Category Archives: gardens

Spring 2009 in Parc de Sceaux : a walk between past and present

Eugene Adget, who had started a carreer of photographer in 1890, spent a good deal of time during year 1925 strolling along the yet quite forlorn alleys of Parc de Sceaux, taking pictures.

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This spring, eleven posters of his pictures are set on the very spot they represent, proposing a dreamy walk between past and present.

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Adget took this picture of a vase standing along the allée de la Duchesse in April 1925 at 7 AM. In March 2009, there is no more vase around.

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And the alley looks very different

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from what it was in June 1925 at 6 AM.

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This walk takes you in remote places of the garden, like this pool near pavillon de l’indépendance, which has’nt change that much.

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and nearby you get to the lovely pavillon de l’Aurore

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Pavillon de l’Aurore in may 1925 at 7 AM,  by Eugene Adget

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and March 2009, 5 PM

This walk takes you through wooden paths with daffodils

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and down the imposing stairs towards the great pool and canals.

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A good idea for a sunny afternonn.

Parc de Sceaux, parcours Eugène Adget (entrance on castle side) RER B station Parc de Sceaux. Open up to 7PM till the end of March, then up to 8 PM (usually up to sunset).

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.

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.

Walk among glittering crystals in Paris Parc de Bagatelle

Bagatelle is a beautiful ancient romantic garden, created in queen Marie-Antoinette’s time, and located in Bois de Boulogne. It is famous for its gorgeous roses, but this fall, all great French historical crystal trademarks have joined their talents to change Bagatelle into crystal gardens

On a beautiful day, it’s a lovely destination, but forget it if it’s grey.

Ever lasting water lilies glitter in the sun.

Palm trees are heavy with shimmering glass fruits,

or blue flowers,

and fountains look frozen.

Walk in the Trianon to look at more traditional crystal works, like this chandelier.

Outside, crystal swans float along with their shiny transparent reflection,

but it takes more to to disturb living swans.

All these dreamy pictures were taken by my friend Anne Marie Dumas.

Jardins de Cristal à Bagatelle, every day 10 to 18 up to November 8, entrance €3.

Bagatelle garden is route de Sèvres, Bois de Boulogne. Metro Pont de Neuilly + bus 43 up to Neuilly-Parc de Bagatelle (end of the line). But you can also take bus 43 from Gare du Nord, or Gare Saint Lazare and ride all the way by bus. It might take a little longer, but it’s a nice trip through Paris.

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

ephemeral garden and everlasting myth around Paris town hall

At the edge of Marais area‘south part, Paris Hôtel de Ville is nowadays offering us two kind of dream, one on each side of the building.

On Town Hall’s eastern side, a free temporary exhibition is dedicated to Grace Kelly, princess of Monaco.

Anyone who has seen her entrance in Hitchcock‘s Rear Window (except Jim Stewart, performing the main character) can understand why Grace Kelly became a Hollywood myth, and consequently a prince’s bride.

There is a huge line in the afternoon, so I would suggest to go in the morning if you don’t want to wait too long.

You’ll still have stars in your eyes while walking on rue de Rivoli towards Town Hall square.

There, you can take an ecological and dreamy journey.

A quiet green pond reflects Town Hall’s front.

People rest in the sun close to a wooden cabin.

and luxuriant plants almost hide the traffic of one of Paris most crowded areas.

Les années Grace Kelly, Princesse de Monaco Hôtel de Ville salle Saint-Jean Metro Hôtel de Ville, everyday except Sundays  10/19, free entrance (last entrance 18).  Up to August 16.

Le jardin éphémère, Parvis de l’Hötel de Ville, Metro Hôtel de Ville, free entrance everyday 9/21, up to August 17.

Musée Bourdelle : a quiet journey back to old Paris Montparnasse

The current exhibition Rêve Brisé by Alain Séchas also gives the opportunity to discover the Bourdelle Museum.

It’s a brick building of the sixties, on a quiet street close to the noisy avenue du Maine, Montparnasse Raiway Station and Tower.

Along the street, a garden with benches to sit, rest, dream or read among some of the more than 500 sculptures by Antoine Bourdelle that are permanently exhibited in all parts of the museum. Here a neo antique warrior with a modern background.

The arcades on the museum’s building side makes you almost feel you’re in a cloister, with profane statues.

this one is called the Fruits, and this proud young Eve is typical of many Bourdelle’s women figures.

As this gracious silhouette in the dark of the museum entrance.

Many of Bourdelle’s works are exhibited in a large room lighted by a glass roof.

The famous Héracles archer. (1909)

A bas-relief called La Tragédie, made  in 1912 for the Champs-Elysées Theater.

In the back of the exhibition rooms, you get further in the past, entering the studio where Antoine Bourdelle worked from 1884 up to his death in 1929.


It overlooks a backyard with outdoor scultptures, among these, another (bronze) version of the dying centaur that we just saw in the studio. It is really cool out there, even on hot days.

Back toward the street, you can also visit Bourdelle’s appartment, originaly located impasse du Maine, which no longer exists.

It’s cluttered up with statues which certainly were some place else when Bourdelle lived there, and modern metallic chairs and halogen lamp look terrible. But still, you can get an idea of a nineteenth century Montparnasse artist home, focusing on the few pieces of furniture along the walls.

Musée Bourdelle, 18 rue Antoine Bourdelle, 75015 Paris Metro Montparnasse, tel 33(0)1 49 54 73 73, open everyday except Monday 10-18, free entrance when there is no temporary exhibition (currantly Alain Séchas Rêve Brisé up to August 24.

Artsenat 2008 : French Modern Art in Paris Jardin du Luxembourg #2

Most of Artsenat 2008 charm comes from the setting of modern art next to nineteenth century sculptures and in a garden where people also come for other activities.

Morceaux Fleuris (left) and Origine Pop (right) created by Faz in 2008 might not be so charming if they weren’t set on both sides of the tribute to Delacroix by Aimé Jules Dalou and the young lady walking her baby in a red carriage makes the whole installation complete.


Just as the Arbres de Vie (2008) by Nathalie Decoster fit in the green of the original trees.

And the rain has filled the cups of Grand poète ivre (a tribute to Li Po) by Axel Cassel.

Jordi la cage de lumière et de vent 2008

Christophe Dalecki Petite ligne verte

IP 26 by Nicolas Sanhes (2007) shines on its classical architecture background.

And some prefer to sit in the sun and enjoy the view.

Life goes on as ever (I remember riding pony along this alley when I was a kid)

And at the end of this alley stands a huge head.

Tiny young girls next to the 6 meters and a half high Prophète by Louis Derbré (2007) and the statue of Valentine de Milan, duchesse d’Orléans in the background.

The huge profile fitting in the “Allée des reines” (row of nineteenth century statues of ancient queens)

As the half circle made of nine bronze sculptures spell out of the work’s title : Tolérance

Letter “E” of this installation by Guy Ferrer framing the landscape.

After pacing up and down the garden, the nicest place to rest is the fontaine Médicis, next to the Sénat.

There you can sit in the shade along the water.

the sculpture by Auguste-Louis Ottin features cyclops Polyphème in the process of crushing the lovers Acis and Galatée.

Marble and flesh lovers of all ages.

Jardin du Luxembourg 75006 Paris RER Luxembourg. Open from sunrise to sunset. Exhibition Artsénat 2008 up to September 21.


Artsenat 2008, French Modern Art in Paris Jardin du Luxembourg #1

Boulevard Saint-Michel and rue de Médicis all around the Luxembourg garden, iron gates are covered with various large photos.

But inside the garden, during all summer, “Artsénat 2008” proposes an exhibition of French Modern Art, “Du vent dans les branches” (“Wind in the Branches”).

Around Robert Combas, whose work is on the poster, forty less well known artists have settled down in the garden.

You can sit on the lawn next to flowerbeds and large orange Germination (2003/2004) by Philippe Desloubières.

Un certain walkman, created in 1987 by Philippe Seené seems to jump imitating the gesture of the sculpture laying in the bush behind him …

l’effort, a 1907 sculpture by Pierre Roche.

Figure accroupie (2000) by Jeanne Bouchard seems to be part of the trees around.

While in her Sphère étude n°1 (1995) a skinny Sisyphe rolls his heavy burden over seated readers in front of …

le triomphe de Silène, triumph of French nineteenth century sculpture, by Aimé-Jules Dalou

The stag in the installation by Roland Cognet (Cerf, 2008) watches the tennis players.

While red strips hang over the chess players heads, it’s du vent dans les branches, the 2008 installation by Jean-Marc Sicard which has given its name to the whole exhibition. Around the trunks, red strips on which one can read the riddle written on the hanging ones : “être dans le vent est une ambition de feuille morte”( to be trendy is a dead leaf’s ambition )

In front of the Orangerie stands the huge Pôt de jambes en bouquet de pieds et de mollets (pot of legs with a bunch of feet and calves) created in 2007 by Robert Combas.

If you are in Paris this week, up to June 15, you can see works exhibited in the Orangerie.

In front of the entrance, a 2006 canvas by Robert Combas is facing his outdoor sculpture : le guerrier païen (the pagan warrior).

The Orangerie hall, with Extrusion de feuilles, a 2008 sculpture by Jean Isnard, in front of Cut hands, a 2007 painting by Michèle Robine.

Forêt de Songes and Le corbeau (2007), by Philippe Borderieux, in front of Eve on the promised land, two 2007 canvasses by Corinne Phima.

Enjoy 24 and 25 by Xio Fan Ru (2007)

Banc (bench, 2008) and Evitement (High pass (?), 2007), installation by Jean-Paul Réti in front of le Pont (the bridge, 2007) by Stéphane Pencréac’h.

La source by Stéphane Pencréac’h (2007)

Part of Arbre # 2 (2003) by Tian Bing Li .

Artsénat 2008, Orangerie du Sénat 19 bis rue de Vaugirard 75006 Paris (entrance in Luxembourg garden) everyday 11/19, up to June 15, free entrance. Program of following exhibitions on http://www.senat.fr/evenement/artsenat/2008/index.htm

Artsénat 2008, “Du vent dans les branches”, jardin du Luxembourg, entrance rue de Vaugirard, RER B station Luxembourg, open everyday from sunrise to sunset, free entrance, up to September 21.

Summer coming in Paris : enjoy opera outdoor

June in Paris, season of outdoor opera in gorgeous settings.

This year, it’s Jacques Offenbach‘s les contes d’Hoffmann (Hoffmann’s Tales)

This week it takes place in Paris Jardin du Luxembourg, and the scene is set in front the Senat Palace.

If the weather is fine (and it’s definitely better to go on a warm evening) you can take a walk in the garden and buy a ticket on the spot, close to the Senat and the rue de Vaugirard in front of Odeon theater entrance. It starts at 21.15 and runs on June 12,13 and 14. Price : 89 euros (“Carré d’or”), 67, 57 and 39 euros.

Then it will take place in Parc de Sceaux, in front of the castle on June 26, 27 and 28, and it’s a beautiful location too. I was there last year for die Zauberflöte and it was delightful. But this year, weather is a bit hectic theses days, so you’d better check weather forecast before booking in advance, calling 0892 707 920 (from France only).

From July 12 to September 14 takes place in Parc de Sceaux the Orangerie Festival, indoor classical music concerts, every Saturday and Sunday evenings, interesting to combine with a walk in this beautiful garden. Informations on : http://festival.orangerie.free.fr/

Reservation : FNAC and http://www.concertclassic.com/

After Sceaux, les contes d’Hoffmann will travel in other places in France, up to September

All information and reservation on : http://www.akouna.com/operaenpleinair/

Jardin du Luxembourg 75006 Paris, RER Luxembourg, main entrance Boulevard Saint-Michel, south entrance rue Auguste Comte, east entrance rue Guynemer, north entrances on rue de Vaugirard. Open everyday sunrise to sunset.

Parc de Sceaux RER B station Parc de Sceaux. Open everyday from sunrise to sunset. All information on http://www.pds92.net/parcdesceaux/accueil.htm