Musée Fabre in Montpellier became a true star in the summer of 2012, when it organized with FRAME (French American Museum exchange) the fabulous Caravaggio exhibition, which subsequently traveled around the US. It was founded by French artist François-Xavier Fabre (1766-1837), in 1825 and is located in the old Montpellier, the capital of Languedoc, which was a Protestant stronghold until the 17 th century. Louis XIV th decided to turn it into a prosperous city after the tragic Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which forced protestants to flee. The beautiful architecture around Esplanade du Peyrou and the Arch of Triumph date from this time. Its population expanded after France left Algeria in 1962 and many “pieds noirs” came to develop the vineyards. It has become a modern industrial city with, unfortunately, a serious security problem, but its different museums are definitely worth a full day and in the summer the music festival (10-30 July 2020) is a must.
I had been wanting to visit the city of Sète on the Mediterranean for a long time, and this firs week in January suddenly seemed perfect for travelling. The sun was awaiting us on the oyster fields and a marvelous artist, Jean Denant whom we met though his galeriste Anne de Villepoix, took the time to tour us around town. Paul Valéry’s famous “Cimetière marin” (cemetery on the sea) and museum, Pierre Soulages‘s mysterious house which was burglarized while he was inaugurating his exhibition at the Louvre with President Macron, the Marcel Gromaire exhibition and Chez François, the place to eat fabulous “clams en persillade”, all seduced me immensely. Not to mention the Venice like canals which make this little town quite magical. Read More
Château de Compiègne, where the young Marie Antoinette was welcomed by Louis XVth upon her arrival in France from Austria, on May 14, 1770, has been recently revamped and its different drawing rooms and galleries are on top form especially since Rodolphe Rapetti, its Director, arrived two years ago. He loves cars and had the idea of this amazing exhibition of thirty “Concept-cars”, which were lifted up onto the wooden floors of the XVIII th century castle built for Louis XVth. Whether you are an adept of car design or historical buildings, you can only be seduced by these contrasting beauties: one hour north of Paris, it is the most amusing show I have seen recently. And race car amateurs have flocking to Compiègne.
Henri Cartier-Bresson was an adventurous photo reporter. He always ran faster than the others and managed to get the human shot. He also was in the right place at the right time. The new show at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, is of his Chinese trips in 1948 and ten years later. It is a unique vision, through 151 pictures edited by the two curators, of China on the eve of the Revolution and of the industrialisation of the country under Mao. And his eye concentrated on individuals throughout the events. Read More
For the last four weeks, France has been paralyzed by train and subway strikes. Most people walk four hours a day to go to work and back. Bicycles, trottinettes and all kinds of rolling transport systems have been developed to the point that accidents have risen all around big cities. Christmas vacations were spoiled for lack of trains, airplanes are fully booked and there is not one car to be rented. But Parisians react and fight as they did during the German occupation. They walk and they use “système D” (débrouille: manage). Blabla car and Macron buses have never been more successful. Companies hire hotel rooms for their employees who live far away, the Louvre closes at 5.30 pm on some days, and the two automatic subway lines in Paris, the 1 and the 14, now attract everyone… including the very rich. And I went to buy beautiful flowers at Rosebud to cheer up.Read More
One hundred years after the Revolution, and fifty years after King Louis Philippe created the historical museum, Château de Versailles had a festive period of resurrection under curator Pierre de Nolhac‘s reign (1892-1920) and the exhibition “Versailles Revival“, which opened a month ago, is a very refreshing vision of what “Marie Antoinette’s castle” had become. Now is the good time to go since tourism has fallen in times of strikes and there are no lines at all.Read More
I am taking the opportunity of Christmas to let you know that Parisdiary is now on Instagram at @parisdiarybylaure. Don’t hesitate to let all your best friends know about it. Paris has been hit by the strikes but Theaters and the Champs Elysées are swarmed by people who want to have a good time. And two castles near Paris are celebrating the holidays in grand style, Chantilly and Vaux le Vicomte. So if you are here do not hesitate to get out of Paris and visit the countryside…
Paris was a mess because of the strikes and yet Théâtre de Chaillot was fully booked for a week with Malandain Ballet Biarritz performing “La Pastorale”, a tribute to Beethoven on the 250 th anniversary of his birth, commissioned by Theater Bonn. It was the first time I saw this now famous company made of International dancers and based in Biarritz. Thierry Malandain, who started at the Paris Ballet and danced for Ballet du Rhin, has now established it as one of the leading European companies. And it was a very good surprise.Read More