Artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002) grew up partly in New York City, I was surprised to learn while researching her Nana sculptures. The beautiful Frenchie teenager attended some of my native city’s toniest private schools . . . but not for long; too rebellious. As her art evolved, success was quick to catch up. In the spring of 1968, a party of Niki’s monumental fiberglass Nanas took up residence in the Conservatory Garden of Central Park. Sharing the formal greenspace with the Nanas — seeming to tease them, according to some observers — were bristly metal “machines” constructed by Niki’s partner in art, Jean Tinguely. After six or so months, the dazzling Nanas would abandon Central Park — but they stayed with me. I’m a sentimental fan of the Paris Nanas, that (once again, with husband Tinguely’s works) adorn the Stravinsky Fountain adjacent to the Centre Pompidou museum. A wintry photo pilgrimage to the fountain pool by GallicFever master photographer Nathalie Prébende produced this satisfyingly brash Nana shot for our GF slide show.
Seductive architectural detail of Jean Nouvel’s genius Philharmonie de Paris hall in the Parc de la Villette, 19th arrondissement. At the turn of the (19th to 20th) century, la Villette was the ultimate in working-class turf — stockyards and slaughterhouses — but as the next century turn loomed, Paris planners envisioned the classy cultural environment eventually crowned (2016) by Nouvel’s asymmetrically layered, multi-textured shelter for great music, accessibly priced. I’m overdue for my (first!) in-person musical and architectural experience where once there were killing fields . . . .
Leave it to the Louvre to artfully blend centuries of architecture. Okay, I took a few years to adjust to the I. M. Pei innovation — but adjusted I am. The better to appreciate Maurice Suberve’s photo for showing how a daring concept of contrast points up the beauty of each component.
Parisians crossing the Seine via the Alexander III bridge admit they may be too busy to appreciate design flourishes such as the four hammered copper nymphs (two per side) ornamenting the celebrated bridge. A bridge nymph gets the star treatment in Nathalie Prébende’s photo. As her harmonious composition suggests, the bridge and the Grand Palais exhibition hall (on the right bank) were made for each other: both art nouveau structures commissioned and built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle.
Paris scene via Seine. Always wanted to browse Paris while enjoying lunch aboard one of the floating restos that cruise the Seine. Haven’t had the pleasure — yet, maybe for want of just the right luncheon partner. Or maybe unconvinced that the not-inexpensive moveable feast truly will complement the incomparable passing views. A tough culinary assignment, after all . . . . For a low-cost but attractive alternative, pick up a well-made crêpe-to-go near the Notre Dame stop on the Bateau Bus, and take the last bite before disembarking by the Musée D’Orsay. Mais, oui — the Bateau Bus actually is an inspired alternative transport to Seined you from one great Paris destination to another. Buy a Bateau Bus day pass, or a two-day pass (19euros), even a year pass . . . What’s more, you can combine in one pass the BB and the Open Tour. Hop-on, hop-off, chéri.
The Paris Metro has convenience to recommend it, but compared to my beloved buses, the Metro usually is pedestrian (sorry) transport. An exception is Metro line 6 (Etoile-Nation), seen in Nathalie Prébende’s photo, for its lightness-of-being trip above luxe right bank quartiers and over some left bank enclaves (in the 14th, notably) that get less guide-book ink. Right bank station, Bir-Hakeim, is where you’ll get off for your tour of La Tour Eiffel. Line 6 (La six, in Paris parlance) takes you over La Seine on the Bir-Hakeim bridge. Your only other over-the-Seine Métro option is Line 5 (Place d’Italie-Bobigny) that travels on both Pont de Bercy and the Austerlitz viaduct. The Métro/bridge question happens to be tougher to answer than you might think. I gave up and called on pals for assistance. Merci to three of my super-parisiennes for their always-gracious help: Claire – the inveterate bus rider; Jacqueline, who has walked me around her historic and elegant Passy neighborhood in sight of the Bir-Hakeim bridge, and Marie-Paule – the Vélib‘ devotee . . . . Longtime and recent friends, some of them my 19ème arrondissement former neighbors, never fail to spike the temperature of my Gallic Fever.
The Promenade Plantée in the 12th arrondissement inspired the wildly popular NYC High Line. Since 2017, I’ve lived in the 12th — the first Paris ‘hood I’ve inhabited for a year (and more!) Near one entrance to the Promenade, you can fill your water bottle with free bubbly water. Do you know another city that offers free, naturally carbonated water in a public park? In several public parks?! Tell me, please?
Rooftop chimney pots are no less classic than the monuments in Franck Charel’s atmospheric Paris-by-night skyline. Notre Dame and the spire of Sainte Chapelle at left, the Eiffel Tower (what else?) at center stage.