Musée Rodin

3 Mar

Time for some art.

If you’re after a spot of culture this Spring, look no further than the Musée Rodin. Tucked away in Paris’s 7th arrondissement, a few streets from the Musée D’Orsay, it’s the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon.

The Musée Rodin's gardens

The museum contains the largest collection of Rodin’s sculptures, which have been on display to the public since 1919. Allegorical and mythologically inspired works are dotted around the Hotel Biron’s gardens and within the 18th century mansion itself. Chances are you won’t know much about the classically inspired sculptor (1840-1917) so the museum provides a crash course on the artist.

But it’s the museum’s garden which makes the place unmissable. Stroll along the 3 hectares of shady pathways admiring the sculptures, have a spot of lunch in the outdoor cafe or you could even play a game of ‘pétanque’ in the sun.

The Thinker, lost in thought

The Gates of Hell and The Burghers of Calais are amongst his most recognised works. Not to mention the iconic The Thinker. Rodin placed his sculptures around the elaborate gardens because he believed: “Nature and Antiquity are the two great sources of life for an artist. In any event, Antiquity implies nature. It is its truth and its smile.”

Plus, the museum’s temporary exhibition of 300 drawings, ‘Capturing the model’, shows Rodin’s talent in a different light. Discover his obsession with the human form and movement in the drawings which took up the latter part of his career.

Visiting the museum for the first time since having seen the delightful ‘Midnight in Paris’, I couldn’t help but think of this scene… Hopefully you won’t be visiting with a friend as pedantic as Paul, and the tour guide won’t be Carla Bruni-Sarkozy either. You do get a nice glimpse of the garden in this clip though!

Musée Rodin, Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5.45pm. ‘Capturing the model’ runs til 1 April.


How to fake it like a frenchie

1 Mar

Always wished you spoke French or worried you’ll look out of place on your trip to France?

Erica Guaca has the answer in this funny video. Watch her top tips to holding a conversation in French (without actually speaking any.)

I love this viral vid, it’s so true. You’ll fit right in with a few well placed swear words and complaints – it’s all about the attitude.

Get ready for Cannes 2012

1 Mar

Forget the Oscars – Cannes is approaching!

The poster for the 65th edition of the Cannes Film Festival has just been unveiled. And with this image of Marilyn Monroe fronting the festival, 2012 is sure to be as glamourous as ever.

Iconic image: the Cannes 2012 poster

This year’s Cannes film festival will be held from 16 to 27 May.

Reasons to love Cannes:

The location: lovely weather, gorgeous beaches, some outdoor screenings… film festivals are just better in the sun.
The international dimension: no discrimination here, the festival celebrates the best of films from all around the world.
Size doesn’t matter: short films stand a chance of nabbing a prize too.
The Palme d’Or: much more sophisticated and elegant than the Oscar statue.
‘Out of competition’: because you can also see old restored classics, attend film classes and generally just bask in the whole experience.
The red stairs: they very symbol of glamour and celebrity, yet they also welcome newcomers to the industry.

Reality bites

21 Feb

Big Brother, The XFactor, Strictly Come Dancing… Reality TV is so deeply ingrained in British culture that it’s hard to remember a Saturday night in without it.

Yet the concept seems lost on the French, who only boast a small number of reality shows and are completely baffled by us Brits’ obsession.

The Only Way is Essex

Mark Wright and Amy Childs basking in the limelight

Could it be that the French have too much class and sophistication to enjoy trashy TV? Or is it because they don’t have the same culture of D-list celebrities trying to boost their 15 minutes of fame? (ahem… Amy Childs and Mark Wright.)

The UK has so many shows and their spin-offs trying to cash in on the same success, I’d be up all night if I tried to count them.

Talent shows like Nouvelle Star and Star Academy were popular about ten years ago when the concept first arose, but the French quickly grew bored. The attempt to bring XFactor accross the Channel tanked in 2009 with ratings ranging from 589,000 to 928,000 at its peak.

There was also allegedly a series of France’s Next Top Model a couple of years ago, which was such a flop it flew completely under the radar. Not only would an equivalent French version of ‘dramality’ shows The Only Way is Essex or Made in Chelsea not work, it simply wouldn’t be of any interest to these picky frogs.

So what do the French like to watch?

They do like a good adventure game show, Fort Boyard being a longterm favourite. Similarly Survivor equivalent Koh Lanta was well received. No posh people prancing around in bikinis trying to win a popularity contest, like UK favourite Shipwrecked, this was the serious version.

The Big Brother equivalent comes in the form of Secret Story which has had – wait for it – FOUR whole seasons making it their most successful reality show. Contestants all have a secret to hide, ranging from the ground breaking ‘I’m secretly a twin’ to the more worrying ‘I’ve killed a man.’ Apparently it’s quite good fun.

Now for the weird bit. The French won’t watch any fashion based shows… but they love farmers. L’Amour est dans le Pré is one of the most talked about programmes amongst the younger generation. It’s aim: to set women up with the rustic man of their dreams.

Ch'tis france

Meet The Ch'tis

Then comes Les Ch’tis a Ibiza . For those of you who don’t know, a ch’ti is a nickname for a poor charver who lives in the North of France (Nord-Pas-de-Calais.) It’s the French equivalent of Jersey and Geordie Shore. It’s not half as tacky or trashy, but is just as hilarious.

Snooki, The Situation and co

This group of young ch’tis jet off to Ibiza to party. They look quite demure compared to their anglo counterparts, don’t they? And a whole lot less orange. It was such a success last summer, the ch’tis are heading off skiing next time!

My theory is that the French just enjoy making fun of people. People who aren’t as socially gifted or as well off as them. Programmes that promise a life changing prize just aren’t realistic enough and soon grow old. And watching a group of glamourous 20-somethings on their nights out doesn’t appeal. But follow a chav around with a camera and hilarity ensues.

French films triumphed in 2011

22 Jan

2011 was the year of the French film. Last year’s success stories like “The Artist”, “Polisse” and “Intouchables” prove French and international audiences alike have fallen back in love with the French film industry.

Silent flick “The Artist” is definitely France’s best shot at international recognition in 2012. Michel Hazanavicius’s black and white risk has paid off, with international acclaim for the film and its cast (including cute pooch Uggie) as January sees it hit screens ‘outre mer.’

And now Jean Dujardin‘s recent Golden Globe awards have made him a hotly tipped contender for an Oscar. He’s poised for international fame and blockbuster roles – like Marion Cotillard after “La Mome.” It’s good to see people paying attention to French actors and films for once in a predominantly American scene.

But the award for the home-grown favourite of 2011 goes to “Intouchables”, the laugh-out-loud story of a young guy from the hood who ends up looking after a stuffy paraplegic bourgeois. Genuinely HILARIOUS. Omar Sy’s facial expressions are genius.

It’s already brought in 17 million viewers and is still being shown in French cinemas months after its release date – making “Intouchables” the third best-ranking French film of all time. And it certainly deserves it – here’s why. Let’s hope people outside of France sit up and take note too. Enjoy!

A musical ode to Paris

22 Jan

What better than a tune to bring back memories of a place?

Lise – ‘Paris’:

Quirky French singer Lise puts her own musical stamp on Paris. Lovely video and a lovely girl (whom I was lucky enough to meet.)

Joe Dassin – ‘Champs Elysees’:

This classic French anthem makes me want to skip along the Champs with a grin on my face.

Patrick Bruel – ‘Mon Amant de Saint-Jean’:

A great cover of the original song, with a nostalgic nod to happier times.

Le Lapin Agile

18 Sep

In need of some good old fashioned fun? Look no further than famous Paris nightspot Le Lapin Agile.

This quaint cottage nestled on the Montmartre hillside is a little frequented gem, more visited by tourists searching for an authentic french experience than locals. After years of living in Paris, I finally ventured through the Cabaret’s doors, dubious about what was in store.

Le Lapin Agile - a right song and dance

Le Lapin Agile has been going strong since 1860, with traditional French singers performing every night from 9pm til 2am. Visitors are ushered into a small, dark room and seated on benches around the walls. Then a motley crew of about ten singers march in to take their places at the middle table.

On the menu: old fashioned French tunes – from classics like Brassens, Aznavour and Piaf that French oldies know all the words to, to popular folk songs and shanties. It feels like stepping back in time to a more innocent era.

The idea is that (after a complementary cherry liquor or two) you’re encouraged to sing along as the troupe mingle amongst the audience, accompanied by various instruments.

lapin agile

Lapin Agile: famous since 1860

Unfortunately most of us were tourists and could only hum along (although a lively Chinese man did give it a good go) , but the whole atmosphere was so entertaining that the evening flew by. The place prides itself on keeping french traditions alive, and it certainly isn’t dull.

The Cabaret screams nostalgia, from the decor and artwork on its walls to the rustic feel of the performance. It seems incredible that a place like this remains so popular today, and that the format hasn’t changed. It’s well worth a visit before the rest of the world catches up with it.

And since many famous singers and poets were apparently discovered here, you might spot the next big thing in la ‘chanson francaise.’

Le Lapin Agile, Tuesday-Sunday, 24 EUROS plus drink, metro Lamark (12).