Free Paris: Musée des Arts et Métiers

Before The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol, the most famous literary thriller involving coded manuscripts, secret societies, and a gruesome sacrifice was Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. An investigation into conspiracy theories and the Templar Knights, a meditation on symbols and language, a serious poststructuralist joke, there’s no doubt that Eco beat Dan Brown to the punch.

But what does any of this have to do with the Musée des Arts et Métiers?

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The Unsung Museums of Paris

Pass through La Pinacothèque during the weekday lunch hour, and you will soon realise that if there is one thing that rivals a Parisian’s obsession with food, it’s art. Although French lunches can be famously long, many of the daytime visitors to La Pinacothèque had apparently sacrificed their midday meal in order to find a different type of satiation.

This passion for art, and culture in general, is reflected in the vast number of museums in Paris.

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Voyage dans le noir

Today I got stuck in an elevator. And not just any elevator, but a Louis Vuitton elevator on the Champs Elysées. An LVMH elevator that was entirely black inside, without any lights or buttons. At first I thought it was some sort of art thing. But after thirty seconds, I noticed that the elevator had not yet done anything, except trap me inside.

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Makoto Aoki: Deceptively classy French bistro, hai!

Makoto Aoki, photo courtesy of Paris Bistro Editions

When I told my mom that I went to Aoki for dinner over the weekend, she was not impressed. In fact, her exact words were, “French food cooked by a Japanese guy? I think I’ll skip that one the next time I come to visit.”

Little does she know that Japanese chefs are all the rage in Paris. To anyone who has lived here long enough, the France-Japan lovefest will not seem that surprising (Monet and Kenzo, to name but two culture-crossers), but on the surface there is little resemblance. In one corner you have highly emotive and decadent, in the other you have extreme restraint and minimalism. Perhaps this is a case of opposites attract. Or maybe it is that they both tend to be exigeant. Seriously exigeant. An appreciation for perfection and detail that pulls together the two poles.

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