At Paris Biennale, Look if You Can’t Buy
  • 18
  • Sep
  • 2010

Written by Valerie Gladstone for the New York Times :

Few events could so completely satisfy an escapist fantasy of a life lived in luxury than the Biennale des Antiquaires. Now in its 25th decadent year, the festival brings together exceptional antique art, jewelry and furniture at the glorious Grand Palais from Sept. 15 to 22. Art dealers, collectors, jewelers and anyone curious about great art can wander exhibitions as refined as the objects on display. And expect crowds: the last Biennale drew about 80,000 people.

“It’s one of the great art fairs of the world,” said Hervé Aaron, chairman of the Syndicat National des Antiquaires. “It’s wonderful if you can buy — probably the least expensive item on sale might be an ancient coin for 2,000 euros — but if not, it’s still a wonderful place to enjoy an enormous number of breathtaking objects in exquisite circumstances.”

The atmospheric setting of the Biennale itself (Avenue Winston Churchill;; admission 25 euros, or about $31.50), created by the architect Patrick Bazanan, features a dark, covered entrance with 25 alcoves full of roses. From there, a single, wide passageway leads to the stands, each of them framed by an arch and open on all sides. Along the way, visitors can linger in front of tinkling fountains and rest in secluded spots, surrounded by slender bamboos.

This should be ample preparation for the stepping-stone section on the balcony, where archaeological finds share the stage with Asian, Islamic, pre-Columbian and Oceanic art, as well as books and manuscripts, 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century furniture, sculpture, ceramics, Old Master and modern paintings and tapestries.

When asked about fair highlights, Mr. Aaron pointed to a pair of Chinese flying dragons in gilt bronze from the Tang Period (c. 618-907); stylized earrings with palm trees and antique faceted drop emeralds designed by Cartier; and paintings by Brueghel, Pissarro and Chagall. The Marlborough Gallery will exhibit Francis Bacon’s large-scale painting “Three Studies of the Human Body,” from 1970. With an estimated value of 30 million euros (about $38 million), it will be probably the most expensive work at the Biennale.

So that all the senses are satisfied, visitors can even dine at the fair, at a pop-up restaurant from the well-respected Parisian caterer Potel et Chabot. At lunch and dinner, four chefs — Alain Dutournier Gilles Tournadre, Davy Tissot and Jean-Georges Klein — will alternate cooking; on Sept. 13, for the opening gala dinner, three chefs will be in charge.

XXV Biennale des Antiquaires, Grand Palais, 75008 Paris, M° line 1 or 9  Franklin Roosevelt

Organic market on Sunday
  • 17
  • Sep
  • 2010

At Boulevard Raspail (6e arr.) they have a fresh market every Tuesday and Friday. But on Sunday the market transforms itself into the best organic market in Paris. In addition to poultry, cider, fruits, vegetables, charcuterie and cheese all labeled “natural” – this elegant market sometimes includes a truffle farmer who sells in the season a basketful of her wintertime harvest.

Boulevard Raspail, between rue du Cherche midi and rue de Rennes, 9 am to 2 pm

The garden and museum Albert Kahn
  • 12
  • Sep
  • 2010

Albert Kahn designed a magnificent garden to match his own imaginary world, peaceful and free of boundaries. The eccentric banker and philanthropist of the 20th-century left to posterity more than four hectares of roses, fruit and cedar trees, a playful Vosgean forest and a host of English, French and Japanese gardens.

Though the garden is located just 50 metres from the metro, the silence of this poetic place leaves you world’s away.Your senses awaken as soon as you enter the garden. The odour of the fruit trees mingle with the sounds of water flowing from the fountains and the birds sing joyfully in this refreshing environment. There are no signs to indicate the way through the gardens, each visitor must follow his own individual path. Let the beauty of the English roses seduce you, the serenity of the Japanese gardens soothe you and the cool of the blue forest refresh you.

We visited the place in summertime and it is indeed a peaceful garden. Also the museums gives an overview of a part of the history of photography (1910-1940) because Albert Kahn had a wonderful project to create a colour photographic record of, and for, the peoples of the world. As an idealist and an internationalist, Kahn believed that he could use the new autochrome process, the world’s first user-friendly, true-colour photographic system, to promote cross-cultural peace and understanding. Kahn used his vast fortune to send a group of intrepid photographers to more than fifty countries around the world, often at crucial junctures in their history, when age-old cultures were on the brink of being changed for ever by war and the march of twentieth-century globalisation.

Albert Kahn Jardin et Musée , 10-14 rue du Port, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt, M° Boulogne Pont de Saint-Cloud(last stop of line 10), one minute walking to the entrance, open from 11 am to 6 pm, closed on Monday

Les Catacombes
  • 04
  • Sep
  • 2010

Adolescent children like to do something different and a bit scary, a visit to the Catacombs in Paris is one of those things you can offer them and they will like it.

The Catacombs gather the remainders of approximately six million Parisian, transferred between the end from 18e century and the middle from the 19e century, progressively of the closing of the cemeteries for reason of insalubrity. Along a labyrinth of obscure galleries and narrow corridors , the visitor discovers the bones laid out in a “romantico-macabre” decoration. Pillars, bells of subsidence or bath of feet of the quarrymen evoke the origin of the places, the limestone quarries, while sharpening the curiosity of the visitor. This underground museum restores the history of Parisian and invites to a voyage out of time.

Catacombs of Paris, 1, avenue of Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy ,75014 Paris, Tel.: 01 43 22 47 63, M° Denfert-Rocherot

Schedules of opening : from 10 AM to 17 PM, every day except Monday (last admission at 16 PM )

You can visit the catacombes in private, take 1:30 h more or less ; you can also take a guided tour