Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Paris museums, where will it end?

We mentioned previously that the Musée du Luxembourg is about to close.

There have also been all the strikes affecting Beaubourg, the Musée d’Orsay, even the Louvre or Versailles… (Most museums seem to have reopened though some are “free” because of strikers blocking the cash desks.)

Anyhow, now, it’s time for the Palais de la Découverte… I know this has been under discussion for a while: closing the Palais before it’s grown too “dusty” and that the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie “does the same thing”. Apparently, the decision has become official that the Palais de la Découverte will die at the end of this year. Whatever remains are left will be integrated with the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. I’m quite curious ready about the current exhibits: this week, “The hunger of dinosaurs” was just launched and it’s supposed to run until May. The few images I’ve seen seem striking, I hope many will be able to enjoy that exhibit.

If you think it’s a shame for the Palais de la Découverte and its traditions of bringing science to the large public, in its own way (because it’s not “just like the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in old and shabby”!), then you are invited for breakfast over at the Palais de la Découverte: every day (except on Mondays when it’s closed) from the 8th of December from 9am30 to 10am in the Hall d’Antin. Just bring your thermos of coffee, your croissants, etc. to show support or take part in what seem to be the last days of this institution…

Museums under attack?

I found out recently when going to the Tiffany exhibit at the Musée du Luxembourg (which was great btw) that the museum is about to close! That exhibit could be the museum’s last with a planned closure in January 2010! Employees suggest that you sign their petition to protest against the closure of such a historical museum. After all, this museum first opened in 1750 and it was the first art museum to be open to the public in France! (Among other achievements) A better written post about this topic (in French).

Meanwhile, the Centre Pompidou is closed to visitors because the people working there are on strike! A post in French, one in English, to explain the main reason behind this strike: half the people going into retirement won’t be replaced starting in January 2010 and as many employees there are over 50, this means very soon the number of employees will crash… Such measures should also impact other cultural places such as the Louvre or Versailles. This is not going to get better soonish with a general call to strike for next Wednesday…

A coincidence? Or is “someone” bound on destroying Paris’ image of a culture-rich capital?

Oh my, Tokyo is the new gastronomy capital!

The launch of Michelin Tokyo Guide 2009 (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

The launch of Michelin Tokyo Guide 2009 (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

A new Michelin Tokyo Guide will be on sale this weekend and at the launch/photocall it is revealed that Tokyo is now the new world capital of gastronomy. Oh la la. C’est catastrophe pour Paris?

According to the new guide, Tokyo now has 11 3-stars restaurants compared with 10 for Paris. Not only that, Tokyo has also garnered a whooping total of 261 stars, shared by 197 restaurants. In comparison, Paris is looking at 70 restaurants which share 106 stars between them.

This is really quite a change of gastronomic fortune for the Japanese capital. The first Michelin guide to Tokyo was published a mere two years ago, in 2007. After some controversy over the use of non-Japanese inspectors (“how can they adequately judge Japanese cuisine when they’re not Japanese?”) Michelin said that for this latest edition, only Japanese inspectors were used.

Now, before detractors of French cuisine try to score some points based on this guide, remember that Tokyo is much bigger than Paris and it also has four times more restaurants (some 160,000 in Tokyo versus about 40,000 in Paris). Furthermore, France overall still have more 3-stars restaurants than any other country, with 25 compared with Japan’s 18.

Come on Paris – let’s up our game before the next French Michelin guide in March 2010! ;)

Salmon in the Seine?

A number of salmon have been caught/seen along the Seine lately, all the way up to Suresnes which is just next to Paris! This is not due to any work of reintroduction of the species apparently but a natural recolonisation by a number of fish. Apparently, these fish come from here and there, other French rivers but also abroad. Though scientists caution that there hasn’t been any proof of salmon reproduction along the Seine yet, so one can’t say it’s an enduring return for the time being…

See article in

About the Gallic origins of Paris

The modern day city of Paris is built on the Roman remains of Lutecia, for which there is ample evidence everytime one digs around the Ile de la Cité or the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève (which can’t be practical when one is trying to get new buildings built). It was also believed that when the Romans had arrived, they had settled in the chief city of the Parisii, which was called Lutetia.

But now archeologists have found new evidence in Nanterre (while digging to build a highway) that things may not have been this way: among the remains and items that were found, some hint that, at the location of modern day Nanterre, there might have been a big Gallic city, bigger then what might have been on the Ile de la Cité and around.

So now nobody can be sure of anything: were there 2 cities? Which one is the Lutetia mentioned by Cesar in his writings to the Senate? Etc. etc. There is still lots of mysteries to be solved for sure.

I wonder whether they’ll start digging like crazy around Nanterre now?

For all I know, the scientists have known these questions for a long time already, I’m only just finding out through an article in LeMonde

The full story in French here.

On a slightly related note:
Les grands monuments de Lutèce” is an exhibit at the Crypte archéologique du parvis de Notre-Dame until the 31st of January 2010 about the main Roman buildings in the city.

The Sale of Lots 677 and 678

The final auction tally came up to €374,392,500. Not shabby at all at times of recession and economic downturn. Soon all these work of arts and treasures will be placed in crates, packed away and delivered from Paris to the homes of their new owners. I do hope plenty of these will go to the AIDS research foundation as promised, and not just some token sum while someone else pocketed a whole lot of profits.

The most controversial sale came from the auctioning of lots 677 and 678 – featuring two rare Qing dynasty bronze sculptures, depicting a rabbit head and a rat head, which were part of a set of 12 that represented the 12 animals in Chinese Zodiac. They were sold at €15,745,000 each to unknown/private telephone bidder(s). Just as well, because I fear whoever that bidded for them openly may find themselves mysteriously disappear or something… (Sorry I’m being very cynical but with a good reason.)


This is a rather contentious issue. In China, those interviewed by foreign journalists believed that these two relics should be returned to the rightly owner – China. The State Administration of Cultural Heritage even brought this to court, but their filing was shot down by the French court. Rightly so, in my opinion.

Afterall, while Chinese authority is indignantly demanding for what they believe they have a claim to (in a way, they do but very very technically, these belonged to the past Emperors but since they decided to do away without the Imperial powers… just sayin’) their behaviour is nothing short of a bully at the playground who wants everything his way or else… Oh their contempt at the failure to block this sale is evident from miles away.

How conveniently they never mentioned Bergé’s offer to re-gift the relics back to China. “I would be very happy to go myself and bring these two Chinese heads to put them in the Summer Palace in Beijing. All they have to do is to declare they are going to apply human rights, give the Tibetans back their freedom and agree to accept the Dalai Lama on their territory.”

Of course, to accept this offer would mean an acknowledgement of their own looting of other customs and cultures, and their lack of respect for human rights. Therefore, from my point of view (and echoing many who are pro-human rights and in favour of a free Tibet) – “Until they return the rights of others along with the looted treasures they got away with, they can shut up”.

(I am so never going be issued a visa to visit China from now on, am I?)

Quick update on the auction of Collection YSL/PB

So, were you one of the people who queued for several hours just to get a glimpse into the marvellous art collection of YSL/PB? I certainly didn’t, and instead spent my time browsing the catalogue online.

The first of the auction sessions started today, at 7pm in the evening, in Paris. The organisation of the auction is unprecedented, with seatings prepared to accommodate over 1000 buyers, with additional 100 telephone lines for off-site bidding. My my, if only I live in a world of richesse to afford them. There were some seriously handsome pieces of Matisse, Gris, Vuillard and Leger on the block.

The entire collection is expected to fetch up to €300 million but the punters are obviously willing to shell out more, despite the difficult economic time. The sale from the first session alone has so far amassed in a whopping €206 million (check out what was sold at which price)!

While many pieces are obviously sold at higher bids than expected, the star piece of the first session – Picasso’s “Instruments de Musique sur un Guéridon” – failed to reach the minimum price of €30 million and instead attracted a highest bid of only €21 million.

In case you wonder where all the money from the sales is going to go to, the proceeds will be used to help create a new foundation for Aids research.

CRS all over the place

Tis the season it seems…

Snow update

Yes, there is still snow in Paris!

I know, it’s most unbelievable. It’s still the same snow though. But it’s been holding in places… I think today the sun has started working on it but in the mean time parks are still closed for “bad weather” (which is funny with the sun shining above…)

This mean that Paris has had snow for over a week now! This must be some kind of record, no?

Delicious paper

This is not a new fashion restaurant where you eat paper. Neither is it a comment on a cooking book… Delicious paper is a new monthly journal and it is free!

The first issue was distributed around Paris yesterday and I was given one while going out to eat.

At the first look it’s like other free daily journals: same paper, same format. BUT when you open it, everything is different : no colorful pictures, long text and modern design. And what I really value : only few ads. I guess they will increase the ads in the next issues since that’s the only way to have money to publish that sort of journal. But I hope they will not fill all the journal with it has it happens with daily journals.

I didn’t had enough time to read all the journal, but I liked the way the articles are written. Having long article to read makes your trip from home to work shorter. And article are some kind of essay, so after reading it you feel a little smarter.

If you want to discover it by yourself, explore the website, you can download the 1st journal and find where it is distributed.

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