After the Louvre, it was definitely time to dial it back a notch.
We slept in, and then walked out back towards the Centre Pompidou, to see l’art moderne. Ducked down an alley to find a little crepe place; they spoke perfect English so I was a little skeptical. And I’ve not eaten a lot of savory crepes I really liked. Picked one with chevre and apples, and Steph got ham and brie. Very, very yummy in the end.
Similarly, the museum was very toothsome. Our favorite by far.
Pompidou has two types of art; there’s the modern giants such as Picasso, Calder, Braque and Kandinsky, and then there’s a variety of your more contemporary out-there stuff. Latter is on the 4th floor, former is on the 5th. You have to access the 5th from the 4th, and I applaud the forced exposure, even though I didn’t like most of the contemporary stuff. Oh, and they have different rotating exhibits on the top floor, which seems to be mostly highlights of one particular artist’s oeuvre.
There was supposed to be an exhibit on Mondrian, a personal fave of mine on the top, but it wasn’t there. Instead we wandered into an exhibit on the artist, Arman, who neither of us knew. To quote the museum propaganda, “Arman developed a body of work very much of its time, making art from manufactured objects produced by the consumer society.” In other-words, he took objects, e.g. trash; musical instruments; car parts, furniture; and used them as paintbrushes or destroyed/recomposed them in new ways and presented the outcome as a painting or sculpture. We like Warhol a lot; we liked Arman a lot.
After, we went to the Museum proper. Currently there is an exhibit commenting on the inherent sexism of the official canon of western art, old and new. Some of this was clever and convincing, most was unfortunately blunt and obscure. We went upstairs pretty quickly.
There was a little bit of the stuff that gives modern art its negative stereotype of being ugly and easy, but mostly great stuff here. Beautiful, strange, moving… Some of my favorites:
Anyway, on and on, more below in our photos.
Also is a lovely little gift shop on the mezzanine level selling contemporary and beautifully designed objects—household appliances, hairdryers, gifts—very diverse and very nice. I bought Steph an over-sized cocktail ring; the “stone” is plastic filled with a milky gray liquid and a small bubble. It works!
After the musuem, we chilled on the plaza for a bit. Next stop was the boutique Merci.
Tucked away in a back yard, we didn’t immediately detect the main entrance, but instead saw two different storefronts: one for the cafe and the other for a flower shop. Between these two though, there was a gate that leading to an inner courtyard, with a sweet, red Fiat parked inside. Merci is comprised of three floors of a airy, windowed factory, selling a mix of fashion, “useful objects” and home decor.
The café alone could stand alone as a highlight. The walls are lined with second hand books in several languages, and there were delicious cakes and wine on hand for us weary shoppers. The hostess was one of the most welcoming of the whole trip, and they brought us water without asking (this never happens over here).
Its obvious from the wares that there is an emphasis on sustainable design and upcycling in the store, but I latter found out that the designers who are offering their goods on sale here are foregoing their profits, so all the brand new items will cost you around 30% less than the normal sale price. In turn Merci will donate 100% of their profits from goods sold to a foundation benefiting impoverished children in Madagascar.
Keeping on the conscious tip, we ended the evening at Le Grenier de Notre-Dame, a small vegetarian restaurant on a small street devoted to butchers that just so happens to be right near our flat. They specialize in meat-free alternatives to traditional French cuisine, and it was very tasty. Even my reluctant dinner party said it was done right. Although the music selection was completely bizarro and bounced from opera to French chansons to American R&b. Anyway, nice to forgo another meal of just bread and cheese!
P.S. One of my favorite candies are gummies from candy-maker Haribo in Germany. Just let me say that the selection of their confections is 10x greater here in Paris, and I am in heaven. They even sell a few different “greatest hits”, combining different gummies and licorices in one pack. “Haribo Polka” is manufactured especially for the French market, and boy, is it awesome!