L’art de tri­om­phe

Delve deep and you will find where mod­ern and tra­di­tional Paris meet

Irish Daily Mail - - Travel Plus - BY CONOR POWER

EV­ERY­THING about Paris is on a grand scale and you can eas­ily get lost in its beau­ti­ful streets, like Baude­laire in a con­sump­tion-in­duced delir­ium.

The best thing to do is pick a lim­ited num­ber of things to visit and then go and see them in your lim­ited times­pan. We chose the themes of mod­ern art and tra­di­tional cui­sine.

While there are plenty of good op­tions on the artis­tic front, you’ll need some help seek­ing out the best places for tra­di­tional cui­sine in the French cap­i­tal. Be­cause of Paris’s mul­ti­cul­tural na­ture, it’s ac­tu­ally a lot eas­ier to find Viet­namese, Ital­ian and Moroc­can food than it is to find good old-fash­ioned French fare in the City of Lights.

I started the mod­ern art trail with the man con­sid­ered to be the fa­ther of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture: Le Cor­bus­ier.

I’ve been fas­ci­nated with this man ever since I saw how he ba­si­cally des­e­crated our own Eileen Gray’s house down on the Cote d’Azur in a seem­ingly des­per­ate fit of jeal­ousy against a woman who was even clev­erer and more tal­ented than he was.

LE COR­BUS­IER’S apart­ment (fon­da­tionle cor­bus­ier.fr) is at the top of a build­ing on the south-west­ern edge of Paris, with views front and back (and from the roof ter­race) of the Bois de Boulogne, Roland Gar­ros (home of French Open Ten­nis), Stade Français Rugby’s home ground, and the Parc des Princes – Paris St Ger­main’s home sta­dium.

The mu­seum/apart­ment is so dis­creetly lo­cated that you might (as I did) walk up and down the street sev­eral times be­fore de­cid­ing that this must be it. There was a good crowd gath­ered in­side of fans of the man who made his mark in 1940s Mar­seille, when there was acute de­mand for sim­ply de­signed apart­ments that could ef­fi­ciently deal with the post-war hous­ing short­age and still look stylish.

The apart­ment is suit­ably Spar­tan in de­sign, with plenty of Le Cor­bus­ier trade­marks to be found all over the space – max­i­mum use of light, space-sav­ing quirks such as walls that be­come doors, a raised bed in or­der to get a bet­ter view of the Bois de Boulogne, min­i­mal liv­ing-room area, max­i­mum cre­ative work­shop area, as well as the sep­a­rate bath­room ar­eas for him and her within the con­ju­gal bed­room.

The bus ride back from the Ap­parte­ment Le Cor­bus­ier to­wards La Muette metro sta­tion takes you through some im­pres­sive av­enues lined with em­bassy res­i­dences and mil­lion­aires’ homes.

Finding a good spot to eat an af­ford­able lunch and still have that Parisian buzz is a chal­lenge but the so­lu­tion is to go to the near­est boulan­gerie.

Here, you’ll find that you can sit down and eat a crispy fresh baguette ac­com­pa­nied by a drink, al­low­ing you to lunch like a king for un­der €10 a head.

It was back on the metro then to the Musee d’Art Moderne (mam.paris.fr, metro: Iéna).

It’s in a large splen­did build­ing over­look­ing the banks of the Seine.

In­side, the per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tion was par­tially closed due to re­fur­bish­ment works, but even the ground-floor exhibits were a won­der­fully con­densed col­lec­tion of some of the most stun­ning and im­por­tant works of mod­ern art from the early and mid­dle part of the 20th cen­tury.

Best of all, how­ever (and well worth the ad­di­tional price on your en­trance ticket), is the awe-in­spir­ing tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tion of the late Chi­nese artist Zao Wou-Ki, which runs un­til just af­ter Christ­mas 2019.

For din­ner that night we found a crack­ing brasserie close to Na­tion metro sta­tion called Le Petit Louis.

It was the kind of place where an ab­sinthe-soaked artist wouldn’t look out of place and which has im­mac­u­lately main­tained its 1900s am­bi­ence. It of­fers a friendly ser­vice, where the rab­bit and the home-made burger were cooked to per­fec­tion, fol­lowed by the best crème brûlée I’ve ever had.

The next day was a big high­light – one of the best things in mod­ern art since Por­trait of Sliced Bread. The Ate­lier des Lu­mières (ate­lier-lu­mieres.com) opened ear­lier this year in an old dis­used in­dus­trial space in the cen­tre of Paris near Rue Saint-Maur metro stop.

US­ING mul­ti­ple pro­jec­tors and a stun­ning sound­track, the work of Aus­trian artist Gus­tav Klimt is pre­sented in a spec­tac­u­lar an­i­mated show that il­lu­mi­nates ev­ery sur­face of the walls, floor and pil­lars of the for­mer foundry. It’s one of the best uses of tech­nol­ogy to show­case the beauty of Klimt’s work as well as telling you a lot about his per­sonal story.

It’s some­thing of a cul­ture shock to re-emerge blink­ing into 21st-cen­tury Paris af­ter such an emo­tion­ally im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence.

An­other de­li­cious lunch sit­ting at a ta­ble in a won­der­ful Parisian boulan­gerie was fol­lowed by a visit to a mu­seum that houses all the best of art from the era that kick-started the en­tire move­ment of mod­ern art.

The Musée d’Or­say (www. musee-or­say.fr) is a for­mer train sta­tion that holds the trea­sure trove that surely com­prises the best Im­pres­sion­ist col­lec­tion in the world in the heart of the city where Im­pres­sion­ism was first re­vealed.

We kept the turn-of-the-cen­tury buzz go­ing with an even more at­mo­spheric choice for din­ner at the Le Bistrot du Pein­tre (the Pain­ter’s Bistro).

This is a par­a­disi­a­cal spot rep­re­sent­ing all the best in art deco style, with a beau­ti­fully tiled floor, carved tim­ber stair­case, painted ceil­ing pan­els and an open ter­rasse from where you can watch Parisian life strut by.

Sump­tu­ous duck con­fit and slow-cooked lamb were the choices to match the mag­i­cal am­biance. Proof that the Parisians make an art form of ev­ery­thing. ÷Conor Power is the win­ner of the 2018 Travel Me­dia French Best Des­ti­na­tion Fea­ture award.

Like clockwork: Musée d’Or­say Art: Gus­tav Klimt’s paint­ing ‘Der Kuss’ (The Kiss), and Conor with wife Fiona

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