Without Locks” campaign as too many monuments, bridges… continue to be covered, hidden… and here is another example - around the statue of Henry IV and the Pont Neuf, on the edge of the Ile de la Cité. I suppose that new glass panels are now needed here also.

From the Pont Neuf, the traditional view of the La Samaritaine building is different for still some time. Some maintenance work was ongoing on Paris’ oldest remaining bridge.  


How to make the pyramid disappear.

Street artist and photographer JR has managed to make the Louvre pyramid (more or less) disappear. June 27 the pyramid will again be back to normal. If you are interested in JR and his work, you can go here. I can also refer to his Panthéon "faces", on which I reported here.

Visiting the “Cour Carré”, actually the older part of the present Louvre, built during the 16th and 17th centuries, you will get another surprise.

Eva Jospin (the daughter of former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin) has created a “panorama” with twisted mirrors outside and some kind of forest inside. The installation will remain here until August 28.  You can read about Eva Jospin here.

This made me have a closer look on the fantastic facades of the Cour Carrée, the Square Court, with all its “details” (including the chimneys). 

One can also walk out through what used to be the main entrance during the “royal times” and have a look at the outside. (You can read more about the Louvre in some of my earlier posts.)  


Another "Monumenta" exhibition

More or less every second year, there is at present a “Monumenta” exhibition at the Grand Palais. The idea is obviously to occupy the space under the beautiful glass roofs of the Grand Palais (see previous posts) in a monumental way. I have reported about the three previous ones – see here, here and here.

This year Huang Yong Ping, a Chinese artist (living in France since 1989) has been chosen. Before coming to the present exhibition - which lasts until June 18 - , here are some examples of the artist’s previous works.

As I understand, the idea is to refer to the industrial, capitalistic, “empire”. On top of containers in all colours and from all continents you will find some kind of a serpentine skeleton … and Napoleon’s hat.

Well… whatever you may think about this as art, it’s always a pleasure to admire the architecture of the Grand Palais, built for the 1900 world’s fair.


It had been raining...

Place de la Concorde, just after the rain.



The ballet “Parade” had its première at the Châtelet Theatre, May 18, 1917. It was a creation by Serge Diaghilev’s “Ballets Russes”, with music by Eric Satie, libretto by Jean Cocteau, choreography by Léonide Massime (first dancer and lover of Diaghilev) and costumes and set by Pablo Picasso. Guillaume Apollinaire wrote the program note and described it all as "sur-realistic" - this was the beginning of the expression "surrealism". The fact that we were in the middle of WWI possibly further contributed to a more or less expected atmosphere of scandal. There were a lot of negative (but also some positive) criticisms. (You can read more in detail about it all here.)

To celebrate the 100th anniversary, the Châtelet Theatre has for a couple of days exhibited the curtain or the panel Picasso prepared for the event, illustrating the group of performers. The style of this panel, the largest artwork ever made by Picasso, is actually quite different from the cubist costumes he also designed. (I have added some portraits of the personalities involved, most of them made by Picasso.)

Unfortunately, I am publishing about this one day too late as the exhibition of the panel lasted only a few days and ended May 15.

Here is also a little video.

Maybe a few words about the theatre? It dates from 1862 with Gabriel Davioud as architect. Davioud is also known for e.g. the neighbouring theatre, Théâtre de la Ville, for the St. Michel fountain (see previous post) and for his participation in the creation of many Paris parks, including “my” park, Square des Batignolles. The theatre has to a large extent been used for music performances and composers or conductors like Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Gustave Mahler, Richard Strauss… all have appeared here. Today it’s also annually used for the French “Oscar”, César, ceremony. (During the exhibition, you could watch a little movie about the “Parade” in the theatre lobby.)


Sitting on the rails...

As last year, one has the possibility, during the warmer months, to visit what used to be a repair and maintenance workshop for the French Railways. Such activities started here in 1845 and were abandoned in 2014. In the meantime, the premises had of course been modified, especially during the 1930’s.  Before demolition starts in 2017, making place for housing and commercial installations, the premises are for a second time open to public – until October 16.

The event takes place in cooperation with the French Railways and a number of old locomotives and rail cars can be seen, including a beautiful steam locomotive and a “Trans Europe Express” passenger car (which reminds me of some previous trains - slower than the TGV, but - nice for travelling, with real and often excellent restaurant service….).

During the coming months you can enjoy a number of activities here, including eating, drinking, shopping, listening to concerts…

The open space is used for gardening, bee hives… and for just sitting down with a glass, a book, an iPad… (I was here rather early in the day – I imagine there were difficulties to find a seat later during this very warm spring Sunday.)

Here is where you can find the place. The street in  front (rue Ordener) is on Sundays occupied by a (flea) market. This is also where you can find one of the authorised street art walls (on which I reported previously, see here). 



The famous music hall L'Oympia opened in 1889 (created by the man who also created Moulin Rouge). The first star performer was actually “La Goulue’, considered as the first (Moulin Rouge) cancan dancer and often portrayed by Toulouse-Lautrec (I wrote about her several times, e.g. here). I’m not going to tell the whole story of the Olympia here, but… After some decline, the Olympia became a movie theatre in 1929. The music hall we know today actually got started in 1954 under the leadership of Bruno Coquatrix. The economy was often bad and some artists, like Edith Piaf, sometimes performed for free to help. When Coquatrix died in 1979, the Olympia was again seriously threatened for years (to be transformed into a parking lot…), but on a ministry order in 1993 it was saved, to large extent rebuilt, but keeping its architecture…

Here is a short list of some of the artists who have appeared here:
Aretha Franklin, Beatles, Beach Boys, Billie Holiday, Björk, Bob Dylan, Celine Dion, Charles Aznavour, Charles Trenet, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Edith Piaf, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Georges Brassens, Gilbert Bécaud, Ginger Rogers, Iggy Pop, Jacques Brel, James Brown, Janis Joplin, Jeff Buckley, Jimi Hendrix, Josephine Baker, Lady Gaga, Led Zeppelin, Leonard Cohen, Liza Minelli, Louis Armstrong, Madonna,, Maurice Chevalier, Miles Davis, Mireille Mathieu, Amalia Rodrigues, Ray Charles, Rolling Stones, Serge Gainsbourg, Tina Turner, Yves Montand…

I have of course been to concerts here, but then photography is complicated, not allowed… At present (until June 15) there is an exhibition which allows you to see part of the interior, get some history of the place…

In the large vestibule different items are exposed, e.g. the scene costumes worn by Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier and others.  

You can visit the so-called billiard room, wonderfully decorated. It was obviously once used as a place for rehearsals. During the exhibition you can watch excerpts of different artists' performances.

Normally you are not admitted into the concert hall during these visits, but I was lucky – a member of the team preparing the coming night’s performance let me in.

When you see where the back stage entrance is situated, you realise the size of the installations.

To conclude, shall we listen to Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf performing at the Olympia?