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TR: A book lover, solo in PARIS and beyond...

TR: A book lover, solo in PARIS and beyond...

Old Jun 19th, 2012, 05:33 PM
  #21  
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Kelsey22 - thanks so much.

Also meant "RER" not "REF" above when referring to the Metro.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 05:53 PM
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I am thoroughly enjoying your report, and I've just downloaded the Wharton autobiography to my nook. I'm looking forward to more. Thanks so much for sharing!
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 05:58 PM
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Sorry, I'm too e-reader-centric. I meant ordered the book. It's not available on the nook.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 06:17 PM
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Jmct714, I am sure that you will enjoy the Edith Wharton bio. What a life! She came from upper crust New York/Newport society. In those days women did not attend college, but she read widely and had every advantage. Unfortunately she married the wrong man – wealthy and privileged but emotionally unstable. He became increasingly resentful of her literary career. Her eventual divorce shocked many in her circle.


In addition to her success as a novelist, she wrote widely about home decoration, gardening, and travel. She would bring her chauffeur and touring car with her to Europe and go on “motor flights” with friends like Henry James throughout Europe. She was loyal to France and served on many charitable committees during WWI. Quite a gal! She adored Paris.
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 04:32 AM
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Working on next section and so happy I can connect to Fodors today...
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 06:59 AM
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LDT, I loved Wharton's take on NY society in House of Mirth and Age of Innocence, but honestly didn't know much at all of her personal life until I visted The Mount a few years ago. Can't wait to get that bio, and I'll now also add a vistit to 58 Rue de Varenne to my 'to do' list for my upcoming Paris trip. Thanks again for such a delightful(and educational!) report.
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 07:13 AM
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What a great report written by a lady who has a way with words... Thank you.
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 08:34 AM
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Jmct714, I have enjoyed those novels of Wharton’s also. But my favorite remains ETHAN FROME, a tragic tale set amid rural poverty in western Massachusetts around the turn of the century.

It is a tribute to Wharton’s powers of observation that she could re-create that atmosphere while she lived in luxury up the road in the Berkshires at THE MOUNT. She wrote it originally in French to “practice her skills.”

You may have better luck on the rue Varenne than I because I was not quite sure I was at #58. I quote here from another source (unfortunately I did not have my notes the day I went there.)

“Most of Wharton’s years in Paris were spent in the most prestigious floor of a late-19th-century stone building just down the street at No. 53. A plaque on the outside of the building describes her as ‘the first writer of the United States to settle in France out of love of the country and its literature’.”

I couldn’t find this plaque. These residences remain “behind closed doors.”

And Treesa, thank you for your kind words…
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 10:44 AM
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thank you, ltd, for your lovely description of the musee marmottan. we went there after the chaos and crowds of the monet exhibition in the Grands Palais, where even though we had Sesame passes, we had to wait to get in, and it was wonderful just to be able to wander around and look at the paintings without the heathen hoards getting in the way.

here's the link for those reading this thread who are headed that way :

http://www.marmottan.com/

nice neighbourhood restaurants and cafes in the area too.
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 10:59 AM
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Years ago I saw Julie Harris in Etham Fromme.
I was overwhelmed!
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 11:27 AM
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annhig - Sesame passes - what are they? I have never heard of them - only the Museum Pass which I intended on buying.
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 11:45 AM
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et voila!

http://www.rmn.fr/english/purchase/a...he-sesame-pass

we only bought ours because we wanted to see the Monet exhibition at the Grand Palais very much [ partly because we love Monet, partly because about 30 years ago we saw the Manet exhibition at the Grand Palais too] and all the ordinary tickets had gone. it was expensive, but no more so than a meal for the two of us would have been, and we got at least as much enjoyment out of it.

I kept kidding myself that we'd go back before it ran out but of course we didn't.

I don't think that there are any mega exhibitions on at the moment that would make its purchase worthwhile.
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 12:10 PM
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Thanks Annig - I will stick to the Museum Pass.
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 12:45 PM
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“nice neighbourhood restaurants and cafes in the area too”

Annhig, glad to bring back memories of the Marottan- Monet for you. It is quite a place.

Although I was staying in the heart of the 6th, I can see why repeat visitors to Paris choose more sedate and varied venues like the 16th.

Cigalechanta, must have been a great performance with Julie Harris. I used to tell my students that if they think they have it tough in life, just remember poor old Ethan.

A subtext of ETHAN FROME and of several other of Wharton’s novels in being trapped in an unhappy marriage, a situation she knew well.
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Old Jun 21st, 2012, 02:40 PM
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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6: When planning my trip to Paris, I had prioritized visiting the MUSEE NISSIM de CAMONDO (takes Museum Pass) near Park Monceau in the 8th. On Tuesday evening the concierge at the Hotel Dauphine assured me that I would have “no problem” going there via Metro from the Louvre Rivoli stop, to the Charles de Gaulle Etoile, then to “Line 2” (I think), hence to the Park Monceau.

The experience remains a humiliating blur of questions unanswered (because of my language inadequacy), stairs up and down, and final success arriving at my destination. Park Monceau is a charming green urban oasis developed by a nobleman, with Anglophile sensibilities, later guillotined.

Many “hotels” (private villas) sprung up later around the park including that of Moise de Camondo, a Paris banker of Turkish origin and collector of French furniture and art objects. Built in 1911 and modeled after the Petit Trianon of Versailles, the structure still seems new. His collection features fabulous silver, Sevres china, paintings, Houdon sculpture, oriental rugs, and assorted bibelots.

Modern plumbing and electrical systems were installed. The working kitchen with a huge stove and gleaming copper pots adjoins the servants’ dining room that is right out of Downton Abby.

Camondo intended to leave his mansion and collections to his son Nissim. Unfortunately Nissim, a pilot, was killed in WWI so Moise left his property to the “Arts Décoratifs” in memory of his son. Moise died in 1935 as a wave of anti-Semitism was sweeping Europe. His daughter Beatrice, her husband, and two children died in the Holocaust in 1942. The upstairs rooms contain family photos and a genealogy of Comandos.


I guess it was the poignant family history that attracted me to the Musee Comando. As with many Jews of that period, they assumed that their wealth, influence, or connections could spare them being victims of Nazi vengeance. When they realized that they should have fled, it was too late.

Two examples: Irene Nemirovsky, famous young French novelist whose unfinished classic describing the flight from Paris of June 1940, SUITE FRANCAIS, was published 60 years after her death. And the recent best-selling nonfiction THE HARE WITH AMBER EYES, A Family’s Century of Art and Loss by Edmund de Waal which tells a similar story of the deWaal/Ephrussi family in Vienna who also had connections to the Monceau Park enclave.

The Monceau Park area is quite upscale. Many of the old “hotels” have been taken over by various agencies/businesses including Morgan Stanley. A cadre of young well-dressed business men and women chatted on the streets and in the Park, smoking and looking slim. I had intended to visit the Musee Jacquemart-Andre, another nearby small museum, but decided to return to my home turf near the center of town.

Arrived with some difficulty on the Metro back at Pont Neuf. Now was my time to scour the Ile de la Cite starting with Notre Dame, at the very heart of Paris from which all distances in the city are measured. How to describe Notre Dame? If you have been there, you know. If not, you have a pretty good idea of how it looks. Build and refined over a period of centuries, the edifice suffered disrepair after the French Revolution of 1789 when many church properties were defaced.

The publication of Victor Hugo’s THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME in 1831 was a huge success which revived interest in the mediaeval cathedral. Renovation under King Louis-Philippe began in 1844 under the master restorer Eugene Viollet-le-Duc and continues today. Thousands of visitors pour through its doors every day.

My favorite scene in Henry James’s THE AMBASSADORS is set in the cathedral when Strether, a middle aged American who goes to Paris to retrieve his employer’s wayward son, encounters the latter’s lover who is praying in the darkened recesses of the church. The enchanted Strether and the elegant lady stroll about the church and out amidst the flying buttresses. Then they enjoy an intimate lunch on the banks of the Seine and Strether (now in love with Paris) realizes that he had never really “lived” before.

We could also recall Charles de Gaulle’s triumphal entry into the cathedral on August 25, 1944 when Paris was liberated. But let’s move on to the CRYPTE ARCHEOLOGIQUE DE NOTRE DAME MUSEUM nearby described as “an atmospheric time capsule which explores the lives and artifacts of the tribes and civilizations that dwelt in Paris long ago.” Among other things – well done but not my favorite subject. In a word, I was making the best of my Museum Pass.


The lines at Saint Chapelle were enormous as usual so I passed by. My next stop was the nearby CONCIERGERIE (Museum Pass), former royal palace and part of the Palais de Justice still in use for judicial purposes today. This imposing structure with its conical turrets always caught my eye during other trips to Paris. The interior “Hall of the Guards” is cavernous and regarded as one of the finest examples of secular gothic architecture in existence. The hall was “heated” in winter by four enormous fireplaces which you could literally step into. Its cavernous space reminded me of the PALAIS DES PAPES in Avignon.

The CONCIERGERIE served as a prison during the Reign of Terror in the 1790s, its most famous internees being Robespierre and Queen Marie –Antoinette of “let them eat cake” fame. In 1815 the dungeon of Marie-Antoinette was reconstituted and her original cell was transformed into a chapel. Today visitors can glimpse a mock-up of Marie-Antoinette’s simple cell through a dungeon door. Her last sketch by the artist David is none too flattering – it was a long way from her days at Versailles.

Time for refreshment. I bought an ice cream nearby for €3,50. When the man behind the counter handed it to me, I almost laughed. Truly the scoop on top of the sugar cone was no bigger than a golf ball! I guess that’s why the French are so svelte, n’est-ce pas?

Later that evening I sauntered from the Hotel Dauphine in the opposite direction to the Boulevard Saint Germain. Pursuing the literary ghosts of Paris past, I stopped at the DEUX MAGOTS CAFE, iconic gathering spot of Hemingway, Sartre, Picasso, and Camus among others in their heyday. I sat outside, great for people watching. Soon I was chatting with the fellow at the next table, a lawyer from New York, there for the French Open, who visits the city frequently. It was a great tourist experience, but then I am a tourist and don’t pretend to be otherwise.

Why the name “Deux Magots”? The name originally belonged to a fabric shop on the nearby Rue De Buci which took its name from a popular play of the 1800s entitled Les Deux Magots de la Chine (Two Figurines from China). When the business changed to a café, the name remained. Before leaving, I peeped inside the restaurant to see the two figures which still preside over the establishment. They are quite imposing.

Strolling back to the Dauphine, swarms of Parisians were enjoying the café life in the 6th on such a lovely summer night. Things would change the next day…
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Old Jun 21st, 2012, 03:15 PM
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Oh now I am waiting in anticipation....
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Old Jun 21st, 2012, 05:15 PM
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Kelsey22, I know that you will find the Hotel Dauphine convenient. How many night will you be there? Have you decided which museums/sites you want to see?
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Old Jun 22nd, 2012, 07:30 AM
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Thanks for the fun report. Another interesting take on Paris.

I am deciding whether I am more entertained by the thought of the vocational students coming out of the woodwork or annhig's heathen hoards at the Grand Palais.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2012, 07:36 AM
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Paris is on the western edge of a time zone, while in Boston we are on the eastern edge of a time zone. It is my contention that Paris is actually in the wrong time zone, that France finds it more convenient to be on the same time as its neighbors in continental Europe. By rights, Paris and London should be in the same time zone.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2012, 08:27 AM
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