Paris was waiting

#1 Jun 20th, 2018, 21:11
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#1
We arrived at Orly airport in May after a quick charter flight from Crete. One of the corridors at the arrivals terminal was decorated with this advert in English : "Paris was waiting". Not great English but a great sentiment nevertheless. "Paris vous attendait" meaning "Paris was waiting for you" is true enough. Sometimes the anticipation is better than the actual journey. Sometimes the reverse is true.

A few days before we left Paris, to return home to Greece, we heard that the traveller and adventurous eater and writer, Anthony Bourdain, had killed himself in a hotel room in Alsace. Since then I have been watching some of his television programmes and recently saw those concerning his trips to Paris. His advice to tourists is "Don't plan" and I wholeheartedly agree. He suggests walking and eating and drinking instead of sightseeing. Again, a man after my own heart.

I have the book he wrote "Kitchen Confidential", but until now had never seen any of the travel/food reports from "No Reservations" and other series. Some of the restaurants he likes are familiar to me, others not so much. In any case, it is his basic philosophy of not doing much which I am recommending !

But that is not entirely accurate, for in the first week of our stay we walked some forty kilometres, visited at least five Parisian parks, and went to see a great exhibition at the Branly Museum, as well as visiting some old favourite restaurants and discovering some new, soon to be favourite restaurants.

Here are a couple of classic shots of moody Paris and of the Grande Roue (the Big Wheel) at the Tuileries.

Moody Paris (looking at Notre Dame, just before rain)
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La Grande Roue in the Tuileries gardens, just before it was dismantled
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Let me leave this introduction with a puzzle...
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What could it be ?
#2 Jun 20th, 2018, 21:14
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#2
flower? dessert?
#3 Jun 20th, 2018, 22:02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post flower? dessert?
I want to put you out of your anguish and reassure you that this is not the latest Japanese/French culinary experiment. It is a poppy. Actually it is this flower in close-up:

Coquelicot (Poppy)
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Here are some similar shots of poppies, taken at the Parc de Vincennes, in the east of Paris -

Up close and personal with a Pink Poppy
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Pink Poppies
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All of these photographs were shot at the Jardin d'Agronomie Tropicale, in the
Bois de Vincennes, about which I will tell you more in a short while.
#4 Jun 21st, 2018, 14:05
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A friend of ours suggested a visit to the ruins of the Exposition Universelle (Universal Exhibition) at the Jardin d'Agronomie Tropicale (Garden of Tropical Agriculture) in the Bois de Vincennes on a hot and muggy Sunday afternoon. This is a totally off-the-beaten track and wild section of a park in the far eastern reaches of Paris, bordering on Nogent-sur-Marne. Back in the year 1907, an exhibition was organized to "showcase" the French colonial empire in countries such as those of Indochine (Vietnam) and the Maghreb (Northern Africa) and the Congo as well as Madagascar. The former lustrous buildings are now in a state of neglect, and only Sunday picknickers and joggers disturb them. It is an eerie place. A bit further towards the Paris side of this vast park, there are experiments in horticulture, and even strawberries are being grown here, which is quite surprising ! The poppies are the most extravagant display of blooms.

On the day that we visited, in one of the pavillions, there was a talk by a photographer who had just returned from visiting Ladakh and a Buddhist monk was in the middle of creating a mandala. Incongruous and pleasing to the eye.

(In Vincennes Park itself there is a Buddhist temple, which we had attempted to visit on a previous trip here, but which remained mysteriously closed.)

Whilst visiting these remote and untouristic spots I was reminded of a school book we read in the 70s, the "Grand Meaulnes" by Alain-Fournier, which talks about a "lost domain". I went to buy it again and will enjoy re-reading it I hope.

Here are some photos of the strange sights we saw that day. If you are bored with the Eiffel Tower, you may like to visit. Metro station : Chateau de Vincennes (Line 1). Entrance to the park is free. (Entrance to the chateau is paying, but I have never bothered to go in there.)

Abandoned
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Memories
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This is a monument to the Cambodians and Laotians who died for France. This monument is a stupa, a Buddhist religious monument. It is dedicated to the combatants in Indochina who were from Laos and Cambodia.

"L'Exposition Coloniale"
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Strawberries
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Sculpture



More about this curious destination here, for those who would like to learn more : http://parisisinvisible.blogspot.com...-past.html?m=1
Last edited by theyyamdancer; Jun 21st, 2018 at 16:22.. Reason: To add link
#5 Jun 21st, 2018, 14:53
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One of the relics from Indochina is a replica of a Cambodian bridge with sculptures at the edge of it depicting Naga snakes ! I did not expect to find this...

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It is really quite scary, but beautifully done.
#6 Jun 21st, 2018, 15:16
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Speaking of scary... At the Branly Museum, on the quais of the Seine, not far from the Eiffel Tower, there is a current display of Ghostly Apparitions, in a temporary exhibition entitled "Enfers et Fantomes d'Asie", meaning "Hells and Ghosts from Asia". The Japanese ghosts are fascinating; the others are equally so. But I was most enthralled by the cinematic depictions of cat woman, in various guises. You can watch loads of videos from old horror films and then waste your time trying to find the entire films online. This is NOT an exhibition for children. There are also many Buddhist ghostly beings, which I attempted to photograph. (Having trouble with uploads from phone...) There were very few people in the museum, probably because it was a strike day at the SNCF. All of these past two months the French railways are conducting twice weekly very controlled semi-strikes, which are frustrating the French as well as the tourists. (Our own Indiamiker Nycank was forced to take a bus instead of a train.) The glories of Japanese film ghosts fade when confronted with the splendor of SNCF strikes (I am being ironic). I was pretty miffed too because I did not know whether my brother would be able to visit on the Eurostar from London. In the end, he did, but his return train having been cancelled he had to leave even earlier than planned. Anyway, back to the fantastic tales of hellish ghouls...

View of Eiffel Tower and of Branly Museum
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Musee Branly
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#7 Jun 21st, 2018, 17:31
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Without further ado, here are some depictions of the Underworld in Asian and South-East Asian art.

Japanese spirit


Mask from Branly Museum


Devilish


Hellish Ghost


Ghostly in Hell



The last two drawings depict the Hungry Ghosts who are unable to eat because their mouths are full of flames. In Japanese they are known as Gaki zoshi. The script in which they feature dates from the 12th century. They inhabit different levels of Hell.


For more information on Hungry Ghosts, see here :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungry_ghost
Last edited by theyyamdancer; Jun 22nd, 2018 at 11:54.. Reason: To add information
#8 Jun 22nd, 2018, 10:38
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"The Three Worlds" (Thailand)
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"Ghost of Okiku" (Japan)
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"The Ghost of Kamata Matahachi" (Japan)
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The faces of the underworld are varied and manifold. These are contemporary artworks from the late 20th century.
#9 Jun 22nd, 2018, 11:17
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From one of the explanatory notices -

Quote:
"The Buddhist world is impermanent. All existence is temporary, be it that of the gods, of man, of animals or of the damned. Hell is a purgatory where the deceased suffer for a given time to atone for their faults before joining the cycle of reincarnation.

In Eastern and Southeast Asia, infernal suffering is depicted in temples and paintings. The vision of Hell has an educational and liberating function. It teaches the laws of karma, which state that each person's condition, in this life and in their future lives, depends on their past acts."

Another text in the museum tells us :

Quote:
"In Chinese cosmology, the human world reflects the divine celestial world and its imperial administration. According to the same analogy, the Underworld reproduces the medieval justice system.

The ten hells described by the Buddhist texts take the form of criminal courts, presided by kings who are also judges; assisted by officers and demon torturers.

This bureaucratic image of the afterlife was disseminated from China to the whole of Eastern Asia and Vietnam."

To my mind, a huge omission in this very interesting exhibition was Ghosts from Bengal. There is some overlapping in the way ghosts are depicted in Bengali folklore with the way they are depicted in Japan or other parts of South East Asia. I felt like writing to the curator and asking why they left India out ! (But I guess I know the reason... the Branly Museum does not cover Indian art at all... the Guimet Museum does it well.)


Here is one critic's overview of the show :

Quote:
The exhibition "Ghosts and Hells: The Underworld in Asian Art" focuses its attention on ghost stories from East and Southeast Asia, delving into the world of spirits, terror and fantastic creatures and their contemporary adaptations. A journey to the edges of reality, where cinema, religious art, theatre, contemporary design, manga and video games intersect.

From Hokusai prints to Pac-Man, from Buddhist paintings to J-Horror – Japanese horror cinema from the 1990s-2000s – with the film ‘Ring’, from the Thai spirit cults to horror manga, the figure of the ghost has haunted the Asian imagination for centuries. in China, Thailand and Japan – the lands that the exhibition focuses on – the popular infatuation with terror is very real, and one that permeates a wide variety of cultural productions. From spirits that wander the forest, vengeful cat-women and hungry spirits that return from the dead (‘the walking dead’) to hopping vampires and yokais (supernatural creatures in Japanese folklore), these can appear in multiple guises and freely cross artistic periods and media.

The exhibition Ghosts and Hells: The Underworld in Asian Art explores their representation in the performing arts, cinema and comic books. After all, whilst Buddhism has played its part in the formation of this imagination, it is indeed on the fringes of religion, in popular and secular art, that the representation of ghosts has truly come into its own.
Source c/o :http://artdaily.com/news/103781/Exhi...a#.WyyKIfSKS00


One more review to whet your appetite for more photos (when I succeed to upload them!)

Quote:
Summer 2018 brings an important exhibition about an otherwise rarely discussed side of Asian art to Paris. Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac is now hosting “Ghosts and Hells: the underworld in Asian Art,” a show that explores dark motifs in a well-known setting. The Paris museum will host the show until July 17, 2018.

Julien Rousseau, curator of the musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac’s Asian collections puts together an exhibition with creativity and erudition. “Ghosts and Hells: the underworld in Asian Art” is a daring exhibit that is not for the faint-hearted. It takes into account intellectual and scientific aspects that only serve to make the final result that much more enjoyable. The works provide the key to unveiling the significant dimensions of Asian cultural heritage. There is also a cinema section where Julien Rousseau drew on the expertise of Stéphane du Mesnildot, an eminent specialist in Asian cinematography.

The exhibit hosted at musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac focuses its attention on ghost stories from East and Southeast Asia, delving into the world of spirits, terror and fantastic creatures and their contemporary adaptations. It is a journey to the edges of reality, where cinema, religious art, theater, contemporary design, manga and video games intersect. It digs deep into their representation in the performing arts, cinema and comic books. Buddhism has played its part in the formation of this imagination — it is indeed on the fringes of religion, in popular and secular art, that the representation of ghosts has truly come into its own.

“Ghosts and Hells: the underworld in Asian Art” follows a thematic and geographical approach, alternating between eras to reveal the continuity of the representations of ghosts. There is a dialogue between ancient religious art that explore the idea that ghosts never die and that their manifestations are unpredictable. Here, ghosts make their appearance across eras and artistic media.

There is also a contemporary design space dedicated for installations reproducing the underworld of the temples of Thailand, the production of mannequins and scenographic decor by a Thai special effects studio. It is the creation of works for the exhibition by contemporary Asian artists, video montages, ghostly hologram apparitions and giant ghost sculptures.

The exhibition is on view through July 17, 2018, at musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, 37 Quai Branly, 75007 Paris, France.
Source c/o :http://www.blouinartinfo.com/news/st...-musee-du-quai
#10 Jun 23rd, 2018, 00:33
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#10
Quote:
as well as visiting some old favourite restaurants
Do tell some.
Great photos as always..
#11 Jun 23rd, 2018, 12:41
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Thanks, Ed. Μaybe we will return to the delights of Musėe Branly later. I have been reading a lot about ghosts and the Underworld, whilst trying and failing to describe the exhibition we saw. To describe the food we ate in Paris ought to be a lot easier !

Regular readers of my trip reports will know that I have a preference for non-French cuisine, in a quest to avoid butter and cream, due to lactose intolerance. We all love fish, so I pondered where to go when my brother was visiting. Finally we revisited an old favourite in St. Germain des Prės, "La Mėditerranėe", which has been there seemingly forever. The decor is by Jean Cocteau. Most of the diners seemed like locals and regulars. I refrained from taking photographs but it was a memorable fish feast. One of the starters is carpaccio of sea bass (daurade).Highly recommended.

On another day we visited the Terminus du Nord brasserie near the Gare du Nord ( Eurostar rail terminal ). These are some of the dishes we enjoyed:

Sea Bass


Cod


Gambas
#12 Jun 23rd, 2018, 12:49
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Another highly enjoyable meal was at "East Mamma", an Italian restaurant to the east of the Bastille (situated at 133 rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine, 75011 Paris). The owners are from Puglia and speak to you in Italian. I ordered a pizza with prosciutto and truffles, whilst Mr TD decided on lasagna. We ended our meal by sharing a gargantuan portion of excellent tiramisu and ristretto coffee.

Pizza with truffles


Lasagna


Tiramisu



I recently read that they have a new offshoot of the original restaurant, called Pink Mamma, in SoPi (the South of Pigalle) area which is now trendy. One to keep in mind.
#13 Jun 23rd, 2018, 13:24
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#13
Anything of interest for poor veggies like myself and VA??
(I know I am searching at the wrong place, but you can always ask, no?)
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#14 Jun 23rd, 2018, 13:25
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Of new places which we just discovered, my favourite is Le Petit Keller in the rue Keller (near Bastille). This is Japanese-French fusion food. The chef, I learned, used to be at Nanashi (which specializes in bento boxes). It is a very popular place and easily gets crowded, so arriving early for lunch is a very good plan.

(I will post some photos soon.)

Japanese pâtisseries are very fashionable right now in Paris, and we discovered a wonderful one on the rue Saint Paul in the Marais. The flavours are very oriental (yuzu, macha) and the colours of the cakes quite startling. They are delicious.

In Belleville, an old favourite still going strong is Lao Siam. We added to our list of Asian restaurants in the area by trying out a new one called Dong Huong in rue Louis Bonnet. It was crowded with Chinese families, a good sign. Belleville is a mixing pot of Chinatown and other ethnic groups. There are some great discoveries to be made. But it is also fast on the way to gentrification. We went for coffee and cake at a Patissier called Yann Couvreur (specialities in chocolate!) near Goncourt metro. This has become very popular.


Snotty, fear not, I shall post some veggies forthwith.


In Montparnasse, I thoroughly recommend Sushi Gozen, a Japanese restaurant which is very discreet (next door to and not to be confused with a Korean Barbecue restaurant). Their food is delicious. The sashimi is very fresh. Situated at 22, rue Delambre, Paris 14e. It is small and easily fills up.
#15 Jun 23rd, 2018, 14:36
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Originally Posted by snotty View Post Anything of interest for poor veggies like myself and VA??
(I know I am searching at the wrong place, but you can always ask, no?)

It is always a bit tricky to find veggie food in Paris. This is a city for dedicated carnivores. After so many years living in Greece I cannot any longer stomach steak with blood dripping out of it.

Many cafés serve acceptable salads such as "Salade au chèvre chaud", which is not a salad with a hot goat in it, but rather a green salad with hot goats' cheese.

The aforementioned "Petit Keller" has taken French dishes and Japanized them, subtracting the butter and cream, and adding miso and ginger ... apologies for yet more fish photos ! They have a really good starter made out of mashed Adzuki beans, which they call Adzuki Hummous. Served with Greek olives, and wholemeal bread. That is a possibility for vegetarians. There are also main courses, Bento Boxes, for vegetarians. The owner is very helpful and she guided our choices. The puddings are creative (perhaps not very photogenic).

Adzuki Hummous
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Fish, Japanese style
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Chocolate, Crumble, Passionfruity Pudding
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