Thursday, December 29, 2011

Huré: Createur de Plaisir

One of the most common pleasures in life is Pastry, particularly the world famous, mouth-watering French Pâtisserie

Instead of talking about the popular ones that everybody knows, I am going to introduce you to one that is not that famous but almost equally good. I'm talking about Huré, which is a  pâtisserie previously owned by Jean-Paul Mathon, it was taken over by Benedict Huré in the recent years. He is a baker, who describes himself as a "creator of pleasure"..and trust me, he is! 

Besides a pâtisserie, Huré is a boulangerie with a wide range of products which include sandwiches, pies, quiches, salads, classic and salted rolls, etc., the variety is quite good and all the products are fresh, and have very decent prices.

One of the most notable things at Huré is probably the wide range of filled buns, "heritage" of the time Mathon was the owner. They go both ways, salty and sweet (chocolate, fruit, cheese, meat, and more!).

The cakes are absolutely delicious and carefully made in different sizes; regular, for a special occasion or miniature in case you just wanna be selfish with your sweets. 


However, one of the best things you will find there is, definitely, the incredibly good Macarons -they are just a bit of heaven, amazing really. Many different flavors, colors and combinations as well as different choices in number, plus, they're not as expensive. A box with 5 macarons, for example, will cost you €8, or really big ones for only €2.90 a piece.


So, if you have a Sweet Tooth, Huré is definitely a must visit place while in Paris (France). They have two branches in the following addresses:

10 Place d'Italie - 75013 Paris (metro Place d'Italie, lines 5, 6 and 7) / Tel: 01 43 31 33 93
18 rue Rambuteau - 75003 Paris (metro Rambuteau, line 11) - tel: 01 42 72 32 18


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Diane Arbus, Photographer

Not long ago, I had the chance to go see an exhibition at Jeu de Paume in Paris, France by the world famous Photographer Diane Arbus, a New Yorker who revolutionized the art of Photography. Her bold subject matter and photographic approach produced a body of work that is often shocking in its purity, in its constant celebration of things as they are. Many say she had a gift for rendering strange those things we consider most familiar, and for uncovering the familiar within the exotic.

Initially, she worked for her father shooting fashion as he was the owner of a famous Department Store located on 5th Avenue; so did her husband Allan Arbus. Later on, she decided to explore another side of photography as fashion didn't quite satisfy her and that's how she started shooting people, not your regular people though, Diana was attracted to different people, people who was quirky and out of the ordinary look-wise, she found them to be interesting and camera-capture worthy.

Most of Diane's subjects were in New York City, a place that she explored as both a familiar geography and as a foreign land, photographing people she discovered during the 1950s and 1960s. When talking about her work, most people think of black-and-white square photographs of awkward people.

She was committed to photography as a medium that tangles with the facts. Her contemporary anthropology -portraits of couples, children, carnival performers, nudists, middle-class families, transvestites, zealots, eccentrics, and celebrities- stands as an allegory of the human experience, an exploration of the relationship between appearance and identity, illusion and belief, theater and reality.

To understand Diane's photography, is important to read her texts as it will be easier for you to understand where she comes from, photographically speaking. She once said "I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn't photograph them.", referring to the type of people she used to shoot, commonly known/called "freaks" by most people, including herself. "Freaks was a thing I photographed a lot. It was one of the first things I photographed and it had a terrific kind of excitement for me. I just used to adore them. I still do adore some of them. I don't quite mean they're my best friends but they made me feel a mixture of shame and awe.", this explains her fascination to shoot so many of them, which is a bit contradictory as she did not want to be known as"the photographer of 'freaks'", which ended up happening.

Arbus suffered from "depressive episodes", which ended up leading her to take her own life by ingesting barbiturates and slashing her wrists with a razor when she was only 48. Two days later, a friend of hers found her on the bathtub. It was only a year after her death that she started getting International recognition for her work and they started showing it in major exhibitions.

In this first major retrospective in France, Jeu de Paume -the Paris Gallery- presents a selection of two hundred photographs that afford an opportunity to explore the origins, scope, and aspirations of a wholly original force in photography. It includes all of the artist’s iconic photographs as well as many that have never been publicly exhibited. Even the earliest examples of her work demonstrate Arbus’s distinctive sensibility through the expression on a face, someone’s posture, the character of the light, and the personal implications of objects in a room or landscape.

If you're interested in her work or knowing more about her as a photographer, a movie was made a few years ago, it's called "Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus", which is precisely that and not an accurate biography, however, you can get a rough idea of what she was like and her vision and pretty much what is it she was about, it's quite interesting really and you know nobody like Nicole Kidman to play awkward personalities.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Belleville (Paris)

Belleville is a neighbourhood of Paris, France, you may find it's name familiar due to the French animated movie "The Triplets of Belleville" -that's why I'd heard of it!

The neighborhood is situated on and around a hill which vies with Montmartre as the highest in Paris. Belleville means "beautiful town" and, historically, was a working class neighborhood.

Today, Belleville is a colorful, multi-ethnic neighborhood and also home to one of the city's two Chinatown's. During the 1980s Parisian artists and musicians, attracted by the cheaper rents, the numerous vacant large spaces, as well as the old Paris charm of its smaller streets. Within the neighborhood there is a cemetery and park, the Parc de Belleville, which ascends the western slope of the hill and offers, in addition to a panoramic view of the Paris skyline, a strikingly modern contrast to the classical gardens of the city center and the eccentric nineteenth century romanticism of the nearby Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

The iconic French singer Édith Piaf grew up there and, according to legend, was born under a lamppost on the steps of the Rue de Belleville. A commemorative plaque can be found at number 72. A true Bellevilloise, Piaf sang and spoke the French language in a way that epitomized the accent de Belleville, which has been compared to the Cockney accent of London, England, although the Parisian dialect is nowadays rarely heard. Belleville is prominently featured in the 2007 biographical film of her life, La Vie En Rose. Belleville has been featured in many movies, books, TV Shows and even music.

Personally, I strongly believe Belleville is one of Paris' best kept secrets, especially for tourists, that is. Not only does it have nice restaurants, boutiques and bars but it is also quite a charming. And, one of the best features Belleville has is definitely the -above mentioned- Parc de Belleville, which is a little known viewpoint, yet it is the highest point in the city and a fantastic place to enjoy a panoramic view of Paris. Belleville Park is located on a natural hill which is 128 meters above sea level, it is located in an area with a lot of history and many of the roads in the surrounding are have managed to keep their traditional looks which helps create a nice authentic Parisian atmosphere. There are a lot of stairs so in Belleville you can go up and down, here and there as you please The Place to go to get the best view here is in the middle of the park. From here you can see all around Paris below you. The park itself is also a nice place to relax and enjoy a picnic, which I didn't get to experience first hand as I visited it at night.

One of the good things of visiting Parc de Belleville at night is that it can be quite a romantic spot, so you may wanna choose wisely who you go with. Another really nice thing is all the City lighting you can see from above; there are a few popular sites you can spot from the heights, the Tour Eiffel being the most obvious and impressive of them all, but you will also be able to spot the Tour Montparnasse, the Centre Pompidou and a couple others -you just gotta open your eyes real wide! All in all, a great place to pay a visit while you're in Paris.

Photo credits: As indicated on watermarks.