Tag Archives: Paris

Paris, 2016

After my week at Durtal France,  it was “a must” to spend a few days in Paris. A friend recommended the Hotel des Bains in the 14 arrondissement of Paris. It is close to the Montparnasse Train Staion, shuttle bus to airport and metro. The clean cosy rooms are small but there is everything for an average traveller; updated bathroom, flat TV screen, WiFi and a comfortable bed.

The street and immediate area has all needed amenities. There is a drugstore, small bistros with good food and wine, boutiques selling leather goods, women clothing, and a swim suit shop with Arena  – a brand not available in Quebec but so chic. Best of all, are two art shops – Dalbe and Adam Montmartre both within five minutes of the hotel specializing in a variety of watercolour paper, paints, oil and printmaking supplies. On Saturday morning there is a market for fresh produce, mostly vegetables and meats. Every Sunday there is an art market referred to as the “marché de la création”. This open air art market started in the early 1900’s when it was called “la horde de Montparnasse ” and also known as “Le Marché aux Navets” since the artists shared the same ground as the vegetable farmers. In days gone by artists such as Modigliani, Soutine and Chagall had stalls here. I adore Abstract Expressionist painter Soutine ( 1893-1943) for his paintings full of texture, colour, and shapes. He lived a frugal life and only after the Barnes Foundation bought a substantial number of paintings was he able to be financially secure. The worse was to come under the Nazi occupation of France with Soutine a registered Jew. He sought refuge and with help from friends he hid in several small provincial villages.This tremendous stress aggravated an old ulcer; he died during surgery in Paris.

Cagnes Landscape with Tree c.1925-6 Chaim Soutine 1893-1943 Bequeathed by John Levy 1977 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T02132

Cagnes Landscape with Tree c.1925-6 Chaim Soutine 1893-1943 Bequeathed by John Levy 1977 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T02132

Montréal has a connection to this painter, “Soutine Settled over Bargain Meat“. A good read about the business side of art.




Paris 2014


Santigo Rusiñol, Boats on the Seine, oil, 1894

After the Zbukvic workshop, I have Saturday and Sunday mornings free before I leave for Montréal. Chi Mai has offered to show me a part of Paris I have not seen in previous trips. We start by buying the best croissant in Paris at  Les Gateaux et du Pain. The plan for the day is to walk from Gare Montparnasse to La Seine. La touche Française continues, it is the weekend of the  Journées Européenes du Patrimoine  en Île-de-France with free entrance to cultural events and museums.

ink sketch in Venezia Sketchbook

First, we stop for a quick sketch in the square Saint-Germain-des- Prés. We sit on a bench in front of Bernard Palissy statue; I sketch in ink with my Lamy pen. Palissy was famous for his unique ceramic pottery. In 1563 he received the title of King’s Inventor of Rustic Ceramics and following this award Catherine de Medici commanded him to decorate one of her palace in 1567.


Within 20 minutes we are off, making a brief stop to view the Wallace Fountain on Saint-Germain-des-Prés. This is one of many public water fountains designed by Charles Auguste Lebourg and financed by the Englishman Richard Wallace. A recognized world symbol of Paris. Most of the fountains still provide potable water from March 15-November 15.

Place de Furstenberg Paris

Place Furstenberg photo by Chi Mai


Place de Furstenberg ParisA quick turn here and there, we arrive at Place de Furstenberg to hear voices rehearsing for a free concert under the trees. Another sketch in pencil in my Venezia sketchbook. Just to our left the studio home and now museum of Eugène Delacroix awaits us with no line up. The last residence of Delacroix from 1857 until his death in 1863.There is a quiet serene garden adjoining the home, a great place to sketch but not today.

Niki de Saint Phalle photo by Chi Mai

Niki de Saint Phalle photo by Chi Mai

Onward, I catch a glimpse of a sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle ( 1930-2002) in a gallery window. A French-American model, sculptor, painter, filmmaker and perfumer. I recalled the images of earth mother referred to as “nanas” with big bodies and small head. I remember the quote a mother figure is both a creator and destroyer which was shared by her contemporary Louise Bourgeois. Her love of making these sculptures would cause fatal emphysema from toxic polyester fumes in 2002.



We see the  Beaux-art de Paris l’ecole nationale supérieure 14, rue Bonaparte is open to the public. No line up here and in we walk to architecture, sculptures, library, paintings, busts and anything related to the beauty of art. Time for a rest before the rainstorm hits. We sit next to the Seine and sketch. Big dark clouds are threatening thunder and rain. Time to be quick and take the metro.

Sunday morning, free lectures at the La Coupole at 11am by Thomas Dufresne, art historian and member of  the historical society of the 14 arrondissement where the brasserie is located since 1927. The art decor interior is exceptional and little has changed since it’s beginnings. The patrons during these years are household names like Jean-Paul Sarte, Simone de Beauvoir, Hemingway, Picasso, Coco Chanel and many more with their black and white photos adorning the walls.

Campaign to save the kiosques in Paris

Campaign to save the kiosques in Paris