Month: October 2011

Maria Callas on a Monday Morning

Perhaps it is not the most jovial of songs for a Monday morning but nothing greets the beginning of a new week as beautifully as the voice of La Diva herself, Maria Callas. On this Monday morning, I’m embracing the week ahead with one of 90 performances that Callas did of “Casta Diva”. I so wish that you were alive and still in Paris, Maria. Maybe you still are, albeit in different form. Callas – Casta Diva (RaiTV, 31/12/1957) from João Pedro Costa on Vimeo.

Museums and monuments open in Paris on All Saints Day 2011

Tomorrow is All Saints Day an hopefully there will be enough time to profit from the museums and other things that will be open then. Luckily, I bumped into a list of options of museums and monuments that are going to be open despite it being a public holiday. So I put together a list, complete with links below… Decisions, decisions, decisions… La Sainte Chapelle Le musée des Arts Décoratifs La Fondation Cartier Les Égouts de Paris Le Musée de l’Érotisme Le musée du Parfum Fragonard Le musée Grévin La Halle Saint-Pierre L’Institut du Monde Arabe Le musée Jacquemart-André Le musée Marmottan Le musée de la Mode et du Textile Le musée d’Orsay Le Palais de la Découverte Le Panthéon Le Musée du Quai Branly Le musée Rodin L’Espace Salvador Dali Le musée du Vin Source:

Chateau de Vincennes

Well, my love for the Middle Ages was further expressed though a visit to the Chåteau de Vincennes, which has consistently played an important part in French history since its construction. Perhaps not so much in the country’s most recent history – but from the times of Saint Louis to I guess the mid 19th Century. Charles V, one of my more favourite monarchs also spent some time here: and it was a surreal moment visiting the very same room that he slept in, his library – and the small chapel where he prayed the Liturgy of the Hours (or rather where assigned priests would do so on his behalf). Needless to say, the Chåteau also serves as a reminder of all that was wrong and reprehensible about the world of monarchs and such: the Chateau also holds the cells of political prisoners held for their ‘subversive’ views for their times. Diderot stand out as one of those who did their time here for his humanism which was seen as a terrible threat to Christendom …

Musée de Cluny – Positively Medieval

Visited this museum as part of a late Sunday afternoon activity with my beloved – and several things can be said about it: As a place that hosts quite an impressive collection of instructive views into the medieval past, something that vey few museums can offer on the scale of this national museum of the Middle Ages. However for me – it transported me to childhood fairy tales, school plays: happy childhood memories! It transported me instantly to the world of Kings, Bishops, Queens, Knights … frogs that transform into Princes upon being kissed by beautiful, naive girls. For history buffs and the curious-minded lay person, it is also a fantastic Sunday afternoon visit. Even better, this would be a museum to get lost in during the week if one has a day off work or happens to be ‘ill’. Address: Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge 6 place Paul Painlevé 75005 Paris More information on tariffs, opening hours, public transport and so forth: Here

Inside the Sorbonne

The historical building of ‘la Sorbonne’ is quite an enriching place to visit – not only for the architecture but also because the building seems to reflect (in different ways) the history of Paris as a whole. It is not always open to the public, but it is worth a visit if one has the chance to do so! I thoroughly enjoyed paying attention to the murals that depicted a bygone era of Paris, a completely different time and one could also say, a different space, too. It is interesting to see – from the murals on the wall – how time and human ingenuity has transformed Paris significantly, while at the same time maintaining its basic character through the years. More mundane things are also interesting to note. My personal favourite is a painting depicting what appears to be a very intellectual, important discussion among a diverse group of religious scholars, aristocrats and intellectual sans cullottes. In it, -one young looking scribe tries to take note and keep a record of the conversation. And …

Back from Brussels and Blogging Again

Ok, so Brussels completely exceeded my expectations. Some would argue that this was not so much of a difficult task, the bar was pretty low to begin with. I mean, after spending time in Paris – and being as smitten as I am about this beautiful city – I left for Brussels with an acute sense of superiority. The kind that condescends on all places and things that do not match up to the standards of oh-so-very sophisticated Paris. I was prepared to stoop low and graciously learn the banal ways of Brussels. Boy was I wrong. Behind Brussels’ ramshackle, quirky exterior is a city that I ended up falling completely in love with. Sure, it does not have any of Paris’ small things conveniences that make life here beautiful: No boulangeries on each corner, the charming neurosis of Paris commuters (well, this depends on which end of this neurosis you find yourself on!), metro stops literally everywhere you turn, the list goes on… Nonetheless, there are several things that I ended up loving about …