Monday, April 26, 2010

Paris Renovations, Restaurations

Today's post is not about Parisien perfectly messy hair...
Nor is it about the joys of attending a Paris fashion show...
But it is about beauty with a capitol B.
I love the way Paris beautifies its buildings when they are in a state of la restauration/repair or under construction. Like this witty wall poster covering Prada's new store-to-be that makes walkers on rue Saint-Honore appear to be on a catwalk!
Shot upside-down yet then turned right-side up.
It makes you think a bit.
Hermés is the master of the street face-lift with this Punch and Judy window
Take a closer look and you see delightfully casual sketches with a dash of watercolor on a corner on rue Saint-Honore.
The Paris Opera has gone for something much grander-almost an abstract artwork in their coverup while under construction.
It's true you'll see plain old construction signs now and then in Paris...
Hasn't this happened to you?
You tell a friend,
"You have GOT to see this gorgeous old bistro/cafe/or whatever."
You get there and the %$#@ thing is completely covered in scaffolding!
Why is that?
Because Paris preserves it's beauty.
It does not (well only rarely- Cojean how could you do that to Cador Patisserie?) throw them away.
It takes care of it's treasures, unlike some cities. And does it with wit and charm to boot. I took Barry Lewis' brilliant course on New York architectural history at Cooper Union this Spring. I've taken it before and will again. Barry is a NYC monument himself of endless, fascinating information on the city. One thing I heard Barry say over and over again,"In America, we throw things away. We get tired of them after 10 years and into the ashcan they go."
I would walk up 5th avenue after Barry's class with my head in the sky like any visiting tourist.
Passing the New York Public Library, I was sad to see no terrific Parisien-style witty skrim or faux wall while the library is under construction.
Back in Paris, along the Seine, this building shows all the workers of Paris while being repaired.
There is a guide to all the figures and their travaille/work placed on the bridge.
Hermés again has a big mural of sketches of shoppers on rue de Sevres.Reflecting the actual shoppers rushing by...
Here's an Older French Girl or OFG wearing a bit of red walzing by a lovely big under-construction sign.
Time for a bite of Paris beauty with your coffee from Hugo and Victor.

I'm trying to post earlier.



  1. It's so true--don't you think that's European, though--to be concerned about treasuring their history? I love it that they don't tear things down. It's the appeal of Europe to me. Here, we always "paved paradise, and put up a parking lot," as Joni said.

    "Don't it always seem to go
    that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone..."

    I forgot that terrific song..I added it
    Big merci!!

  3. Oh the tale of two cities -- and wonderful cities at that Paris and New York -- with all that walking I was glad to see some fresh croissants being served... now to get a cup of coffee..


  4. Great song - by Joni Mitchell by the way...


  5. On attend ces ouvertures ici!



  6. Love your post today and Joni Mitchell's song is the perfect accompaniment. OFG...LOL

  7. Love your blog, but...
    I enjoy your conversational style of writing, your photos bring Paris to my computer, and your watercolors are delightful. I 'm wondering, though, if you would not mind occasional advice about grammar.
    There are only a few things, and I could mention them as they occur.

    My suggestion for today is that you re-read each post to check for a common mistake: it's instead of its.
    All you have to remember is that it's is a contraction of "it is" while (or whilst as you say!)
    is a possessive word.

    I make many spelling and grammatical mistakes myself, but I know many of your readers, as well as your past English teachers, would enjoy your blog even more if its writing was a little more correct.
    It's important!
    As long as I'm writing, I encourage you to check out a restaurant my wife and I like near the Marche St-Germain. It's called Cote Bergamote, and you can find it online. The menu is updated classics with an emphasis on herbs, including herb-infused wines. We discovered it one Sunday when we found that Aux Charpentiers was closed between lunch and dinner. It's a friendly and youthful place, the pastel interior retaining some boiserie and shelving from what appears to have been its original incarnation as a pharmacy. Full
    disclosure: I just typed it's in the last sentence, by mistake, and then corrected it.

    Thanks again for sharing your love of Paris and art and food.
    I love macarons too!


  8. Dear Fred,
    My grammar is as hellish as my spelling.
    I'd never get the damn thing out if I checked for mistakes I can't recognize. I do care, but being semi-dyslexic and and and..
    Thanks, I'll fix it now.
    Carolg :)

  9. William Ternay, Jr.9:29 AM

    Love your post today, Carol,
    bad (personal) grammer et al.
    Some of us right-brainers do have those kinds of problems.
    So happy to have access to Philadelphia, and all it's thousands of murals.
    They don't cover new repairs, but do bring art to once barren walls, on a grand scale.

  10. Elaine9:54 AM

    I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I start my day with it. So interesting the way you put everything together, not to mention feeling like I am in Paris for a few minutes!
    Keep up the good blogging.

  11. This photos are really great. I wish you good luck in the future :)

  12. Thanks for your great post picking up on this. I (especially since I am a graphic designer) marvel at the attention Parisiens pay to the human scale, street level details. Some of my favorites being these "cover-ups" and also the paper shopping bags!

    PS: I hate the its/it's thing because they never teach it as an exception to the rule which it is. Just because "it's" is a contraction, it gets to steal the spelling away from "its" even when it is being possesive!

  13. Here's a NYC/Paris combo in action. There is a nice example of Hermès rocking out the "cover up" here on Madison Ave.

  14. Loving the architectural whimsey today! But may I change the subject? Is anyone else besides me sick and tired of wearing a coat? I can hardly wait to see these Parisian and New York fashionistas sans manteau! Bring on the sunshine!

  15. Today your PB post is one of the best ever. Its so creative and will be a delight to walk round even though things are being altered,
    l loved it.
    Jill xxx

  16. C.WEILL-it's true when the Frenchies renovate in NYC, they are up to their old tricks with trompe-l'oeil like crazy-
    CARTIER wrapped up their facade with a giant red bow while renovating..

  17. It is so wonderful that the French take care of Paris so well. But have you heard about Nicolas Sarkozy's huge proposed project
    called “Le Grand Paris”?? He apparently wants to turn Paris into any other modern city with mega towers all over the place. That would just ruin the whole character of the real Paris!!
    Here are some photos of some of the proposals, not nice!

  18. Hello Carol! I was just thinking how wonderful it would be to see your watercolors as a giant cover up for some remodeling here in US or even in Paris. You know the way you do facades, imagine you doing that for the building in question? See if you can find the right people and sell this idea! (PS: If it happens... send me 10%, ha ha ha...)

  19. Misha in Paris12:14 PM

    is not " la réparation"
    but "la restauration" for buildings, shops and art production.
    For the stones of a building is "le ravalement" so you can see many "immeubles haussmanniens" looking "beige clair" and not grey like before...

  20. carol,
    what a lovely compliment you gave me in your blog. and i completely appreciated your reportage on my "other" city. yes, you're so right about the witty scaffold murals you see around paris and the dreary, perfunctory ones we have in new york. compared to paris, or an amsterdam, new york's take on modernism can be so dead serious, even grim.

    perhaps it's the puritan that's still in us. but we certainly don't feel that we should be having fun, as much as the mass media churns out images of celebrities at play.

    thanks again for the kind comments on the city transformed course. that's why i do it at cooper union: i get a terrific cross-section of new york. and i like that.

    will be checking into your blog, though i'm new at following blogs, and the like.
    Barry Lewis

  21. SIMONY!!!
    I love that idea but...
    if you want yr percentage,
    YOU ARE going to have to go out and sell it Darling :)

  22. I love the photos - especially the opeing shot. A real grabber.
    Great old tune, too.

  23. I'm a southerner living in the North of France and just found your blog and am pretty excited! Your paintings are beautiful btw, I'm in love!

    Im hoping to move to NYC in October when I move back, my two loves are NYC and Paris also!

    Hop on over to my blog for a giveaway in honor of my shop being featured on Etsy!!

  24. That song is perfect for this post. One I have always remembered. Its a shame they throw away history here. BTW I like your new photo of you. Have meant to say so before. :)

  25. PS. Your blog's perfect as is. We who also botch the grammer feel right at home here. ;)

  26. I sent you a bunch of emails to bother you more than I do here on your blog. Please, let me know if you received them. Thanks!

  27. Hi Carol, I'm over from my friend Eve at Absolutely Ladylike, she did a gorgeous post on you.

    The funny thing is I've been trying to find out who the artist is for certain works that I loved...You Are, I just saw them on your sidebar.

    I love the Hermes mural, so eyecatching but simple too.

    xx DJ

  28. Bonjour Carol,
    You are so right, it is amazing how they take such great care to make renovations pretty. And yes it is a giant let-down when you visit a favorite spot and it's full of scaffolding...
    As always you have treated us to another fun post.
    Have a good week,

  29. THIS ONE you should send to the New York Times as an op ed piece!!! Seriously!

  30. JoAnne3:04 AM

    Today's PB reminded me of this building under construction that was on Ave. George V when we were in Paris last time. I don't remember what it was but it juts out right in front of you when you're walking from the Champs Elysees toward the Seine, just before you get to the Prince de Galles where we stayed. Glad I wasn't intoxicated when I first encountered it! I thought you might enjoy it. I love reading PB everyday and "spending" a few minutes in Paris.


  31. There was a scaffolding I quite liked that was covered with an image of a building, but with the windows all slanted. It was on the avenue Georges V but haven't looked to see if it's still there.

    Living under scaffolding in Paris is another story - my last flat was under for almost 4 months. Was hellish!!! :-P


  32. Your blog is lovely. I love Paris!

  33. I saw that Police recruitment mural when I was last in Paris. Only the French could think of that - genius


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