Friday, July 23, 2010

Paris - Marais District

Place des Vognes is a beautiful square (in the true sense of the word since it's shape is an exact square) in the Marais district that was built in the 1600s for King Henry IV. Today, it is a pretty park surrounded on all sides by restaurants, shops and art galleries, nestled under stunning arched ceilings.

Visiting the art galleries proved to be a challenge. Although they all indicated that they opened at 11am, the actual opening time seemed to vary between 11-12 or did not open at all. Those that did open displayed an interesting variety of paintings, drawings and sculptures with a large number depicting Americana, especially scenes from New York City.

Because of my love of musical theatre, I had a personal affinity for the piece called "Singing and Dancing in the Great White Way", that showed a composite of famous musicals on Broadway.
I also liked the quirky sculptures that came in all shapes, sizes and materials including these colourful dancers and a series of life-sized wire sculptures that I would have loved to own.

On a tip from our niece Lindsay, we ventured into the Jewish quarter in search of falafals for lunch. We couldn't remember the name of the place she recommended, but stumbled across Falafal King, led there both by the delicious aroma that filled the street as well as the vocal "restaurant barker" who insistently urged us to sit down. We ended up with the most delicious pita filled with a mix of falafal, shawarma, cucumbers and tomato. Walking away sated, we made a note to thank Lindsay for the great recommendation, when steps away, we came across 4 other falafal restaurants. It turned out we didn't go to the one she suggested, but we had a great meal all the same.

Continuing down Rue de Rosiers, the Jewish area was full of kosher restaurants and bakeries, book stores and art galleries. I liked this humorous depiction of the parting of the Red Sea displayed in one of the galleries.

Also in the Marais area is the photography museum, which was currently showing an collection of photographs by Russian photographers. These photographs ranged from documentary-styled black and white photographs from Stalin era, to present day photos depicting contemporary and unconventional themes, as well as "staged photographs" meant to shock or cause discussion and contemplation. There was a disturbing set of photos of what seemed to be young child prostitutes, dressed, made up and posed provocatively. Another series of photos showed Russians of various occupations with their families, highlighting the differences in social standing, clothing, decor of the home and even facial expressions and demeanours of each group.

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