Friday, August 26, 2011

If I were in Paris... Friday, August 26, 2011

I am almost tempted to bypass this post today. This first week of school has been chock-full of drah-ma already. Sigh.

I wish I were in Paris, mes amies!

I never really talk about the 13th, but it is an arrondissement that has blossomed and my connection to the Tolbiac brings me there on a regular basis. I have come to appreciate its quiet nature, in a part of Paris that seems almost suburban, in the sense of lacking tourists (beyond summertime scholars).

Almost three years ago now, exactly, I posted this about Tolbiac and my adventures there.

What I didn't mention then is that Tolbiac, indeed the entire BnF group, put on some of the best exhibitions in the city.

Right now, the Tolbiac has two exhibitions running through September 4, that I think are worth seeing.

"An African Summer Season," which includes maps, drawings, photographs by Europeans about Africa from the Renaissance through the 18th and 19th centuries. The exhibitions considers how Europeans saw the continent--literally as a land mass--first, the coasts and later the interior areas. It also considers how "mapping" defines an area through the eyes of those exploring and depicting.

"Paul Jacolet" focuses on the the engravings, watercolors, and drawings of this artist who studied Japanese techniques and, then, married them to an awareness of Western art.

By the way, at the Opera Garnier, the BnF has an exhibition on "Opera's tragic actresses" (through September 25), which I would say is worth seeing (another exhibition I would give my eyeteeth for!). This exhibition focuses on a few of the great 19th to early 20th centuries singers who worked at the Opera Garnier, showing them and their careers through photographs, objects, jewels, costume sketches, and Rare documents, as the site says.

At the Richelieu, there is a show on "The art of illumination in Islam." Again, this promises to be a focused, brief but delightful show that would take a visitor only an hour or so, and then one can settle to lunch or a coffee at a nearby cafe.

But if I stayed in the 13th, I would certainly explore the area near the Tolbiac or take a little bit of a walk. One can get really great Asian food--Vietnamese or Chinese, especially--in this district, which was at one time where new immigrants from those countries settled. Similarly, go see La Butte aux Cailles, a little neighborhood with a lot of good eating possiblities as well as simply charming, narrow streets and interesting buildings.

If you are at the Tolbiac, be sure to walk across the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir, a foot/cycle bridge.


Very cool bridge, lovely walk.

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