'Ed's Little Tours

photo: cafe denis papin, blois

The café Denis Papin, next to the street of stairs of
the same name in Blois.

A Famous-Person Sighting

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 26. March 2001:- The usual musings that are normally presented here as a sort of weather 'report' are unnecessary this week because last Wednesday I went down to the Loire to greet the arrival of spring, and you can read about this odyssey in this issue.

If you chose not to do so and are still planning to arrive in Paris within the next few hours, I suggest you outfit yourself with a hat, umbrella, raincoat and shoes more water-proof than sandals.

And if you have planned excursions on Paris' sparkling blue river Seine you should revise your wishes because its waters have risen so high that all river traffic - including cars, trucks and motorcycles - is temporarily out-of-order due to masses of dirt-clogged brown water. This also means that all excursion boats are not operating.

The rest of Paris is high even if it is not dry all the time.

Café Life

On Tour

During the course of normal Metropole production I seldom visit the exhibitions and shows mentioned in the weekly 'Scene' column, unless I get an invitation - and can take advantage of it.

But on my rare 'week-off,' if I have the luxury of having somebody to drag me through museums and galleries, I don't pass it up - usually for fear of being excommunicated.

Quite often, I get an advance taste of new exhibitions by seeing them featured on TV if I happen to be watching it at the right time. Sometimes these 'previews' are well-done, which often cannot be said of the exhibition posters.

Paul Signac

For example, if I had only the poster for the Signac show at the Grand Palais to go by, I would not have crossed the street for it. The TV presentation was brilliant, partly because Signac's more brilliant paintings were featured. This lifted the dry mention in 'Scene' out of the ordinary, and left me willing to be dragged to see the show.

Paul Signac was born four years after Georges Seurat, and because he follows him alphabetically, is not so well-known. Yet he met Seurat in 1884, and painted in a similar fashion. He alsophoto: empty bar lived a lot longer than Seurat and went on to have several styles, including mastering watercolors.

One of Paris' many bars - but closed for some reason.

Signac was also color-mad, to the point of following the theories of the Cercle Chromatique. While last fall's Méditerranée show featured the influence of the southern light on the Impressionists, Signac was the Impressionist who discovered Saint-Tropez and stayed to paint it - very brightly and often.

There is a lot of high-quality variety in his current one-man show, which I thought superior to the multiple big-name Méditerranée exhibition. Paul Signac is the real thing.

The Musée Guimet

The newly re-opened Musée Guimet, which features the arts of Asia, is a fine place inside. I mean its interior architecture is superior in finish and detail - which is not always the case - so the building is worth a visit for itself.

The TV preview bothered me. It looked as if there were too many items packed into it. As it has turned out, even through the museum is at least four floors high, there are too many items in it.

I think this is partly because a lot of Asian art is not monumental and a lot of it has a lotphoto: musee guimet, interior of detail. If only a few pieces at once, it is possible to absorb them - but here is a sort of fully-stocked department store of art.

Escalators, stairways - the Guimet museum has a variety of them.

The Guimet is not on the scale of the Louvre, but giving its contents a good look-over really needs several visits. It also probably means that the museum will become, if it isn't already, one of the world's references for art from Asia.

Balzac's Hideout In Passy

Honoré de Balzac was a public man in Paris and a demon of a writer in the privacy of his hide-away cabin in pastoral Passy. Besides not giving its address to anybody, the modest house was hidden by an apartment building - now gone - and it had a secret exit onto an alley running behind it.

The way it is now, there is a small courtyard in front and a garden to one side, and Balzac's writing room has a door directly to it. The exhibition 'Balzac dans ses murs' shows the writing room, also photographed by Robert Doisneau in 1986.

The writing room is nearly bare, so the real exhibition consists mostly of a display of 'La Comédie Humaine,' an opus including 2000 characters, and spanning a time period from the Révolution to end of the 'July monarchy' in 1848.

Plans, showing the relationships between major characters, are several metres long. In his spare time, Balzac wrote several other novels, some tales and plays, and in his last years was devoted to Mme Hanska. He died in 1850.

Photographs on display showed the alley behind the house, so this got a visit too, to find a couple of CRS guarding the rear of the Turkish Embassy. Otherwise, the alley was an original bit of old, pastoral Passy.

Barbara Gets A Bisou

Café Metropole Club members Shirley and Tony were looking for a place where they intended to have lunch on Saturday, on Friday evening, and they couldn't find it and chose another restaurant instead.

Despite gangs of serious-looking men-in-suits loitering about outside, and patrolling ladies too, they entered a likely place and got a serious up-and-down once-over from big men-in-black on the way in. Further in it turned out to be an ordinary restaurant and they got a table.

Shirley looked around at the other diners and realized one of them was Barbara Bush, who was easily recognized by her trademark pearls. Mrs Bush shared a table with other daughters of the Bush family.

Right here, in this somewhat nondescript back-street restaurant, hidden behind the Rue de Rivoli, were the former 'First Lady' of the United States of America, with one of her daughters and one of the recently-designated 'First Daughters' of the same country.

This explained all the black-suited people outside and in the entry of the establishment. But none were inside the dining area.

Thus the unthinkable happened - another diner, possibly Swedish, possibly out of his head with joy or wine - approached Mrs Bush and gave her a big two-cheek bisou. He did this more than once, untilphoto: lane behind balzac house, passy Mrs Bush told him to stop it, and then he gave club member Tony's cheek a pinch for good measure.

Meanwhile the suits outside did not bother looking in the restaurant's large windows and kept their eagle-eyes peeled for possible accidently passing terrorists and other common riff-raff.

<>The narrowest part of the alley behind Balzac's hideout in Passy.
Continued on page 2...
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