Blink going down the rue des Archives and you’ll miss the sign of this unstodgy private museum where you’ll trip the light fantastic. The ceiling of one room has been covered in owl feathers in a work called The Night of Diana, rooms have names such as Room of the Boar, Salon of the Dogs and Cabinet of the Wolf, an alcove is dedicated to unicorns and a collection of gold dog collars throughout the ages is displayed alongside 17th-century portraits of Louis XIV’s pets. A small white version of the Scottie dog sculpture Puppy by contemporary American ceramic artist Jeff Koons is also part of the mix.
The museum includes an array of weaponry from the 16th through to the 19th centuries, hundreds of trophies and taxidermied animals from Europe, Africa, Asia and America. These include a polar bear, lion, tiger, cheetah, fox, rhinoceros, bison, water buffalo and many birds. In the Room of Trophies, Le Souillot, a wall-mounted animatronic albino boar head by contemporary French artist Nicolas Darrot, speaks to museum visitors in French. There’s a hunting lodge coziness to the place where guards take pleasure in opening drawers filled with artifacts and children are given special attention.
It’s been characterized by the Smithsonian magazine as “one of the most rewarding and inventive in Paris.” To quote a visitor: “it all makes you think about hobbies, prestige, the meaning of life, nature, domination, death, social class, art and our relationship to animals and life around us. There is the amazing and the prosaic, jokes and tricks and strange juxtapositions of materials. The stuffed lions and disassembled owls are especially haunting. The gun that shoots around corners is one of the many jokes displayed alongside the rare the beautiful and the serious.”
Duck in some afternoon. The admission is around 6 euros and it’s closed on Mondays. The No Worries Paris guidebook has more for you to see a few doors down.
Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature
60 rue des Archives, 3rd Arrondissement
The small scale makes the Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves a unique weekend shopping outing. The market occupies two avenues in the 14th arrondissement of Paris: av. Sangnier and BC. Georges Lafenestre. Open 7 to 2 p.m. It takes place every Saturday and Sunday of the year, holidays included. There are over 380 professional vendors hawking vintage clothing and furniture, fixtures, tableware, glassware and silverware, fabric, antique jewelry, cameras, phonographs and radios, books and old papers, coins, medals and militaria, paintings, drawings and engravings; photographs and postcards, curios, toys and folk art, religious objects, oriental and African arts. Whew! I’m a regular and it never disappoints.
The 11th and 13th arrondisements are a pretty good bet. Mosey on by Le Mur, 107 Oberkampf on May 25 to gaze at David Walker in action. This is part of Le M.U.R. de L’ART exhibition, the association promoting ephemeral street art at this fixed position. Every two weeks a new artwork replaces the previous, the artist featured being given a stipend of 500 euros to cover travel and material expenses.
A few street artist sites for you to explore:
Your quest for a good cup of filtered coffee is on. Try sipping at one of these new coffee houses that also serve up some mouthwatering accompaniments like beetroot salad, string wrapped gluten-free sandwiches or lemon pot de creme. Try the Broken Arm’s “club sandwich” with smoked salmon and cream of asparagus spread and a planche of oregano-flecked focaccia with tomatoes, capers, parsley, lard Colonata, and a healthy drizzling of fruity olive oil, dotted with fresh peas. ooh la la! Bottom line, a good cup of Joe in Paris can now be had. English usually works but if you’re timid just point to the Chemex on the counter or ask for a Cafe Filtre. Here are some hot recommendations:
10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles
Merce and the Muse
1bis Rue Charles-François Dupuis
3rd arr, metro: Temple
Le Cafe Lomi
3 Rue Marcadet
18th arr, metro Marx Dormoy
52 rue de l’hotel de ville
4th arr, metro: Pont Marie
6 Impasse de la Defense
18th arr, metro: Place de Clichy, La Fourche
5 rue Villedo
4th arr, metro: Pyramides
The Broken Arm
12 rue Perrée
3rd arr, metro: Temple
62 rue des Martyrs
9th arr, metro: Pigalle
Visit Paris’s historic City Hall and take in the Paris Haute Couture exhibit in the Salle Saint-Jean which ends July 6. It’s free. About a hundred masterpieces from the Galliera Museum will be showcased: Doucet, Lanvin, Patou, Chanel, Rochas, Jacques Heim, Dior, Gaultier, Lacroix, Alaia, Balenciaga, Gres, Courreges, Schiaparelli, Balmain, Molyneux, Carven to name a few.
A little history about the elaborate building:
Ever since 1357, the City of Paris’s administration has been located at the same location where the Hôtel de Ville stands today.
1533: King Francis I decided to endow the city with a city hall which would be worthy of Paris, then the largest city of Europe. Building work was not finished until 1628 during the reign of Louis XIII.
1835: on the initiative of Rambuteau, préfet of the Seine département, two wings were added to the main building and were linked to the facade by a gallery, to provide more space for the expanded city government.
1871: The Paris Commune chose the Hôtel de Ville as its headquarters, and as anti-Commune troops approached the building, Communards set fire to the Hotel destroying almost all extant public records from the French Revolutionary period. The blaze swallowed the building from the inside, leaving only an empty stone shell.
1873-1892: Reconstruction of the interior. Some 230 sculptors were commissioned to produce 338 individual figures of famous Parisians on each facade, along with lions and other sculptural features. Rodin produced the figure of the 18th-century mathematician Jean le Rond d’Alembert, finished in 1882
Open every day from 10am to 7pm (except Sundays and bank holidays)
Hôtel de Ville
Salle Saint-Jean, 5 rue de Lobau, Paris 4th arrondissement
Metro stop: Hôtel de Ville
Pont Alexandre III, Paris: where wedding and fashion photographers have a heydey, where pickpockets roam and lately, where thieves have removed two of the bridge’s historic bronze plaques that proclaim the name of the monument. An amazing feat to pull off under the watchful eye of the Paris gendarmes. Taken for the value of the metal or sold to collectors, no one knows. Un grande who-dun-it, oui?
Hello terrine de foie gras, chutney de coingns . . .huitres en tartare, bouillon cresson, wasabi-soja. . .cochon de lait, poires-celeri-chataignes . . .
souffle au Grand Marnier, caramel au beurre sale . . . andouillette tempura with perch sashimi and béarnaise sauce . . . crudo of scallop with sea urchin and horseradish snow.
Bistronomy is overshadowing classic haute cuisine and the new French gastronauts are totally embracing the movement. Seeking out these bistrots gourmands ain’t easy but for starters here’s a short list: Septime, 80, rue de Charonne in the 11th; La Maison du Jardin, 27, rue de Vaugirard, in the 6th; Le Bal Cafe (place de Clichy); Pramil, 9 rue du Vertbois in the 3rd; Le Galopin, 34 rue Sainte-Marthe in the 10th, Roseval in the 20th, Le Pantruche in the 9th; Frenchie, 5, rue du Nil, in the 2nd; Bistrotters, 9, rue Decres in the 14th; Restaurant Pierre Sang, 55 rue Oberkampf, in the 11th; and La Veraison 64 Rue de la Croix Nivert in the 15th.
Les assiettes hautes en couleurs, en textures et en saveurs all right. Toast the chef!