Wednesday, November 26, 2008

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, other great Paris restaurants and some more art

Last night I went to dinner with some friends at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. We didn't wait long because the husband of the couple was a partner in the business. The chefs, so clean cut, handsome and efficient, were the complete opposite of the typical French waiter; pompous and non-commital. The night before my friend had said if there's one thing he could change about France it would be the waiters (and he's French!). I said if you change the waiters you'll have to change the whole of France, and I think that's true as it's a fundamental attitude that would alter the national character. The night before I had had dinner at L'Auberge Bressane, more traditional and heavier French cuisine, vastly different from the refined cuisine at Robuchon, but satisfying in a different way.

Yesterday, for lunch, I went to Cafe de Flore, a restaurant ripe with Paris's cultural history, and still very fashionable and fun. My friend Eric introduced me to Pierre Papadiamandis, the French composer of Greek origins, and his wife Anouk. Pierre did a lot of work with Eddy Mitchell, Grace Jones, Ray Charles (writing the music for songs) and the scores for many movies. Anouk's sister was the wife of Richard Lindner, the American artist of German origins. After lunch we went to her apartment in St Germain where she showed me some of his aquarelles, as well as some of his drawings and paintings by her sister Denise. On the way to their apartment I looked into the window of a restaurant and who should I see but Lapo Elkann, at a table having lunch. I know him from several different contexts and seeing that he recognized me I took off my hat and ran inside to say hi. He is so warm and friendly, but he would be leaving the next day so no chance to get together.

I didn't take many pictures the last few days because I forgot my camera, but after lunch, I did a studio visit with Nadine de Koenigswarter. I stayed there for about 2 hours, talking about everything and seeing a lot of her work which is very inspired by her travels to Africa, in particular Saint Louis, on the coast of Senegal. She described it as the Venice of Africa. Next time I visit Senegal I will head straight to there. She walked me to the metro after our time together and took the picture of me outside of Hector Guimard's art nouveau design.

The Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower are lit up really beautifully right now. The Champs Elysees with white lights on the trees for the holidays and the Eiffel Tower in a sparkling blue because until the end of the month I think France is the leader of the EU. My pics of the Eiffel Tower suck so you can search them online. It's surprising that Parisians never cease to be proud of their beautiful monuments. Every time I come my friends who drive me around point out the monuments with pride and joy. I guess I understand.

First thing yesterday morning I went to the Fondation Cartier. They have a great exhibition entitled Terre Natale, an ambitious and brave exhibition which drew a steady stream of people into the Fondation. I met the curator of the Fondation, Grazia Quaroni, who like me I felt, believed in the importance of art as a basic human necessity. The day before, around the same time, I went to the Louvre to see Mantegna. By 11.30 am when I arrived the counter at the entrance of the exhibit had counted 400+ visitors! It is a little overwhelming this mass of people in an exhibition and though I would have liked to linger over the works the crowds drove me out. I met my friend Laetitia who works in Communications for the Ministry of Culture on Monday. She took me to a little Japanese restaurant called Sapporo on the rue Faubourg St Honore and I had a ramen soup as outside it was quite cold. It was a pure coincidence but during the lunch who should come in but my friend of many years Nico, and his girlfriend. I had called them the day before but now, here they were, and we could have a coffee after lunch, without having to go through all the calling to arrange it! After lunch we went to Colette to see what they were showing in the store and had a coffee afterwards at the cafe across the street. When I left them I went to the Hermes store to see the exhibition of photographs by Joseph Albers, and the scarves that they had made based on his art. They are selling them for 2 000 euros! I guess it's not that much for wearable art.

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