Art All Around

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Monday, the day when many museums are closed, is actually easy in Paris for art lovers as several interesting museums remain open. It was another drizzly day, and so a museum day would not be a hardship at all.

We began at the Grand Palais, that gorgeous Beaux-Arts building of glass, metal and stone that stares opposite the Petite Palais, both built for the 1900 Exposition. Inside the enormous  glass of the Nave, artists have been invited to mount huge exhibitions to take advantage of the space. This year’s is by Chinese-French sculptor Huang Yong  Ping, called Empires. Symbols of past and present power, domination, threat, and cycles are explored through walking through a landscape constructed of hills made from stacks of shipping containers, modern signs of domination. A gigantic snake coils through overhead, finally swooping down to show its opened fanged mouth against the end of the tail. Overhead is a giant Napolean’s hat, coated in tar and oil. Not subtle, but arresting to walk through.

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Over on the other side of the Palais, we both  greatly enjoyed the Carombolages exhibition. The curators have assembled hundreds of artwrks from all eras and origins, and thoughtfully arranged them so each leads on in some way to the next, whether by subject, form, decoration, or theme. It’s fascinating to see the interconnections as you also appreciate the art. I think this was my favorite exhibit we’ve seen in Paris this year.

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After a very visually full morning, we were ready for lunch. One of our favorite lunchtime destinations from October was Zebulon, near the Palais Royale. Like many places, they offer a three-course set menu at lunchtime at a very fair price. This can be a lot of food, so what we usually do is order one full menu and one plat (main course), sharing first course and dessert. Today we started with a little dish of cod, leeks and vegetables cooked in a creamy sauce, lovely on a chilly day. Our plat was slices of tender veal, with eggplant puree and beets.  Dessert was a little cherry clafouti, topped with cherry ice cream. All excellent, and actually we decided to try their sister restaurant Pirouette for dinner tonight.

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We still had a bit of energy afte lunch, so headed over to the Louxembourg Museum for the Masterpieces from Budapest exhibit. This was a small, carefully selected representative of the Budapest museum’s holdings, from Middle Ages through early modern period. Enjoyable. These were two of my favorites,  a dutch work by Hooch, and this sweet little Millet etching.

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We headed back to the apartment for some rest, walking through the Luxembourg Gardens in the rain.

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Put our feet up, and then at 8 set out for Pirouette, near Les Halles. This is a cool space, two levels, and like Zebulon, the tables are spaced so you aren’t sitting in your neighbor’s lap. On a nicer night it would be nice to eat outside here. From tonight’s menu we picked a beautiful first course of tomato, fresh ricotta, sauteed girolle mushrooms, friend and fresh herbs. This was so good we’d wished we had ordered two. I went on to another of my France must-haves, riz de veau. It was stellar, crisp outside, meltingly tender inside, in a delicious sauce. Larry loved his pigeon as well. We weren’t in the mood for a sweet, so for dessert had a slice of a new cheese to us, a Basque sheeps cheese called Ossau Iraty. It was nutty and creamy, and was topped with a cherry glaze. delicious meal, good wines by the glass.

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