Category Archives: bookshops

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 .

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 You can also buy tickets on the spot.

Paris Autumn Festival starting September 13 at “La Maison Rouge”

Beginning next week-end, on September 13, Paris Autumn Festival offers up to december 21  a selection of all kinds of modern artistics productions to be seen in Paris.

It starts at La Maison Rouge, one of the Paris foundations dedicated to modern plastic arts, located next to Paris Arsenal Harbour, built in an old factory.

It’s first exhibition on this fall shows an untitled installation by Marie Cool and Fabio Balducci :

Their work is based on repetitive gestures and videos.

In a dark room, Christian Boltanski opens for us his Archives du Coeur (Heart’s files)

Both events start on Saturday September 13 from 11 to 15, and go on up to October 5, Wednesday to Sunday 11-19, up to 21 on Thursday. During next Paris Nuit Blanche (Wakeful Night), Boltanski’s exhibition will be running all night through October 4 to October 5

Next to the Maison Rouge exhibitions rooms is a bookstore dedicated to plastic arts, and usually a nice cafe, which is closed up to October 5. But during this time, instead of having a drink, you can pay a visit to Andrea Blum‘s Birdhouse Cafe.

It’s a birds house where public is staying stuck up  the aviary, looking down at birds who move freely.

La Maison Rouge, 10 boulevard de la Bastille 75012 Paris, Metro Bastille or Quai de la Rapée, tel 33(0) 1 40 01 08 81, entrance € 6,50, €4,50 for over 65, free under 13.

Festival d’Automne de Paris, information and reservation 33(0)1 53 45 17 17 (Monfay to Friday 11 to 18, Saturday 11 to 15) and on

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” 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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


The second courtyard is more like a garden.


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


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.

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


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


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.

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.


It’s a beautiful place full of beautiful shops.


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


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


Which also provides tables inside


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


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


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


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


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


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

To know all about Galerie Vivienne and its shops, go to :

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://

A beautiful house for selected films : Paris Cinémathèque

Since September 2005, French Film Library has moved in the building created by Frank O.Gehry in 1993 for the Paris American Center.


Frank Gehry used to call it “the ballerina pulling up her tutu”.


It’s located rue de Bercy, next to the former Paris wine market, which for one part is now a shopping center set up in the ancient streets and brick houses, and for another a beautiful park. It’s doors open on a lawn that stretches to the Seine embankment.


And if you prefer books to films, National Library is just across the river, related by Simone de Beauvoir footbridge. Film Library also houses a bookshop and a library dedicated to film. You can visit it’s permanent collection and usually very interesting temporary exhibitions. Finishing February 18, a great monography of Sacha Guitry, including posters, paintings, sound recordings and film excerpts.


And of course, you can also watch films, now running a tribute to Jeanne Moreau (up to March 3) and a retrospective on African Cinematography (up to March 2)

Inside setting matches perfectly with the outside style.


If you’re interested in the building, every first Sunday of a month at 11 AM, you can join an architectural visit. ( 8 euros)

La Cinémathèque Française, 51 rue de Bercy 15012 Paris tel 33(0)1 71 19 33 33. Metro Bercy. Exhibition Sacha Guitry “une vie d’artiste” up to February 18, Monday to Saturday 12 to 19, up to 22 on Thursdays, Sunday 10 to 19. Entrance 8 euros.

For more information and program, go to :

Paris Centre Pompidou will blow its 31 candels on January 31

Though it opened 31 years ago, Centre Pompidou looks still young. As always, there had been a competition between several plans, and unusually the winner was a most daring project, designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano and the British Richard and Sue Rogers. and when it opened, with a mono-graphic exhibition of Marcel Duchamp, as far as I remember, it was a very controversial matter. beaubourgrue.jpg

With its colored tubes and white pipes, it looked as a playful kind of skeleton factory, and for museum it was not at all dignified.


It was instantly a huge success: its large public library was very popular among students and young people, as well as its great exhibitions and its modern art permanent collection.


In the first years, one could use freely the escalators to go up to the terrace and have a drink or just enjoy the sun and the view.


Instantly, the place was called Beaubourg, after the name of the area it’s built in, and that is still the name Parisians use rather than Centre Pompidou (it was named after the French President who signed for it, Georges Pompidou, who was really interested in modern art. )


Nowadays, you have to go in and take a ticket to go up.


There you will also find a shop selling design things and small clothes, a bookshop, and an expansive self-service café. (Do prefer outdoor cafés around)

Outdoor, you can take a private elevator if you have made a reservation at le Georges, the quite expansive – but not gastronomic – restaurant on top. Though the setting designed by Dominique Jacob and Brendan McFarlane matches perfectly with Beaubourg’s style, it is mostly worthwhile outdoors on sunny days.


For its thirtieth birthday, the permanent modern art collection has reopened in a new presentation, and it is extremely rich and impressive.
As part of this celebration, Beaubourg is now showing, since November 2007, a mono-graphic exhibition of Richard Rogers work over the 40 past years.


The place is often crowded on its plaza side, the museum entrance side, people watching street performers, as in most touristic places.


I do prefer to go nearby to Stravinsky Fountain, featuring mobile sculptures by Niki de Saint-Phalle and Jean Tinguely.



It is a great place for children too.


Centre Pompidou, place Georges Pompidou, 75003 Paris, Metro Rambuteau tel 33(0)1 44 78 12 33. Open everyday but Tuesday 11 to 21, Price 10 euros for all museum and exhibitions. Exhibition “Richard Rogers and architects” up to March 3.

For more information and reservation, go to :

Le Georges : reservation tel 33(0)1 44 78 47 99, fax 33(0)1 44 78 48 93, virtual visit on :


A Paris bookshop dedicated to fashion and design

Fashion victims and design amateurs now have in Paris a bookshop where they can find anything printed on the subject : of course all magazines, fashion parades reports, catalogues, fashion designers biographies, great fashion photographers albums, art books…

photo credit : DRlibrairie-2260579.jpg

It’s located a little pedestrian street of les Halles district.

Mode Information, 22 rue Pierre Lescot 75001 Paris tel 33(0)1 40 13 81 50 Metro Châtelet, RER Châtelet les Halles (A, B and C lines).

La Belle Hortense : good books and good wines

You’ve been wandering in the Marais old streets, visiting Picasso‘s or Carnavalet Museum, shopping in the Francs-Bourgeois street, or in Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville huge tool’s department?

Stop at “La Belle Hortense”, a very special place : A literary bar named after a delicious novel by Jacques Roubaud, where you can find a quite large selection of books and paperbacks : modern and classic literature, poetry, psychoanalysis, society, culture, some of them in english.


You can sit on a high stool by the zinc-covered bar and have a glass of wine, or make yourself more comfortable in the back room and look at some modern artist work. If you drop in in the evening, you may find the place crowded for a book signature, a lecture or some lively discussion.

It is quiet and cozy in the afternoon, with not too loud good music, and you can just glance through books, or just have a drink. You can also buy books, cards and wine bottles to take away. The place usually opens at 5 pm, but sometimes a little later.


If you find the door closed, or if you care to see a typical ancient parisian bar, ask for information at the “Petit Fer à Cheval ” ( “the little horseshoe”, that is the bar’s shape) the café just across the street – reflected in the Belle Hortense mirror on the picture above.

La Belle Hortense, 31 rue Vieille du Temple , 75003 Métro : Hôtel de Ville ou Saint-Paul. Tel : 01 48 04 71 60 . Open daily 5 pm to 2 am.