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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A morning at the beach, afternoon at the museum

Finally made it to the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, as I knew I would. My idea had been to take it easy this am, and head over there when it opened, at 11am. But when I went out the door, it was just too beautiful to go back indoors. So I went to Paris Plages, instead. Paris Plages is the month long artificial beach that the city has created along a stretch of the Seine each summer, since 2002 I believe. There are stretches of sand with beach chairs, places to play boules and foosball, for free, concerts and dance classes, tai chi groups, even a pool with times for kids, adutls,aqua aerobics classes, places you can stand or run thru a fine spray of water, ice cream and crepe stands, a couple of cafes, and more. Flammarion, the publisher, has a library set up where both kids and adults can borrow books and sit in chairs qlong the river and read. I wanted to stop but there weren't any chairs available there; So I bought myselff a tuna sandwich, on a baguette, of course, and a Perrier, and found myself a spot on a huge beanbag chair chained to a tree. There were two men, one on either side of me, also using bean bag chairs. They were both asleep, and looked asthough they could have been homeless. Or not. Two women walked by, one tried to move one of the beanbags, realized it was chained to the tree, laughed and said, c'est bizarre. I wasn't sure if she was referring to the beanbags themselves, or the fact that they were chained to the trees. I ate my sandwich, reqd my book, and took a nice little nap myself. I'm considering going back for the aqua aerobics class tomorrow, mostly just to say I did it: But I suppose it would be a silly way to spĂȘnd a part of my last day here. It is, of course, utter irony for me to be in Paris pretending to be at the beach. But I like Paris Plages! It really is much more of an event for Parisians, I think, than for tourists. Although there are lots of tourists, it certainly seems that the majority are locals, families, teens, individuals, couples, day care groups. It seems to have grown larger since I was orinally here, and I have read that it has extended to the Canal St. Martin and Parc de la Villette, as well.

There was, by the way, a homeless man just before the beginning of the Plages stretch of the Seine. He was asleep on a mattress, in a small stone alcove, in what seemed like a somewhat permanent spot, because of the large matress. Do you think it's any easier to be homeless when you are in a truly magnificent spot? Or maybe it makes it even worse.

And I did, finally; make it to the museum, in the afternoon, and spent a couple of hours there, until it closed.

I am surprised that I've never made it to this museum before. I thought I'd had, having remembered seeing some exquisite Art Nouveau furnishings before. Now I realize that those had been at the Louvre itself. These three interconnected museums, of Decorative Arts, Fashion, and Publicity, are actually private although they are housed in buildings that are part of the Louvre. I found that out when they weren't free on Sunday.There were several temporary exhibits, and I took my time going thru them, not realizing at all how extensive the rest of the collections are. There was an exhibit of 70's fashion by haute couture designers, intresting enough. Several designers had collections influenced by traditionql folkloric design. The oddest part was a video of runway models ; men and women, skipping around, accompanied by music from West Side Story - I Like to be in America! I think I was missing something!

Then there was the jewelry; fro, the 15th to 20th century, showcased against black in too darkened room. Spme of the Deco pieces, by Lalique, Vever, and Guillard, were, to me, the most
beauful of all.One piece in particular, didn't have any diamonds or gemstones. It was a haircomb made to depict two winglike maple seeds. The stems were gold, and the wings were of a beige, nearly translucent "horne."

The other temporary exhibit featured the art of the turn of the 20th century poster artist Jules Cheret. He is considered to be the originator of the art poster. A contemporary described how his qdvertising posters decorated and transformed the city during the Haussman times of urban renewal, when older buildings were torn down left and right to make way for the modern boulevards.

I was just starting to make my way through the permanent collections of Nouveau and Deco furnishings, including entire rooms, when I realized how much there was. It was a half hour to closing, and I was close to my saturation point. So now I am considering trying to get back in tomorrow on today's ticket. I havent figured out yet how I want to spend my last day. There's also the Rodin museum,which I haven't been to in a long time; and in a neighborhood I haven't been to this time around. There is apparently also some discount deal this month between the museum I visited today and the Rodin, although no one at the museum could tell me what it was!

There is also the possibility that I may be able to connect with Laurent and/or Lucille; my two group leaders from last year's project: It makes me feel better to think about them, and how much I like them both, and that this year's disaster with the group dynamics couldn't have been about me. It would be a nice way to end this year's sojourn. Maybe I'll invite them over here for dinner. I'm a little embarassed about the neighborhood, but once they arrive up here to my little garret, they'll see it's not quite so hoity toity as it seems!

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