Alert! Happy Ganesh Chaturthi - Parade and Birthday Celebration August 31

23 days ago

It’s Ganesha’s Birthday! Every year, we celebrate the 10-day Ganesh Chaturthi, a moveable feast starting sometime in August-September. This year, the festival started August 29th and will end 10 days from now.

Ganesha is the elephant-headed remover of obstacles, god of beginnings, deva of wisdom and intellect, and patron of merchants. He is the god of letters and learning and is invoked at the start of writing sessions. He should be the god of bloggers, yes?

Ganesha loves candy. He is plump, kind, and humble. Sometimes, however, he places obstacles in the way of those who should be contained in someway.

The Temple of Sri Manickor Vinayakar Alayam in Paris leads the celebration every year. The temple is located at 17, rue Pajol, 75018 Paris. Services start in the morning and the procession will leave at 11:00 am, circulating through the neighborhood until 3 p.m. (15:00).

Check the Temple website for detail:

The streets are garlanded with red, yellow, and purple flowers, there are images, piles of coconuts, fire and light and wonderful foods. It is joyous, religious, and beautiful.

Of course, all festivals are occasions for gifts. To honor Ganesha, share sweets, lights, statues, dried fruits, and gold coins. For examples of such gifts, visit:

Thanks to the generous photographers who posted images to share, we can see a little bit of the festival and of Ganesha. The first image, if it comes through, was posted by Michel Disdero, who has a lovely website of his own.

The second image is a picture of Ganesha himself, originally uploaded by Matthieu Moy at fr.wikipedia on 6 September 2006 and is reproduced here under CC-BY-2.5.

The 18th arrondissement is a neighborhood of working people, who will not be looking at your shoes to see if they are Resort 2015.




Paris Fashion Week Coming Up

23 days ago

Paris Fashion Week is less than a month away! Let’s say you’re in Paris around September 22nd or so – how will you know it’s Fashion Week? And what do you do next?

First, you must go to the Right Bank (Rive Droit). Hang out around the Place Vendome. While you’re there, pay your respects to the statue and pedestal commemorating Napoleon’s many victories. With the statue in front of you, look to your right. The diamonds, rubies, emeralds, gold, platinum, and fantasy on display will dazzle from across the Place. Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, and many others display their most opulent and amazing creations, from the classic emerald-and-diamond Elizabeth-Taylor-style necklaces to bracelets that look like frozen, ice-covered vines and twigs from Storybrook. Yes, there are cameras and security guards.

Alternative medicine recommends “crystal healing”; just remember, diamonds are crystallized carbon, so window shopping (or buying if one is so fortunate) is actually for medicinal purposes. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Ok – deep breath, focus, and look around.

You know it’s Fashion Week when:

1. Everyone is looking down to see who’s wearing whose shoes. And the shoes are amazing.

2. You suddenly have a referent for “street style”.

3. You see a 6’ model in a 3 foot (if that) dress, a mane of perfectly waved, high-lighted and low-lighted hair, and thigh-high, black, glove leather, stiletto-heeled boots and no one else seems to find her unusual. And then you look around and, behold, you are the only one in normcore.

4. You are blinded by flashes and surrounded by journalists, photographers, vloggers, bloggers, and their partners in the enterprise and glory that is fashion.

5. You see the most gorgeous girl (see #3 above) on the arm of a 5’3” man with gray hair, a gold lame levi’s jacket, camo pants, and untied combat boots and he’s the one everyone is staring at.

6. You walk into Colette, where the t-shirt commemorating the robbery costs more than your daily or perhaps weekly income, and see what surely must be a curated display of leopard-pattern shoes and boots, and booties, in all styles and heel heights, from stilettos and kitten heels to wedges and flats, trimmed in purple, soled in red, in leather, silk, calf-hair, and who knows what, in a carefully-constructed sculpture in the center of the store. Visitors (nothing so mundane as “shoppers”) murmuring and strolling around, as if previewing a Sotheby’s fine art auction.

7. You stroll down the Champs-Elysees and encounter a spotlit showcase displaying one pair of black leatherstiletto booties, completely covered in spikes, and looking like an art display from the Louvre. And his user-unfriendly novelty item for the wealthy is priced at nearly 7,000 euros.

And everywhere, in every window, inspiring displays of fantasy, creativity, and luxury.

Paris Fashion Week. Soon, my pretties, soon.



Rodin and Mapplethorpe: Sculpture, Photography, and Obsession

39 days ago

The curators of the Rodin Museum have put sculpture and photography side by side in an exhibition which ends September 21st. When I first read about it, I thought the two artists and the two media were so disparate that the exhibit might not be coherent. I have seen Mapplethorpe’s work, notably in the exhibit that was banned in Cleveland (or was it Cincinnati?). And I have been to the Rodin Museum in Paris and seen Rodin’s works elsewhere.

And here’s the thing: This juxtaposition makes a lot of sense. Both media are essentially black and white or bronze and white or grayscale. No color to distract, no flashing lights, no sound. Just the thing in itself. Both artists were obsessed with nudes, with bodies at rest or in motion. Mapplethorpe had a sculptural eye, evidenced by an amazing self-portrait of his arm – all muscle and tendon and contrast. The picture looks 3-d. Some of Rodin’s sculptures show the image resolving from the matrix, as photographs used to do back in the days of developing tanks. You could see the image slowly appear, rising from the white paper.

Mapplethorpe, notoriously, preferred the male body; Rodin prefered the female. Both are good at either.

Mapplethorpe also captured the most wondrously pure images of flowers, which I expect will be strewn amongst the scandalous nudes (men in backless chaps and so on).

Some of the poses used by Rodin and Mapplethorpe are almost identical. Perhaps some artists solve the same challenges in the same way? The curators have juxtaposed them, using themes such as Damnation. One is invited to agree or disagree.

A word of warning: Based on the Mapplethorpes I have seen, this exhibit will not be suitable for children. Parents might want to preview the work before taking adolescents. People uncomfortable with very candid images of men with some very interesting accessories should avoid this exhibit.

If you go, plan on having a lot to talk about at the cafe in the museum gardens.

Musee Rodin
79 rue de Varenne, Paris 7th
Metro: Invalides
Closed Mondays
Open Tues- Sun 10 am – 5:45 pm
Late Wednesdays until 8:45

+33 1 44 18 61 10



Chauvet Cave: Now UNESCO's Oldest World Heritage Site

91 days ago

Horses - © Jean Clottes - Le Centre National de Préhistoire

The committee meeting at UNESCO’s 38th session has added the Prehistoric Painted Cave of Pont-d’Arc, known as Grotte Chauvet, in the Ardèche region of Southern France, on the World Heritage List of cultural properties. The cave is thought to date back 36,000 years.

The cave sits on some pretty interesting property, as you can see on the map below. The gorges of the river Ardèche start here, and the stretch between Vallon Pont-d’Arc and the point where the Ardèche river joins the Rhone is popular with canoe and kayak enthusiasts.

You can’t visit the original cave these days. But just wait until next spring. It turns out that now that money is flowing, they’ll create a replica cave like they did at Lascaux. Despite the fact that Lascaux is much more widely known, Chauvet at 8000 square meters is quite a bit bigger than Lascaux at 1500 square meters. The Lascaux facsimile cave is a mere 500 meters square, which Chauvet’s will be around 3000. The Cavern of Pont-d’Arc replica is expected to be open in spring of 2015, so plan your vacation now.

The closest town is Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, France, which becomes a madhouse with adventure tourists during the summer season. You might wish to come in the spring when the water is still high but with fewer folks on the river. There is lots of camping around the real and the fake cave site. You can also search for the best hotel prices in Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, France

Map of Grotte Chauvet and Area

Wandering Man


Maxim's de Paris: When it's time to experience Paris, then and now

170 days ago

The legendary Maxim’s combines opulence, living history, and timeless fun. Opened in 1893, in the midst of the Belle Époque, Maxim’s became and remains the last word for elegance, where kings and dukes, duchesses and courtesans, danced, gossiped, smoked, and feasted (at least, the men did). King Edward VII (England), he of the Edwardian era, rotund figure, and many mistresses, dined here, at the Red Table, still reserved for him. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were habitués. Noted fashion designer Pierre Cardin purchased the entire building in the 1960’s, renovated Chez Maxim’s, and housed his amazing art nouveau collection over three floors upstairs.

Maxim’s is open Monday through Saturday. Be warned: it is expensive! Pierre Cardin has taken Maxim’s into the 21st Century, while revitalizing and continuing its unique Belle Époque character. The cabaret is the traditional heart of Maxim’s, featuring fine dining and dancing to piano jazz. The dress code is quite formal. The cuisine is Belle Époque French: refined, esoteric, and rich, e.g., crepe veuve joyeuse (Merry Widow) . . . hmmmm. . . Maxim’s International Club is for art lovers, offering passionate discussions and exhibits with dinner under the Tiffany ceiling. Parties at the Bar Imperial are much more informal, pitched to the young, chic, movers and shakers of toute Paris. It features modern artists, musicians, video and light displays. The monthly invitation-only “supernatural” evenings start at midnight. Apparently, there is even karaoke! (Other than cabaret, activities not personally verified.)

According to the website, but not independently verified, Maxim’s has 3 boats moored at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, available for special events, product launches, gala dinners, receptions, and the like. They even have their own free parking. The Bateau Ivre cruises the Seine, seating 100 for lunch or dinner or hosting 120 for cocktail receptions. For an even-more-luxurious experience, try Le Maxim’s sur Seine, described as a “floating palace”, with two decks. The upper deck can seat 100 or host 200 for cocktails. The summer terrace can serve 40. The lower deck is a lounge for 220 seated guests or 350 for cocktail receptions. Both decks have dance floors.

And now, the ageless Pierre Cardin has added something new: a high fashion homage to the prestige and luxury of Maxim’s and of toute Paris: Maxim’s La Nuit. Maxim’s La Nuit offers high fashion collections for men and women. The first collection debuted November 2013. New collections were shown in January and February 2014. Check it out at:

Guided tours to the Art Nouveau Museum are available from Wednesday-Sunday, in the afternoons. Large groups can combine the tour with lunch or dinner. Tours are available in English and French. I took this tour and loved it. I was almost too sick to walk, the day was gray and cold, and it was still one of the highlights of my trip. Pictures and more will follow.

A 360 degree on-line tour, pictures, and reservation form, are available at:


On Sunday afternoons, starting January 16th, drop by the Theatre Maxim’s for a performance of “Moi, Colette”, written by Pierre-Andre Helene, directed by Theodora Mytakis, and headlining Veronique Fourcaud. Paris tends to close down on Sundays, which are still reserved for family and friends, so something to do in the late afternoons is a welcome change from museum-going.

Information and reservations at:

Maxim’s is located at 3 rue Royale in the 8th arrondissement, quite close to the rue de Rivoli, in the Champs Elyséés district.
Telephone: +33 (0) 1 42 65 30 47
Métro: Concorde

GPS: 48.867142/12.3223540000000185

So, for fun, food, and culture in the heart of Paris, check out at Maxim’s de Paris:



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