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BoBo is a French expression, short for Bourgeois Bohème, and it pretty much describes who we are.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Parisian memories

Recent news of a big art heist at the musée d'art moderne de la ville de paris brought back memories of a visit to the area last autumn.
The 16e arrondissement is not really our style (nor our snack bracket), so we're not too familiar with its charms. But indeed, they seem to be many, not the least of which are those quintessential elegant tree-lined Parisian streetscapes whose images we're all so familiar with. Immaculate limestone buildings with gleaming brass doorways. Cars with 'drivers'. Staff in uniforms. You get the idea.We had visited the Palais de Chaillot previously, and that was our initial destination once again on a drizzly Wednesday last October. The present day claim to fame of this Palais is that its broad terraces afford the most picture-perfect views of the Eiffel Tower just across the Seine, so there are always throngs of tourists. (oh, & apparently the plazas & fountains make a sick skateboard park)
On this particular day, the view was a little soggy, but how can you NOT have a peek & snap a few shots, even if you already took the same ones a few years back?
Our objective was to view an exhibition that had been mounted in the cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine (the right wing in the aerial shot above) featuring the concepts of ten teams of world-renowned architects & urbanists for the future of Paris. Fascinating stuff, but a little heavy going if French isn't your usual tongue.
After leaving the exhibition we browsed the book shop (why do you always find 20 books you absolutely MUST have when you're inconveniently a few thousand miles from home?) and admired the bright modern café.
From the Palais de Chaillot, we were headed to the Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent via a street that would let us take a passing look at the Palais de Tokyo. The Palais is a lovely '30's era structure quay-side on the Seine, composed of two wings surrounding a colonnaded court. The west wing (left, below) is simply known as the Palais de Tokyo while the east (right side) is the (now infamous) musée d'art moderne de la ville de paris. We had heard that the palais had undergone a fairly radical renovation a few years ago & we wanted to have a look.
A quick peek into the courtyard before entering revealed a curious interloper perched on the rooftop.
More on this little guy later...
The Palais de Tokyo houses exhibitions of 'a la minute' art, and the renovation architects, Lacaton et Vassal, decided that stripping the interiors down to their original bones was the best way to provide suitable facilities.
And we have to say that the approach makes for a stunning contrast with the genteel exterior of the building (& by extension, its posh neighbourhood)
Above photo is from the architects' website.
Above, the bookshop. Two great ones in a single day was torturous!
Below, our shot of the lobby space. It seems to have been tweaked a bit since the date that the architects' photo was taken, principally by the addition of a gift shop to complement the bookstore, in the location where the ticket trailer originally stood. The giftshop is outlined in pink neon & offers some pretty crazy keep-sakes!
The wares are displayed in glass-fronted coolers, and in fact you can even buy cans of cold Sapporo beer from one of them.
Gotta love the "choking hazard" warning on the Johnny Rotten doll package. Back in the day we're sure there were many who choked on their tea when they set eyes (or ears) on the Sex Pistols!
...and if only this would have been able to fit in our suitcase...

This display explained the beautiful & mysterious glass cube on the roof.
Apparently there is a bit of a history of installing fabulous spaces up top. Previously the same corner had been occupied by a tiny 1 room hotel known as the Everland. Hotel Everland had been transported from its original home on the shores of Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland, to Leipzig in Germany, and finally to Paris for a 2 year run (till spring of 2009)
Following the Everland's closing in the spring, Nomiya at the Palais de Tokyo was installed as a culinary concept piece in a collaboration of the musée & Electrohome.

The following is from the website Scene Advisor:

"Nomiya, which was designed by French artist Laurent Grasso, is a 12-person izakaya, and will stay up for one year. It's part of the Culinary Art Home project between Electrolux and the Palais de Tokyo and is designed to resemble the interior of a glass gift box; one that just happens to have a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower.

The cutting-edge space isn't merely a dinner destination with a panoramic view of the capital, but also features a program that includes cooking classes and afternoon workshops in the vegetable garden. But, aside from the originality of the project, most will make their way here for the cuisine of
Chef Gilles Stassart.

The rectangular glass box is limited to 12 people, dining at a communal table, and serves lunch and dinner daily. Chef Stassart...cooks alongside a few sous chefs at a cooking station. Nomiya is part of a year long culinary project sponsored by Electrolux. The whole endeavour was the appliance manufacturer's idea; a collective art exhibit that belongs to the artists with a common interest in creating unforgettable experiences around food."

David Lebovitz has a detailed review and delectable food photos in a post from his blog here.
It looks to be a completely magical experience. But you'd better hurry, it's only around till July of this year!

Nomiya at the Palais de Tokyo

Next time we're in Paris, we will most surely be planning on a proper visit to the Palais de Tokyo & its sister institution next door, le musée d'art moderne de al ville de paris.
Let's hope their treasures are recovered very soon...

Palais du Tokyo
13 Avenue du Président Wilson
75116 Paris


  1. ahh. le sigh. when i was studying abroad in paris, i lived right next door to palais de tokyo. 15 avenue du president wilson was my address.

    paris, je t'aime. et je vais revenir. j'espere...