Glorious, lawn-sprawling, park bench-smooching weather has finally taken root in the City of Light though even last week there was a spate of rain and hail. But as of today, spring is ostensibly here and it ain’t going anywhere. As a token of good faith, buds are budding, tulips are out in profusion and construction cranes are everywhere. Temps today hit 84°F (28°C) and so you may wish to refresh at the mist-spewing fountain specially transformed for the Dynamo exhibition at the Grand Palais (overheard, ‘I think it may be an artwork’).
The Dynamo Exhibition recreates and exhibits original works of light art, including neon tubes from the 70’s and “the chromatic and changing atmospheres of Ann Veronica Janssens, the kaleidoscopic mirrors of Jeppe Hein and the installations of Felice Varini’’. Illuminating. (21 avenue Franklin Roosevelt, métro Champs Elysées Clemenceau, now to 22 July 2013, daily except Tuesdays from 10 am to 8 pm; open late on Wednesdays to 10 pm; Closed on May 1st.)
However, now that it is officially tourist season (do not kill more than you can consume) and perhaps a bit crowded in the absolute middle of town, side-step the hot spots and take in a phenomenal retrospective of…
Those funny vibrating little monochrome babies and barking terriers are now so vulgarized it’s easy to forget that Keith Haring made big labyrinthine images imbued with often serious messages. Have a look at the originals in an exhibition so big it needed two venues, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (11 Avenue du Président Wilson, métro Alma-Marceau or Iéna; Tuesday – Sunday from 10am to 6pm, late night Thursday to 10pm for temporary exhibitions) and 104 centquatre (5 rue Curial, metro Riquet). The expo is called The Political Line and covers a very large proportion of Haring’s work. The reasonable-size pieces are at Musée d’Art Moderne, located near many superb VIP apartments.
The gigantic ones are at 104 centquatre. Since the idea is to get out of the epicenter, head north—to northern Paris, because that’s where the 104 centquatre is. Once an (enormous) municipal funeral home, it is now a multi-arts and leisure center, with a cinema, book shop, theatre, many art workshops and a few restaurants. There are even one or two arty clothing stores. (12 pm – 7pm Tuesday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11am to 7pm) To August 18th. That gives you plenty of time.
Not an oxymoron. Ekyog is the epitome of guilt-free shopping, truly a one of a kind clothing company. When they say fair trade, they are talking about the organic cotton plant or eucalyptus or beech plantations (used to make modal and tencel) right through to the non-toxic dyes and fair pay and education for farmers and textile workers. They even have an Association called Terre d’Ekyog (www.terrdekyog.org) that donates 10% of the company’s profits to specific ONG-led projects mainly in India and Madagascar where their clothes are made. But actually the reason I started buying their clothes was that they are glamorous and flattering, the fabrics are incredibly soft and comfortable, and the prices are fair to consumers as well—what a concept, not being gouged for fair-traded goods. But their greatest service to humanity may well be their flagship design, Métamorphose, which is essentially a bare-back mid-calf length cotton jersey tube dress with a huge rolled collar and a nice, loose drape around the waist. And a bare-back, cape-collar, above-the-knee belted dress. And a top with a huge rolled collar. And a kimono-sleeve cardigan. This is one piece of clothing costing less than 100€. Oh yes, you can also wear a tank top or turtle neck under it to cover the bare back. So there’s half your travel wardrobe right there.
They also design around the specific qualities of new organic fabrics like modal and tencel as well as organic cotton, silk and linen to drape, flow, sashay and envelope. Stores are located in St Germain at 59 bis rue Bonaparte, métro Mabillon; near Madeleine at 30 rue Tronchet, métro Havre-Caumartin ; near the Opéra and the midtown department stores at 40 Bd Haussmann, métro Havre-Caumartin-Lafayette. And on line www.ekyog.com (only in French.)
Russian Orthodox Easter falls on May 5th this year, and though it is not a tourist attraction, you might want to pay a discreet, respectful visit to Saint Aleksandr Nevski’s Cathedral in the rue Daru off the Blvd Courcelles (métro Courcelles) for midnight mass (on Saturday, obviously, at 11 pm).
It is a magical experience even if you are standing in the courtyard with dozens of others since the small cathedral fills up quickly with members of the long-established and newly arrived Russian communities. Most everyone will be holding long tapers to be lighted on some mystical cue, and deftly getting into position for the moment when it’s time to kiss the person next to you three times and intone ‘“Christus n’yast yvoh” “Christ is risen”. Please no photos of the procession in its gold brocaded vestments or the enormous flower-covered brass crucifixes as they circumvent the church three times. Marvel at the unnaturally deep bass voices and rich harmonies of the Russian liturgical music, then enjoy some smoked eel and herring in white wine from Petrossian (18 bd de Latour-Maubourg 75007 Paris, métro Invalides. Monday to Saturday, 9:30am to 8 pm.) Add 700€/kg caviar if you are so inclined.
And don’t forget smoked salmon, blinis, boiled eggs painted like Venetian marbled paper, and a tall Easter cake with white icing and glazed fruit or a cream cheese cake that is more like a sweet paste, gorgeously packed into a gold foil pyramid. Gastronomie Russe, 130, bd Montparnasse75014 Paris; Tuesday -Sunday. 11 am to 9pm, métro Vavin or Raspail. Happy Easter!