The Rodin Museum on the Left Bank, Paris, is where sublime connections happen between art and nature. I’ve experienced the gardens and Rodin’s masterworks such as Le Penseur (1880) under a veil of snow and through a mist of rain. A few days ago, under brilliant blue skies, the naked brooding man in bronze seemed as intense as the harshly clipped shrubs. I learned for the first time that Rodin’s museum was previously a girl’s school run by the Ladies of the Sacred Heart. And, later, in the early 1900s the mansion served as an atelier for painter Henri Matisse with Rodin commandeering a suite of rooms on the ground floor, and, across the street, Isadora Duncan conducting her dance studio. Eventually, Rodin ensured that the entire mansion, L’Hotel Biron, would become the permanent resting ground for his vast collection of bronze sculptures and drawings.
A walled, secret garden with some 2,000 roses, many of them in full bloom despite the cool autumn temperatures. This one still radiating youth and vitality, like Rodin’s muse and lover, Camille, who was 17 years old when she joined his studio.
Place des Vosges, one of the world’s greatest living rooms, where the Linden trees and lawns of grass soften the epic scale of the square. Victor Hugo once lived here, and the influential French Culture Minister, Jack Lang and, these days, behind his shuttered windows, Dominique Strauss-Khan, who almost became the next French President. (Almost only matters in horseshoes.)
A dance of dormers and chimneys, peaks and valleys, on the roof of the 17th-century Hotel Sully, connected, by way of a massive door, to Place des Vosges.
Late Friday night. Most of the six million visitors to the Louvre journey deep into the museum to see the mythical Mona Lisa. Seven minutes, on average, spent hanging with her and being part of the spectacle of seeing…and being seen. This time I noticed her peasant hands, so much darker than her neck and face.
Located through a monumental arch on the north side of Place des Vosges, this is an ultra discreet boutique hotel set within a leafy courtyard. Night time all peace and quiet except for the occasional high arias by a castrati in a long blue coat performing one arcade over. The ambiance is warm and intimate, best expressed by the honesty bar in its lounge.
Constructed as a private mansion during the early 17th-century, the hotel is suave, elegant and layered in velvet, on the walls and over its furniture.
The muted, earthy colours of autumn were all around.
Why settle for mere drywall when you can transform a surface into crackling, shimmering art ?
Every building needs a meeting spot. The wooden ‘peniche’ or barge where students still gather at my alma mater, L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques, a.k.a. Sciences Po, 27 rue St. Guillaume…right next door to the iconic Maison de Verre, designed by the early modern architect Pierre Chareau.
Birthday celebrations at George, top of Centre Pompidou, with organic pods for private dining rooms. Vintage sequined dress a friend bought for me at Bungalow, Kensington Market, Toronto. (I bought a silvery one for her.)
Third day back in Paris and I’m starting to notice the details that sustain the enchantment of a city. Can you spy a spotted creature on this 17th-century archway?
He’s watching you.
Chez Janou, an excellent Provencale restaurant, (absolutely packed even on a Sunday night) graces a rounded corner in Le Marais. The curve of the sidewalk, the striped canopy, the bistro tables all combine to make something grand of a small urban space. Which helps to explain why Paris is always hard to leave behind.