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Time-travel: blissfully basking in Haussmann, Garnier, Strauss & Jugendstil

Time-travel: blissfully basking in Haussmann, Garnier, Strauss & Jugendstil

Old Nov 16th, 2009, 04:46 PM
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Time-travel: blissfully basking in Haussmann, Garnier, Strauss & Jugendstil

About a year ago, a Fodorite posed this hypothetical question: "Let's say you can go back in time, where and which time period would you pick to spend your whole life in? And Why?" (http://www.fodors.com/community/fodo...ck-in-time.cfm). The whole life part is impossible of course, but for past two glorious weeks I savoured traces of my two choices: the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the heydays of waltz to Jugendstil, and the Fashion Capital from the reign of Charles Frederick Worth to Christian Dior.

This was my first chance in decades (and, unfortunately, last in the foreseeable future) to take two consecutive weeks off from work, so I wanted to squeeze in lots of favorite things. The first half of the trip had to be Paris, the beloved place to which I never get tired of returning, especially solo, to be free to explore anything on a whim. From there, I did an overnight trip to Moulins sur Allier and a day-trip to Compiegne. The second week, my mother and sister joined me in Vienna-- it's the first time there for all three of us, but it had been on the top of my wish-list long before I ever became interested in France.
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Old Nov 16th, 2009, 06:11 PM
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Reading and Preparation:

For Paris, I only brought my Moleskine Paris notebook and a Red Map. Haven't been able to buy any Paris travel books after the first trip 9 years ago, just as I had never been able to buy a NYC guide book before moving here-- it's just a too-depressing reminder of not living somewhere. (Except the <i>Paris Méconnu</i> book which is good but too heavy to carry around). Did some online research on Garnier, Eugénie, and Winterhalter, which led me to Chateau de Compiegne. There are two free audiotours of the chateau to download from audiovisit.com, one for adults http://www.audiovisit.com/visite_det...p?visite_id=49 and one for kids http://www.audiovisit.com/visite_det...?visite_id=113 (the latter is also useful for adults who are trying to learn French). There was a Napoleon III photo exhibit at the Met Museum recently.

It was difficult to find much information on Moulins either online or in books, except for the costume centre's website http://www.cncs.fr/ and this blog which has photos of architectural details and some entries on restaurants and cafes:
http://dominique03.over-blog.com/cat...-10488672.html
http://dominique03.over-blog.com/cat...-10309178.html

For Vienna, I ordered a dvd of the ballet "Mayerling" from Amazon but it didn't arrive in time. Reread some parts of Alma Mahler's diaries, which talks about Klimt, Hoffmann, Moser, etc. Loved the book <i>Adolf Loos: architecture 1903-1930</i>. I brought <i>Visible Cities Vienna</i>, <i>Top 10</I>, and several Fodors trip reports. Thanks to all of you who helped out by answering questions as well as posting detailed reports, especially to yk who was kind enough to mail me her Jugendstil walks book to read in advance.
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Old Nov 16th, 2009, 06:53 PM
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Hi Fifi, welcome home! I've been looking forward to this- can't wait to read more
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Old Nov 17th, 2009, 12:35 PM
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Yes, it sounds like it's going to be wonderful.
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Old Nov 17th, 2009, 03:19 PM
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Fifi, welcome home. I look forward to reading your adventures (and seeing your photos). [I forgot it was me who posted that thread...]
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Old Nov 21st, 2009, 04:21 PM
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Fifi, waiting patiently for your report.
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Old Nov 21st, 2009, 06:22 PM
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Fifi, more, please!
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Old Nov 21st, 2009, 11:17 PM
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Looking forward to the report.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 06:43 AM
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Thanks for your encouraging comments and sorry about the slow start-- I had an unfortunate mishap this week. Just as I was almost finished copying photos by all three of us onto one flash drive, renamed files, corrected exif time/dates, organized into folders by date, deleted bad ones, and rotated the vertical ones (the last part goes at a snail's pace on my old computer), something fell from the desk, bumped into the flash drive which was still inserted into the front of the computer, and bent and broke it! Had to start all over, plus get mom to send me her photos again. Hoping to get back onto to Fodors tonight.

<b>Please remember to back up your photos immediately, not wait until you're editing them!</b> And better to insert your flash drive with an extension USB cord so it lies flat on your desk or the floor, not sticking precariously out of the front of the computer. Luckily in this case, nothing is permanently lost except time.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 07:02 AM
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OMG, thank goodness your photos are safe! I had a mishap too on my recent trip - I tried a new (to me) feature on my camera and I didn't realize that meant deleting ALL the previous photos on the memroy card! Fortunately, I had just uploaded the photos onto my netbook the night before, so I only lost about 4 photos. My moral of the story is: don't try new features on a camera if you're not familiar with them.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 01:39 PM
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Yikes! And so frustrating after all that work Glad to hear you didn't lose any photos though.

These are good reminders about cameras and downloading. I'm a bit afraid of my camera and have to be careful with pressing buttons and things because I have no idea what any of them mean.
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Old Nov 24th, 2009, 04:20 AM
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<b>Day 1 (Halloween): arrival in Paris and trip to Moulins sur Allier</b>

A couple of years ago, when Paris' Musée de la Mode et du Textile was having a retrospective on the 20-year anniversary of my idol Christian Lacroix, a magazine article mentioned a related show at a newly-opened, huge costume center in Moulins: the <b>Centre national du Costumes de Scène</b> (http://www.cncs.fr/). I've been eager to visit it ever since, but their exhibits never coincided with my trips until now. This time, I was able to catch the Rudolf Nureyev exhibit shortly before it closed. Although a day-trip later in the week would be more convenient, a guided tour of the centre is only offered on the first Sunday morning of each month, so I decided to go straight down on my arrival day (Saturday) and stay one night in Moulins.

From CDG, I took the Air France bus to <b>Gare de Lyon</b>. In hindsight, the RER would have been a better choice in price, speed, and frequency-- I waited half an hour for the AF bus, and the one to Gare de Lyon cost quite a bit more than the one to Etoile. Sure, it was the only direct route to the gare, but I was way too early for my afternoon train anyway. After locating the blue/yellow sections and their track numbers and reloading my Navigo Decouverte card in the Metro, I considered going into the beautiful Train Bleu for lunch, but the weather was so nice that I just grabbed a pain au chocolat from a Brioche Dorée and went outside. Across the street are many of those grand iron-balconied, zinc-topped apartments which say "Paris" more than any tower or arc. http://images54.fotki.com/v202/photo...11C1074-vi.jpg

CDG:
"Degas" toilets http://images54.fotki.com/v556/photo...11C0951-vi.jpg
"like nowhere else" http://images54.fotki.com/v564/photo...C0954cr-vi.jpg

Gare de Lyon:
http://images52.fotki.com/v734/photo...1C0994e-vi.jpg
http://images24.fotki.com/v764/photo...C1079cr-vi.jpg
http://images46.fotki.com/v1432/phot...11C1084-vi.jpg
http://images109.fotki.com/v788/phot...11C0970-vi.jpg

Strolled across the river to <b>Jardin des Plantes</b> and back, watching people and taking photos. Got a big package of roasted chestnuts from a street vendor. I didn't know before that <b>Pont d'Austerlitz</b> was the bridge leading to Jardin des Plantes-- from its name, I had assumed that it was the train-only bridge that goes into Gare d'Austerlitz. (So, what is the name of <i>that</i> bridge?) There's a crowd waiting to go into the Natural History Museum. Again, it's amusing how so many Europeans-- adults, kids, even dogs-- pause to pose when they notice a stranger's camera.

http://images54.fotki.com/v563/photo...1C1020e-vi.jpg
http://images54.fotki.com/v563/photo...C1022cr-vi.jpg
http://images54.fotki.com/v555/photo...C1039cr-vi.jpg
http://images52.fotki.com/v729/photo...C1041cr-vi.jpg
http://images52.fotki.com/v304/photo...C1351cr-vi.jpg

There several bookstores/newsstands inside Gare de Lyon selling many detective novels as airports and train stations usually do, and I tried to find a copy of Siménon's <i>Les Inconnus dans la Maison</i>, which was set in Moulins, but they seemed to have every other Siménon except that one.

After a 2 1/2-hour train ride, I arrived in Moulins shortly before dinner time. Checked into <b>Hotel Kyriad</b> (for which Expedia had a discounted rate of 38,50 euros), rested a while, and went to a lovely art nouveau restaurant called <b>Le Grand Cafe</b>. I had chosen to it mainly to see the original 1899 decor, but the food turned out to be excellent-- one of the best meals on this trip! From the prix-fixe menu, I had a cocotte of escargots with garlic cream as appetizer, Parmentier de canard confit for main course (those of you who read my TR last year know I've been curious about this dish since then), and the Tentation de Patissier which was a 4-dessert sampler of chocolate mousse, crème brûlée, an almond cookie, and some crumbly apple thing topped with ice cream and cream. All that plus a café crème and a bottle of local sparkling water came to a total of 28 euros.
http://images35.fotki.com/v1127/phot...10small-vi.jpg
http://reseauartnouveau.centerblog.n...s-03-Auvergne-
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Old Nov 24th, 2009, 06:42 AM
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MmeFifi,
LOVE your photos and your report(s)!

I'm in awe of your sense of detail, though. You "see" so much everywhere you go, and make the experience - and each of the moments, big and small - come alive. I really do feel as if I'm savoring the moments with you when I read your reports.

Paule
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Old Nov 24th, 2009, 07:13 AM
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ttt
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Old Nov 24th, 2009, 09:10 AM
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You could have a second career taking pet portraits.

Great report. Looking forward to more!
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Old Nov 24th, 2009, 09:16 AM
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What a great start. I can't wait for the rest! (the hotel rate is incredible!)
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Old Nov 24th, 2009, 04:52 PM
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Degas toilets at CDG! The couple of times I've flown in and out of CDG, the toilets were always in some falling apart/under renovation/construction area. I like the ballet master's pink suit

Looking forward to more!
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Old Nov 28th, 2009, 07:52 AM
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<b>Day 2: Moulins</b>

Sunday morning I got up early to do a few things before the 10:30 tour of the costume center. This was the view of the town from my hotel window:
http://images52.fotki.com/v737/photo...11C1114-vi.jpg

Darn, according to the restaurant listing in one of the brochures, the place I had planned to go for breakfast-- the <b>Café Américan</b>, another AN building-- is closed on weekends this time of year. I wish I had walked by to see the outside anyway; here's a photo someone else posted online: http://a10.idata.over-blog.com/1/63/...oque-00136.JPG. Can't remember what I ate instead; come to think of it, maybe I was so anxious to visit the candy shop that I forgot to pick up breakfast that day.

Many of Moulin's streets have charming names such as Allée des Soupirs (alley of sighs), rue du Cerf-Volant (that's a kite, not flying-deer as I had thought), and rue des Crinolines. There's also a rue des Grèves-- how did it get that name-- was that where strikers gathered?

On rue de Paris at the corner of cours Anatole France is the confiserie/chocolaterie <b>B. Serardy</b>, better known by the name of its specialty "<b>Les Palets d'Or</b>", which are small thin chocolate discs with assorted fillings. The marzipan mushrooms in the window are adorable.

colorful mosaics:
http://images53.fotki.com/v419/photo...11C1131-vi.jpg
the Palets d'Or:
http://images53.fotki.com/v420/photo...11C1127-vi.jpg
mushrooms:
http://images52.fotki.com/v734/photo...11C1133-vi.jpg
http://images54.fotki.com/v563/photo...11C1134-vi.jpg

But why isn't the shop open?! It's Sunday hours are supposed to be 9:30 to 12:30, and it's a little past 9:30 now. Hoping they're just running late this morning and not closed for Toussaint, I took a walk up this street which is lined with 17th and 18th-century architecture. Dominique's blog talks about the use of red and black bricks for criss-crossing patterns characteristic of this period and how most of these facades were built onto existing old houses, with the back parts remaining medieval. http://dominique03.over-blog.com/article-29534200.html

rue de Paris:
http://images53.fotki.com/v425/photo...1C1136e-vi.jpg
Palais de Justice:
http://images54.fotki.com/v556/photo...1C1159e-vi.jpg
Lycée Banville, with Déscartes and Cicero on the facade:
http://images43.fotki.com/v1330/phot...1C1154e-vi.jpg
L'automne: http://images54.fotki.com/v563/photo...11C1145-vi.jpg (Unlike Victor Hugo, I welcome this happiest time of year).

When I came back down the street, the chocolate shop had opened. The owner offered several samples to taste and wrapped my purchase in pretty cellophane paper printed with flowers and autumn leave, tied with their signature orange ribbons and loops of twine strung with multicolored wooden beads.

the shop's ornate 1898 facade:
http://images53.fotki.com/v432/photo...C1163e1-vi.jpg
the goodies inside:
http://images54.fotki.com/v563/photo...1C1165e-vi.jpg
the cheerful floral ceiling:
http://images54.fotki.com/v564/photo...1C1166e-vi.jpg

With the orange bag of goodies, I dashed through town and across the Allier River to the <b>Centre national du Costumes de Scène</b> just in time for the guided tour. There are more frequent tours of the exhibitions, but this more detailed 2-hour tour of the centre itself is only offered once a month. The docent began with a slide show on the history of the town and this building. Tiny and unknown before, Moulins was chosen by a Bourbon duke to become the capital of Bourbonnais because of its convenient location at the intersection of two important routes-- one from Paris to the south, and I forgot what the east-west path connected but it passed right through where Pont Régemortes sits. (Sorry, this was all in French, which meant I only understood when I concentrated, but I'm easily distracted around old architecture and costumes, so I'm sure there was a lot more I missed or misheard). Quartier Villars, which houses the costume center now, was built in the late 18th century for a cavalry regiment. It was nearly torn down in the 1980s and rescued at the last minute-- demolition had already begun on the facade when the the grand staircase became classified as a historic monument, saving the rest of the building.

CNCS was inaugurated in the summer of 2006. Its own website is only in French, but the Nureyev Foundation's site has an English page on about the Centre. http://www.nureyev.org/costumes-stag...useum-costumes
http://images18.fotki.com/v674/photo...1C1187e-vi.jpg
http://images52.fotki.com/v304/photo...1C1178e-vi.jpg

The top floor, where our tour begins, has a library or "Documentation Centre" with books on theatre, set design, and costume history (mostly in French but also in some other languages), as well as collections of videos, magazines, photos, press kits, and programs. On the far end of the ground floor past the store and cafe is an auditorium showing archival footages and dance films.

The archive of over 9000 theatrical costumes dating from the 19th century to the present (given by the Bibliothèque nationale, the Comédie-Française, and l'Opéra national de Paris) is stored in a windowless temperature- and humidity-controlled environment, the modern concrete and steel building added beside the main house. http://images116.fotki.com/v697/phot...1C1185e-vi.jpg These garments, carefully cleaned and wrapped, will not be worn again and are taken out only for conservation/repairs, exhibitions (here or on loan to other museums around the world), or to be studied by costumers. Obviously, the storage area is not open to tours, but I found these videos on the France2 TV website which give a peek inside: http://culture.france2.fr/mode/expos...-43934403.html
(Click on either of the two videos on the upper right side of the page).

The first floor is the large exhibition space. So far there have only been the biannual temporary expositions, but starting next year they will also display a permanent collection of Nureyev memorabilia, donated by the Nureyev Foundation. The exhibition I came to see, «Rudolf Noureev, 1938-1993, la trame d'une vie», was definitely worth the trip from Paris. There's not just his costumes but also those of his former partners including Margot Fonteyn and Carla Fracci, as well as newer ones worn by current dancers such as Sylvie Guillem and Agnès Letestu in his ballets, and lots of old photographs, posters, and film clips.

At the cafe, the appetizer of goat cheese feuilleté over green salad was absolutely delicious, but the main course and desserts were mediocre and quite expensive. The guided tour included a quick look through the exhibition, but after lunch I went back through the first floor again at my own pace. The highlights for me were the three dresses (red, white, and black) designed by Cecil Beaton for Fonteyn in "Marguerite and Armand", the spectacular leafy Von Rothbart cloak worn by Nureyev, and the Giselle Act I costume that Carla Fracci wore in the enchanting performance I only recently discovered on Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeO2evl8az8

Coming across the Pont Régemortes this morning, I was in such a hurry that I didn't have time to look at it or the river. Now on the way back I had a chance to slow down and enjoy the view.
http://images53.fotki.com/v431/photo...C1202cr-vi.jpg
http://images52.fotki.com/v728/photo...1C1211e-vi.jpg
http://images54.fotki.com/v555/photo...11C1217-vi.jpg
http://images18.fotki.com/v674/photo...11C1218-vi.jpg

Back at the town center, I strolled by some landmarks such as "<b>La Mal-Coiffée</b>" with its funny-looking roof, the <b>cathedral</b>, and the clock tower <b>Jacquemart</b> which has four figures on top: Jacques and his wife Jacquette sound the large bell on the hour, while their children Jacquelin and Jacqueline hit two smaller bells each quarter-hour.

la Mal-Coiffée:
http://images52.fotki.com/v733/photo...1C1267e-vi.jpg
http://images53.fotki.com/v420/photo...1C1271e-vi.jpg
cathedral:
http://images53.fotki.com/v426/photo...C1274cr-vi.jpg
random buildings:
http://images52.fotki.com/v644/photo...1C1246e-vi.jpg
http://images18.fotki.com/v674/photo...1C1277e-vi.jpg
le Jacquemart:
http://images47.fotki.com/v1403/phot...1C1291e-vi.jpg
http://images18.fotki.com/v673/photo...1C1288e-vi.jpg

There's too much to fit into one day; I didn't get to any of the museums such as the Musée du Batiment (http://musee-batiment.planet-allier....ccueilpag.html) and the Musée de la Visitation (which had an exhibition of embroidery from the 12th century to the present) or the cathedral's famous triptych (which was closed for the holiday today anyway). It doesn't matter because I'm sure I'll be back for some future exhibits at CNCS. For the Diaghilev fans here, their next show « Opéras russes: à l'aube des ballets russes » will run from mid-december through next May. (I don't think I'll be able to go back that soon).

After dark, it started to drizzle, so I returned to the hotel to retrieve my luggage and took a taxi to the train station. Soon, I was settled "back home" in the same cozy little garret apartment as last year, ready for (nearly) a week of Paris.
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Old Nov 28th, 2009, 12:13 PM
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Wonderful shots. Moulins looks wonderful. Looking forward to more.
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Old Nov 29th, 2009, 06:30 AM
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Beautiful photos, Fifi. The Nureyev exhibit sounds so interesting, I'm glad it was worth the detour.

I was wondering if you stayed in the garret again this trip- I miss that little place and Paris in general of course. Can't wait to hear about Paris next. Come back soon!
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