We weren’t supposed to go to the Centre Pompidou today, but it started raining, and we weren’t up to doing a walking tour without an umbrella… So we switched gears and headed to the Centre Pompidou for some contemporary art (a bit of a change from the Louvre yesterday) and then went to check out Le Marais! We went to bum around Le Marais on our own before joining up with another free walking tour (giving Discover Walks Paris a second chance). Let me just say that I’m glad we went on our own beforehand, because again, I was a bit disappointed with our guide, but in the end I was glad to have seen another part of the city that was new to me! I’m already a little bit anxious to explore it some more during our next visit!
Centre Pompidou is a bit of a stain on the Parisian cityscape. It’s a contemporary art museum that was built inside out. I like it. As much as I love how ‘stuck in time’ Paris is, I find this building a nice little reminder of today! I also like the whimsical Stravinsky Fountain and of course, the giant street art (portrait) overlooking the entire complex. Really, what’s not to love?!
We began our visit checking out the Simon Hantai exhibit. There was also a Roy Lichtenstein exhibition going on, but we saw a rather extensive retrospective in Chicago before this trip began- so we opted for a different artist today. I wasn’t as big of a fan of his earlier works- but I really liked his later “pliage” (folding) method. According to Wikipedia: This is when the canvas was folded and sometimes scrunched, covered with paint, and unfolded, leaving apparent blank sections of the canvas interrupted by vibrant splashes of colour. He stated: “The pliage developed out of nothing. It was necessary to simply put myself in the place of someone who had seen nothing… in the place of the canvas. I found it beautiful and in a way, a more methodical approach but in a somewhat similar style of Pollock- another favorite! I photographed some of the works when it was allowed. At the end of the exhibit, I cursed my already too-full backpack and the fact that we were over budget. If I could, I would get absolutely every big coffee-table style artist/exhibition book I could. Maybe I need to be more diligent about adding books to my Amazon list? One day I’ll have a house with lots of bookshelves and coffee tables, right? One day…
We headed downstairs to the permanent collection. We wandered in and out of rooms, sometimes together sometimes separate. I was standing in front of one piece trying to figure it out, when a very nice Sudanese man approached and asked me what I thought of the piece- in French. I was a little surprised, but quickly rebounded thinking how fun it would be to practice my buried language skills. I responded, in French that it wasn’t for me. It really wasn’t. It was a mixed media (wood mostly) piece that didn’t leave much to the imagination. Or maybe it left too much to the imagination and I didn’t have enough of it? Either way, his eyes grew wide and he though I was talking about the museum in its entirety. I quickly reassured him I was only talking about the one piece, and then the small talk began. I wandered into another room. He followed. He kept asking questions, I kept answering trying to ignore the little voice in my head that reminded me how stupid I sounded en Français. And then he asked me to sit down with him.
And it dawned on me that he wasn’t simply chatting to practice speaking French. Andrew was nowhere to be found. He never is, by the way, when I find myself in a position similar to this one.
“Oh… So sorry, I should probably find my boyfriend…” I responded. To which he responded asking why I had lost him in the first place. Then I got flustered and I think I might have said something along the lines of “Oh it’s ok to lose him” giving the wrong impression entirely. Andrew, of course was entirely amused by the story later, especially when I refused to be left alone in a room full of contemporary art.
Maybe the Centre Pompidou isn’t the prettiest building in Paris, but it still has one of the best views of the city from it’s roof and balconies.
Hungry, and nostalgic for our time in the middle east, we headed over to Le Marais to try some of the infamous falafel. I know, not exactly what you would expect to find in the middle of Paris, but maybe that’s only if you weren’t familiar (like myself) with the Jewish influence within the fashion district. En route, we passed this empty laundromat. For some reason (maybe it’s because my Grandmother owned a laundromat once upon a time?) I couldn’t resist taking a picture.
We ate on the street, interrupted only by Andrew freaking out over some pigeon poo running down his back. I couldn’t stop laughing. Had my hands not been full of falafel, I would have filmed it for sure. Instead, he yelled at me to stop laughing and help him clean it up- because obviously, as it was on his back, he couldn’t see it. Stuffed, we walked around, sat down on some church steps and waited for our walking tour to begin.
I was excited to learn more about the fashion industry, as the ‘free walking tour’ website advertised, but it seems as though our guide had other ‘fun facts’ in mind instead. We learned a good deal about the history of the neighborhood, we learned even more about her time going to a high-school in the same neighborhood, but not so much about the fashion industry or influence over Le Marais. I was disappointed. She was sweet, but it wasn’t a great tour, and I fully plan on returning next time to soak up more of this neighborhood and even maybe splurging on a not so ‘free’ walking tour?