Things seem to be returning to normal in Paris after the last few days of strikes. Today lots of things were open and there were crowds. Apparently the lack of crowds on Thursday was because most Parisians stayed home from work.
We managed to see a couple of sites as well as a number of cafes.
Most unexpected was (and I really want one) the Marie Antoinette Barbie.
Created in 2003, she currently sells for between $1,700-$8,000 US. The roses in her hand are ‘hand-crafted porcelain.’ It doesn’t say if her head comes off but I assume it does.
And we now know an awful lot about Marie Antoinette. In a stroke of ironic genius, there is an exhibition of her last few weeks (and subsequent celebrity) in the Conciergerie. This is where she spent her last few weeks.
The exhibition shows her as she was, as she was imagined and how her celebrity has grown since her death. It reminded me a lot of the cult of Sisi. The exhibition mentions the cult of Princess Diana which erupted after her death. And, to be honest, continues today.
It demonstrates (if nothing else) how celebrity is not a new thing. How people have often romanticised celebrities after they’ve killed them in horrible ways.
I feel an odd sort of familiarity with Marie Antoinette. Many years ago, back in 2000 in fact, we visited the ‘house’ in which she grew up. It is in Innsbruck and is called the Imperial Palace. I distinctly remember the Hall of Giants. I think her perceptions of the world were formed by her childhood and her isolation from the real world.
At 14, when she arrived at Versailles, she was already well on the path. She preferred being alone, hidden in the vast expanse of Versailles, playing with her children and planning happy little Disneyland versions of the peasantry to entertain her.
I do rather think she’d like the fact that, even today, she is remembered as a paragon of style.
Next door is La Chapelle. We thought Bob would enjoy seeing an old building. It was built sometime between 1242 and 1248 in order to house a bunch of holy relics. The top floor is where the relics were kept. Chief among these authentic pieces of Christian hockam was the actual crown of thorns given to Christ by the soldiers in order to mock him.
The crown of thorns cost more than the building in which it was to be held. It wasn’t the only relic. There were 22 all together but, clearly, none were as important as the crown of thorns. The fact that people STILL believe that the crown of thorns was really put on Jesus’ head baffles me completely. It’s even stranger when the myth was first expounded over 200 years after it happened. Still…
Bob wanted to know where the crown of thorns is now given it is no longer in the chapel which was built to house it.
The crown was kept at the national library during the French Revolution. In around 1801 it was deposited in Notre Dame. It was quite safe there until this year when fire ravaged the cathedral. Fortunately the Paris fire brigade managed to rescue the very important relic.
I’m guessing there are some Christians who will think that the survival of the crown of thorns is evidence for the existence of god. I think it’s evidence of the Paris fire brigade saving things of little importance in order to preserve the celebrity of Christ.
I originally wrote about Sainte-Chapelle back in 2008. The entry is here.
We walked by Notre Dame on our way to the Conciergerie this morning. It’s all looking a bit sad though there’s some amazing reconstruction going on.
At the bottom of the photo you can see the tops of some new boards with photos and text on them, explaining what happened and what is happening now. They are excellent and we spent a bit of time perusing them. We were not alone. It made me glad we’d seen it before the fire.
Between the Conciergerie and Saint-Chapelle we popped into a very close by resturant for lunch. A rather natty waiter beckoned us inside, sat us down and took our orders. He informed us that he was the best waiter in Paris. He said ‘Oo la la’ an awful lot. His skill at remembering orders was very good.
My duck was delicious though I could only give the creme brulee 7/10. My report is on the Scoring Creme Brulee page above.
Then, as we headed back to the hotel, little known to Bob and me, Mirinda had a surprise lined up. She walked us down a couple of back alleys until we stopped outside an art gallery. A tiny, non-descript art gallery. She went inside. Then, after chatting to the delightfully moustachioed chap sat inside, beckoned us in.
She had planned to surprise us with Yoshi Araki’s latest exhibition which, unfortunately, finished yesterday. We did see the exhibition catalogue though. It was full of fish. It also looked really good. Such a pity we were a day late.
Yoshi was an exchange student with Mirinda’s family for a while a number of years ago. She now lives and works in Paris. Her paintings are very good.
A bit crestfallen, Mirinda led us back to the hotel for a bit of a rest before the highlight of our whole stay. A night at the cabaret. Or, rather, the Diva Kabaret.
Now, I’ve had a lot of nights out and seen a lot of shows. I’ve seen good, I’ve seen bad, I’ve been entertained, I’ve been bored. Tonight has to go down as one of the most entertaining and fun nights I have ever spent.
The three performers were incredible. Great entertainers all. Okay it was in French, mostly, but that didn’t matter.
That’s not entirely accurate. An English woman and a Scottish man (a couple) were not that impressed. They’d been there since 8pm and the show didn’t start till 9:30. She was pretty grumpy. Then when it became obvious the show was going to be in French, her grumpiness increased.
The interval couldn’t have come fast enough. They were out of their seats and up the stairs before the lights had fully gone up. They really didn’t enjoy it. In fact, she refused to be entertained.
On the other hand, we loved every minute. Actually, we were a bit worried that Bob wouldn’t like it but he totally did. At the interval Mirinda said if he wanted to go it was too bad because she wasn’t going anywhere.
I agreed. It was brilliant. The next time we go to Paris (next year, presumably) we have to return to the Diva Kabaret.
It came out, at the interval, that Bob used to sing the yodelling song to Mirinda and Fiona when they were young. Not dressed like Lara, above, I assume. Mirinda claims he was a great yodeller.