Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ballet de L'Opéra Caligula Le Riche

This ballet was created by the Ballet de L'Opéra National de Paris on 21st October, 2005. Star dancer Nicolas Le Riche claims his obsession with Caligula, the Roman Emperor who was stabbed by the age of 29. I am no expert to judge, but must admit that I was confused and a little disappointed with the performance. I didn't buy the program and was a little bit lost during the ballet's five acts.

There were hardly any costume changes, I didn't like the "modern twist" to the ballet and Vivaldi's music, and couldn't figure out the message of the projected screen. However, I was more than impressed by the orchestra, notably the conductor and violin soloist, Frédéric Laroque. Vivaldi was interpreted beautifully, and if I couldn't see the orchestra pit I would have believed that it was a CD being played.

The dancers were all graceful as usual. The men danced beautifully and elegantly, the women seemed like dancing puppets. Some parts of the choreography were messy, and some were boring. I even caught J looking up and enjoying the ceiling more than a few times during the ballet. But it was a nice outing for a Monday night, and it was short enough that we didn't feel trapped.

The most impressive part of the night was being in Opéra Garnier itself. Everything was extravagant, from the stairwells to the ceiling to the chandelier to the deco. I'm already trying to book tickets to other performances, preferably a gala the next time!

Metro: Opéra
Photos by Me

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Musée Nissim de Camondo

This hotel particulier (private residence) was once home to the de Camondo family and now a non-profit museum situated at 63, rue de Monceau, a few steps away from Parc Monceau. The mansion was built in 1911 by the Comte Moise de Camondo, a rich banker with a high appreciation of 18th century arts and furniture. His collections and home were then entrusted to Les Arts Décoratifs in honor of his son, Nissim de Camondo, who died in World War 1.

J & I found this little museum as we were walking back to our car after a morning walk at Parc Monceau. I've always been awed by the private homes of Paris, its charm and luxe allure always brings my imagination back to the 17th/18th century and all its splendor. As soon as you step in, you forget that you are in Paris.. I was taken back in time, and back to the Loire Valley, and spent about an hour imagining that I was the Princess of the mansion :)

If you would refer back to the first picture, you would notice a tall gate-like door. This picture was taken right by the entrance on the ground floor. We were wondering what it was used for, and learned that this "gate" was used when it rained. Wide enough for a car to enter, the de Camondo family and their precious guests would never have a single drop of rain on them when they enter the residence..

It was beautiful, and I would recommend this museum to anyone. It transports you into another world, and the autoguide that comes with your ticket sufficiently explains everything in French or English.

After Nissim de Camondo died, the home was opened as a museum in 1935. During World War II, the Comte's daughter, son-in-law, and their children died in the nazi camps and the family line died out. This is how it ends, a sad story that masks the beauty and grandeur of this magnificent home.

Metro: Monceau, Europe
Photos By Me

Monday, February 14, 2011

Parc Monceau

Parc Monceau is a semi-public park in the 8th arrondissement surrounded by ornate gates and gorgeous residences. It covers an area of about 20 acres. It doesn't stand out much in terms of beauty compared to the other gardens and parks in Paris, but what attracted me most were the apartments/hotel particulier (urban private houses) that surrounds it. Tall windows are draped with what I can only imagine to be the finest curtains, and I envision the apartments being decorated in 18th century furniture!

It's safe to say that it is probably way more beautiful in the summer when the flowers bloom and skies not so gray, but it was a nice way to end the weekend. On the way back to our car, we found a little museum that I will blog about next. Parc Monceau is open from 7am to 8pm in the winter and from 7am to 10pm in the summer.

Metro: Monceau
Photos by Me

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Place de La Concorde

Place de La Concorde is a majestic square situated in between the Jardin des Tuileries and the beginning of the Champs Elysées. It is in fact the largest public square in Paris, measuring 86,400 square meters (*Wikipedia). Located in the 8th arrondissement, it houses the famous Hotel de Crillon, the embassy of the United States and The National Assembly.

During the French Revolution, the square was renamed "Place de la Révolution" and a guillotine was erected. Among popular figures who were guillotined here include Marie Antoinette, Madame du Barry, and Robespierre. During the "Reign of Terror" in the summer of 1794, about 1300 people were killed here.

To get an immediate "wow I'm in Paris" feel, do head here! After snapping your necessary pictures, the Louvre and the upscale shopping area rue Faubourg St Honoré are both walking distance away.

Metro: Concorde
Photos by Me

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche

"Bon marché" literally means not expensive, or cheap, in French. But this luxurious departmental store sells things that are far from being cheap. Situated on the left bank in the super chic 7th arrondissement, this IS the place to shop if you like Marni, Balenciaga and Paule Ka.

On the top floor lies J's playground, the furniture store. Here we browse through the latest Kartell chairs and gaze at mini Vitra-s for our future children. Even during the weekends, this place is hardly packed. If you have an anti-department-store-shopping husband, this is the place to bring him to to ease him into your world.

For the international community, right next door lies La Grande Epicerie de Paris- in other words, the very expensive supermarket where we can find stuff from all over the world. This is where I get my stock of Vitamin Water (although it is pretty much available everywhere in Paris now) and my little pleasures in life such as the spoon shaped white chocolate and praline whipped cream. If you're REALLY bling, you can purchase your Bling H2O here for ONLY 29€!

Sorry for the blackberry photos, I didn't think it was cool taking pictures here with a big fat camera..

Photos by Me
Metro: Sèvres-Babylone

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Picture of the Day

Carousel in front of Hotel de Ville

Photo By Me

Monday, February 7, 2011

Le Chardenoux by Cyril Lignac

Obsessed with the show Top Chef, J & I decided that we need to try the restaurants of the celebrity chef judges. We chose Cyril Lignac to begin with, and discovered his shi shi restaurant Le Quinzième. Loved it. Only after several times here, that we realize that he had a brasserie too. Le Chardenoux, a charming spot that occupies a corner lot in the 11th arrondissement, serves traditional French dishes for about 45€pp for a full meal (25€ fixed lunch during the week).

The space is small, cozy and traditional. During some days, you may even see the Chef himself here mingling around with guests and kidding around with the children. The staff will make you feel at home, and we see no difference of quality in the service here and his fancier restaurant mentioned above.

The food here is hearty and yummy. I cannot recommend anything else but the following 3 things that I never fail to order:
Start with the Ravioles de Langoustines (crayfish ravioli in a cream sauce to die for), continue with Curry de Lotte cuisiné en Cocotte (monkfish curry cooked in a pot), and end with the Eclair au Caramel de beurre salé (caramel Eclair, but to my horror it isn't on the menu anymore!)

Checkout http://www.restaurantlechardenoux.com/
1 Rue Jules Vallès
75011 Paris

First Photo Courtesy of Google Images
Photos by II