after a short and comfortable eurostar ride, i was ready to start checking things off my very full paris list!

10. on may the 2nd, there was a huge manifestation just before the pending 2nd election tour. people flooded the metro wearing little stickers saying “casse toi, pov’con!”, a slip of tongue of now former president sarkozy.

9. always a great idea: la seine. whether it’s a walk along the river or a bateau mouche ride, the parisian liquid avenue is one of the best ways of seeing paris.

8. for a short foodie trip, go to rue de mouffetard. you can go chinese, mexican or, obviously, french. choose an idle weekend and just spend a few hours in the area, soaking up the atmosphere: you will love it!

7. i found some new parcs. the seine-adjacent, complex jardin des plantes, which is presently full of beautiful orange, yellow and white poppies – video here. there’s a jardin botanique and a tiny zoo inside – i saw a mama kangoroo lying on the grass while her baby poked his head out of the pouch to watch me walk by. on the corner, there’s also the museum of natural history. it’s one of the great places for a picnic!

also, i wanted to visit the remote but completely tourist-free parc de buttes chaumont. full of vegetation, it features not only a 20m-high water fall and a grotto but also a high point from where you can see as far as the sacre coeur.

6. although i prefer to avoid the completely unedited mess that has become the louvre, there are many quintessentially parisian places that i love: l’arc de triomphe and la tour eiffel never fail to impress me, just like the musee d’orsay and l’orangerie. also, there’s more: the crumb show at the musee d’arte moderne de la ville de paris across from palais de tokyo where you can see romanian power house dan perjovschi‘s drawings on the windows of the triennale.

i missed a few interesting shows, perhaps you will have better luck: louis vuitton marc jacobs at musee des arts decoratifs, helmut newton at grand palais and doisneau at les halles.

5. i like taking the metro all the way to la defense and walking back towards l’etoile. the cool modern architecture is a welcome contrast to the city’s all-around classic charm.

4. walk around saint germain. or around marais. find tiny galleries and cafes, find a thousand ways to waste time pleasantly.

3. i never ever miss a visit to le centre pompidou. this time around, beside going to the separate pavilion dedicated to romanian modern sculptor, constantin brancusi, i went to the 2nd floor library, wehere they had a small but very instructive art spiegelman exhibition. the museum always has a new and nicely edited selection of which i loved the carsten holler mushroom and the yves klein piece.

2. go to the frank gehry cinematheque francaise in bercy to check out the tim burton exhibition. assembled and first shown in ny, at the moma, the show is a comprehensive collection of memorabilia. wonderful!

note: the french team managed to make a mess of the whole ticket/entrance thing. we waited for an entire hour only to be ignored for another quarter of an hour. rude and incompetent! to make things easy, make sure you buy a ticket beforehand, online or from fnac, so that you will have priority entrance.

1. i loved the very moving ai weiwei show, interlacing, at jeu de paume. it was the last day and there was a long queue in front of the museum, but it was worth it: the show was heavily based on visual content, starting with the new york pictures, the earthquake, the now defunct blog and climaxing with the wonderful “piece”, fairytale, he did for documenta in kassel a few years ago: he brought over to germany 1,001 chinese people. the documentary he made about it was looping on two screens. i cried while watching it and i saw a tall young chinese guy crying too and i guess it takes somebody from a former communist country to understand the meaning of ai weiwei’s gesture: making it possible for a thousand people to travel abroad from a country where getting a passport is still highly problematic is a huge undertaking. the people were chosen through an open invitation he posted on his blog. he designed the objects and space they were going to use and he let them walk freely around kassel during the three months of the exhibition. there were five groups and each stayed in the city for eight days. but the essence was not their clothing or objects but the participants’ experiences, even their spirits.

so, watch out for ai weiwei: he knows!

it’s always nice to go back to paris!

photo credits: google search