Thursday, September 8, 2011

Do you subscribe to Bonjour Paris? If you -- like me -- do, then you already know it's the best site around for All Things Paris. If you don't, and you -- like me -- are a Francophile or someone who is only un petit peu interested in Paris and France, you should start your subscription immediatement! BP is a terrific resource for anyone planning on visiting Paris for the first or fiftieth time, and it's also a great time-waster. What I mean when I say that is that once you're browsing around the site you can really get sucked in and it's hard to leave, and an hour can go by really quickly. BP is practical, but it's also a great place for daydreaming about Paris!

Run by American expat Karen Fawcett, the site is a real community of people interested in a wide variety of topics pertaining to Paris and to France. I've not yet met Karen, but I interviewed her by telephone for my book (pages 632-635), and after only a few minutes I knew we were kindred spirits. She is very sympa and savvy, and as she noted in a posting on May 1, 2010 (her twenty-second anniversary in Paris), "after all these years, more of me is French than American...Paris has captured my heart and part of my soul."

In her post this week, 'Meandering in the Paris 7th,' I was reminded of my own year in the 7th arrondissement, where I lived as a student in 1979 with a French family dans la rue de Grenelle. One of Karen's neighborhood favorites is the Rodin Museum (the photos above were taken from the museum's website), which was and is one of my favorites, too. As Karen notes, if you have a young visitor with you (under the age of 8) you can stroll the museum's really pretty gardens for free, something I did about twice a week as I was also working as an au pair for three children, the youngest of whom was 3. The museum is located on rue de Varenne, only one parallel street away from rue de Grenelle, so from my family's house I could be at the Museum's gates in about seven minutes. Laurent and I were most definitely regulars.

The gardens are truly a special place in Paris, but the museum is, too. In addition to all the works by Rodin, there are some paintings that were in his personal collection, like the one above by Van Gogh. When I first saw 'Arles: View From the Wheat Fields' (1888) I immediately loved it, and even this many years later I still feel the same way about it. It was a natural for inclusion in an exhibit entitled 'Vincent Van Gogh: Timeless Country - Modern City' held at the Complesso del Vittoriano in Rome that ran from 7 October, 2010 to 6 February, 2011. I didn't see the exhibit, but the accompanying book is of very good quality and is quite interesting (edited by Cornelia Homburg, Skira, 2011).

When I read how fond Karen was of the Rodin Museum in her post, it reminded me that I hadn't enthused about the museum in my book; that of course is the limitation of a book -- I can't, after all, include everything I love about Paris in a book because it would be as big as a house -- but is the opportunity of a blog. However, in my book I feature an entry on the Jeu de Paume museum in the 'Paris Miscellany,' which I included as a way to remind readers not to overlook Paris's wealth of small museums. (When I was a student, the Jeu de Paume housed the works of the French Impressionists -- it's now reserved for temporary exhibitions -- and for many years I was still able to remember the exact placement of each painting in every room.)

I am an enormous fan of the 7th arrondissement -- and another museum gem in the neighborhood is the Musee Maillol, at 61 rue de Grenelle -- as well as of the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay; but as I note in my book, "I will never forget how standing and looking in the Jeu de Paume made me feel about art, about my life, about the extraordinary place that is Paris." In any of Paris's small museums, you may very well have your own illuminating thoughts.

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