top of page

At Home and In Paris

Updated: Jun 11


 

Reunions with Old Friends and Strange New Acquaintances


I won’t apologize for abandoning my computer for over a month now. But I’ve been living and enjoying it for the most part. There have been some marvelous experiences, some confusing, and some not so pleasant. I will try to share these as best I can. Please send me your comments so I can better understand your interests and disinterests. Of course, the highlight of this past several weeks has been a three-week visit from our dear friend Lana from Los Angeles. She is by far the easiest houseguest one could ever hope for.



Lana loves to do things with us but is just as happy to go her way when we cannot join her. She is also considerate about privacy issues since our apartment is not that big. Because she was here, we did many things we might not have done otherwise. The schedule was packed, including one event just before Lana arrived. It was a special gala at the Palais de Versailles, a rare performance of

the Opera Dido and Aeneas, staged in the Galleries des Mirroirs in the center of the palace. Before the opera itself, we were put in a celebratory mood with a glass of champagne and a wonderful concert in The Royale Chapelle, a tribute to the

Opera’s composer, Henry Purcell. One of the most famous British composers of the Baroque era, Purcell may be the first and only composer to die from chocolate poisoning! In truth, no one knows for sure how he died; one theory is that he caught a chill after his wife locked him out of the house, but it's likely he died of tuberculosis. This Opera was his only opera, although he is known for many stellar compositions.



He landed the impressive Organist of Westminster Abbey post by the time he was 20 in 1679. Among so many other famous Brits, Purcell was buried. After the tribute in the chapel, we were ushered upstairs for a delicious and sumptuous champagne dînatoire before our walk through the staterooms to the Gallery of Mirrors for the opera. there, we were introduced to the Director of the Versailles musical programs by what might be called the showrunner who picked up on our English conversation. He was a delightful man and was pleased to meet us because he kept a home in Palm Springs, California. After a little chat, he asked us if we would like better seats. Having answered in the affirmative,


he told us to wait and then beckoned us up to the second row on the aisle, where we had the best view we could have, not only of the whole production but of each of the singers as they strolled in entire period costume to the front of the stage. We could even take away some lovely shots that could only be seen through the mirrors. The opera itself was a joy and a delight with all of the musicians, the chorus, and all the soloists in full costume in that marvelous baroque setting. The performance was filled with glamour and camp. If that weren’t enough, our benefactor led us back down through the Royal Staterooms to another gorgeous hall, where we were served more champagne and sweets as varied as they were plentiful. It was hard to believe we had been there for six hours and chattered about our evening experience on our ride home to Paris.



Lana arrived a few days later and barely had enough time to settle in and rest before we all went to dinner at Chez Francis, followed by a piano recital by that excellent 19-year-old Israeli pianist Yoav Levanon at the Theatre Camps Élysée.



The next day, Lana slept late and visited the Musée Branley while Ted and I sat in the dentist's chair. Lana had a wonderful time, but that was enough for one day as she was still jetlagged. So that evening, we ate a home-cooked meal of apples and boudin blanc. The following day, we dined at the Café Deux Palais (where Lana used to wait for us every year when we went to The Prefecture to renew our residency cards). Then we walked across the street to the opera festival at the marvelous St. Chapelle. The music was stunning, but the venue steals the show every time with the most jaw-dropping stained glass windows that rise to an astonishing height of 32.5 meters. They are so conducive to spirituality; they almost make you believe in God! Lana's little movie (if it functions the way it should) will give you some sense of the Chapel.

The next day, Lana took off on her own and happily went by train to Toulouse in the south. However, instead of having some time to catch up with errands, we drove our friend Alina from Israel to visit Monet’s inspirational house and gardens in Giverny in the region of Normandy. The timing was perfect, and all was in bloom. The day was lovely, sunny with no rain. Afterward, we sat in a little café and enjoyed our lunch, afterwardvisiting the Musée des Impressionist, not far from Monet’s home. What a wonderful way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of impressionism in Normandy. The exhibition included Impressionist artists besides Monet. and any works that none of us had seen before. We were touched to see an older woman and her grandchild strolling through the museum. Granny brought the girl to specific paintings and pointed out significant details and aspects of each artist's technique. It was a very touching scene and made this a perfect day. Even the drive home was smooth and only an hour and a half.



The last day of the month was a day of rest, and then we were delighted to have Alina over for dinner before she flew back to Israel. I worry so much about what’s happening there with both friends and colleagues. It is a heartbreaking situation; The toll it’s taking emotionally and physically on the two peoples involved gives one cause to pray for a way that they could put aside the recent as well as the age-old fears and grudges. What Israel’s first leader, Golda Meir said seems as apposite today as ever:

“There will only be peace in Israel when the Arabs love their children more than they hate the Jews.” Sigmund Freud intuited that this instinct towards war co-exists in men with the instinct “to preserve and unite,” and thus he reasoned that “anything that encourages the growth of emotional ties between men must operate against war". If only such an emotional bond could be created through a mutual love of one’s own children, we might be more hopeful. In this chaotic age of distress and destruction in the world. it is certainly challenging to enjoy the life we have and try as much as possible to spread that joy to others. The day after our last evening with Alina, we took a lovely walk through the Élysée Park to a restaurant that had been closed for a very long time and had been renovated, keeping intact the wonderful traditional style of this establishment called Laurent. When we entered, we found the elegance we had expected, and walking into the dining room, we were treated to a semi-circular view of the greenery of the gardens of the Élysée. One would think we were habituals from the looks of table that where we were seated at, which was perfection in every way. The service was stupendous, fitting a restaurant of this caliber; the menu produced the kind of scrumptious preparations of old favorites, and some new twists were added. We enjoyed each other’s company and taking photographs of each other and our environment and decided this


might be a new favorite. Hidden away in the park as it is, many people might not know about Laurent unless they are Parisians by birth, and when the weather warms up the shady garden will make the perfect outdoor treat, day or night. The next day, we visited Eric, our mutual coiffeur, to whom we had been

introduced in our first week as immigrants by none other than the Marquis Elie de Damepiere. Our monthly visit is like a day at the spa, with the scalp and shoulder massage that comes with the shampoo, and the beautiful music that plays softly in this one-person salon. The decor is beautiful and soothing, and sometimes Eric offers chocolates with coffee or water. One feels at home in this unusual atmosphere for a beauty salon. Eric's haircuts are the epitome of precision, and he is always kind enough to take into consideration what his clients wish. It’s one place in the world


where you can feel truly cared for and, yes, loved. Later that evening, Lana returned from her visit to Toulouse and we did some cooking together. The next day was uneventful for us, but Lana paid a visit to the Marché au Puces, the largest flea market in Paris offering everything from antiques to used clothing. She had a wonderful time and her stories reminded us of the first time we went to that Marché to purchase our living room Bibliotheque and the cabinet that greets visitors as they come through the front door.



That evening we visited the newly refurbished old Russian Cathedral Saint Alexander Nevsky and dined at an authentic Russian restaurant to celebrate the Russian Easter



holiday. On Monday that week, Lana and I had a girls' day out lunch at CoCo, the restaurant in the Palais Garnier; In the evening the three of us attended a concert at the Église Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre. It is a Melkite Greek Catholic parish church and is one of the city's oldest religious buildings. Begun in Romanesque style during the 12th century, most of its architecture is Primarily Gothique. The next day we got an early start on our trip to Versailles. We visited the Palace, which had been significantly restored during its Covid closure and the fountains were gloriously in working order.



We had lunch on the second floor of one of the wings of this enormous Palace in a restaurant called d’Or, one of many restaurants in France established by the famous Michelin star chef, Alain Ducasse. Afterward, we stroll through the gardens all the way to the Kings lake, and that enormous and quite famous equestrian fountain. It was a beautiful day and we were very lucky with the weather. The next day, we visited the Picasso Museum of Paris, where there was a beautiful exhibit on loan from the Rosenberg, a private collection including other artists related to what we know as Picasso’s famous groundbreaking styles, including De Chirico, Ernest, Leger, Picabia, and others.



From there, we jogged back to my hood to the Musée d'Orsay and enjoyed the exhibition of impressionist art celebrating the Invention of Impressionism and a contemporary collection of the artist, Nathanaëlle Herbelin (1989)

A constant visitor to the Musée d’Orsay’s collections since childhood, the Franco-Israeli artist Nathanaëlle Herbelin has been invited to put her canvases and sources of inspiration into perspective. An heiress to the Nabis, the artist brings their favorite subjects – daily life, domestic interiors and intimacy – up to date in resolutely contemporary compositions. The presentation of her work at the Musée d’Orsay is very much in line with one of the focuses of the museum’s cultural project, which consists of extending “Orsay’s polyphony” to less classical artistic figures, in this case by presenting an emerging artist who has



already won considerable critical praise. Her meteoric career since she graduated from the Paris School of Fine Arts less than ten years ago has drawn a great deal of attention and also provided an opportunity to highlight the Musée d’Orsay’s interest in artists attending the school that is its neighbor, especially the alumni fascinated by its collections. This temporary exhibition shows how the artist delicately follows the path of the Nabis. Although the artist's subtle brushstrokes, chromatic palette, and preferred motifs may bring to mind Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, or Félix Vallotton, other figurative details bring us back to a more contemporary reality: the elements



of modern life (cellphones and electronic power cables) that can be seen in her updated genre scenes, and the way she brings present-day issues into these compositions. Hence, the intimacy of the maternal body at her toilette may present the model in the act of depilations, or the whole genre is called into question by the transposition of a male sitter naked in the bathtub;



another canvas even presents an intimate scene centered on female pleasure, or a couple depicted in the bedroom are illuminated by the midnight blue light of a portable computer set on the knees of a figure sitting up in bed. This modern twist indisputably resonates with the paintings of Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard and Felix Vallotton, hung permanently in these galleries, with no conflict or impression of imitation since the world of Nathanaëlle Herbelin remains so sensitive and unique. Also unique was our lunch in the restaurant where we could enjoy the luxurious decor.



Our next adventure with Lana was a visit to the Fondation Louis Vuitton to view The Atelier Rouge of Matisse and an exhibition that adds to the delight of this amazing canvas on loan from MOMA in New York. Extending the theme of color and form was a complimentary exhibition of Ellsworth Kelly. "Formes et Couleurs, 1949-2015" is the first exhibition in France to address in such a broad way the work of this essential creator of the second half of the 20th century, both by its chronology and by the techniques it brings together. Organized with the Glenstone Museum (Potomac, Maryland) and in collaboration with the Ellsworth Kelly Studio, the exhibition includes more than a hundred pieces, paintings, sculptures but also drawings, photographs and collages. The day was topped off with an evening at our neighborhood’s l'Eglise de la Madeleine's stirring




concert, including Ravel’s Bolero and Mozart's Requiem, beautifully performed by The Helios Orchestra of France. The concert was especially enjoyable, surrounded by the newly renovated and restored art and sculpture in the lighting that shows the beauty of this Church. The next morning we drove off early for what we had planned to bc our "Chateaux Crawl".


We visited the château and gardens of one of our favorite, Château Rambouillet, and afterward, we indulged in a gourmet luncheon at a sp placeciaes in the


department of Yvelines, Les Terrasses de Clairefontaine. Again, we were fortunate to have splendid weather without rain so that we could sit outside overlooking the lake with beautiful trees all about


us and the babbling brook that ran through the restaurant's patio. We relaxed as course after course was brought with ceremony to the table, and we even had the chance to exchange greetings and memories with the owner of this restaurant. After three hours, it was pretty clear that we were



not going to get to our next destination. Thus, we decided to save the Château Sceaux for Lana's return next year. Ted arranged for us to dine at Aux Lyonnais for Lana’s last dinner out on Saturday night before she returned to Los Angeles. He chose this restaurant for its history and great food. Ducasse continues to cultivate the atmosphere of traditional



Lyon “bouchons” is another way of describing a restaurant that is always packed full. On the buffet, an old piston coffee machine let out a cloud of steam. Behind the wooden counter covered with zinc and tin, a few bottles, placed in a wine rack placed under a continuous stream of cold water, are waiting to be ordered. Woodwork and moldings with floral motifs, firefighter art lighting, and "metro" earthenware adorn walls and ceilings. The contemporary creations of Jean-Claude Novaro, the famous glassmaker of Biot (Maritime Alps), punctuate the space. On both floors, the beveled glass returns the show of the room where the waiters serve dishes in a copper jumper or orange cast iron casseroles by hand. On the oak tables with steel frames, napkins, white plates, deliberately mismatched silver cutlery, faceted cups for water, and balloon glasses for wine await the guests. This restaurant is dedicated to Lyon cuisine! In Les Lyonnais, it's all the charm of Lyon's traffic jams transported to Paris. The chef, Victoria Boller, brilliantly interprets the Lyon repertoire: pâté croûte, zander quenelle, Bresse chicken and pig in all forms. It is a cuisine that she knows on her fingertips and that she loves with all her heart. In the room, Gwenn Raoult leads the service with the same energy and relaxation. It was a gourmet happiness experience. Created in 1890, the house served first as a coal deposit, then wood, and finally wine. In 1914, the Fouet family, then owner of the premises, opened the store on the street to introduce its wines to the public. Daniel Violet took over the address just after the Second World War and made it the most popular traffic jam in the capital. "Father Violet" clearly had an immoderate passion for Lyon cuisine which, already at that time, seduced the capital and attracted a loyal clientele. It was this fervor for Lyon's taste that caused Alain Ducasse's crush on this mythical address that he took over in 2002. The bistro retains its redwood facade and its "Maison lyonnaise" sign.



He continues to cultivate the atmosphere of traditional Lyon “corks”. On the buffet, an old piston coffee machine lets out a cloud of steam. Behind the wooden counter covered with zinc and tin, a few bottles, placed in a wine rack are placed under a continuous stream of cold water, waiting to be ordered. Woodwork and moldings with floral motifs, firefighter art lighting, and "metro" earthenware adorn walls and ceilings. The contemporary creations of Jean-Claude Novaro, the famous glassmaker of Biot (Maritime Alps), punctuate the space. On both floors, beveled glass returns the show of the room where the waiters serve the delicious traditional food in copper jumpers or orange cast iron casserole by hand. On the oak tables with steel frames are linen napkins, white plates, deliberately mismatched silver cutlery, faceted cups for water, and balloon glasses for wine! Wow❣️Monday morning at the crack of dawn, we woke up to see Lana off to Charles de Gaulle airport. Then we returned to our task of getting ready for a quick trip to London by train. The trip was intended mainly to have time to visit our dearest friend in England, Maria. She had been like a bequest from Frances Tustin before she died. Frances insisted that this was one of the people that I needed to know when she was no longer there for me. We had the pleasure of First getting to know Maria when she won the Frances Tustin Memorial Prize for her important essay on her own work with autistic children. For many years, Ted and I would always offer to host the prize-winning author in our home when she or he came to Los Angeles to present the prize-winning paper at our annual Memorial Conference.