L’Hôtel in Saint Germaine

Sadly, we couldn’t stay at George V for most of our stay in Paris; two reasons really… primarily because it’s far too costly for us for an every day stay, but also because it’s in not an arrondissement that I feel represents Real Paris™️, overly well. So we moved across to Saint Germaine to a cool little boutique hotel called, (simply enough!), L’Hôtel on the Rue des Beaux Arts, near the Musée D’Orsay and a bunch of really cool and well known cafés and restaurants.

L’Hôtel claims to be the world’s first boutique hotel, and is the ‘epitome of French style’. It was also the last home of Oscar Wilde and has a restaurant and bar named for him on the premises, with an impressive cocktail list, and a huge wall displaying all the famous people who have stayed here. I chose it because it sounded like staying in a quaint little piedaterre with it’s own story.

The street frontage is super discreet… no noticeable signage at all, our cab driver nearly missed it entirely.

The concierge, Antonia, and I became fast friends as she complimented me on my Rammstein t-shirt and was so excited to be seeing them in concert this year. Her eyes went the size of saucers when I told her I came to see them in 2022 – all the way from Australia! She was really nice and welcoming. Our room is a ‘chic’ room on the fourth floor of the building. The lift is so tiny, that it fits two people or two pieces of luggage – but not both! 🙂

A couple of the small waiting areas near the reception…

The Wilde’s Lounge… which has a spectacular, and ever changing cocktail list. We’ve noticed that there are a more French people staying here than foreigners, and it seems to be a favourite hang out of businessmen meeting over drinks. There is a definitely French ambiance permeating the entire hotel.

Some of little cosy nooks in the Wilde’s Lounge.

The view down into the stairwell is a little daunting…

Et voilà! Our chambre for the remainder of our stay; it’s called the Mata Hari room, though I am not sure why.

It’s filled with antique furniture and has fabric draped on the walls (to tone the pink down to a dark aubergine, one assumes), the decor is definitely not the style of your run of the mill chain hotel – bit of a minimalist’s nightmare, and not a piece of IKEA furniture in sight! But I think it will do very well for us for the rest of the week.

Beautiful pink orchids, and a wee gift it would seem… macarons from Richarts? Don’t mind if we do!

Richart’s is just around the corner and is on my list for a stop on the way out the door on Sunday to try and take some home.

I wonder if Mr K will go into some Pepto Bismol induced trauma by the end of the week.

The restaurant is cool little brasserie space that opens out onto a terrace and small garden in fine weather.

The one upside of staying at the Georges V? Everything else seem super affordable. Eggs Benedict for breakfast for €14? Sure!

We’ve been out and about in the neighbourhood quite a bit already, and have found this little landmark (/piece of graffiti?) to be the coolest indicator that our street, Le Rue des Beaux Arts, is the next right! It’s a cute little tiled piece. 🙂

The days have been full of work, meetings in the CBD (which is nothing like the rest of this beautiful historic city and looks like the downtown of nearly any modern city in the world really – boring towers of glass office blocks.

So in between meetings, we have been trying to catch an hour here and there to see some of the sights, and have purchased a few French champagnes that we’ve not seen at home to try. Gods help us if we like any of them, they probably won’t be available at home at all! This Nicholas Feuillatte Grand Reserve Brut was €43 (just for my future reference), bought from a local grocery store. Really delicious bubbly, with a strong but not overpowering flavour and slightly leaning towards that creaminess I like.

We chose to have breakfast at the hotel again – as we had to set out early for meetings. The eggs Benedict was so good, I opted for the salmon version this time.

Definitely can’t do this every day!

Time for another champagne interlude – this bottle of Alfred Rothschild was €34… very nice indeed. Crisp and light, not as brut de brut as some that are so dry you wonder if you are drinking, but lacking that creamy texture that I’ve come to really enjoy in my bubbles.

The rounded hallways keep throwing me off… maybe it’s the sheer amount of wine being consumed with most meals!

L’Hôtel has another unique feature that we thought we’d check out – a ‘hammam’ in the cellar! I was looking forward to this! Guests can use the hammam an hour a day free of charge, just need to schedule in private use of the space. There are showers, toilets, toiletries, massive plush towels and bathrobes available for use. A sauna and a plunge pool!

Which looked sooooo inviting….

… until I discovered the water temperature was about 20°C! Jesus titty fucking Christ! Who wants to get in and have a soak in that. 😐 We did wonder if it was here when Oscar Wilde and his ‘friends’ were living in the hotel; if these walls could talk!

Either way, this is clearly for those Northern European polar bear types. Managed to get my feet wet for a while before beating a hasty and sensible retreat – like any self respecting Queensland’s would do!

Decided on a soak in the decidedly 19th century tub in our room instead… fabulous.

The next evening’s champagne interlude: a Pierre Mignon Grande Reserve Brut – €35 from the Cave de Chat. Well rounded and a bit more brut de brut than some of the others we have tried this week. Really nice though. Don’t suppose it’s acceptable to come home with a AUD$70 a day champagne habit, is it?

Tomorrow, we check out and start the transit home. But before we go… one final glass of Jean Josselin champagne in the lovely restuarant while we wait for our car.

I ❤️ Paris and could totally get used to the, ‘You walked across the road? You got out of bed? Champagne!’, lifestyle. 😀 It’s been a lovely stay, we got heaps of work done and gleaned so much useful information, and I feel like we smashed in as much fun and sight seeing as we could between meetings, visiting transport venues and seeking out transit operations.

We are looking forward to seeing how the Paris 2024 Olympics and Para-Olympics pans out in the transport sectors and see what we can learn to make sure Brisbane 2032 does it better… I have made a bunch of contacts with locals to follow up with them after the games, so it’ll be interesting to see what non-transport industry people make of how things go. At the moment, they all sound like they want to flee the city and rent their houses out. 🙂

A Parisian Miscellany

We are in Paris all week for work, and most of the sightseeing we will be doing will be snatched minutes between meetings and venue and site visits. So I’m just posting some of my favourite pictures of all the super recognisable places that don’t need any much explaining into this post and will probably share it at the end of the week. Paris has such a famous skyline that hardly any of these buildings and monuments need a title, let alone a description.

The Eiffel Tower seems to have received a fresh coat of paint in readiness for the Olympics. It’s looking the best I’ve ever seen it. It is however, all closed off around the base, so you can’t walk around underneath it like normal at the moment, and most of the long park behind it (where one goes for that typical long shot of the Eiffel Tower) is all closed off in readiness for the Games also – they are erecting grandstands along the park and we think this is the venue for beach volleyball? But haven’t been able to confirm that – scratch that, it’s confirmed. Beach volleyball is happening in that park.

L’Arc de Triomphe…

Views from the top. Obviously I couldn’t go up with my fucked up knee… stupidly there is an elevator that will get you most of the way to the top, but given the AdT is on the world’s craziest and most notorious traffic roundabout, to get to the base of the monument, you need to go down a significant flight of stairs, go under the roundabout in a pedestrian walkway, and then up another significant flight of stairs to access the lift that goes up the monument. Well, done Paris. Yes, you’re an old city, designed without accessibility in mind, but that’s fucking stupid.

Train station under the Louvre to get to the CBD.

No one ever sends home their happy snaps of the Paris CBD… wonder why that is. Honestly, could be the downtown area of any modern city.

Market stalls lining the Seine… these are so typically, ‘Paris’ to me. I remember them so well from my first visit here in 1995. Back when I had 28 rolls of film to last me for a six month trip and taking photos was done sparingly! So I recall seeing mundane things like market stall and not taking any photos of them because we needed to save our shots for more interesting subjects. I also remember the processing cost when you got home, oh and the stress that the airport security x-ray machines were going to trash all your treasured images. I really should go dig up all my old travel pics and digitise them somehow.

A half hour spent shopping at La Samaritane… went in to see the peacock murals, came out having utterly brutalised the credit card! Spontaneous luxury shopping centres and unmedicated ADHD are a powerful combination apparently. 😉

Nearly bought a Tiffany key to go with my other ones, but it was only in rose gold, and my other two are yellow gold. It would have made a nice collection: Home, Paris, Fifth Avenue in New York, but I don’t do rose gold. When Mr K bought me that first key, I warned him that keys come in bunches…

Love the peacocks.

French jewllers… Van Cleef & Arpels. Beautiful and timeless pieces.

Back outside and heading back to the hotel (not sure which day)… I love that they haven’t modernised all the Metro signage.

More magasins along the Seine, selling touristy bits and pieces…

… and this one stall selling French Michelin guides from every year from the 1960s.

Early morning pics of the Louvre… where only crazy people (and Chinese bridal parties with their photographers and stylists), venture this early.

Mr K taking a selfie.

The Musée D’Orsay from the bridge.

Notre-Dame is still under repair… they were hoping for it to be open by the Olympics, but they’re looking to be six months behind schedule on that one and it’s now aiming to be open by Dec 2024. I wonder how different it will feel once it’s completed.

It’s truly an iconic building and it’s hard to believe that at one point in it’s history, the city considered tearing it down to avoid the cost of upkeep.

I’m not sure about the super modern colour scheme that Paris has chosen for their Olympics, it certainly makes the city look bright and different for the locals, but for visitors? I feel it detracts from the city’s old world charm.

Thus ends our week in Paris.

Only other observation I wanted to make note of, is that the Charles de Gaulle Airport is a full on dump compared to other international airports. It also feels stupidly haphazard with weird exit processes… mostly around VAT tax refunds etc – which all need to be done *before* you check in your suitcases, creating a crazy hectic and illogical situation where you have heaps of people lined up with enormous trolleys to get paperwork processed across two levels of the airport which has elevators barely large enough to put one person and one airport trolley into, and the little guys handing out cash refunds never asking anyone to show them the actual duty free purchases anyway, because who has time for that when you’re processing paperwork?! Weird.

We managed to see quite a bit of the city while we were here. Which was great.

Musée de Moyen Âge – Cluny

If you had asked me last week what was my favourite museum that I have ever visited – I would have answered the Musée de Moyen Âge (aka The Cluny Museum) in Paris. I’d been here twice before, and they have such a fabulous collection of medieval decorative artefacts all displayed in a gorgeous medieval building… it was always just a magical place to visit. In fact, The MET Cloisters in New York always felt a bit like it was trying to be this museum. The entrance to the Musée de Moyen Âge, as I remember it…

Let’s just say – it’s changed… A LOT. They’ve modernised. A medieval museum. For some unknown reason (likely something to do with getting people enthused and interested to come visit, and see really old things, and make it feel more interactive and more accessible to people* without any background or education in the Middle Ages) and well, to be completely honest, it feels like the entire place has lost its soul. (*notably: accessible to French speaking people – there was a map in various languages, and usually one large display board in French and English in each room, but most of the information plaques on individual objects were in French only). The entrance to the Musée de Moyen Âge as it is now:

Which is all very sad, but I tried to keep it to myself. Anyway, I was determined to see what I could and take as many pics as I could because fuck knows, you don’t see anything like this back home, ever. Downside of the no English plaques, is that I could only glean tidbits of information on the objects as I was looking at them; upside is that this prompted me to photograph a lot of the plaques so I could have a crack at translating them in Google later. So for some of these pics, there is going to be a bunch of info… and for others – none at all!


Pyxis (box) with scenes from the Life of Christ.
Byzantine Empire, early 6thC. Ivory bas-relief.
Resurrection of Lazarus, healing of the paralytic at Copernaum and of the man born blind, encounter with the Samaritan woman.

Christ in Majesty Known as the “Trébizonde Christ”.
Contantinople, early 6thC
Elephant Ivory bas-relief
Christ sits on a throne under a canopy, between St Peter, St Paul and two angels. On the lower register, angels walk towards a cross. This central plate of a large diptych (orginally from the collection of Martin le Roy), then of Marque de Vasselot), illustrates a moment in history when models from classical Antiquity were subtly adapted to Christian Byzantine iconography.

Liturgical Strainer with the name of St Albinus of Angers.
Frankish Kingdom. Late 6thC. Nielloed sliver and Rajasthani garnet (India).

Fibulae brooches. Frankish Kingdom 6th-7thC.
Gilded silver, gold, garnet and glassware. From the Abbey of Clairvaux, (Aubre, France).
Pin was discovered in the tomb of Guillaume de Joinville, archbishop of Reims (1219-1226).

Arcy-Sainte-Restitue site. Two multifoiled cloisonné fibulae (brooches). Guilted silver, garnet, cast glass.

Fibulae inthe form of an eagle and belt-buckle plate.
Visigothic Kingdom, late 6th century. Gilded bronze, garnet and cast glass.
From Castel in Valence d’Argen (Tarn-et-Garrone, France). These two items probably comes from the same burial site. Both the stylised eagles come with compartmental decor and raised dots on the surface of the belt buck plate (with Indian garnet) are characteristic of Visigothic Art. The eagle motif is frequen in the early medieval kingdoms, which were receptive to the Imperial Roman symbolism of this bird of prey.

Diptych. England – 8th century (left) Italy (rigth). 10thC. Elephant ivory
From the treasury of the cathedral of Beauvais (Oise, France)
The re-use of these plates sculpted on both sides resulted in the levelling of the obverse side, where scenes of the life of Christ in an insular style (from the British Isles) can still be deciphered. The reverse sides feature exotic or imaginary animals amidst foliage framed by acanthus leaves. This second phase of sculptural work could be from a workshop in the Southern Alps.

Altar front of the Basel Cathedral. Fulda or Bamberg? (present-day Germany), 1st quarter of the 11th century Repoussé and stamped gold on oak core, precious stones, pearls, glassware From the treasury of the cathedral of Basel (Switzerland)
This antependium used to decorate the front of an altar. Five arcades stand out against a background of foliage with birds and four-legged creatures. Each one hosts a holy figure: Christ surrounded by the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and Saint Benedict (founder of the Benedictine rule), who is glorified by the inscription. At the feet of Christ kneel Holy Roman Emperor Henri Il, who commissioned this antependium for the cathedral of Basel, and his wife, Kunigunde. Detail below:

Treasure of Guarrazar – Visigothic Kingdom, 7 century
Gold, sapphire, emerald, amethyst, rock crystal, jasper. pearls and mother-of-pearl
From La Fuente de Guarrazar, near Toledo (Spain)
These votive crowns are ex votos. Chains holding crosses and pendants used to hang from them. These pendant letters (the R is on display here) spell the name of two donors. One of them was Visigoth King Receswinth, who reigned in Toledo from 653 to 672. These crowns were probably royal offerings to the cathedral of Toledo. The archaeological discovery of the treasure (now split between the Musée de Cluny and the Museo Arqueológico Nacional de Madrid revealed one of the most important finds of the medieval Iberian period.

Christian motifs in Coptic art- Derived from Aiguptios in Greek and then qibt in Arabic, the word “Copt” defines the Christian civilization of Egypt, from the official birth of Christianity in Egypt (Edict of Thessalonica, 383). In artistic expression, a remarkable syncretism is revealed between pagan and Christian iconography. On the tapestries, Dionysus can be seen alongside a bowed character and the patterns of the patted cross and Chi-Rho (christogram) appear. The liturgical braid, depicting an archangel, the Visitation and Zechariah, is a rare piece of Coptic embroidery.
Egypt 5-6thC Wool and linen

Themes related to the Greek god, Dionysus were regularly depicted on ornamental tapestries for clothing, as shown here on two fragments of shawls. The kantharos is an accessory of the god of wine and ecstasy, closely linked to the art of theatre and poetry. The son of a slain mothe (Semele, struck down by a jealous Hera), saved by his father (Zeus, who carried him to term sewn into his thigh), Dionysus also embodies, in a certain way, the idea of bursting forth from beyond the grave.
Choosing Dionysiac themes for clothing linked to the afterlife was therefore probably not without symbolism in the Coptic world.
Tapestries with kantharoi, Egypt, 4th century, Linen and wool

Casket with mythological and battles scenes, casket plaque with a warrior.
Constantinople, late 10-early 1F century Bone bas-relief (on a core of wood for the casket)
About 1000, Byzantine bone carvers created caskets with secular themes inherited from classical Antiquity, especially legendary battles or circus games. This casket stands out by the quality of its sculpture and the fact that it is complete.
It used to belong to Frédéric Spitzer, a major 19 -century collector.

Two oliphants – fragmentary with animal frieze; decorated with an animal frieze, the Ascension and Saints. Southern Italy, 12thC, elephant ivory.
From the abbeys of Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul of Bèze (Côte d’Or, France) and Saint-Arnoul of Metz (Moselle, France). Taking its shape from its material, an elephant tusk, the oliphant is first and foremost a horn. In the Middle Ages, oliphants were often associated with legendary facts, such as the death of the hero in the Song of Roland. The luxurious quality of this type of object made it enter church treasuries as relics. This is the case of this one in Metz (which used to be part of the collection of Frédéric Spitzer), known as the “horn of Charlemagne”.

Panels of the window of the Life of saint Benedict – Monks witness the ascension of saint Benedict
Ornamental border
Ile-de-France, 1140-1144, coloured glass, grisaille, lead. From the abbey church of Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis, France), ambulatory chapel.
Two monks witness the ascension to heaven of Benedict, their brother, who just passed away. The scene represents the final episode of a stained glass ensemble devoted to the life of saint Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine Order. It was placed inside of geometric panels (here, two half-medallions), at the top of a window. Each window consists of different scenes, juxtaposed and superimposed on one another, framed by an ornamental border of. varying lengths and widths. This sort of organization will endure for a century.

Two colonnettes and three sections of colonnettes
Colonnette: spiral strips decorated with acanthus leave bases and top to tail bunches of palmettes / Lower section of a colonnette: couples of birds and griffins facing each other, superimposed in follage: sprawling bunches of palmettes (possibly a complementary element of the next item) / Upper section of a colonnette: couple of griffins facing each other and bird spreading its wings with foliage motifs; sprawling bunches of palmettes (possibly a complementary element of the previous item) / Lower section of a colonnette: naked figures superimposed between pairs of birds and griffins facing each other; superimposed naked fighters / Colonnette: spiral strips decorated with inhabited follage and sprawling bunches of palmettes Tle-de-France, about 1135-1140. Lutetian limestone (liais)
From the western facade of the abbey church of Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis, France), jambs of the north and south portals. These six colonnettes decorated the jambs of the church’s western portals. They were stripped during the French Revolution. The three sections shown here are the sole remains of two or three of them, cut out in the middle of the 1820s to be reused as supports for low railings inside the basilica.

Jean Haincelin (Maître de Dunois) et Maître de Jean Rolin
Heures de Simon de Varye, Paris, vers 1455
Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum, MS 7, La Haye, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, ms. 74 G 37 and 37a
L’ouvrage est d’abord réalisé à Paris, autour de 1455 par le Maître de Dunois (Jean Haincelin) et le Maître de Jean Rolin, pour un commanditaire non identifié.
Il passe rapidement à un second propriétaire, Simon de Varye, commis à l’argenterie de Charles VII.
La devise « VIE À MON DÉSIR » est l’anagramme de son nom. Simon de Varye fait adjoindre trois feuillets indépendants dus à Jean Fouquet.

Sainte Anne et ses filles – Miniature issue des
Heures d’Étienne Chevalier, Paris, vers 1452-1455.
Parchment. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Manuscrits, NAL 1416
La miniature est issue du plus grand chef-d’œuvre enluminé par Jean Fouquet, les Heures d’Étienne Chevalier, aujourd hui démembrées, dont la plus grande partie est conservée au musée Conde de Chantilly. Le nom et le chiffre du commanditaire, trésorier de France outre-Seine et grand mécène de Fouquet, sont portés par les hommes sauvages. Mise en page comme un petit tableau, la scène montre sainte Anne et ses trois filles devant un panorama parisien.
La majorité des feuillets enluminés (40) du livre d’heures d’Étienne Chevalier est conservée au musée
Condé de Chantilly. En raison des dispositions testamentaires du duc d’Aumale qui les acquit en 1891, ils n’ont pu être prêtés à l’exposition. Celui-ci fit aménager spécialement le Santuario, dans son château de Chantilly, pour les présenter encadrés tels de véritables tableaux.

Jean Fouquet, Grandes Chroniques de France. Tours, vers 1415-1420 et 1455-1460
Parchment. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Manuscrits, Français 6465.
Le manuscrit renferme la première histoire officielle de la monarchie en langue vulgaire dont les origines remontent au règne de Saint Louis. Ses 51 petites miniatures ont été confiées à Jean Fouquet qui y utilise d’amples points de vue et un goût pour l’exactitude documentaire des lieux représentés. Il est peut-être le fruit de la commande du roi ou d’un de ses proches.

Pierre du Billant, on a cardboard by Barthélemy d’Eyck
The Healing of the Blind Woman (orfroi fragment)
France, 1444. Polychrome silks, gold and silver threads. Cl. 23424
This embroidery panel was part of a chapel (set of ornaments and liturgical vestments) dedicated to the story of Saint Martin. It illustrates a posthumous miracle of his life, that of a young blind girl from Lisieux who came by boat to the basilica and who, regaining her sight, thanks the saint. Pierre du Billant , embroiderer to King René, works there on the cartoons of his stepson, Barthélemy d’Eyck: the squat canons with massive heads and thick lips, and the oblique glances are characteristic of the latter’s art.

Barthélemy d’Eyck
René d’Anjou, Traité de la forme et devis comme on fait un tournoi, dit Le Livre des tournois
Angers (?), vers 1462-1465 / Papier Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Manuscrits, Français 2695

André d’Ypres (Maître de Dreux Budé) – Triptyque de Dreux Budé
Paris, vers 1450 0 Volet gauche : Le Baiser de Judas et l’Arrestation du Christ avec Dreux I Budé et son fils Jean Ill présentés par saint Christophe
Huile sur bois. Paris, musée du Louvre, département des Peintures, RF 2015-3

Exceptionnellement réunis, ces panneaux forment l’un des triptyques les plus ambitieux de l’art parisien du xve siècle à nous être parvenus. Il a été commandé par Dreux Budé, notaire et secrétaire du roi mais aussi prévôt des marchands, représenté sur le volet de gauche. Le retable est destiné à la chapelle qu il a fondée dans le chevet de l’église Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais à Paris. Le peintre qui tire son nom de ces tableaux a été identifié à André d’Ypres. Usant des plis marqués et des corps graciles, ce dernier y montre une certaine allégeance à la leçon de Rogier van der Weyden. Il a peint ici le plus ancien tableau français conservé figurant une scène nocturne.

D’après un carton de Jacques Daret – Délivrance de saint Pierre
Pays-Bas méridionaux, avant 1461. Laine et soie
Paris, musée de Cluny – musée national du Moyen Âge, CI. 1235
La tapisserie comporte aux quatre angles les armes de Guillaume de Hellande, évêque de Beauvais de 1444 à 1462, et du chapitre de la cathédrale Saint-Pierre de la même ville. Elle est le fruit de la commande de ce chapitre cathédral auprès de l’un des grands centres de tapisserie des Pays-Bas bourguignons. C’est le peintre d’origine tournaisienne Jacques Daret, formé dans l’atelier de Robert Campin, qui en a donné les cartons. C’est grâce à l’importation d’œuvres comme celle-ci que les nouveautés se diffusent dans le royaume de Charles VII.

This is what I meant when I said the museum had changed a lot… the artefacts and tapestries used to hang on the stone walls of the building, now the entire interior of the museum has white walls installed for the art to be viewed on, and it doesn’t feel Iike it is ‘in situ’ anymore.

Anges, Val de Loire, vers 1460-1470.
Pierre calcaire, traces de polychromie
Tours, musée des Beaux-Arts, inv. HG D 964.002.00001 et HG 968.028.0001
Portant les armes de Jean V de Bueil et de Jeanne de Montjean, ces deux anges (d’une série de quatre) proviennent du tombeau érigé par la famille de Bueil dans la collégiale Saint-Michel de Bueil-en-Touraine (Indre-et-Loire). Amiral de France en 1450, Jean de Bueil a joué un rôle important dans la reconquête du royaume par Charles VII. Stylistiquement proches du gisant d Agnès Sorel, ces anges montrent cependant une recherche d’animation plus marquée, avec des drapés épais et creusés, ou des cheveux agités de grosses mèches.

Panneau semé de fleurs de lis – France, deuxième tiers du xve siècle ?
Tapisserie, laine et soie. Paris, musée de Cluny-musée national du Moyen Âge, CI. 14361.

Guillaume Revel – Registre d’armes, dit Armorial Revel Moulins, vers 1450-1460.
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Manuscrits, Français 22297

Reliquaire de la Sainte Épine,
Égypte, xexie siècle. Paris, vers 1420-1450. Cristal de roche, or fondu, ciselé, émaillé, perles, rubis
Reims, palais du Tau,inv. D-TAU1972000010 (dépôt de la CRMH Grand Est); classé au titre des Monuments historiques, le 28 février 1896

Médailles de Charles VII dites les Calaisiennes. Émissions entre 1451 et 1460.
Or, frappe. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Département des Monnaies, Médailles et Antiques, SR 10, 14, 16, 17, 20, 21, 24 et 26. Ces monnaies, appelées improprement calaisiennes. (Calais ne fut pas repris aux Anglais avant 1558), célèbrent la reconquête politique et militaire du roi.

Peut-être commandées par ce dernier ou par un de ses grands officiers, elles constituaient très vraisemblablement des présents de haut prix récompensant alliances et soutiens fidèles. Elles furent frappées pendant la dernière décennie du règne du roi et mettent en avant dans les inscriptions bavardes ses succès militaires, ses réformes et sa légitimité autour de symboles exaltant la majesté royale (roi chevauchant ou trônant, écu armorié, croix).

Altarpiece of the Passion and Childhood of Christ
Hutch (central structure): Christ carrying the cross; the Crucifixion; the Deposition from the cross (upper part of the hutch); The Nativity; the Adoration of the Magi; on each side: angels presenting the instruments of the Passion (lower part of the hutch). Polychromed wood (oak)
Wings: The twelve standing apostles; below: busts of twelve prophets (inner face); The Annunciation; on both sides: saint presenting a donor; sainted bishop; below: the four evangelists (outer side)
Oil on wood (oak): Northern Ile-de-France (Beauvais?), around 1520-1530
From the church of Saint-Martial in Champdeuil (Seine-et-Marne, France)

The Treasure of Oignies is largely composed of reliquaries.
Many have been built to house the relics of the priory, including those of Marie d’Oignies. Reliquaries are receptacles for collecting the relics of saints and blessed people. Whether corporeal relics or contact relics (clothing and objects that have come into contact with them), relics are sometimes accompanied by authentic, small labels used to identify them. The sanctity of the relics is reflected on their containers. Some of them are designed from the outset to serve as reliquaries, while others are adapted for this purpose.
The Treasure of Oignies has a variety of types of reliquaries.
It has reliquary crosses, which are also Reliquaries of the Holy Cross, i.e. deemed to contain a fragment of the Cross of Christ. It also includes anatomical reliquaries: those of the feet of Saint James the Great and Saint Blaise, the reliquary of the rib of Saint Peter, and of the jaw of Saint Barnabas. There is also the curious bird-shaped reliquary of the Virgin’s milk, phylacteries and monstrance reliquaries that make the relics visible.

Phylacteries of Saint Hubert
Oignies workshop, circa 1230-1235. Gilded silver, filigree, stones and rock crystal on wooden core
Coll. Fondation

Cradle of devotion – “Jesus’ Rest” and its storage box
Southern Netherlands, around 1500. Oak, ivory, metal alloy
Devotion to the crèche is attested as early as the 2nd century. This miniature cradle, which still preserves its storage box decorated with coat of arms, belongs to a group of devotional objects popular from the 15th century in monastic communities as well as in the private sphere. The small bells chime when the cradle is rocked.

Four tapestries – Tapestry cycie on seigneurial life
Paris (P), early 15 century. Wool and silk
This ensemble of millefieur tapestries (set against a background of floral motifs) represents the activities of the elite of the late Middle Ages: taking walks, bathing with music, embroidery, reading and spinning. Lacking a sign of ownership and reusing the same figures, it was likely woven prior to purchase, to be presented to potential buyers sure to be impressed by its bucolic décor.

Board game box, France, about 1500.
Stained bone and walnut wood, ebony, ivory.
Made with noble materials, this game box executed in France is one of the oldest known. The pawns and pieces, made of ivory, bone or wood, came from Europe and were designed at various times.
It contained at least six different games, testifying to the taste for entertainment in the Middle Ages.
Some of these games are still familiar to us, such as chess and tric-trac (a kind of backgammon), while others have disappeared: nine-men’s morris, “fox and geese”, tourniquet, and glick (the ancestor of poker).

Lidded hexagonal salt cellar. Italy, 1370. Pewter.

Drinking horn in the shape of a griffin’s claw – Germanic countries, about 1500.
Horn, engraved and gilded copper.
This bull’s horn, mounted in a precious metal setting, rests on eagle talons that evoke a griffin, a legendary animal that is half-eagle, half-lion. Saint Corneille, a pope, was said to have received a claw from a griffin he cured. Transformed into a drinking cup, the claw was believed to detect poison in drinks. A sign of wealth, this object may have decorated a table or dresser where precious dinnerware was displayed.

Pavise – Portcullis. Germanic countries, 1st quarter of the 16th century. Wood.

Pavise – David and Goliath. Bohemia, about 1480. Wood, fabric, leather, paint.
This pavise, whose lower part is missing, was used during the Hussite wars, as a tool in the context of an entirely original military organisation. Pavisiers (who earned more than other foot soldiers) held the shields in place, while pike men stood behind them. They could sustain heavy cavalry charges and successfully repel them.

Targe – Maltese Cross and roses. Germanic countries, last quarter of the 15thC, wood, paint.
This small targe was used in “courtesy” jousting (a joust à plaisance, as opposed to joust à outrance, or grudge matches, where opponents could fight to the death), or even during simple demonstrations.
During jousting, it would be held to the left armpit, protecting it while marking the target on which the opponent should break his lance.

Two cups and a dish. Manises, early 16th century Ceramic with metallic lustre.
Though purchased together, the cup on the right and the dish above it do not necessarily go together. They nonetheless share similarities with the other cup, like their golden lustred decor and the choice of a pseudo-heraldic motif for their ombilics (central circles in relief). The base of the cups features a motif resembling musical notes, called solfa. The care taken with the plant motifs and the harmony of colours with metallic highlights are in line with vessels created in Valencia from the late 15th century, when blue disappeared in favour of golden monochrome, accentuating a likeness to metalware. The gadroons (moulding in relief) reinforce the similarity to copper dishware.

Marten head – northern Italy, late 15th or 16th century Gilded copper, glass, bone.
This object, composed of a copper mount enclosing the head of a marten (animal associated with fertility) was likely placed at the end of a fur, as shown by the fastening holes in the metal. “Lice furs” in the form of martens, sables, foxes or beech martens, meant to serve as lice traps, were worn over the shoulder or attached to a belt. Certain furs were adorned with rock crystal and precious stones on their extremities.

Reliquary-monstrance. Lombardy region (Italy),
last quarter of the 15th century Cast, embossed, engraved and gilded copper, painted enamel, glass.

Papal rings in the name of Popes Paul II (1464-1471) and Sixtus IV (1471-1484)
Central Italy, 2d half of the 15th century Gilded copper alloy, rock crystal; red foil (CI. 9192)
Inscriptions: PIA/PA PAULO; P[A]PA SIXTUS.
These imposing rings, adorned with symbols of the evangelists, each bear the name of a pope. One of them also displays Pope Sixtus IV’s coat of arms (CI.9192). They were worn on top of gloves (by papal legates?). Some sixty of these rings dating to the 15′ century have survived to this day.

Musée D’Orsay

Buying timed tickets to visit museums seems to be the necessity these days… which works okay, if you are travelling just for leisure, I guess and you don’t mind planning out your every single day of what you are doing on your vacation. But when travelling for work, and finding you might have a few hours to squeeze in something cultural – having to have pre-purchased tickets weeks in advanced leaves you at the mercy of some pretty mercenary resellers, mostly found on Trip Advisor links.

We did manage to get tickets for the morning we suddenly had available, but they were general entry and untimed, so that puts you in a different queue to get into the building, and that can mean ages waiting in lines. Thankfully at 0900 on a Saturday morning, the queues weren’t too intolerable and we were able to visit the Musée D’Orsay somewhat spontaneously after all.

Van Gogh self portrait.. another one. Oil on canvas.

Bedroom At Arles.
Vincent Van Gogh, 1888, oil on canvas… this is my favourite Van Gogh painting. I just can’t get over the texture he created which you an only see in person. This painting utterly fails to translate in reproductions.

The Church in Auvers-sur-Oise, View of the Chevet.
Vincent Van Gogh, 1890, oil on Canvas.
Mr K’s favourite. Something to do with a Dr Who episode? Huh?

Claude Monet, 1878, oil on canvas. Part of the Doctor Gachet collection, I quite liked this painting even though it isn’t typical of Money and has an odd perspective.

The Starry Night.”
Vincent Van Gogh, 1888, oil on canvas.

La Guinguette a Montmartre; Le Billard en bois, La Bonnie franquette.
Vincent Van Gogh, 1886, oil on canvas.

Fritillaires couronne impériale dans un vase de cuivre.
Vincent Van Gogh, 1887, oil on canvas.

Blue Water Lilies.
Claude Monet, 1916-1919, oil on canvas.

En norvégienne, also called, La barque à Giverny.
Claude Monet, 1887, oil on canvas.

Femme au fichu vert.
Camille Pissarro, 1893, oil on canvas.

Foyer de la Danse.
Edgar Degas, 1872, oil on canvas.

Not sure what to make of Degas, I’ve always admired the work and the spaces he depicted of the opera world and the ballet school always lent themselves to beautiful compositions – very elegant and feminine. As I get older though, I wonder whether he was a sneezy presence (like Trump at a beauty pageant) walking in like he owned the place and ogling half-naked, very young women… many of whom were expected to be congenial to patrons of the arts. :/

Blue Dancers.
Edgar Degas, 1893, oil on canvas.

The Ballet Class
Degas, 1874, oil on canvas.

La Place Valhubert.
Armand Guillaumin, 1875, oil on canvas.

La Dame aux éventails.
Édouart Manet, 1873, oil on canvas. The model is Nina de Callias, she was a musician and artiest herself.

City Dance and Country Dance.
Pierre-Augusta Renoir, 1883, oil on canvas.

Le Cathédrale de Rouen. Also called, Harmonie Bleue et Or.
Claude Monet, 1894, oil on canvas.

Woman with a Parasol Facing Right, and Woman with a parasol Facing Left.
Claude Monet, 1885, oil on canvas. The mondella was named Suzanne Hoschedé who was the daughter the impressionist collector Ernest Hochedé, but these were not meant as portraits. His outdoor figures were attempting to capture the landscape as the subject.

Henri-Edmond Cross.
Maximilien Luce, 1898, oil on canvas… I quite like this one, it’s amazing how much detail is conveyed with such frugal brush strokes and no blending to speak of. Beautiful.

Le Quai Saint-Michel et Notre-Dame.
Maximilien Luce, 1901, oil on canvas.

Georges Seurat’s Palette from 1891… what a cool object to have here – obviously it’s oil paint on timber.

The museum has imagery all around the place of the ‘Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’, which is one of those annoying things museums seem to do these day to create interest – but of course it isn’t here, it’s at the Art Institute of Chicago. They do have some very small studies that were done for the painting though. These are barely A4 in size, the full painting is 2m high and 3m wide.

Georges Surat, 1890-1891, oil on canvas. This work is considered incomplete as Surat died prematurely while working on it. I’ve often wondered about the curatorial choices that go into displaying some of these well known or important works – but apparently Surat chose this blue frame himself.

Couple dans la rue.
Charles Angrand, 1887, oil on canvas.

La Seine à Herblay.
Maximilien Luce, 1890, oil on canvas.

Entrée du port de la Rochelle.
Paul Signac, 1921, oil on canvas… this one was an unexpected little gem that I just loved. The colours are so vibrant and beautiful, and again, such beautiful texture created by the brushwork.

Jardins publics: L’interrogatoire.
Édouard Vuillard, 1894-1936, oil on canvases.

Et l’or de leur corps.
Paul Gauguin, 1901, oil on canvas. I have little affection for Gauguin – partly because I don’t really enjoy his style, but also because I think he just spent years in Tahiti shafting native women. :/

Jane Avril Dancing.
Henri de Toulousse-Lautrec, 1892, thinned oil paint on poster board.

The Robe.
c.1982, distemper on flannel (?)

The restaurant was closed but looked very funky… love the colourful chairs.

Logement prolétaire (Proletärkarsern).
Eugène Jansson, Stockholm, 1898, oil on canvas.

La pointe d’Andey, Vallée de L’Avre.
Ferdinand Hodler, 1909, oil on canvas.

Portrait de l’artist au fond rose.
Paul Cézanne, c. 1875, oil on canvas.

Hercules Kills the Birds of Lake Stymphalia.
Antoine Bourdelle, 1880-1910, bronze.

Le Belier Retif, also called, Belier African.
Antoine Bourdelle, 1909, bronze.

Monument à Jean-Jacque Rousseau…
La Philsophie (centre), with La Verite et la Nature.
La Gloire et La Musique (sides).
Albert Bartholomé, 1910, sculpture en platre

Aristide Maillol, 1910, marble.

Judgement de Paris.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1914, Platre (signed and dated Renoir).

Les Nubiens, also called, Les Chasseurs d’Alligators.
Ernst Barrias, 1894, platre.

La Roue de la Fortune (Wheel of Fortune).
Edward Burne-Jones, c1875-1883, oil on canvas.

Mercure inventant le caducée.
Jean Antoine Idrac, 1878, marble.

I didn’t get the description for this one… I liked her, even though the poor dear looks like she’s lost her portable! Selfie Queen.

Polar Bear.
Francois Pompon, c.1923-1933, stone.

Pompon famously worked with Rodin, but chose animals as his focus. This bear was one he watched pace in a cage at the zoo in the Jardins des Plantes, and was carved from a 3 tonne stone… every bit of it that wasn’t polar bear was removed and he is remarkably sleek and modern looking, even today.

We had to bail on the Musée D’Orsay, as we had skipped breakfast and were getting seriously hungry. Went for a bit of a wander to find lunch… on the way, the famous: Sorbonne University.

Lunch Bistro, chosen by Mr K;

Very nice choice. Many bistros will have a daily menu that gives you choices of two or three course meals at very reasonable prices – this is how Parisians often order their lunches, rather than a la carte. So we took that option. Jambon et fromage crépes, steak au poivre for Mr K, boeuf bourguignon for me, crème caramel for Mr K, and I spoiled myself with a crème brulee. Delicious and now we’ll be skipping dinner too!

Lunch at Le Train Bleu

This famous restaurant was conceived in 1900 around the time of the Universal Exhibition. At that time, it was the Gare de Lyon’s station buffet, which later became Le Train Bleu. It was a famous architect named Marius Toudoire who was responsible for the Gare de Lyon clock tower and the façade of the building who was entrusted with the design and works of the restaurant. The management of the railway company wanted to create an unmissable gourmet expierice for people travelling through the Gare de Lyon.

The station buffet was opened by then French President Emile Loubet and became Le Train Bleu in 1963, the name apparently a tribute to the ‘Paris-Vintimille’ line from 1868 on Le Train Bleu (the legendary train that services the towns along the Mediterranean Coast and the French Riviera). The decor of the restuarant retains that sumptuous ambiance that the Belle Époque (c.1871 to 1914) is so famous for.

It’s like a time capsule…

The restaurant is quite large and has a large lounge/bar area as well, so I looked up to see how many diners they can seat and it’s a huge 200 people that can be seated here at any time. That is quite a considerable number of people and certainly explained the general hustle of the place; totally consistent with being in one of Europe’s very busiest train stations. I also learned at this time that Le Train Bleu is a two Michelin Star restaurant. Seems 2024 is accidentally becoming a ‘Big Year o’ Fine Dining’.

Naturally, we decided to stick to our resolve to drink as much champagne at every opportunity while in France… the Bollinger, always a good choice (for breakfast, lunch or dinner!), was delicious and moorish.

The meal started with a small purée of herbed carrot that wasn’t on the menu… very tasty!

I spent more time looking at the ceilings than at the menu!

Just beautiful!

Mr K looking very happy with his wash… bit of Bolli before lunch will do that.

M. Alain preparing Mr K’s entrée, table side…

Devilled eggs and Petrossian caviar for me; herbed Green Asparagus with vinaigrette for Mr K…

M. Alain returned to prepare Mr K’s main meal table side also… I thought these staff members were wait staff, but it seems they need to be capable chefs too.

Pork medallion Mignon, with champignons for me; braised lamb shoulder with garlic and potato au gratin for Mr K…

Delicious so far – and large portions! Like, pushing American size portions.

I was amazed at how quickly they could turn the tables over. There were loads of people waiting for tables when we arrived. We had booked this on the recommendation of some colleagues before we left home, so had no trouble getting seated but many were standing around for quite a long time waiting for a table to be vacant, but I swear the party opposite us finished up and paid their bill, a new party of diners were being seated within about 3 minutes… impressive.

I had had an elegant sufficiency so passed on dessert, but Mr K had ordered the Iranian pistachio soufflé served with Turkish sour cherry gelato at the beginning of the meal, (as is usually the case with soufflé!). I had a tiny taste, and it was delicious! Seriously, it was a next level super tasty dessert – likely due to the complete lack of chocolate! 😉

A lovely long lunch in a gorgeous restaurant – certainly would recommend it to anyone coming to Paris as an opportunity to step back in time, and have a lovely meal in absolutely beautiful surroundings.