The Anne Frank garden, opened in 2007, is just behind the Centre Georges Pompidou which is just peeking out in the upper right hand corner of the picture above. Part of the present garden used to be the gardens of a big 17th century mansion, Hôtel de Saint-Agnan, still there and which now is a museum of Judaism history and another 17th century mansion, Hôtel de Montmor, where Descartes (Cartesius), Molière and others were guests. It can be a little hard to find, it is just to the right as you leave the Rambuteau metro on a little dead end street, Impasse Bertaud. The small horse-chestnut tree to the right is a graft from the tree mentioned by Anne Frank in her diaries.
I just got a new fisheye lens for the camera, so I decided to take a few shots of the interior of some of the shops in our little “village”. The picture above is one of the three local produce shops, Les Primeurs.
We were in the mood for something different and decided to try Oum el Banine near where we live. The restaurant is a small family place on Rue Dufrenoy, just off Boulevard Flanderin established in 1993. I happen to love Moroccan food since I have visited Morocco in the past and we have Moroccan restaurants in Las Vegas and LA. This food is nothing like American Moroccan food. Moroccan cuisine is extremely refined, thanks to Morocco's interactions and exchanges with other cultures and nations over the centuries. Moroccan cuisine has been subject to European, Berber, Moorish, and Arab influences. The cooks in the royal kitchens of Fes, Meknes, Marrakesh, Rabat and Tetouan refined it over the centuries and created the basis for what is known as Moroccan cuisine today. The Treaty of Fez (signed in 1912) made Morocco a protectorate of France. In late 1955, Mohammed V successfully negotiated the gradual restoration of Moroccan independence within a framework of French-Moroccan interdependence. Morocco and France have a close relationship and there are a number of Moroccan restaurants in Paris.
As I have discussed in previous posts, the neoclassical Château Bagatelle was built in about two months in 1777 as a wager between Marie Antoinette and the Count d'Artois, Louis XVI's younger brother. The central building above is the Château, modified in 1835 by Lord Seymour, marchion of Hertford. Wanting a house wider than the existing building, he removed one floor, which transformed its proportions. It contained the largest part of his extensive collection of French paintings, sculptures, furniture and works of decorative art, most of which went to form the Wallace Collection in London. Bagatelle underwent five years of redecorating and extensions, and then Lord Hertford did not reside in it until 1848. He also built the “Trianon”, seen in the above picture to the left of the château, for his son Richard Wallace.
Indiana is a chain restaurant in Paris catering to Mexican cuisine, go figure. They happen to have a restaurant at the Place Bastile, which is where we first found them. The first restaurant bar Indiana Café was born on Quentin Bauchart street in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. A cross between cheeseburger and tacos, frozen tequila cocktails and Paris. It is one place to get nachos and/or a melty enchilada. They have a decor with American Indian vintage photographs and other paraphernalia and it always seems to be packed with a younger crowd. It reminds me a little bit of Chilis or TG Fridays in the US.
When we visited Bagatelle, an exhibition of Robert Arnoux was discretely placed in the gardens. For ten years, his strange characters have been walking their slender oversimplified silhouettes, solo, couple or family, in the most beautiful parks and gardens of France. Auvers-sur-Oise, Saint-Jean de Beauregard , Le Vert Bois, Le Point du Jour, and Séricourt “Garden of the Year 2012” where he was invited last summer. The figures are carved from a single block of stone. Their silhouettes are like a mirror held up to the walker, a concentration of humanity frozen and yet terribly alive. His works, which tend towards abstraction, purifies the essence of being together as a human comedy outdoors.
I am breaking this post on Bagatelle into smaller pieces, this is the second part on the gardener's house, seen above. As I said in the previous post, the Count d'Artois, Louis XVI's younger brother, and thus Marie-Antoinette's brother-in-law, had bought a house, in very bad condition, existing on this site. Marie-Antoinette, amused by the poor condition of the place when she visited it for the first time, said to her brother-in-law that she hoped to be accommodated there two months later. Artois took up the challenge, and it is said that he bet 100,000 pounds with the Queen. Artois won his bet, two days later the architect Bélanger had drawn the plans of the folie, and nine hundred workmen leveled the buildings and prepared the ground. By November of 1777 the house, or as the French call it folie, was completed. The name Bagatelle comes from the Italian bagattella, means a trifle, or little decorative nothing. In 1777 a party was thrown in the recently completed house in honor of Louis XVI and the Queen.
We were on our way to the Cluny and happened upon Saint Severin, so I took a few pictures. Séverin of Paris, a devout hermit, lived on the banks of the River Seine during the first half of the fifth century. The oratory which was built over his tomb became the site of a small Romanesque church which was built around the eleventh century. By 1200 the modest Romanesque church of Saint Séverin was no longer adequate for the robustly expanding neighborhood, and the decision was taken to replace it with a larger structure in the emerging new style that created “churches of the sun with an architecture of light”. To its contemporaries this architectural mode was known as the French style; today we call it Gothic architecture. Lots of people take pictures of it since it is just down the street from Notre Dame.
We were at the Bastille the other day, doing some paperwork for our long term visa and we got a little hungry. I have had a number of inquiries about where to eat when going to the opera, so I thought I would do a couple of reviews. I decided to start with the restaurant next door, Les Grandes Marches. Les Grandes Marches was closed for renovation for some time and has just re-opened. The interior is elegant, with fine wall panelling and pictures of opera stars such Maria Callas. The menus is upmarket brasserie, with an emphasis on seafood, including a wide selection of oysters, as well as steak options such as a gargantuan 400g rib-eye.
Another nice day in Paris and today we decided to visit the Jardin des Plantes . Founded in 1626, Jardin des Plantes was first established as a royal garden of medicinal plants and wasn't open to the general public until 1650. It was designed and planted by Guy de La Brosse, the physician of Louis XIII. The grounds of the Jardin des Plantes includes four galleries of the Muséum: the Grande Galerie de l'Évolution, the Mineralogy Museum, the Paleontology Museum and the Entomology Museum. In addition to the gardens there is also a small zoo, founded in 1795 by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre from animals of the royal menagerie at Versailles.