Monday, January 20, 2014
It took me so many years to finally visit the Musée Nissim de Camondo, but it was worth the wait.
My favourite part of the house was the kitchen, where I could happily have spent all day/the rest of my life.
Less happy was the fate of the Camondo family. Moise de Camondo had the house, which faces into Parc Monceau, built in 1911, which he then filled with his collections of tapestries, furniture, porcelain and art. His son and heir Nissim was killed in the first world war, so Moise changed his will to bequeath the house and all its collections to Les Arts Decoratifs in his honour. The house opened as a museum after Moise's death in 1935. During the second world war, Camondo's daughter and her family were all taken to Auschwitz where they were killed, meaning the family line died with them. I imagine that if the house had not been in the possession of Les Arts Decoratifs already, then it may have been seized by the occupying German army and who knows what would have happened to it. It has always been preserved in its original condition as a family home, which is what makes it unique.
The area around Parc Monceau is not one I have reason to visit often. So after visiting the house, we walked in the bright winter sunlight of Parc Monceau, where piles of Christmas trees being chipped scented the air with fresh pine. Then I insisted on going to the cafe in Place Saint-Augustin and sitting in the same seat as Frédéric in L'Amour L'Apres-Midi, famously shown in this scene. Neither the cafe (or its menu!), nor the exterior view of Place Saint-Augustin seemed to have changed at all.
Thursday, January 09, 2014
If I have a resolution for 2014 apart from to
We were wandering the streets of Paris, commenting on various architecture, looking at trees, wandering past the Cirque d'Hiver, which I've never paid much attention to and actually always thought was an old circus that was now only used as a theatre / venue.
Crossing into the little Place Pasdeloup I turned my head to the side and looked straight into the eyes of a tiger. A real, full sized adult tiger who batted his eyes at me like a cat, from his green room cage across a yard behind railings. Tied back tarpaulin curtains framed him. We had a long silent communion and I tried to zoom in enough with my iphone to picture the moment. Mostly failed on that. After about ten minutes I wandered off in shock and later couldn't stop telling everyone about the tiger, including a four year old boy who wouldn't believe me and thought I meant a statue of a tiger, until I showed him a blurry photo as proof. When we passed by again later the curtains were pulled shut.
I feel uneasy about the existence of circuses in general and wouldn't go to one for entertainment. Though from the little I saw, the animals seemed content and well looked after in their yard. The next day I just so happened to conveniently pass by again at around the same time and my friend was waiting there, curtains open - this time putting on a Lola worthy display of flirting, paw licking, stretching and yawning. Fortunately there were several layers of bars between us - not because I was scared; I felt no fear at all - but because I would have been so tempted to crawl in and nestle into the beautiful fur of his belly.
It was a genuinely magical happening. Things that are dear to me are not what I usually share with the internet anymore sadly - the nature of the beast, one might say. But I think this incredible creature, hiding in plain sight in the centre of Paris, is larger than life enough to be a spirit animal to me and anybody else who cares to pay him a visit.