If you think a jewelry store should be bare and minimal for the gems to stand out on their own, then I strongly urge you to head over to the Musée Carnavalet, a former hôtel particulier in the Marais, which charts Paris’s history in more than 100 rooms, and march straight to the replica of jeweler Georges Fouquet’s shop. It will leave you convinced that a store like this, just like the jewelry it sells, can be the star of the show.
It was designed in 1901 by the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, one of the leading names in Art Nouveau. Having already collaborated on jewelry pieces together, Fouquet asked Mucha to design all the interior and exterior decorations of his chic 6 rue Royale shop. And design he did!
Every inch of the shop is bound to bowl you over. The relief of a woman greets customers at the entrance, her arms and neck thrown back gracefully. The lightings, the showcase tables and the ceilings are all decorated in flowing lines, swirls and themes of flora. A majestic peacock sculpture is spread out against stained glass windows, and another one is perched close to the ceiling, surveying the shop.
The entire room is from the original store designed by Alphonse Mucha; Fouquet donated his rue Royale shop in its entirety to the museum, and it was reassembled as it was. It’s a small room brimming with colour and grandiose, a completely preserved Belle Epoque work of art housed in one of the most interesting yet rather underrated museums in Paris.
And while you’re already there, take in all the Paris richness Musée Carnavalet has to offer: paintings and objects from the French Revolution, prehistoric canoes, scale model of Guillotines, a room filled with the original furniture of Café de Paris, and the famous cork-lined bedroom of Marcel Proust.
23 rue de Sévigné, 75003
Metro: line 1 (Saint Paul), line 8 (Chemin Vert)
Today, in the series of notable Parisians who changed their career in order to follow their passion, let me introduce you to: Lise Bienaimé, the founder of La Chambre aux Confitures, a shop dedicated entirely to jams.
Lise decided about a year ago, after more than 10 years of experience in marketing for famous beauty companies, to quit her job and start her own business. The courageous woman, who would never have thought about one day having her own store and brand, follows in her great grandfather’s footsteps by opening her own ‘épicerie fine’, specialized in jams (and all that is related to them in taste, color and texture).
The idea of ‘épicerie fine’ is a very French concept; at the beginning of the 20th century very small specialty ‘supermarkets’ started developing in French cities. There was no self-service at the time. Instead, what was important was the direct contact with the costumer, the guidance and advice on different products and the quality of the merchandise. The hectic pace and the stressful lifestyle slowly transformed those places in simple proximity supermarkets, that are often more expensive than the big chains, but useful in emergency cases. Today, with the slow food movement and the re-appreciation of food and taking time to eat, the traditional ‘épicerie fine’ celebrates a real comeback.
Lise Bienaimé decided to specialize in jams, as it is one of her personal passions. As a gourmand and a gourmet (a gourmand is someone who loves to eat and a gourmet someone who loves the good quality of his food), she appreciates the quality of food, as well as its celebration. She takes time to develop every single one of her recipes together with specialists. The jams are guaranteed homemade, without artificial ingredients or funny chemicals. Lise says that jam is a food that we often link to our childhood, but even as adults we can appreciate it. It has many facets, which permit playfulness and creativity both in its making and its use: you can eat it by the spoon, put it on your baguette in the morning or integrate it into your cooking for appetizers, mains, desserts or cocktails.
Lise had a pretty original idea opening a jam store, as it is currently unique in France. The originality also lies in the fact that you can open and try all the products, in order to make the right choice. The stores offer a huge variety of different jams (according to seasonal preferences), chutneys, special jams to go with cheese, fois gras and other salted dishes, as well as chocolate and caramel creams. A must is also the ‘Friponne’, which is specially designed to be eaten directly with a spoon out of the jar; ‘châtaigne faà§on marron glacé’ (candied chestnut) is my personal favorite and absolutely addictive!
Lise isn’t thinking about opening more stores yet as her priority is to guarantee the quality of her products, which is not possible if she expands too much. For now she is content with her two Parisian stores of La Chambre aux Confitures, exporting to Japan and of course, the United States. New Yorkers seem to love ‘les confitures’ and so do I, so I recommend you to visit Lise and try her latest Christmas specials!
The figure of a man encrusted in broken glass, a clock partially hidden in the folds of a blowing sheet, pensive huge-scale paintings of the surface of the moon. STORM is the latest exhibit of New York-based Daniel Arsham, contemporary artist and co-creator of Snarkitecture, a collaborative practice which uses art and architecture to create imaginative and unexpected spaces.
STORM takes place at the Galerie Perrotin, a contemporary art gallery founded by Emmanuel Perrotin, the French art dealer whose dedication to the arts knows no boundaries (in 1995, at request, he dressed up as a giant penis for an exhibit opening). Representing a slew of well-known names in the contemporary art scene like Takashi Murakami, Sophie Calle, Maurizio Cattelan and Bernard Frize, among others, the two-storey Marais gallery is the perfect place to exhibit Arsham’s stunning collection of pieces that shatter the calmness of its white walls.
“The Explorer”, 2012. Glass, resin
The timing of his exhibit is poignant, almost fitting, given what people in the US East Coast have recently experienced with Hurricane Sandy. Arsham drew inspiration from the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, which hit Miami in 1992. He was nearly killed, and 20 years later, we see in his art the impact of the destruction of the storm he had so narrowly escaped.
In “The Explorer”, a man with a hand to his brow stands against a wall. He is glittering, entirely covered in shards of glass, inspired by the mass of broken glass surrounding Arsham’s home after the storm hit 20 years ago. This material upcycling of glass is reminiscent of his ping pong ball project, wherein he wallpapered his 90 square-foot Brooklyn apartment with 25,000 ping pong balls. The same technique is used for “Reforming the Frame”, a wall filled with picture frames reconstructed with pieces of broken glass.
“The Explorer”, 2012. Glass, resin
Moving on to the next room, the artist plays with our perception of physical space. The surface of the walls seem to ripple over a half-hidden clock in “Sideways Clock”. He uses the wall to mimic a sheet in “Hiding Figure”, covering the shape of a man whose shoes are peeking out from underneath. He uses movement in “Moving Wall”, giving the impression of the walls closing in on a mirror.
Arsham also presents a series of canvases of the moon. The storm had cut off electricity for a month, and moonlight was a constant companion and a lasting memory of the hurricane’s after effects. Geometric patterns cut and slice through his moon paintings, envelopping the viewer in an otherworldly vibe.
L: “Square Out of the Moon”, 2012. R: “Mooncut” detail, 2012.
Pensive and fragile, STORM revolves around the nature of life, the elements of destruction, and how, like broken pieces of glass glued back together, we do what we can to move on.
Daniel Arsham’s STORM runs from 3 November to 22 December 2012 at the Galerie Perrotin.
The beauty of living in Paris is that things just happen to you, especially when you expect them the least. On a quiet, sunny Saturday morning after having taken my yoga class in the Marais, I walked down the street, determined to catch the next metro in order to get home. But then, suddenly, a couple featureless walls right in front of me caught my attention. It was mainly the exotic smell that made me want to discover what I could find behind those walls. I took the left side entrance and suddenly found myself in the middle of a sizzling little world, full of market stands, people and food. The smell of the fares was overwhelming and I started walking around and following my nose. I had just entered the Marché des Enfants Rouges, which was originally located close to an orphanage, from which it inherited its name and became a market in 1615. (more…)
In Paris, burger joints and cupcake shops are popping up left and right. The American style ‘bouffe’ seems to really be catching on. How could it not?
There are many restaurants in Paris offering American cuisine. I for one, however, think that there are only certain joints that do it right. Many are good. But some are a pinch more authentic. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right combination of atmosphere, grub and beverages”¦ but I am being surprised more and more by some of the places that have joined the streets of this fabulously international city. And of course there are always new places to check out.
I can’t speak for all Americans, but hopefully this list will at least get you through your nostalgic craving for a bite of American grub… it sure does for me!
1) Blue’s Bar-B-Q
This was one of those places that I was so surprised I didn’t know about, so as soon as I heard about it I rushed over to try a pulled pork sandwich. It was divine. The place is run by an ever so lovely woman from Dallas, and really hits home with the déco and everything on the menu. They’ve got Brisket to Bar-B-Q platters to cornbread and of course Mac ‘n cheese”¦ my heart was beating so fast when I started reading the menu. I think the Root Beer Float is certainly the cherry on top of the menu. Blues is open daily from noon to 10pm or 11pm, and on Sundays from 1pm to 8pm, closed on Mondays.
Schwartz’s Deli has been a staple in the Marais since as far as I’ve known. Recently they opened two new locations, one in the 17th and one in the 16th. The chain is known for its fabulous deco and little vintage quotes all over the place”¦ dancing popsicles and soda pops”¦ the works. Their burgers are as big as ever, and they’ve got a variety of American favorites on the menu: Mac ‘N Cheese, Veggie burgers, Mozzarella sticks, and of course some great breakfast choices that are perfect after a night out.
Schwartz’s Deli, 16, rue des Ecouffes, 75004. Tél: 01 48 87 31 29 or 22, avenue Niel, 75017. Tél: 01 42 67 65 79 or 7 ,avenue d’Eylau, 75016. Tél: 01 47 04 73 61
Glass is Pigalle’s newest hotspot, opened by the folks that brought us Candelaria. With a pinch of a rock feel that will make you feel like you’re somewhere underground, Glass has a little something extra to offer. They are focused more on the music, the feeling”¦ and of course they’ve got great taste in beer. This place has got some serious American spunk more into the roots than any place other I’ve seen in Paris; not only because of the growlers (I’m still in shock with happiness of seeing a growler in Paris), but they’ve also got Brooklyn Brewery on tap, and homemade hotdogs and pickles. Stop in for a pint and a snack, and you will feel like you’re strolling out of a bar somewhere across the Atlantic.
Camion Qui Fume is Paris’s first food truck! Run by an American, she has brought a whole new market to the City of Light that has blown all of the locals’ minds. Camion Qui Fume has a variety of different burgers, from classic to a bit more à la franà§aise, and parks in various spots across the city. Burger lovers everywhere can follow through social media to find out where she is, and to stop in and order a burger the New York way. These burgers are just sublime. And half the fun is the environment!
5) Breakfast In America (BIA)
I felt like I couldn’t leave out BIA as it is a staple in the expat world here in Paris. The little breakfast restaurant with toasters on the tables, a cozy, yet hopping atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re in a diner in Brooklyn. They’ve got delicious burgers, impeccable breakfast and heaps of delicious syrup. Breakfast is served all day long, from 8:30am to 11:00pm.
BIA, 17, rue des Ecoles, 75005. Tél: 01 43 54 50 28 or 4, rue Malher, 75004. Tél: 01 42 72 40 21
Like many before him, photographer Honza Hronek first picked up a camera in order to explore the land in front of him, foreign yet familiar, beautiful and waiting to be truly seen. Having moved to England from the Czech Republic at the age of 21, he quickly became connected with the idyllic countryside in a whole new way.
But a move to Paris a year later was the push that Hronek needed to drive him forward in his photography. The gift of a vintage camera that belonged to his grandfather led him to experiment with new photographic techniques in our fair city. “Everything about his visual approach changed. The beauty and the light of the city captivated him,” says his website.
But the precious acquisition of a 19th-century wet plate collodion camera inspired Hronek even further. The post-Daguerrotype camera, invented in the 1850s, gives unusual and beautiful results, with a catch. Gorgeously printed on black glass, the process requires quick work: the artist must develop and set the photograph completely within about 10 minutes. This requires a portable dark room, good instincts and fast fingers. It took him over a year to collect the materials necessary, but the difficulty did not dissuade Hronek – in fact, it seems only to have spurred him on. ”I prefer things to be complicated, rather than easy, to create,” he says. Spoken like a true artist.
The difficulty was well worth it – photographs of this technique are incredibly unique, dramatic and gorgeous. Hronek’s photographic series “We Are Not Just Waiters” went on display Monday at the Rose Bakery (the staff of which make up the subjects of the photos). You can catch the show now through December – don’t miss your chance to see these beautifully unique pieces of art.
Portrait of Clare Oliver courtesy of Honza Hronek’s Facebook page
Honza Hronek, “We Are Not Just Waiters”
On view until December 23
Follow Honza Hronek on his website and on Facebook.