Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Paris, October 20, 2009: L'Arts de l'Islam

Today is the 8th birthday of our granddaughter, Lily and the 19th of our great niece, Chelsea, and yesterday was the 16th of our great nephew, Christian--all on our minds as we travel in Paris.

The weather today was calm but overcast, cold and as gray as the old Haussmann's we walk past on our way out.

I didn't know where we were headed today, as Doug said it was a "surprise." We bundled up and walked to the Métro stop on Convention, a few blocks from our apartment, and caught the 10 toward Maubert in the 5e. I think this is the first time that I've walked down Boulevard St. Germain without having to dodge hundreds of people gawking and not looking where they are going and I must say it was quite pleasant! There's really nothing quite as wonderful as being in France during the autumn months if you enjoy cool weather--as I do. Layering clothing is the only way to make our outings tolerable and helps us avoid having to carry a heavy coat around while we're inside a museum or other building.

I love the big old churches that we see all over Paris--so majestic with their huge structures and relief sculptures. I'm always in awe of such grandeur and equally as struck by all the architecture we encounter on our walks through Paris. Even though a building's shape may be somewhat odd in comparison to nearby structures, it all some how blends in well. This was particularly true of the structure of the Arab World Institute, our stop for the day. Our history in America is so recent and architecture so modern, that it is definitely a treat to see the ancient structures we experience in Europe.

I was delighted when we finally arrived at the "surprise" destination in the 5e, where the Institut Du Monde Arabe (IMA) is currently displaying an exhibition of "The Arts of Islam," described as the "treasures from the Khalili collection. Professor Nassar D. Khalili, under the Khalili Family Trust, has amassed a huge collection of Islamic art dating back centuries. The collection we viewed included manuscripts, wall hangings, carpets, ceramics, glass, jewelry, lacquerware, woodwork and hardstone as well as an incredible pearl collection. We saw ancient Qurans and intricate examples of art and caligraphy. It was quite amazing. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed or I would be uploading photographs of the fine art displays we were fortunate enough to see up close. Having never before seen Islamic art, it was exceptionally interesting. You may think that just because it is called "Islamic" art that it is religious art, but that's not necessarily the case. In fact it is called Islamic art only because it is "partially rooted in Islamic philosophical thought, shared by a group of nations that adhere to this faith" according to a flier we received. The art influences were quite varied and included many civilizations and countries.

After enjoying our walk through the 5e, 6e and eyeballing the artwork, we'd worked up an appetite, so began to scout out a brasserie. We came upon the Brasserie Balzar, not far from the Sorbonne and it was packed full of diners. Ah ha, we thought, this must be the place! We settled into an interior table and were greeted by the staff, all of whom were friendly and also spoke excellent English. We noted that the prices were not only high but most of the plates were heartier than we were accustomed to for lunch. We began to dread the decision, but went ahead and dined any way. We shared a half bottle of Rosé and I ordered the grilled salmon, which wasn't anything special, and Doug ordered the pot roast which was rubbery and a bit fatty and tough. Oh dear! A mistake and an expensive one. We know better than to dine at or near any of the landmarks, including the Sorbonne. We generally will leave a main drag and find a small restaurant off the beaten path, with only a few tables. We've just never been stung by following this preference. Live and learn! I'll be willing to wager that we won't make the same mistake twice on this trip!

It was a full day and we found a Métro station, took the 10 back to the 12 and before we knew it we were back in the 15e. Ah, there's no place like home! We love it here in the 15e and I'm quite certain that most restaurants in Paris have absolutely nothing on those in the 15e!

Enjoy some of the photos of our day.

A Short Ride On Métro 10 to 12 And We Were Back On Convention, 15e

Another Modern Bit Of Architecture At The IMA

A Large Marble Sculpture By An Arab Sculptress, Donated by Jordan At The IMA

Dramatic Entrance To The Arab World Institute

Musée de l'Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute)

Fall Temperatures of 50F Keep People Away From St. Germain Boulevard Shopping

Unusual Architecture On This Apartment Building, 6e

My Camera Lens Couldn't Capture This Beauty, 6e Eglise

This Church In St. Germain (6e) Takes Up A City Block

Elegant Rose Display At Florist Near Métro Stop Maubert, 6e

Next Posting: More of Paris

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