Musée de l’Armée gets a facelift in the Invalides

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View of the refectory of the Hotel des Invalides where the new exhibition space is designed

70 % of the 1, 2 million visitors at Musée de l’Armée are foreigners and the largest group is American. So you will be pleased to learn that, after four years of works and 15 M € spent under the architects Antoine Dufour , two new galleries have been opened, one dedicated to the history of Hotel des Invalides founded by Louis XIV th for the militaries  injured in the war, another is an immersive room where images will tell the story of the museum without words. Huge invisible efforts have been put into creating fireproof floors and ceilings and the improvement of public spaces. It is incredibly discreet and luxurious. A great success. A short exhibition on military and sports is also open until next May. Read More

The reopening of Notre Dame is on the right track, December 8 is THE Day

parisdiaHappy moments, History1 Comment

Jean Charles de Castelbjac designed the clothes and Guillaume Bardet the liturgical furniture

You will be able to start applying for timed FREE tickets to visit Notre Dame around October and, for the first six months of the reopening (from December 8 th), only individuals and Parisian groups of pilgrims will be allowed. Do not try to buy tickets now because a number of fraudulent sites are selling them… Both Monseigneur Ulrich, archbishop of Paris, and Monseigneur Ribadeau Dumas, rector of Notre Dame, were brilliant at presenting the project and the evolution of the design of the furniture, the diverse mass accessories, and of course the fashion by Jean Charles de Castelbajac. The opening is on time (5 years since Emmanuel Macron announced it) and everything will look splendid including the four organists (some of them very young) who were selected for their talent but also for their aptitude to adapt to the liturgy. When the correspondent from AFP asked for the budget, the answer was a no, when Didier Rykner, editor of la Tribune de l’Art, asked about the commission of new stained glass windows,  the answer  was a no and when I asked if all designers had to be Christian, I was told that their christening certificate was not requested. Read More

The Torlonia collection is smashing at the Louvre

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A general view of the first rooms with imperial busts from the 1st century BC and AD, and portrait of a young girl in the show case, Photo Agostino Osio

I visited the Torlonia collection at the Louvre on a weekday at 9.30 and found it less stressful than expected. If you enter through passage Richelieu you access the aile Denon directly and take the elevator up to 0, it shortens the climb… You pass the Venus de Milo and enter the former apartments of Anne d’Autriche (Louis XIV th’s mother) which are lavishly restored. And the show is spectacular with very few tourists. It was fun to discover that Giovanni Torlonia, (1754-1829) was the son of an Auvergnat, Antoine Tourlounias, who emigrated to Rome and became wealthy thanks to the trade of drapes and banking. The pope gave him a title at the turn of the 19 th century and this is when he started collecting antiques, a strong social accelerator since the Renaissance. When he bought in 1799, the whole studio of Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, a sculptor and restorer, he furnished the then Villa Colonna (now Villa Torlonia) on Via Nomentana. His son Alessandro, continued, acquiring the Giustiniani collection and later, in 1866, he acquired Villa Albani full of Antiques. Read More

The New France and the Olympics

parisdiaHappy moments, History1 Comment

No majority came out of the vote on Sunday! It looks like there will boo new government for a fortnight

It has been a rule in the past that when Great Britain turns to the Tories, France elects a socialist government (Thatcher/Mitterrand), (Blair/Chirac) (Gordon Brown/ Sarkozy) and in this case, the Labor Sir Keir Starmer, elected in a landslide last Thursday has given us the worst fears as to the future majority of the Front National (Le Pen) over Le Nouveau Front Populaire, the French alliance of the left.  Well this time, it did no happen and the alliance made up of very diverse left parties came out with a relative majority. For me the great winner was the young Prime Minister Gabriel Attal who gave a moving speech on Sunday night mentioning that ” I have not chosen this dissolution but I refuse to be a victim of it”. He was reelected as MP and legally has to resign today.  But he could be kept by the President until after the Olympic Games. The alliances between the presidential majority and the left worked efficiently to bar the RN of Marine Le Pen, whose elder sister was beaten in the Sarthe by 300 votes. Her party remains the strongest in France. At 5 pm on Sunday, we were still hoping for a center left majority and all we knew is that close to 70% of the electors would turn up.

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In Versailles, horses trot, gallop and make a great show

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Equestrian portrait of Leopold de Medici, 1624-1625, Castle of Konopiste, lent by the Czech Republic, in the Galerie des Glaces

The opening gallery of the exhibition “Cheval en Majesté” at Versailles is spectacular. Designed as a grand stable, it shows the horses’ heads sticking out along a grand corridor designed in the Galerie de Pierre haute of the museum, the usual exhibition rooms being too hot in the summer. First, King Charles XI of Sweden, then Louis XIV th, Napoléon, Elisabeth of Austria, Queen Victoria and Napoléon III all had their favorite horses. The theme of the show is the love of men for horses as Buffon defined it in his 200 page chapter devoted to them in his “Histoire Naturelle”. The thirty volumes lavishly illustrated by Bouchardon and Delafosse are a reference work of naturalist research during the Enlightment. The exhibition, conceived over the last ten years, by Hélène Delalex, curator at Versailles and director Laurent Salomé since 2016,  includes loans from  the European royal courts of Stockholm, Vienna, Dresden and Turin, American museums such as the Getty and the Metropolitan and the Veterinary school of Maisons Alfort. With its 300 pieces, it is at the dimension of the Royal Palace of Versailles where the Olympic riding events are taking place. Read More

Montfort l’Amaury, a true discovery 40 mns from Paris.

parisdiaArt, Performing arts6 Comments

The view from Ravel’s house is very inspiring and includes Eglise Saint Pierre

The mission was to drive an old friend who needed to visit Maurice Ravel‘s house, le Belvédère, and pick up some paintings she had acquired on internet from gallery A Tempera, in Montfort l’Amaury. Little did we know that we would discover the most beautiful little town and the flamboyant church of St Peter’s, embellished by three successive queens of France in the 15 th and 16 th century. The smile of the gallery owner, Caroline Gros, made up for the difficulties encountered to visit the composer’s house, which is as modest as his talent was great. A wonderful surprise.Read More

Street art at the Petit Palais and “Picasso Iconophage”, the power of images.

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Inti, Encomendacion, (offering) 2024 @Itinerrance

There is lots happening in Paris and some museums will stay open during the games like le Petit Palais which is right in the middle of everything and Musée Picasso which has inaugurated a new show “Picasso Iconophage“. While havoc is reigning over the Seine, noone can cross the bridges anymore by car except at l’Alma and Pont Neuf, buses have stopped operating on most itineraries and three major subway stations are closed around the Concorde, Parisians try to stay sane. The upcoming elections are making everyone nervous from shopkeepers who fear a general recession and have started their sales three weeks early, to MPs who are not sure to be reelected on July 7. Everything is up in the air. Which sports minister will inaugurate the Olympics? Which Prime minister will have to deal with the chaos? So I recommend that you focus on cultural events which are steadily programmed. Read More

MusVerre and Conches sur Ouches, what a festival of glass!

parisdiaArt, Technique1 Comment

Dove in cristallo-ceram with a love message included in Baccarat Crystal, Restauration period, at Musée Decorchémont

I have already told you about these two glass museums which are my favorites in France. One, the Musverre, is very specialized in contemporary creations and can be found on the Belgian border in Sars Poteries. The other, Musée François Decorchémont is 90 minutes from Paris, in Conches, Normandy. Both have a permanent collection and special exhibitions. And both are in very agricultural surroundings far away from the noise of the city…Read More