24. Neuilly

Dear travelling buddies

Paris is unseasonably cold at the moment, but I really love it. It’s warm inside everywhere, and just fresh and divine when you walk outside. We had our dinner sitting at a footpath table. So I’ve had a hot shower and hopped into bed, snug and cosy.

Our plan today was to have lunch with JC and Monique in Neuilly, then see the Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Boulogne inside the Jardin d’Acclimation.

Come visit them with me!

We had asked Monique not to go to any trouble. She does simple so beautifully: a rocket salad, shaved slices of bresaola, and baguette. JC’s aside: bresaola is very nice but not as good as viande de grisons. We took the pâté de foie gras and some special cured ham from the covered market Marché St Germain, which opens at 8am on Sunday. An upmarket fruit shop, deli, florist etc. I had to taste-teste this foie gras on both Friday night and Saturday morning to make sure it was ok. -:) And Cally found a florist called Au Nom de la Rose to buy them a gift. You can easily identify this chain of shops by the scattering of rose petals at the door.

Shall we go by Métro today?

We walked to the Châtelet station, underneath the Victory statue I showed you yesterday.

On the way we saw a place where people charge their electric cars. I think they put money into a machine to pay for a certain amount of time.

Châtelet is a bit of a funny station because it has a long tunnel joining 5 different lines. So you need to pay attention where you exit, or you can end up a couple of blocks from where you thought you would come out. We needed the Les Sablons stop on La Défense yellow line.

When we arrived, we asked a man who was just about to catch his train which exit we should take. Oh you’ve already taken the wrong one he said. He then escorted us right up the stairs to the street, and walked us to exactly the right place. He had once lived in Ottawa for six months and understood what it’s like to be lost. I’d like to think he’d be given the same kind treatment in Australia, or anywhere in the world for that matter.

Speaking of kindness, JC and Monique have kindly allowed me to write about them.

JC and Monique’s flat in Neuilly has a courtyard garden outside the sitting room with more plants in that small space than you could possibly imagine. Linden, dogwood, viburnum, holly, lots of different hydrangeas (the colourful one below is called ‘vanilla and strawberry’), acanthus, clematis, virginia creeper, roses and climbing roses. Even agapanthus.

And such beautiful light in the sitting room…

We admired Monique’s Isabel Canovas bracelets displayed in the living room. Isabel was head designer for Dior and is the sister of Manuel, the fabric designer. She stopped making jewellery in the early 1990’s. Aren’t they wonderful?

The pâte

This is JC and M's wedding photo - doesn't M look stunning?

We were interested in the art, JC’s drawings, and particularly the old family portraits hanging all around the kitchen walls. What wonderful stories!

This one is JC’s great-great-uncle in school uniform. He was sent from Mauritius to boarding school in France. He did law in France, returned to Mauritius, became a politician, and eventually was knighted. (Although Mauritius was once French, the British defeated them in battle in 1814, and so it became British, independent in 1968) JC is very interested in his ancestry and spends time researching it.

When she was a girl, Monique’s family home was a castle in the Gruyère region of Switzerland. It overlooked a deep valley, which was flooded to make an artificial lake for hydro-electricity. This is it below.

This is a portrait of a relative of hers on her father’s side, called Reynold. Monique thinks she looks a little grumpy. But she has a gentle side don’t you think?

Here is another of Monique’s relatives, who signed the Zurich Treaty of Tabac which is the writing on the book in his hand. I couldn't find it in a quick search on the internet.

Monique’s grandmother had an arranged marriage. This painting came from her.

M's family crest is on the plate below. She has many of these plates, large and small, which she and her siblings divided up.

JC's drawings and paintings are wonderful as you know. Here is one of an orchestra.

Don't you love the old shutter catch-backs?

After lunch, Monique came with us to the Frank Gehry building built by Louis Vuitton. I'm sure you've seen photos of it. It's simply amazing. The scale gargantuan. Firstly, a photo of a postcard I bought, showing one of Gehry's preliminary drawings in 2006. Would you fund a building based on this?

The finished work. How do you bend glass to flex without it breaking in all weathers? And don't the (real) deer look surreal in the foreground?

There are some yellow glass panels on the lower floor.

I enjoyed some of the artworks very much. Particularly this giant plaster man, the diviner. Man in Mud, Thomas Schütte 2009. Looks hard to get out of! Maybe the artist just wasn't good at feet. Don't take me seriously will you. Don't you just love the scale of it? I was so glad that the attendant stood there.

We had a little trouble finding our way out of Châtelet on the way home. This couple showed us the way. (The exit we wanted had actually been blocked off for construction of some sort, and the sticky tape covering the exit number had come off)

We went to Les Editeurs near the apartment for a little dinner tonight on our way home. Cally had a club sandwich and chips. I had a plate of vegetables with pesto. Both delicious!

Time for bed once again. Tomorrow the plan is to see the Petit and Grand Palais, and the smart streets of the right bank. We're meeting Monique for lunch at Colette.

Hope you had a great weekend. Until tomorrow.....

ps There were several spelling mistakes in the last post because I was hurrying so much to get it done. I can't bear them. One even looked like a grammar mistake. I've fixed them all I think. My apologies.