Tag Archives: Gardens

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

16 Nov

Whether or not this park, tucked away quietly in the 19th arrondissement, resembles a balding mountain is irrelevant.

Relevant: wearing your woolliest jacket and leatheriest gloves so that you’re warm enough to skedaddle along the mountainside trails like the billy goat gruff you are.

The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is not as central as that park in New York but it’s also not overrun with bike-taxi drivers and ice cream vendors. Mais non. The Buttes is the real deal – right down to its artificial stalactites and caves.

After all, when you’re converting an abandoned quarry into a park, what’s wrong with throwing in a well-placed grotto?

Skip the lake that doesn’t freeze and head straight to Rosa Bonheur: one of the most underrated eating/funhavens in Paris named after one of the only painters to have officially been given permission to wear pants.

High five to Napoleon III for coming up with the whole quarry-to-park idea. And to the scruffy waitress for drizzling honey so liberally on the chèvre. And to the DJ for his god-awful-wonderful 80’s mix after dark. And to the Parisians for not caring about cutting loose on the dancefloor for once.

And especially to whoever made the rosé labels look so pretty.

Parc des Buttes Chaumont
19e Arrondissement  75019 Paris

Second image from Sprawling Places


Musée Rodin

7 Nov

Some days your knees get so cold in Paris that all you want to do is huddle next to a heater and eat salted caramels that get stuck in your teeth.

Other days, there’s free entrance to nearly all the museums in the city and you just need to layer up and get busy.

Even if you don’t have legwarmers and your coat has a button missing, you should definitely go find the Musée Rodin. You won’t regret it. (Unlike buying legwarmers.)

Do you know that the museum building is actually called Hôtel Biron? Do you know that a peruke is a wig? Do you know that a guy called Abraham Peyrenc de Moras made a killing from perukes, and that Hôtel Biron was built for him? TO BE HIS HOUSE ACTUALLY?

Just his townhouse. Whatever.

These days, the parquet in the Hôtel Biron is in need of a solid polish and the ceilings in need of a lick of Antique White USA, but this is understandable given it’s the only national museum in France that does not benefit from a public grant by the State. True story.

Three other things that are true:

1. Rodin was handy with the graphite.

2. You can walk right around nearly all the sculptures to take in every finger nail and perfect vein.

3. You should probably go easy on the salted caramels.

All images from Musée Rodin except the first one. That was me.

Ultimate Chinese Whispers

28 May

Not a queue of people.  A queue of CHINESE WHISPERERS hanging out on the temporarily shortened High Line waiting to turn words into actions and spiritual transformation through a sequence of individuals… whatever.  It was Chinese Whispers gone mental and Salman Rushdie was playing!

Being brokelyn means that I only considered the free events at the PEN Festival – but gala shmala I say. Next in line to me was two (nearly three) year old Clara, whose message: “FOCUS STAR FOCUS!” morphed into “Follow the glass stone” from the original (and slightly more poetic): “Like a shimmering star, or a flickering lamp.”

There’s a what goes around comes around message in there but I was more excited about the honking dungchens and nearly 200 books, right next door.


8 Apr

Having never had an extra-marital affair, nor green thumbs, nor gonorrhea, I can’t really put myself in Sunday Reed’s shoes.

Sunday was just an everyday gal who married a guy that gave her gonorrhea and left her infertile.  So she married someone else and they did the tree change thing and opened up their house to a load of free-loving bohemians who all subsequently had affairs with her.  Could happen to anyone.

It just so happens that the Reeds’ house is now a modern art museum called Heide.  And that Sunday’s longest-lasting affair was with Sidney Nolan (who is kind of a big deal.)  And that when she refused to leave her husband for him, Sidney got her back by marrying her husband’s SISTER.

Not to gossip, but he was also a bit of an Indian giver.  After giving them to Sunday, he asked for his Ned Kelly paintings back. Instead she gave them to the National Gallery. (Cop that boyfriend.)

But moving on.

Fortunately, Heide is a half hour drive out of Melbourne – which means one is excited about stretching one’s legs around the 16 acres of landscaped gardens as soon as one arrives.  After taking in the 30 sculptures and admiring the Yarra from its slippery banks, one may well have worked up the appetite for a snack at Shannon Bennett’s swank new Cafe on the site.  (Or for a tasty alternative, one could sample the chives growing in the kitchen garden.)

Then there’s the original homestead that you can trespass in for a fee, and the other two very swish exhibition buildings.  Here’s what’s in them: drawings by Joy Hester, Albert Tucker, Arthur Boyd and John Perceval.

Here’s what’s not in them:

Image: Bentley Smith (superciliousness)