Category Archives: architecture

March 2009 in Parc de Sceaux

It’s been a long cold winter in Paris, but we can feel spring will be coming soon, so March could be a good time to go for a walk in Parc de Sceaux, and visit a great outdoor exhibition.

affiche Images & Magies d’Architectures offers a delightful  journey through a hundred year time and all around the world.

Great photographers shooting great buildings

rdward-steichen-the-maypole1The Maypole by Edward Steichen

…or historical places  :

cartier-bresson-mur-berlinBerlin Wall by Henri Cartier-Bresson


le-corbusier-lucien-herveLucien Hervé made an almost abstract image of a building by Le Corbusier


rene-burri-chapelle-le-corRené Burri gives an enchanting look to this chapel by Le Corbusier

… and  makes a Mexico Farm look like a painting :

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gustave-le-gray-karnak-18671Gustave le Gray took this picture of the ancient ruins of Karnak in 1867

emile-luidr-parvis-defenseand over a century later, Emile Luidr made a work of art of Paris dull (but photogenic)  Parvis de la Défense

Its interesting to see an ancient mosque and a futurist museum side by side mosquee-et-musee

Good photographers create beautiful images out of bad architecture

robert-doisneau-ivry1 Ivry seen by Robert Doisneau

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Stéphane Conturvi took this picture of a Korean modern building in Seoul in 2000, and just across the alley is a picture of Courbevoie by Rémi Lidereau :

remi-lidereau-courbevoieWhich shows that French suburbian architecture is just as dull.

hotel-dubai1But this Dubai Hotel by Frank Gehry is magic, as his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

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An anonymous artist gives us this picture of Paris during the International Exhibition in 1900 :

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and another one this great example of 1925 style in architecture :

immeuble-fritz-hoger-1924Fritz Hoger building in Berlin 1924

And if, just like me, you love Alfred Hitchcock‘s films as well as architecture and photography, this is for you:

eric-de-mare-pont-de-forthEric de Mare took this picture of Forth Bridge in Scotland, which plays a major part in the 39 steps ( great english film of 1935)

… as well as this gorgeous house by Frank Lloyd Wright  : Hitchcock made a copy of it near Mount Rushmore to be the home of the bad guy in North by Northwest (great american film of 1959)

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Images & s d’architectures, up to March 31, Parc de Sceaux, open daily from 7.30 AM up to 7 PM, free entrance. RER B station Bourg-la-Reine and Parc de Sceaux.

4 choices in Paris Centre Pompidou #3 : Ron Arad, No Discipline

This new alternative in Centre Pompidou is located in the South part of the museum  – on the right side entering the building.  South gallery is showing a monographic exhibition of architect and designer Ron Arad.

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The exhibition’s title might have two meanings,  the one relating to no order, and the other relating to the concept of mixing all types of work and all fields of experiment.

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Ron Arad himself has designed the setting and the presentation of over two hundred pieces he has created, from the eighties to scale models of future buildings.

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From the entrance, you are immersed in a colorful dreamy universe filled with round forms.

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a ring of round armchairs in front of videos of architectural realizations.

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And if you look closer, you get in a single piece the same sense of colorful merry-go-round.

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Mirrors and ground projections intensify this feeling.

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Same tone and shapes in this stairway to dreams

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and in this lamp hanging from the ceiling.

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The exhibition’s room have glass doors opening to the outside, and one charm is also that Ron Arad‘s world fits perfectly with the Museum’s surroundings and architecture.

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And as the rooms are located on the groundfloor, after leaving, it’s quite facinating to look at parts of the exhibition through the windows, with the outside reflected on the glass.

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Ron Arad, No Discipline, up to March 12, everyday except Tuesday from 11 AM to 9 PM, up to 11 PM on Thursday. Centre Pompidou, South Gallery, level 1. Entrance ticket € 12 opens for one day the gate of the permanent collection and all temporary exhibitions.

More of Ron Arad on : http://www.ronarad.com/index.html

Centre Pompidou, place Georges Pompidou 75001 Paris, metro Rambuteau or Hotel de Ville Tel :33(0)1 44 78 12 33.

More information on : http://www.cnac-gp.fr/

Paris october 2008 : opening of the 104, a major cultural event

Last Saturday, October 12, after two years of work and suspense, a great new artistic center, the Centquatre, was finally opened to public.

Part of the event is that it is located in a somewhat derelicted area in Paris 19ème arrondissement. It is named after its address : 104 rue d’Aubervilliers.

Built in 1873, this beautiful glass and iron structure was closed since 1997 after being Paris Municipal Funeral Service headquarters for a century.

Now it’s dedicated to all forms of living art, and its opening was a great success. During the afternoon, it got so crowded that a huge file had to wait in the street to come in.

Actually, the place is made of two glass halls, and has another entrance on rue Curial # 5.

On the rue Curial side, you can look at a large picture showing “the chaos” during the renovation made by the architects of Novembre workshop

Now, on two levels and 39000 m2, there are 18 artists workshops, two rooms of 200 and 400 hundred seats, besides the glass halls.

There are organized children activities, and on the opening day, many plaid with a scale model.

Among the many works in progress on that day, some will be going on:

Nicolas Simarik offers you to recycle your old keys, or to make a double of the one you carry with you. Then you get in exchange another key, the key of the centquatre . This key opens one of the boxes along the wall, composing an After Calendar, where you’ll find a surprise : an invitation to discover some unusual place in Paris.

Key gathering goes on up to December 31, Wednesday to Sunday from 12 to 20.

On both sides of the halls are long narrow English courtyards, transformed into evoluting gardens by Coloco, a group of three landscape architects. People of the neighborhood have been collecting local plants which now grow in these courts.

Convex mirrors on the wall give distorted reflects of the place.

Composer Gerard Pesson has created for the occasion Pompes/Circonstances, several musical pieces which will played on each new moon.

On Saturday 12, a musical action was performed by  Spat Sonore

They will be part of the first performance of Pompes/Circonstances, on October 28 at 19.

And next performances will take place on each new moon evening up 2010.

There is also restaurant and a bookshop, where of course you can find Pompes Funèbres by Jean Genet.

Le Centquatre is opened everyday, Tuesday to Saturday from 11 to 23, Sunday and Monday from 11 to 20. All information, program, history of the place – also available in english version – on www.104.fr .

104 rue d’Aubervilliers and 5 rue Curial, 75019 Paris. Metro Riquet. Entrance is free, but concerts, exhibitions and some events are 5 or 7 € . Information and reservation at 33(0)153 35 50 00 Monday to Friday  14 to 18, or on www.104.fr. You can also buy tickets on the spot.

Paris Parc de la Villette : a place to visit this summer, for art, outdoor films and concerts

This summer, there are a lot of good reasons to go north up to Parc de la Villette, the largest of Paris gardens, offering a wide range of cultural and leisure activities.

The art event takes place in the beautiful glass Grande Halle :

Up to August 17, come in and discover a giant installation by Yayoï Kusama, who has been working on dots for forty years.

This artist, who was closed to Pop Art and Andy Warhol in the sixties, takes this pattern both light and seriously, declaring “My life is a dot lost among other dots”.

Tuesday to Sunday 14 to 22, free entrance.

And it goes with a workshop on dots for kids (from 2 years old). July Sunday 20, Wednesday 23 and Saturday 26 at 16.30. It’s one hour long, with a drink at the end, and costs € 7.  But you have to make a reservation, dialing 33(0)1 40 03 75 75.

Up to August 17,  you also have the opportunity to watch a film (in original version) sitting on a lawn, at Prairie du Triangle, Tuesday to Sunday at nightfall. Price € 2  . For € 5 you can book a deck chair and a blanket. Program on : www.cinema.arbo.com/index.php3?p=tous_films -

World musics every Sunday up to August 24 at Folie Belvédere : it’s scènes d’été (Summer Stages), July 20 and 27, August 3,10,17 and 24, one concert at 17.30 and one at 19.30. Free. Program and information on 33(0)1 40 03 75 75.

For all information on these events and detailed programs go to : www.villette.com/

Parc de la Villette, 211 avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris, Metro Porte de Pantin or Porte de la Villette

Richard Serra in Paris : a walk in Grand Palais and Tuileries gardens

Monumenta is a special artistic event in Paris, confronting art and architecture : it shows a work specially created by a contemporary artist to match wit the huge and beautiful Grand Palais glass roof . This glass and steel cathedral was built by architect Henri Deglane for the 1900 universal exhibition. It has been recently renovated, and the first Monumenta occurred last year with an installation by Anselm Kiefer.

For Monumenta 2008, Richard Serra created Promenade

Though it was raining cats and dogs yesterday afternoon in Paris, it did not prevent tourists to take pictures sheltered under their umbrella. So, as you can see, I did the same.

And what better place to take a walk than the Grand Palais nave ?

The artist’s idea was to work on uprightness, so he has erected five huge steel rectangles aiming to the glass roof, disposed along a median line, though they are not exactly perpendicular to the ground. And visitors walking around look tiny.

If you get closer, perspective changes, and you discover that the surface is not plain nor even, but veined with different shades.

As Richard Serra says : “My work mostly deals with wandering and looking, but I can’t tell anyone how to walk or how to look.” Some like to touch it too.

Monumenta 2008 closes on June 15, but should you miss it, you still have the whole summer and fall to experiment another walk with Richard Serra‘s work. You just have to go down the Champs-Elysées avenue, cross place de la Concorde and enter Tuileries gardens.

You go through Clara-Clara, which was designed in 1983 for this particular location, but had been removed since. 25 five years later, visitors seem much more receptive to this experience. And this is good news.

Its curbed lines enhance the straight perspective from Arc de Triomphe to Louvre. Just as Promenade, it is both a sculpture and an installation, and the movement, scale and changing point of view of the visitor is part of the work.

Monumenta 2008, up to June 15, Nef du Grand Palais, Main entrance, Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris metro Champs-Elysées-Clémenceau. 10 to 19 Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 to 23 Thursday to Sunday. Closed on Tuesday. Entrance 4 euros. Special events on Saturday nights : Saturday June 7 at 19.30, concert : Etudes and other works for Solo Piano by Philip Glass. Saturday June 14 at 19.30, sound surrounding by Motus. More information on : http://www.monumenta.com/2008/

Clara-Clara will be part of the outdoor modern sculpture exhibition in the Tuileries gardens, up to November 3, entrance place de la Concorde, metro Concorde (way out towards Jeu de Paume and Orangerie museums). Free entrance, open daily up to sunset.

A highly controversial photo exhibition at Paris Historical Library

Usually, I would have categorized a post about Paris Historical Library as another chapter of “Paris Grand Siècle”, for it is located in one of the fine Renaissance style hotels of Paris Marais.

It was built in the last years of sixteenth century for Diane de France, a legitimated daughter of King Henry II, and bought in the mid seventeenth century by a sir de Lamoignon who was the president of the first Paris parliament.

Many of the “classic period” famous writers, like Racine, Madame de Sévigné, Boileau, or Malesherbes used to visit the place, which quite naturally became the Historical Library. Besides the interest of its catalog, the reading room has the most beautiful Renaissance painted ceiling.

If you go down the street, you get to the modern building where the book shop and exhibition room are located.

This is the place where opened on March 20 the exhibition of photos by André Zucc, first called “Parisians during the Occupation”.

The main point of his exhibition was to show the only color pictures taken by a French photographer during the German Occupation in Paris on world war 2. We are used to black and white pictures of this period, and these are really striking. The contest came first from the press, who pointed out that at least this needed some explanation, and then the guy in charge of culture at Paris town hall got mad about it, said it was outrageous and wanted to close it (maybe he was that mad mostly because he should have known better and earlier about it – historical library is part of Paris municipal libraries).

Finally, the title was changed into “some Parisians under the occupation” , Paris town hall edited a foreword in several languages given to visitors at the exhibition’ entrance and hired an historian to write commentaries about some of the pictures – maybe the Historical Library staff cold have thought of it in the first place.

André Zucca : place de la Concorde.

So what was the big deal? André Zucca, who was a quite well known photographer was hired during the Occupation by a newspaper called Signal, which was the organ of Nazi propaganda in Paris, to take pictures of German officials, and Paris social and political events – involving Vichy government and collaborationist spheres. These published pictures were black and white. But thanks to Signal, Zucca got some color film, which only Germans could afford, to achieve his private work (he took over a 1000 color photos). He certainly was not a Nazi militant, we was just taking advantage of the situation, without questioning it – and no doubt that he knew for whom and what he was working for, and he did not bother.

The color film needed a lot of light, so most of the displayed pictures show Paris streets under a bright spring sun, just as it was when I came and took the street pictures you see on this post. And of course, life looks more cheerful under the sun. Even this refugee moving out with his children after a bombing does not look that miserable.

So there is no set up, it was really sunny and Belleville street was crowded, these pictures point that a photographer’s eye is not objective, it chooses his subject and and shows his point of view : Paris as a lively and cheerful town, where people went on enjoying their life, not bothering about German occupation, just the way Zucca felt.

His color pictures have a strong impact, because these images make the war years closer to ours than black and white photos, and in the same time, they look a little like fiction – because the first German colored films had the same color and light effect. And sometimes, in spite of the carefree mood of the photographer, some harshness shows up -as the text on Nazi posters, and the so bright yellow stars pinned on the chest of people passing by in a Marais street.

This is a poster which has been removed from today’s Paris street, but all this fuzz has made a great deal for this exhibition, which is a big success, and is really worth visiting. The bookshop ran out of catalogs, but they will be soon reprinted – around May 10 – and for 35 euros, it is really an exceptional document.

Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris, hôtel de Lamoignon, 24 rue Pavée, métro Saint-Paul, open Monday to Friday 13 to 18, Saturday 9.30 to 18, closed on Sunday. Information on 33(0)1 44 59 29 40

Exhibition : “Des Parisiens sous l’occupation – photos en couleur d’André Zucca”, bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris 22 rue Mahler 75004 Paris Metro Saint-Paul, up to July 1, open everyday 11 to 19, entrance 4 euros.

Paris”Grand Siècle” 3 : musée Carnavalet

Musée Carnavalet is close by place des Vosges and hôtel de Sully, at the corner of rue de Sévigné and rue des Francs-Bourgeois, a very popular shopping area too, as you can see:

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Hotel Carnavalet is originally a beautiful Renaissance town house, (mid sixteenth century) transformed a hundred years later (circa 1650) by François Mansart, famous French “Grand Siècle” architect. It became the Parisian home of Madame de Sévigné (best known for the letters she wrote, mostly to her daughter).

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The entrance is on rue de Sévigné, in a courtyard with a statue of king Louis XIV. The musée Carnavalet is dedicated to Paris history.

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It is formed by two buildings, hotel Carnavalet and hotel Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, built at the end of seventeenth century. The beautiful “à la française” garden can be seen at the gate on rue des Francs-Bourgeois.

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If you go inside, you can wander at ease throughout centuries.

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Just follow the corridors at random, it’s more fun.

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On first floor you pass from one building to the other, then follow these stone heads example, look at the ceiling.

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There is no rush, sometimes you’re on your own, and it’s really unusual.

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But you’re not really alone, just look through the window : children circle Louis XIV.

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Don’t miss “l’escalier de Luynes”, a most beautiful staircase with a “trompe-l’oeil” on the wall.

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And leaving, have a look through the window to a small inner garden, with king Henri IV riding on the back wall.

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Musée Carnavalet (Paris history), 23 rue de Sévigné, Métro Saint-Paul, tel 33(0)1 44 59 58 58, everyday but Monday 10 to 18, free entrance except for temporary exhibitions. www.carnavalet.paris.fr/ -

Paris “Grand Siècle” 2 : Hôtel de Sully

Next to place de la Bastille, on #62 rue Saint-Antoine stands a great example of French seventeenth century architecture, l‘hôtel de Sully.

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You have to come in through the porch to discover its magnificence. But you can stop at the bookshop just left coming in. It sells a selection of art books and photos you can look at.

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It is called after duc de Sully, a former minister of king Henry IV who bought this house, which stayed his family’s property up to mid-eighteen century. The “hôtel” was built in 1625 by Jean Androuet du Cerceau, official architect of king Louis XIII.

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The first courtyard, on rue Saint-Antoine side, is paved with coble stones. It’s style is both post – Renaissance neo-classic and early baroque.

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These mixed influences are obvious when you look up at the statues on the wall.

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And at the female creatures guarding the door leading to the second courtyard.

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The second courtyard is more like a garden.

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Hotel Sully is part of the Jeu de Paume museum, which other site is in Tuileries garden.

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Just beginning (March 4), the current exhibition is called” la photographie timbrée”(postmarked photography) but as “timbrée” has two meanings, it also says “nutty photography”. It is dedicated to postcards of early twentieth century.

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Excerpt of Paul Eluard postcards collection (circa 1930) Paris Musée de la Poste.

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And going out through the small door on the right side, guess what : you’re back on place des Vosges.

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Hôtel de Sully, 62 rue Saint-Antoine 75004 Paris, Métro Bastille or Saint-Paul. Tel : 33 (0)1 44 61 20 20. Current exhibition : ” La photographie timbrée”. All days except Monday 12 to 19, week-ends 10 to 19, price 5 euros, up to May 18.

http://sully.monuments-nationaux.fr/

Paris “Grand Siècle” 1 : Place des Vosges

Most of gorgeous and significant remains of French “Grand Siècle” (seventeenth century) are to be seen in the “Marais” (the swamp). You certainly don’t need to wear rubber boots to take a walk around, though rubber boots are very much in style this season, and besides historical places and monuments, there are a lot of fashion shops in this area.

It’s a very popular place too, for many shops are opened on Sunday. Weather is quite hectic in March this year – as it is supposed to be in Paris – but last week-end was sunny, and there was a crowd resting in Place des Vosges garden and window shopping in rue des Francs-Bourgeois.

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The edification of ” Place des Vosges” was started by king Henry IV and achieved in1612 for the engagement day of Louis XIII and Anne, princess of Austria. It is the most ancient square in Paris, and also a play ground for children, a wi fi zone, and a great place to hang about.

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It is a square surrounded by all similar red brick and white stone elegant houses with slate roofs and tall windows.

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Before French Revolution, it was called “place Royale“, and in the garden stands a statue featuring king Louis XIII on horseback.

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It is circled by arcades.

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Victor Hugo’s house is at #6, and it is a museum you can visit. Many stores, fashion designer Issey Miyake, funny hats, an art deco shop, a lot of art galleries, bars and restaurants, and street musicians…

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like this counter tenor singer who performs almost every week-end on rue de Béarn corner.

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If you feel hungry, you might stop at # 19, Ma Bourgogne, a typical bistrot parisien with a great view, good food and good wines. But warning, you’ll need some cash : no credit card, and not really cheap.

Place des Vosges, 75003 et 75004 Paris Metro Bastille, Saint-Paul, Chemin-Vert. Access south : rue de Birague, east : rue du Pas de la Mule, north : rue de Béarn, west : rue des Francs-Bourgeois.

Ma Bourgogne 19 place des Vosges tel 33(0)1 42 78 44 64 Métro Saint-Paul, everyday 8 AM 1.30 AM.

Maison de Victor Hugo, 6 place des Vosges, Métro Bastille, Saint-Paul, tel 33(0)1 42 72 10 16, everyday except Monday 10 to 18. Free entrance. www.musee-hugo.paris.fr/

Past and Present in Paris Galerie Vivienne

Just next door on rue des Petits-Champs, Galerie Vivienne is a more lively and luxurious twin sister to Galerie Colbert.

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It’s a beautiful place full of beautiful shops.

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While window shopping, take a look down on the mosaic floor, which is signed G. Faccina.

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If you feel tired or thirsty, just coming in, you can stop at Bistrot Vivienne

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Which also provides tables inside

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And if you’d rather have some tea than a glass of wine, walk a little further, and sit under the glass roof at “A priori thé

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At a crossing is a bookshop which sells old books and postcards.

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and next to it another bookshop that sells and buy old books too, and has a funny old sign

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And going further this way, the most stylish shop of all is Jean-Paul Gaultier.

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Following its window, you go out on rue Vivienne, once again close to Galerie Colbert.

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But Galerie Vivienne has a third entrance, on rue de la Banque

To know all about Galerie Vivienne and its shops, go to : http://www.galerie-vivienne.com/index.php

Galerie Vivienne : 4 rue des Petits-Champs, 6 rue Vivienne, 3 rue de la Banque 75002 Paris Metro Bourse or Palais-Royal

Bistrot Vivienne : 4 rue des Petits-Champs tel 33(0)1 49 27 00 50 open Monday to Saturday 12 to 23.

A priori thé : 35 galerie Vivienne tel 33(0)1 42 29 97 48 75 open Monday to Friday 9 – 18, Saturday up to 18.30, Sunday 12 – 18.30

Jean-Paul Gautier : ttp://www.jeanpaulgaultier.com/