What do you get when you mix sunshine, “Arab” art, elephants, booksellers, classical music and too much wine?
Why, you get our second full day in La Cité des Lumiéres.
So, day two, picking up where we left off in yesterday’s post, began with a stroll across the Seine river (with an appearance by the sun which led to some lovely photos like the one above).
We were on our way to the Musee de l’Institute du Monde Arabe – a modern museum of “Arab” art. This was a significantly interesting place; the intellectual highlight being I learned about the varying histories and cultures that make up “Arab”. As with most things, this classification isn’t as simple as we’d like it to be.
Aesthetically, the museum was all contrasts of metal construction and old-looking art. I loved the concept that in most Arab cultures, there’s no distinction between art and craft; “decorative” art is art, no qualifications needed. And then, in the courtyard of the museum, we met this family of pachyderms.
Next, we strolled along the Left Bank and saw the famous booksellers. The highlight was this dude, sporting his best Sherlock Holmes ensemble:
Then, into the fabulous part of town known as Marais, in search of an incredible crepe place called Crêperie Suzette, which we found on Yelp (thumbs up for the recommendation, thumbs down for the crappy mapping that meant we walked 20 minutes further than it told us to the first time). My crepe was raclette-style cheese with ham, bacon and other goodness. YUMMMMM.
Then a quick visit to La Sainte Chapelle, followed by a trip to Musee de Quai Branley, a super-cool modern building housing an absolutely incredible collection of native art forms from regions all over the world. I learned about tree bark art (!) and there was a special exhibition about hair (yes, hair) that I don’t really think I can describe.
Next, back to the Sainte Chapelle for a Christmas concert, which was disappointing. I wanted to gasp in delight as the first notes of the Marriage of Figaro were played, but it was evident from the beginning that the first violin was playing too fast for the acoustics of the hall. That, plus the coldness of the space and the heavy breather to my right made for a long concert, even though the soprano’s voice was luminous. Her encore of Ave Maria saved the night, though; it was magical to hear that song soaring up into the arches.
And finally, we wound up in a little hole in the wall bar with a French friend of my hostess, and we spent hours there drinking (very good) red wine and noshing on cheese and sausage.
How very French of us. We stumbled home way past my normal bedtime, but full of good food and wine and conversation.
Day two – check. I give it two thumbs up.