Culture and lifestyle
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Culture and lifestyle
Suggestions and comments on exhibitions, art galleries, theatres, operas, new restaurants and hotels throughout Europe
Curated by ArnauddeG
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La semaine dernière (week 30)

La semaine dernière (week 30) | Culture and lifestyle |

J'ai aime:


- Kinsterna Hotel and Spa, in Monemvassia, Greece - This place is an absolute nightmare to get to: either 5 hours of OK road from Athens, or 3 incredibly tortuous hours from Kalamata, a small military airport in the South of Peloponnesos with only 4 flights departing per week. But once one has managed to reach this place, it is magical. Entirely built around a water cisterna (Kinsterna?), the hotel has a wonderful and gigantic L-shaped pool (25 m long, rare for a holiday resort, pictured). Staff is adorable and mega-helpful, if not mega-trained, food is excellent, organic and fresh, and the belly of the cocktail bartender is a tribute to his mixing skills. Prefer a Kinsterna suite, as these have magnificent views (see photo) and often a balcony. And visit the nearby citadel. Worth it, even for 3-4 days


- the Patio in the Bar Les Heures, in the recently renovated Hotel Prince de Galles. For years, I have passed by Prince de Galles, pitying silently its owners because of the desertion that let this ancient glory empty when compared to its bling Four Seasons neighbour. It is now time for payback. Renovated in the Art Deco spirit that made the glory of this old place, but not only, Prince de Galles nouvelle formule has a delightful patio which can serve either the casual but delicious food from Bar les Heures (taste their incredible tomato and burrata plate, or the squid and prawn salad) or the rather sophisticated menu from the fine-dining place that occupies another side of the square-shaped patio and is run by the recent winner of some cuisine TV show. Inside also, Les Heures is beautiful and original, making it a good place for winter days too. Mega-friendly staff - again, probably in training - but a bad point for the wine lists: that of the bar has 5 bottles of red, out of which 2 (the most interesting ones) were missing, and that of the gastro does not have some of those little trouvailles, that the unskilled bling spender does not notice, but that connoisseurs cherish, especially at the time of the bill. Made the comment to the head sommelier, lets see if he takes it onboard...


- FlyNiki - God, I was not looking forward to this 5-hour trip on FlyNiki, with a connection in Vienna, an airport I do not know mega-well. Result: It was the most efficient trip and the best price-quality balance I have had in a long time. Departure and landing on time, arrival gate in Vienna right next to the departing gate (had a 35-minute connection time, so came quite handy), mega-friendly staff (seems thanks God to be a recurring theme this week, for a change) and clean aircraft. For less than 150 euros. And none of the speedy boarding or group boarding shit that some others give you. Only bad point: there is a "gastro" menu (hear not sandwich) on board, but one cannot order it, it has to be pre-ordered (stock-killing exercise) - but not too bad, and overall excellent experience. All of this with the AirBerlin FFP. So I say, Fly Niki (Lauda), Fly


- Persons of Interest - this is a bizarre TV show, that I did not want to watch for a while. The pitch is confusing: a limping billionaire has built a machine that spits social security numbers meant to reveal the identity of future victims of violent crimes. Because the billionaire (Finch) is not physically in good shape, he has recruited (episode 1) an ex-military passing as dead to act and prevent these crimes. Sort of contemporary Cyrano de Bergerac where Christian would be rich and smart and Cyrano strong and military-trained. I realise no one at this point feels like starting season 1. And still, I would recommend it as half-way through the first season, each individual story is well crafted and quite better than the CSI manufacture or its doppelgangers. And of course, there is an element of continuation as, through the usage of rather confusing flashbacks, one learns at each episode how Finch has become a billionaire, or a cripple, and how Reese (Cyrano) was lost for any cause when he was spotted by Finch. At the time of Snowden, Manning and other Wikileaks, this show appears spot on dans l'air du temps


- L'Art d'etre pauvre, de Boni de Castellane - Dans la France de la fin du XIXe et celle du debut du XXe siecle, la vie de Boniface de Castellane, rejeton des plus illustres et anciennes familles francaises, qui ne manque pas de grand chose au depart mais decouvre les joies d'une vie dispendieuse a l'exces en epousant Anna Gould. Construction du Palais Rose - jamais fini et demoli depuis longtemps -, de deux yachts, voyages interminables, rencontres spectaculaires, ce roman tres autobiographique est avant tout un formidable plaidoyer pour l'education. On y apprend comment Boni, homme poilitique par oisivete, jamais ne se laissera demonter par l'adversite - le divorce, la ruine, le remariage de sa femme avec son cousin, l'annulation de deux de ses elections - et que son education le tirera toujours de ses aventures, avec panache et elegance. A mediter en ces temps contraries



Je n'ai pas aime:


- My Flat in Paris - there are plenty of cases when one would need a short let in Paris: flat refurbishment, long-term (weeks or months) trip, simple willingness to try a new area. This is what My Flat in Paris is about. Flat owners, registering guarantees you a nice revenue top-up - prices for short-term are usually higher than long-term renting, around 100 euros per night for a one-bedroom in the West of Paris; renters, you expect a cheaper solution than the hotel, and above all hassle-free. My experience with My Flat in Paris was clearly not hassle-free: moved into a disgusting flat (some knives still had food remains from the previous tenants...), did not have hot water for three days, twice, had to deal with people who were more preoccupied to get my cheque than to ensure my well-being. This was a sad experience, and clearly one I would not renew nor recommend


- le limogeage de Jean-Louis Martinelli aux Amandiers de Nanterre - largement commente par la recente sortie de Frederic Mitterrand, qui cherchait toujours la redemption pour le non-renouvellement, stupidissime, d'Olivier Py a l'Odeon. Si tout le monde avait - a raison - critique Mitterrand lorsqu'il avait renvoye Py, pourquoi faire de meme avec un autre excellent directeur de theatre. Ces polemiques, ces remplacements, ces joutes dans la presse alors qu'il y a bien d'autres choses a faire, m'ennuient, et sont mauvaises pour le theatre 



Je n'ai pas tranche sur:

- Vicomte A trousers - beautiful, colourful but why do they split the first time you put them on? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and try out another model

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The Renaissance of an Old Japanese | Kinugawa, Paris

The Renaissance of an Old Japanese | Kinugawa, Paris | Culture and lifestyle |

The Parisian restaurant scene is booming. And what is particularly pleasant is that discoveries are still possible, even for restaurants that have been open for a bit to a while 


Kinugawa was one of the oldest Japanese restaurants of Paris. It is now clearly also the best one. And there, I don't know where to start. The decor has been entirely redone by Gilles & Boissier, at the request of the new French owners - nice info conveyed by the Figaro a few weeks ago, the new owners are French; I would add they are very experienced in Japanese-flavoured cuisine, being also the ones at the helm of the two delicious Orient-Extreme (rue du Dragon, 6ème and rue Bayard, 8ème) 


The menu is impeccable and its execution the same: if you are - like me - lost or overwhelmed by the wealth of choice, try the Kinugawa menu. 6 small-ish plates including succulent yellowtail carpaccio, beef tartare with a twist, flawless black cod - and don't miss the wine list. The Giscours we got was at the perfect temperature. And this is SO rare, that it must be noted. As some of you would know, I have been fighting for months (years?) with the chefs de cave at some Paris-based 5 stars to get the wine and chamapgne temperature respected 


And the crowd. Of course, most of us don't go to restaurants for the crowd (oh really?). But if you do, even occasionally, this is incredible for people watching. Last lunch I attended there, I came across, in no particular order: a famous jewel designer that has recently moved to Place Vendome - who is said to be a regular, the head of the French branch of a large US bank, a nice and fun journalist who had ses heures de gloire, the CEO of a CAC40 company, and lots of babes with lots of shopping bags 


Kinugawa, on vous dit. What else? 




9 rue du Mont-Thabor, Paris 1er

+33 142 60 65 07

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La semaine dernière (week 15/13)

La semaine dernière (week 15/13) | Culture and lifestyle |

J’ai aimé:


-       Psy concert, live broadcast on YouTube on Saturday morning, 6.30pm Seul time. Great show, great dances, great costumes, great band, great co-singers – not the new Leonard Cohen, but a pleasant phenomenon. And a witty new video for his new song, Gentleman



-       the idea of a Monocle café – newly landed on Chiltern Street, London, this is the new step of the Monocle way of life. Not tried yet, but am so looking forward to it that you will hear about it in a couple of weeks


-       Gaspard Proust – je l’aimais déjà beaucoup du peu que je connaissais de ses one-man shows et de ses rôles au cinéma – et il fallait être bon pour faire oublier la médiocrité du film L’Amour dure Trois Ans. J’ai découvert ses editos chez Ardisson (Salut les Terriens, Canal +, editos vers 8pm) – très drôles, très bien écrits. Seul point de perfectibilité: il faudrait moins attendre les éclats de rire ;-)


-       La Petite Maison, in Dubai – one of the high gastronomic places of Dubai, this is the third offshoot from the Nice-based, Nicole-created, un-missable South of France gastro place, where some well known French political figures are said to get chopped regularly from their neighbouring vacation places. In Dubai, same atmosphere as the London one – which the uncompromising Nicole is reported not to like – better food, seemingly wider and better wine list. Even the staff is French, and speaks with the singing Southern accent. Nice air-conned terrace


-       The new Prada commercial film for their Candy fragrance (pictured), with Lea Seydoux. Huge congrats to the casting director, as one could not have dreamt a better muse than 28-year old Leo Seydoux. Great pastel colours, beautiful decors, spot on universe – the match is made in heaven between Wes Anderson (who treats comedy extra-seriously says Seydoux) and Prada. And congrats to the male characters of this film, Peter Gadiot and Rodolphe Pauly, on whom I wondered until the end of the film if they were one single actor. Bravi to the contemporary Jules and Jim, the late Stephane Hessel must be happy!



-       Elie Semoun en Valérie Bonnasse, au Grand Journal de Canal + - pendant les vacances de la Miss Meteo en charge (Doria Tillier, tiens son nom est prononçable cette année...), les plus grands comiques français se succèdent pour faire rire Denisot et Daphné Bürki. Semoun est ex-cep-tion-nel. Pour tous ceux qui ne l’ont pas vu, et tous ceux qui habitent a l’étranger, suivez le lien YouTube



-       Zuma, in Dubai – another place for Dubai high life, and probably one of the few ones where I have accepted to get a 7.30pm dinner booking – this is not even aperitivo time, indeed! Transformation réussie – the food is impeccable as always, and our table at the entrance of the lounge, close to the DJ (one of the best spots) allowed us to see and be seen. And guess what, we beat the second and even the third service, and kept the table all night. Special mention for the chicken wings, the Sechuan pepper beef, and of course, the black cod



Je n’ai pas aimé:


-       Darty: le contrat de confiance, disent-ils – et vont même jusqu’à appeler leur ligne Twitter @Confianciologue. Clearly, I must have missed something. Au moment de l’achat – pour moi une machine à laver – tout est rosy: on me livre le lendemain (plage horaire de 3 heures, plutôt bien), on branche ma machine et on me reprend l’ancienne. Pas né de la dernière pluie, je demande un numéro au cas où le livreur ne serait pas à l’heure. Le vendeur prend un air indigné (“Monsieur, il SERA à l’heure, pas besoin”). Résultat: le lendemain soir, retour à minuit chez moi pour trouver ma vieille machine à sa vieille place et la nouvelle sans protection au milieu de mon salon sur ma moquette toute neuve. 2 heures (bout à bout), 6 coups de fil avec 6 interlocuteurs différents dont aucun ne pouvait rien me dire ni n’a pris la peine de me prier de l’excuser (ni même de s’excuser!!) et une visite au magasin Darty plus tard, j’ai enfin ma machine. Moralité: prévoir si vous devez absolument aller chez Darty un day off le lendemain pour pouvoir gérer les problèmes que risquera de poser votre livraison. La confiance, quoi...



Je n’ai pas tranché sur:


-       Une heure de tranquillité, de Florian Zeller avec Fabrice Lucchini et quelques autres – de toute façon, à moins d’être le meilleur ami de Florian Zeller ou du concierge du théâtre, vous n’aurez pas de place. Il est de certaines pièces comme des capsules Nespresso, on les achète sans vraiment y penser. Une fois qu’on y est ce n’est pas mal. Du Zeller plaqué sur du Lucchini, et c’est plutôt un compliment. Le pitch est simple: un amateur de jazz (Lucchini) revient des Puces où il vient de trouver un disque intouvable qu’il cherchait depuis trente ans. Et cherche une heure de tranquillité pour l’écouter. Et bien sûr, sa femme, sa maitresse, son ouvrier, son fils et son meilleur ami se liguent, sans le savoir et sans le vouloir pour l’en empêcher. On passe un bon moment mais on ressort en se demandant ce qu’on y a gagné. Un bon moment, justement...

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La semaine dernière (week 13/13)

La semaine dernière (week 13/13) | Culture and lifestyle |

J'ai aimé: 


- GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator), a parodic Twitter account that aims at making fun of some ready-made thoughts that are usually associated with the City or Wall Street. Examples: "Kids today are retarded because they don't have to answer home landlines and make awkward smalltalk with their friends' parents". But also sometimes shocking... 


- Sipp, a nice wine shop in Knightsbridge, recently re-opened, that does not look, for once, like a greasy spoon. Nice and polite people, good chilled champagne until 9pm (the only reason why you would not be able to stop there would be if you are REALLY late to your dinner party), they also organise events and tastings. Good address! 


- the new Eurostar website - clear, concise and efficient. And big improvement, you can now change your tickets online. Well done! 


- the Special-T Nespresso machine - not very well publicised, has been in existence for two years. About 25 different types of teas, infusions, green teas and other rooibos - and the machine recognises from the capsule the type of tea and adapts automatically water temperature for perfect infusion 


- la soirée Roland Petit à l'Opera Garnier (Paris) - bien sûr, l'interprétation d'Aurelie Dupont et de Stéphane Bullion "ne fait pas oublier Roland et Zizi", mais Carmen était de très honnête qualité. Félicitations aussi, comme d'hab, à Nicolas Le Riche, le Jeune Homme du Rendez-vous de Prévert. En attendant la très belle soirée à Garnier l'année prochaine 


- Benjamin Biolay. Y suis allé peu motivé par l'artiste que je ne connaissais pas très bien, mais curieux d'une nouvelle expérience. Depuis j'ai téléchargé deux de ses albums, que j'écoute en boucle. Chanteur très doué, musicien hors pair. Et en plus il a l'air sympathique 


- On a re-tué Pamela Rose - suite à l'article épouvantable du Figaro sur les comédies françaises, dont je n'avais pas vu une seule, j'ai voulu me rendre compte. Eh bien, ce n'est pas si mal. Nostalgiques des Nuls et de la Cité de la Peur, allez-y, vous ne serez pas déçus - en revanche, la traduction anglaise de l'avion, heureusement, n'était que sous-titrée! 


- Chez Georges, rue du Mail, near Place des Victoires. Probably as good as you get in terms of good quality French classical cuisine. Adorable service. Vin à la ficelle (you pay what you drink). Everything was excellent but special mention to the green beans. Yes, green beans, you read well  



Je n'ai pas tranché sur: 


- La Cenerentola, at the Opera Garnier - the first fifteen minutes of boths acts were painful at best, with Cendrillon's sisters having a hoarse voice at best. The rest is a bit lighter, particularly the beautiful decors by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle 


- Kavinsky - like the legend (a rich guy that crashes his Testa Rossa and reinvents himself twenty years later as an electronic music guru) but a bit more doubtful about the music (Night Call OK but the latest one is Clayderman-meet-Jean-Michel Jarre)

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PAD Paris (4/5)

PAD Paris (4/5) | Culture and lifestyle |

Fred Eerdekens is a newcomer at the Pascal Lansberg Gallery. Born in 1951, this Belgian by birth likes to play with words, twist them and turn them. He is right in the line of a Marcus Raetz, whose works have different meanings depending on the position from where you look at them


Pascal Lansberg presents at the PAD a very nice "This will change everything" copper writing, almost a surah. Pictured is another one, probably wittier


To be followed, in Dubai (Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde)

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PAD Paris (2/5)

PAD Paris (2/5) | Culture and lifestyle |

The excellent and innovative Galerie Diane de Polignac is showing a stand (almost) entirely dedicated to Guy de Rougemont. The gallery focuses on Scandinavian furniture from the 50s and more and more on specific production series by living artists


Amongst those, Guy de Rougemont is definitely the most experienced one. Designer of the Table Nuage, made famous by Henri Samuel in the 70s - one of which is proposed here on another stand -, Rougemont revisits for Diane his now classical cloudy and curly shapes


Loved these as pictured, that can be used as a side table, or an ad hoc stool


6000 euros each

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La semaine dernière (week 12/13)

La semaine dernière (week 12/13) | Culture and lifestyle |

J'ai aimé: 


- the Mental Floss website ( and it particular the great video "John Green debunks 50 common misconceptions", currently #2 on the site - fun film about common facts proven wrong. Who still believed that Viking helmets had horns?


- the end of the day or end of the week newsletters. I have already spoken here about Time to Sign Off ( / @TimetoSignOff) which delivers a snapshot of news in your mailbox every weekday at 7pm, just in time to look smart and well connected for your dinner. Meet Bluffer's Guide newsletter, weekly and a tad longer than TTSO, which is a remarkable display of British humour allowing nimble week-end conversations. Morceaux choisis: about the new Pope "Don't say: Pope Alexander VI divided up South America, so let's hope Pope Francis does not get ideas about the Falklands" - interesting given Alexander VI was Rodrigo Borgia. Or about Lichtenstein: "Do say: I can remember going round to Roy's for dinner in NY, there weren't enough tables so he upended a painting onto a trestle! Imagine! Disclaimer: Don't say this if an artist called Allen Jones is in the room. Its his anecdote". I let you enjoy the delightful tone of the newsletter, website ( and Twitter feed (@BluffersGuide) 


- Miss Ko - Starck-revamped ex-Barfly, avenue George V in Paris. At first sight, it is a bit intense - and the description as a Saigon eatery that the PR team has repeated at the time of the opening - last month - is perfectly accurate. But the food is much better, really good actually, whether it is seared fish, salads or sushi. Question mark on the service: we did not have to suffer, even to the contrary, but my neighbour claimed he left after one hour without having been served anything... 


- Dishoom - Indian new style in the heart of Shoreditch (opposite Shoreditch House and Albion, how much more Shoreditchy does it get?). Delicious marinated chicken, daal like in India - and a mega-smiling service. Definitely a good address 


- Mauro Perucchetti's exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery, Bond Street, London - his colourful plastic series (pictured) are wonderful to the eye and the touch, the perfectly identical repetition extremely pleasing to whoever like order and symmetry - and his messages are always clear. Vive the pigmented urethane resin and chrome metal! See also, in the same place, Santiago Montoya and David Wightman. But why the hell are they showing the prices next to the pieces? Gross, isn't it?  



Je n'ai pas aimé: 


- the end of Dr House - I loathed it! I am not a spoiler so I won't tell anything. But I loathed it! 


- l'épicerie du Drugstore des Champs - où un chevelu faussement endimanché et à moitié sous Prozac a mis 5 minutes pour mettre ses gants et 5 autres minutes pour me couper une tranche pas droite de paté en croute, sans me remercier ni me dire au revoir. Ajoutez à ça l'impression de pas net de l'endroit avec des salades cristallisant dans des saladiers à moitié vides (et non pleins), et vous aurez une idee...  



Tranché sur tout, la semaine dernière...

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La semaine dernière (week 11)

La semaine dernière (week 11) | Culture and lifestyle |

J'ai aimé: 


- Tinké - the new iPhone widget to plug to your iPhone to measure blood oxygen level, heart rates and other vital parameters. Order it online (


- Mophie - another iPhone widget that powers up your iPhone after a full day of safari or city jungle: it looks like an iPhone case, arguably a bit big but very soft touch, and more than doubles up your iPhone battery. Indispensable! (


- House of Cards, the new fab series only available on Netflix - and therefore only in the countries where Netflix is available (ie not France for instance). The plot is simple: a US Senator who was promised a Secretary of State position post presidential elections gets overlooked. He and his ultra-ambitious wife plot and conspire through 13 episodes to get revenge and what they think is owed to them. And for once, not a crime novel. So Frenchies, take the Eurostar and settle down in London for one day, just the right time to watch the 13 episodes altogether 


- Hanni El Khatib - half-Filipino, half-Palestinian, launched at SXSW 2011 with his first album, Will the Guns come out - exploding, melodious, innovative yet familiar with a twist - heartily recommend You Rascal You 


- Bina Baitel - the Franco-Israelian designer, a believer in the abolition of borders between art and design, that created great pieces like the St-Ex-inspired reading bench Operio, or the carpet-cum-Roschach test Inkblot, selling at Roche-Bobois 


- la Ferme de Victorine - seule exception (avec le Chalet Forestier qui cependant devrait revoir l'amabilité de son personnel) au déclin généralisé de Rothschild-upon-the-Alps, ce un macaron de Notre Dame de Bellecombe, du mauvais côté de Mégève pensent les autochtones, sert une cuisine irréprochable sinon inventive, un gratin dauphinois parfait (au secours ceux, trop nombreux, où le lait ou l'eau coule encore au fond du plat), des desserts à se damner et des plaques de chocolat entières avec le café qui feraient presque regretter d'avoir pris un dessert. Ou pas...  



Je n'ai pas aimé: 


- les restaurants de Mégève - où sont nos bons vieux restos familiaux comme on les aimait? Cette année, que des déceptions ou presque (voir plus haut). Le chef italien de l'Idéal qui confond Parmigiana avec je ne sais pas quoi, ou qui radine sur la cuisse de poulet; les propriétaires du Torrent, qui ont décidé de mettre leur menu en russe, ignorant superbement le bel adage qui veut que la qualité d'une cuisine soit inversement proportionnelle au nombre de langues dans laquelle le menu soit disponible; même ma bienaimée Alpette n'a pas échappé à la baisse globale de niveau. Qu'arrive-t-il à Mégève? Heureusement, il y a toujours autant de diners et de gens adorables dans ce magnifique village. On n'est donc pas obligé de sortir...  



Je n'ai pas tranché sur: 


- Alceste à bicyclette - excellent film jusqu'aux dix dernières minutes. Quelle idée "effrayante" (ceux qui ont vu le film comprendront) de faire un film sur la plus difficile pièce de Molière. Lucchini excellentissime en misanthrope; Wilson pas mal en cabot parisianissime. Mais la fin... Monsieur Le Guay, il faut nous expliquer 


- Moebius - pourtant non, le cinema français ne s'est jamais mieux porté. Mais à part la sublime Cécile de France (oui vous avez bien lu) qu'on aurait aimé voir plus longtemps à l'écran nous expliquer comment elle aller sauver la fortune d'un oligarque russe ou ruiner Chypre - pardon, ça c'est déjà fait...), quel est l'intérêt de ce film SI compliqué à part celui de vous endormir instantanément?

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In the Merz family, I would like...Schwitters | Schwitters in Britain, Tate Britain, London

In the Merz family, I would like...Schwitters | Schwitters in Britain, Tate Britain, London | Culture and lifestyle |

Everyone will have understood the not very funny joke in the title, that sprang to my mind as I was heading towards the old Tate to visit the only Schwitters exhibition of size in the last Many years in London and Europe. And frankly, as unproud of my joke as I was first, I vaguely remembered there were a few things in common between one of the founders of arte povera and Schwitters the neorealistic dada 


Lots of people glancing through Buckingham's railings, as usual - guys, this Queen has not abdicated, it is the other one - but once at the Tate, the crowd vanishes. Is this some retaliation of the Brit people, giving the cold shoulder to this German artist, who died one day after having been given the Brit citizenship? Let's hope not 


Let's focus half a second on the concept of Merz. It is quite funny, is it not, that this sort of artistic communism - every object on a painting has the same right as paint itself - was born out of an ad for the ancestor of Kommerzbank (which once used to own such a great art collection) 


When entering the first room of the exhibition, it is something else that strikes me though: the very small size of the pieces shown here. And how similar to lots of other artists - Zeitgenossen oder nicht - Schwitters work looks: Kandinsky - with whom he shares a number of titles or rather the absence thereof, a less angry Villeglé, a young and depressed Mondrian, a remote and less Belgian cousin of Magritte, a less talented Nicolas de Staël 


The second feeling that springs to mind is one about music: in a Baudelairian elan, I think about Boulez and Benjamin Britten. The only problem is that I do NOT like Boulez and Benjamin Britten. The only time when I found Boulez acceptable was when he wrote a piece to illustrate Staël's paintings - a remarkable joint display of which was shown, if I remember well, in the first exhibition of Pompidou-Metz. Arguably I did not attend Ropac's concert last week where Boulez was played though. Britten has always given me the impression of intense kakophonia... which I completely feel here too 


I am however full of hopes for the second room...until I see the title: "flight to Norway and escape to Britain". What is it? Une classe d'histoire-geo? As though the place where he lived, I naively thought, had an influence on Schwitters work. Nothing true about it though, and Norway is clearly a better inspirer for theatre writers than for Merz-producers. See Hamsun, read Ibsen... 


In room 2, I also learn something: there is worse than Schwitters collages and Merz: his landscapes and his paintings. I am looking at my fellow visitors. A young boy is scribbling under a vitrine. A middle-aged man is sitting, typing away what is probably a work email. People are silent but don't look impressed 


Arguably the London years are slightly better: less gloomy, more colourful, words start to appear, meaning is becoming slightly less opaque - I can hear some of you taking offence: but who needs a meaning in art. Well, I do, at least when the aesthetic value of it does not spring out of the piece 


Funnily, some kind of shaken - and stirred - music is being played in room 4. Like Isidore Isou's theories put in music. Would the curator share my parallel with broken music? Anyway, he / she felt obliged to show a dozen photos of Schwitters singing. Just in case we did not get it. No comment 


The rest of the show is uneventful - as was the beginning. Contemporaries - on a blue wall not to mix them with Schwitters, hand-held sculputures - the best thing he did in the 40s, from his own confession. The final years show a pleasant increase in wit, when it comes to titles: "This was before HRH The Late Duke of Clarence and Avondale. Now it is a Merz picture. Sorry!". Despite, I believe it is clear by now, finding his work unaesthetic and easy, I can't manage not to find the character pleasant and charming. No idea why. A vague similarity with Eric Duyckaerts when Schwitters sings his Ursonate? His resilience with creation? His very personal but nevertheless real sense of geometry? 


Welcome break, or last step though: the video and installation by Laure Prouvost. Undescribable but fifty fifth degree humour as I like it. And the room dedicated to Adam Chodzko - perhaps the best two things in the exhibition 


As I exit, I resume toying with my initial idea of Brit retaliation against this German-turned-one day Brit: it is indeed what it was, otherwise, how can one explain this exhibition?  



Schwitters in Britain, Tate Britain

Until 13 May 2013

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Défait par un carreé noir | Marc Chagall, Musée du Luxembourg, Paris

Défait par un carreé noir | Marc Chagall, Musée du Luxembourg, Paris | Culture and lifestyle |

Bravant les frimas et evitant la queue, j'arrive peniblement au Luxembourg. Chagall, le plus extremiste a mon gout des peintres du 20eme siecle, en ce sens qu'il a produit le meilleur et le pire. Exile deux fois de France ou il s'etait deja refugie de son Vitebsk natal, ce n'est pourtant pas l'exil qui lui fut fatal. Ce fut le retour au pays, et la lutte a mort avec un de ses compatriotes, plus agé mais ayant percé plus tard, Kazimir Malevich. Une sorte de Racine moderne


Ca commence mal, le cartouche d'entree fait commencer l'exposition en 1914, c'est-a-dire seulement quelques annees avant la guerre avec Malevich. Aucune mention du createur d’UNOVIS dans l'histoire de la vie de Chagall exhibee sur les murs. Comme si un historien du 20e siecle ne definissait pas Chirac par rapport a Giscard. Amusant! Plus de livrets en francais, et nous sommes le 2e jour de l'exposition - auraient-ils pris le meme ordonnanceur logistique que le musee d'Orsay, où de memoire d'etre vivant, il n'y a plus que des livrets en espagnol pour toutes les expositions?


Presque le premier tableau du parcours, les Amoureux en Vert nous montre le meilleur de Chagall: la fusion de la Russie et de la religion juive, l'aplat raffiné des couleurs qui auraient pu être criardes, les sentiments humains. Mais Bella n'a déjà pas l'air tranquille alors qu'elle est au lendemain de son mariage


Deja en 1914, les hommes sont plus grands que les maisons (Près de la maison), les soldats sont de guingois (Soldat blesse), ou rouges (Le Salut). Il y a un petit air de Nikita chez le Chagall jeune marié. Les encres de Chine, pour une fois, magnifient l'univers de l'artiste. Les gueules cassées de Vitebsk sont touchantes, comme bien plus tard les paumés de Diane Arbus ou de Nan Goldin


Apres quelques annees de retour a Vitebsk, Chagall s'affirme comme le Garouste des annees 20. Au dessus de Vitebsk est un chef-d'oeuvre de l'imaginaire juif matiné de Russie. Et qu'on n'aille pas me dire que Chagall etait realiste, comme cela apparait ca et la sur les murs du musee. Ce Chagall-la etait bien plus que ca. Mais c'etait avant, juste avant, qu'il se mette a decorer des operas et des theatres


L'Etude ressemble aux joueurs de carte de Cezanne. Le Shofar à un tableau de Nussbaum du temps ou il n’etait pas encore completement desespere. L'autre Shofar, dessin n25, à une broderie de Tracey Emin - les gros mots en moins. Le Rabbin de Vitebsk est splendide, mais, peint de 1914 a 1922, on sent poindre deja la lutte avec Malevich: le tallit n'est-il pas rayé de blanc et de noir?


Jusqu'a present, le choix des oeuvres etait tres malin. C'est apparemment sur le point de changer. Le Chandelier et les Roses blanches, peint en 1929, et la Synagogue de Vilna, en 1935, laissent poindre le Chagall descriptif, celui des illustrations, des operas et des theatres. Quelques portraits peints a la meme epoque rattrapent le niveau, mais la couleur se fait plus morne, les traits des caracteres moins differentiants. Chagall a cinquante ans. Il vit de sa peinture


Dieu créa l'Homme me renvoie comme une gifle au plafond de Garnier, sur lequel les maitresses d'ecole s'ebaudissent. C'est Chagall peut-on entendre la-bas. Oui et alors? Les eaux-fortes de Nice illustrent. Elles ne font qu'illustrer. L'ordre des tableaux choisi par le commissaire d'exposition ne permet pas au neophyte de comprendre la profonde revolution de Chagall dans les annees 30. L'excellent Homme-coq au dessus de Vitebsk jouxte le mediocre Songe d'une nuit d'ete


Le Chagall de la 2e guerre et de l'exil etats-unien s'auto-conforte dans l'utilisation de couleurs criardes et de denonciations politiques au premier degre. Ou est le spirituel de la Procession, non present dans cette exposition? Quelques tableaux se detachent cependant: celui des Maeght (Devant le tableau, 1968), ou la Guerre (1943), conservé a Pompidou


Une dame s'amuse a compter le nombre d'oiseaux dans A ma femme. Mais pourquoi donc? Un monsieur croit reconnaitre des pigeons. Deux femmes aux cheveux gris aiment le bleu du Paysage bleu. Je pourrais rester des heures a ecouter les visiteurs de musee. Comme si la beaute subjective qui s'etale sur les murs pompaient a tous les coups l'intelligence et l'a-propos des contemplateurs


Au fond, ca aurait pu plus mal tomber. On aurait pu nous montrer le plafond de l'Opera. Meme si Chagall a essaye, avec les quatre Esquisses pour la Vie qui saluent le visiteur a la sortie. Il n'y a pas de doute. Dans la famille Chagall, je demande Marc. Jeune. Très jeune. Russe. Celui d'avant les guerres et les exils

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La semaine dernière (week 5)

La semaine dernière (week 5) | Culture and lifestyle |

J'ai aimé: 


- the Upper House, nice hotel in Admiralty, Hong Kong, business version of a boutique hotel with nice Gray Deluxe restaurant and a gemuetlich bar 


- Ritz Carlton in Beijing - it all started badly: they forgot me at the airport. It continued so much better: penthouse room with nice view over overpolluted Beijing, Bulgari toiletries, a nice coffee machine in the room, a mega comfy bed and a great executive dining room, with all sorts of dishes available all day long for free. And a great gym, only equalled in my mind by that of the Hyatt in Moscow. One recognises good people on how they correct their mistakes as they say 


- Deezer - I subscribed a long time ago but never used my free 15-day premium trial. Now I cannot stay a day without it: imagine, all the music you want (almost all, as the most exclusive tracks have not yet all found their way to the site), available on or offline, for a fixed fee. And unlike Spotify, they don't spam you with automatic opening of the app when you switch on your Mac. Recommended improvement: a direct link between the Inrocks and the Deezer apps to listen automatically to the tracks talked about in the Inrocks 


- Cayucas, a new Californian band named after a well preserved village in the middle of tourist-trapped West Coast. It sings about surf, holidays, high school and la légèreté de l'être. As though the Beach Boys had come back from their grave. The best track of the album: Swimsuit 


- Argo by and with Ben Affleck - there was not a single person who was not singing the praises of this film, which appeared to me, I confess, quite unappealing. And so wrong I was! You are scared, you suffer, you laugh, you cry - Affleck, in a very elegant understated manner, manages to creates so much empathy. Well done! And to the soundtrack, costumes, decors and of course the rest of the crew too. Unmissable 


- Aspesi, originally the technical Italian brand diversifying into day-to-day clothes. If you are lucky to find one of their original light technical jackets, buy it without hesitation, it got me from St Diego to Moscow, and from Singapore to Beijing, both in December, keeping me warm or cold, as needed  



Je n'ai pas tranché sur: 


- The Killing - the Danish (and funnily country-chauvinist) crime TV drama. This one too, everyone could not stop about how great this is. It is true that the beginning is pleasant. However 20 episodes for a single murder - even complicated - is a lot, and there are a large number of hard to believe episodes. As I am not a spoiler, I will only tell one: how likely is it that the front runner for the Copenhagen town hall does not get recognised on the streets of Copenhagen, and gets shafted around by the police of its city. Zip. Null. And the end... But shush, am not a spoiler I said 


- Singapore Airlines - again, an object of delectation for about 99% of the travellers. Clearly the service is incredible, and the volume - pls read volume - of space unmatched. It is also great to have so much storage space (which I always complain about on other airlines), and a plug to recharge your multiple phones. Also, a massive square seat that flattens mechanically and allows you to lie down in a bed that is already made, and even in business (where usually one is given a mere blanket, not a bed). So what's the issue then? The entertainment system! Not on demand, but starts at fixed times, like in the 70s... What happened to you, Singgy Air?

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La semaine dernière (week 1/13)

La semaine dernière (week 1/13) | Culture and lifestyle |


J'ai aimé:
- la publicité faite par DDB Paris contre l'illetrisme (
- Elisa Sednouai photographed by Steve McCurry for the 2013 Pirelli calendar
- the Serai, the most ultimate hotel in the Indian desert, near Jaisalmer and the Pakistanese border. Full post to follow. Vaut le voyage
- Jäneke, an old Italian brand of toiletries in metal, wood and other noble materials (eg "galvanised golden", "chrome plated"), from the toothbrush to the haircomb (
- the great portrait of Boris Johnson by Michael Wolff in the February issue of British GQ - and the hilarious memo to Mayor Johnson and Boris' to-do lists, from the same issue
- Aman New Delhi - amazing hotel where even the lowest level of bedroom has a swimming pool on its private terrace. Spa is beyond words (try the 90 min signature massage) and food is also delicious. But what beats it is the 50m pool and the tennis court in the basement. New generation hotel

Je n'ai pas aimé:
- to have to book my massage as much as 4 weeks in advance in the Heathrow T5 BA lounge: what is luxury if you have to plan?
- Invisibles, a pseudo-arty photo series by Veronique Ellena, that shows photos of priceless jewels on faceless homeless people. Ms Ellena, you should show some respect

Je n'ai pas tranché sur:
- the new BA First: very nice to have your own wardrobe, although quite small, but why on earth have they not put more storage space? A drawer, as in Business, would be more than welcome...

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Culture and lifestyle

Culture and lifestyle | Culture and lifestyle |

La semaine dernière (week 50)

ArnauddeG's insight:


J'ai aimé:
- Art Végétal, photos by Duy Anh Nhan Duc, with witty names such as Gingembre bienveillant (well-meaning ginger) or La dernière note, which shows cherries on a music score (
- the new design of three-years-running best restaurant in the world Copenhagen-based Noma, unfortunately only seen on the Internet so far - redone by Danish designer studio SPACE
- leCab, a new chauffeur service in Paris, launched two weeks ago - focused on wellbeing, with iPads at the disposal of clients, loaded with a stunning playlist, avoiding the usual Grosses Têtes or football match. Book in advance as it is beta version only so far (-40% on usual fares). Soon to be rolled out at a larger scale, I understand
- Krug en capitale - spoke about it two weeks ago here, as the booking process was chaotic. But SO worth it. After the two minute thrill (entry in a freezing and empty Samaritaine, a designer-built road with pleasant trees, helmets on, and an industrial lift trembling just enough), we enter in what will be the best suites of soon to be erected Cheval Blanc hotel. Stunning views over Paris, delicious cuisine of Emmanuel Renault (the only French chef to have go three stars last year) - a good evening
- Coya - has taken me two days to remember the name of this brand new scion of the Zuma family which has just opened on Piccadilly. Cleverly newly done, run down in style decoration, with unrivalled truffle tuna ceviche, there is no excuse not to try it

Je n'ai pas aimé:
- les pubs d'acteurs - mais qu'est ce qu'ils ont tous? Brad Pitt, Vincent Cassel, Gaspard Ulliel - is it so trendy to say nonsense in black and white in front of a camera to motivate people to buy fragrances?
- the lack of new exhibitions in London just before the Christmas holidays - not as though people were madly busy shopping, right?

Je n'ai pas tranché sur:
- Atelier Vivanda - new scion of the Akrame family. Good meat, inventive quasi-vegetable side orders but why the hell have they not got a better hood, if they had to have their kitchen in the middle of their restaurant.  Would have avoided that I have to go back home and wash my hair before my dinner party...

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Du baroque et tous les arts | Hippolyte et Aricie, Glyndebourne, UK

Du baroque et tous les arts | Hippolyte et Aricie, Glyndebourne, UK | Culture and lifestyle |

Rameau etait sans doute un emmerdeur. Reussir, en une vie certes longue, mais tout de meme, a se brouiller avec Lully, son maitre auto-confesse, puis les Italiens, qui s'opposaient au style de Lully, et enfin avec Rousseau et meme d'Alembert.... Il fallait ne pas faire de concessions, ou etre particulierement tatillon. No-nonsense comme disent nos amis britanniques


Qu'aurait donc dit ce Rameau si adule des sa vie durant, de la mise en scene de Jonathan Kent de Hippolyte et Aricie qui sevit en ce moment a Glyndebourne? Le public anglais lui, a a-do-re. Tous les ingredients sont au rendez-vous. William Christie, chantre des Arts Florissants et qui, meme si son expertise est loin de s'arreter la, s'est fait un nom dans la direction de musique baroque. Stephanie d'Oustrac, de l'ecurie Christie, qui malheureusement le soir ou j'y etais, etait indisposee, promeuvant une Diana tout a fait decente (Katherine Watson), si l'on excepte les quelques premieres mesures du prologue. Ed Lyon, dans le role d'Hippolyte, jeune chanteur d'opera improvise recemment porte-parole LGBT a la faveur d'un article de TimeOut, excellent et puissant tenor. Et enfin une Phedre sensationnelle, Katherine Connolly, pour sa quatrieme venue a Glyndebourne depuis 2005


Mais au-dela de la qualite de certains des chanteurs - le lecteur averti aura remarque que je n'ai pas liste ici tous les premiers roles.... - c'est l'originalite extreme des partis pris de mise en scene qui fait d'Hippolyte et Aricie, version Kent, une joie et un etonnement permanents


Le rideau deja. Une tete de viellard chauve et age semble presque immobile, gigantesque, sur le rideau alors que nous nous asseyons. Je pense tout de suite a Roman Opalka. Plutot Messerschmidt me susurre mon voisin. Il a tout a fait raison. Cette tete, fil conducteur de ce premier opera de Rameau, reviendra en chaque acte, et ses expressions, ses grimaces presque, seront autant de signes annonciateurs des sentiments developpes dans la demi-heure qui suit. Posture classique s'il en est - l'avertissement, le prologue, l'introduction - revisitee a la mode videaste contemporaine. J'avoue que, si la video a fait son entree au theatre depuis de nombreuses annees deja (Stanislas Nordey impute le phenomene au moindre cout de la video par rapport aux decors!), c'est la premiere fois que j'ai le plaisir de la voir utilisee, et si bien, sur une scene d'opera


Messerschmidt disparait et on est tout de suite plonge.... dans un refrigerateur. Oui, le combat du prologue, entre Diane et Cupidon se passe dans un refrigerateur geant. Diane sort du compartiment a glacons, Cupidon eclot d'un oeuf. Clin d'oeil du metteur en scene a la fameuse Lady Gaga? Les hommes du coeur sortent de derriere une saucisse geante de cassoulet, une cible sur la poitrine, pour que les suivantes de Diane, qui ne seraient pas deplacees au milieu du bois de Boulogne, en talons hauts et foururre blanche, puissent plus facilement les viser. Qui va gagner, Diane ou Cupidon? C'est clairement le spectateur dans le ballet final du prologue, ou tout le monde se denude jusqu'a un niveau toutefois convenable, et danse en paires - en couples? - pour celebrer le jour de l'annee ou meme Diane doit se ranger a la domination de l'Amour


Ce prologue est presque la partie la plus reussie de l'opera, si l'on excepte les quelques enrouements des dieux et les fautes de temps qui ponctuent les trois premieres minutes


Sans passer au travers de chaque acte - il y aurait beaucoup a dire et la performance vaut tellement qu'il faut y aller, il reste quelques places pour l'ete - un des elements absolument etonnants de cette mise en scene superbe est la communion intense entre tous les arts qu'elle realise. J'ai deja evoque Messerschmidt et Opalka. L'art contemporain se retrouve aussi avec deux scenes tres connues de Dragset et Elmgreen: un corps qui sort d'une morgue, presente par Perrotin a la FIAC 2011, et qui dans l'opera qui nous occupe, represente dans l'acte V, le prelude au mariage des heros; et un corps flottant, face down, dans une piscine, qui represente la mort supposee d'Hippolyte dans l'acte IV


La danse contemporaine ensuite. Voir certaines Parques danser a l'acte IV m'a tout de suite rappele Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker tentant de danser sur Mahler, lors d'une soiree qu'elle aura sans doute voulu oublier, il y a quelques annees au Sadlers' Wells. La scene de l'enfer - saluons au passage les costumes de Pluton et de sa suite, incroyables de couleur et d'originalite, tel un tableau vert et rouge de Chris Ofili, tiens l'art contemporain n'est pas loin, de nouveau - nous ramene a l'Apres-Midi d'un Faune, version Nijinski. Incapable de dire pourquoi, mais l'essence est la


Le theatre, toujours. La trouvaille exceptionnelle de faire assister Thesee a la reunion heureuse et finale du cinquieme acte, mais puni, en silence, dans un coin, les yeux bandes, me transporte instantanement dans Fin de Partie. Hamm, qui ne peut ni voir ni se lever; Clov, qui ne peut pas s'asseoir; Nagg et Nell, parents de Hamm, qui sont bienheureux dans une poubelle, n'ayant pas de jambes; tous ces personnages amputes sont sur la scene, avec un Thesee aveugle, une Phedre ressuscitee, Hippolyte et Aricie qui commencent par ne pas se voir et se tournent autour sur des tables de dissection (la fameuse scene de liesse finale est ici dans une morgue, quel panache!)


L'opera enfin, avec un clin d'oeil scenique, voulu ou non, a un des meilleurs operas de la saison derniere a Paris, A rake's progress, mis en scene par l'excellentissime Olivier Py. Le decoupage de la scene vertical et horizontal, et en coupe, permet au spectateur de voir plusieurs scenes d'une meme maisonnee. On se croirait dans une maison de Barbie. La demultiplication des scenes en simultane, meme si seule une des "cases" chante, permet une continuite dans l'histoire impossible a realiser sans cela. Ce procede de mise en scene est du reste de plus en plus utilise; on l'a vu notamment a Paris aussi dans La Cenerentola ou Hansel et Gretel, rien que l'annee derniere


Que retenir de ce Hippolyte et Aricie donc? Une formidable mise en scene, un decor et des costumes brillants, qui font oublier un certain nombre de couacs et de decalages de mesure. Et au-dela de cela, on retrouve les raisons d'aller a Glyndebourne: ce n'est pas l'excellence des chanteurs, souvent bons, mais rarement excellents, mais c'est l'originalite et l'inventivite qui se degagent des mises en scene. Le public anglais - au contraire du public allemand - est excentrique: dans ses mises, clairement, lorsque l'on voit deambuler des Anglaises sans age qu'on croirait enveloppees dans leurs rideaux de salon - ou de douche parfois -, mais aussi dans ses gouts. Et cet opera, l'un des plus francais qui soient, trouve ici une autre dimension, pan-artistique, a travers l'incroyable ouverture d'esprit britannique


Hippolyte et Aricie, de Jean-Philippe Rameau

Mise en scene: Jonathan Kent

Direction d'orchestre: William Christie (sauf en aout)

Avec Katherine Connolly, Ed Lyon, Stephanie d'Oustrac, Christiane Karg

Glyndebourne Summer Festival

12, 16, 19, 25 juillet et 1, 4, 8, 13, 18 aout 2013

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Des revenants très présents | Les Revenants, Ibsen, Théâtre des Amandiers

Des revenants très présents | Les Revenants, Ibsen, Théâtre des Amandiers | Culture and lifestyle |

Thomas Ostermeier est un metteur en scène élégant. Quand il met en scène une pièce d'Ibsen, auteur élégant, le résultat est donc forcément élégant. Et c'est bien ce qui s'est passé aux Amandiers pendant ce mois d'avril


Le titre d'abord. Les Revenants. Je n'aime jamais beaucoup les traductions. En anglais, c'est Ghosts, ce qui veut dire bien plus. Et en norvegien, c'est Gengangere - ou plutot Gjengangere - ce qui veut dire: ceux qui marchent à nouveau, ou ceux qui ré-apparaissent. Et c'est bien là un des thèmes centraux de la pièce: la maladie du père Alving revient-elle hanter son fils, la débauche de la mère de Régine revient-elle hanter sa fille. Les morts dans cette superbe pièce reviennent hanter les vivants et sont sur scène au même titre que les autres


La mise en scène, et la scénographie, ensuite. Le décor épuré. Le mobilier nordique - peu contemporain d'Ibsen mais qui donne de la tenue à cette scène des Amandiers qui peut paraitre trop contemporaine. La cloison mobile utilisée pour projeter une video de ce qu'on ne peut voir - quelle bonne idée d'utiliser la video qu théâtre depuis quelques années. L'orphelinat qui brûle, représenté par une toute petite maison sur le devant - signe que l'orphelinat n'est rien, et qu'il fallait qu'il brûle justement


Les comédiens enfin. Même si là, je suis un peu plus mitigé. Eric Caravaca et Mélodie Richard sont impeccables en demi-frère et soeur amoureux. Elle est gouailleuse - ce qui pose un milliard de questions, qu'elle pose d'ailleurs: puisqu'elle est la fille du Senateur Alving aussi, pourquoi ne pas l' "avoir élevée en riche?". Et pourquoi est-elle gouailleuse si elle est aussi noble qu'Oswald qui, lui, respire le fils de famille. Inné, acquis, plus encore que les carcans de la morale bourgeoise dépeints par Ibsen comme par tous les auteurs de sa génération à travers l'Europe, c'est bien cette question de pose la pièce. L'autre grande comédienne de la pièce - l'autre grand rôle devrais-je dire - est Valérie Dréville. Jeune, mais avec de la bouteille: Vitez, Régy, Comédie Française, Godard, artiste associée à Avignon. Seule déception ici: on rit. C'est bien de rire - mais je ne suis pas sûr que ce soit bien de rire sur Ibsen. C'est comme de ne pas rire sur Pinter. Et ce n'est pas une question de convenances, c'en est une d'interprétation, de respect des idées de l'auteur


Cela dit, il y a un défaut beaucoup plus grave encore: la dernière représentation de cette pièce merveilleuse était hier samedi. Alors que la scène ne sera ré-utilisée que le 22 mai, redonnez-nous Ostermeier. Redonnez-nous Ibsen. Redonnez-nous l'hypocrisie victorienne à tendance scandinave. Et un conseil, pourquoi pas. Si le nouveau directeur des Amandiers - qui, compte tenu du travail exceptionnel de Martinelli depuis 12 ans est attendu au tournant - est en panne d'inspiration, il pourra toujours faire revenir les Revenants. Ca se fait, au théâtre....


Les Revenants, d'Henrik Ibsen

Mis en scène par Thomas Ostermeier

Théâtre des Amandiers-Nanterre

Jusqu'au 27 avril, seulement

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Françon, the Master Director | Solness le Constructeur, Theatre de la Colline, Paris

Françon, the Master Director | Solness le Constructeur, Theatre de la Colline, Paris | Culture and lifestyle |

La salle est vide. Métaphoriquement et physiquement. A part quelque comédien connu qui s’est avéré avoir plus d’yeux pour le décolleté de leur voisine que pour l’excellente mise en scène d’Alain Françon, quelques classes de secondaire (de mon temps, Ibsen n’était pas au programme) et quelques amateurs, beaucoup de chaises vides. Je ne comprends pas pourquoi. L’affiche est superbe : Solness, une des meilleures pièces d’Ibsen ; Ibsen, un des meilleurs auteurs dramatiques du XIXème siècle ; Françon, un des meilleurs metteurs en scène français contemporains ; la Colline, le meilleur théâtre parisien ; Yordanoff et Adeline d’Hermy, parmi les meilleurs comédiens de théâtre vivants. On est overwhelmed


Pas de rideau, encore. Le décor est sobre, classique. D’un minimalisme scandinave. Presque trop contemporain pour cette pièce écrite en 1892. Michel Robin entre sur la scène. Il est magnifique. Robin, c’est un visage que toute la France connaît mais un nom dont personne ne se souvient. Il était un magnifique Nagg sous la direction de Françon déjà, à la Madeleine puis à l’Odéon ; même si on le reconnaît plus pour son rôle de Tocanier dans les Maris, les Femmes, les Amants, ou le père de Corinne Charby la disparue maladroite de la Chèvre. Il a l’élégance de ne faire que passer dans certains grands films français (les Adieux à la Reine, Amélie Poulain, Un long dimanche de fiançailles, ou, il y a plus longtemps, les Mariés de l’An II ou Rabbi Jacob), car on sent que son domaine est le théâtre. Robin est Knut Brovik, l’ancien maître de Solness devenu son assistant par manque de bravado et trop grande discrétion. Je suis sûr que cette histoire-là a dû résonner dans l’esprit de Michel Robin. Le rêve de Brovik est de voir son neveu, entré lui aussi au service du Constructeur, réussir avant sa mort à lui, l’oncle. Pas besoin d’être grand clerc pour deviner qu’il ne sera pas exaucé. C’est cela Ibsen, un auteur chez qui le pire est presque toujours certain. Comme le dira à l’acte III Aline, l’épouse de Solness, « ce sont les petits deuils de la vie qui déchirent le coeur, ceux que les autres estiment n’être presque rien ». Peut-on rêver plus juste analyse ?


Puis, Solness entre. Est-ce important qu’il soit bâtisseur, constructeur ou architecte ? Est-ce que sa profession même est pertinente ? Il semblerait que beaucoup d’exégètes pensassent que oui ; I beg to differ. Wladimir Yordanoff. Encore un inconnu, non ? Si je vous dis le frère de Bacri, député dans Un Air de Famille, tout de suite, vous voyez mieux. Yordanoff, comme Catherine Frot ou Anne Alvaro, tous révélés au grand public par leur participation à la saga Jaoui-Bacri sont avant tout d’immenses comédiens de théâtre


Yordanoff figure d’abord une sorte de Columbo. Il a des airs de sous-Bacri dans Un Air de Famille, justement. Il montre à la fois son expérience et sa puérilité devant la jeunesse, tout d’abord campée par Agathe L’Huillier dont c’est là le retour sur scène depuis la Cerisaie, à la Colline, sous la direction du même Françon en 2009. On se dit que c’est une ruse


Et on touche là au mécanisme même de cette excellente pièce et de sa non moins excellente mise en scène. On pense toujours qu’il se passe quelque chose derrière. Pas derrière la scène, en coulisses. Non. Dans la tête des personnages, dans l’esprit du metteur en scène, dans l’inconscient de l’auteur. On attend quelque chose. Qui n’arrive pas. Mais ce n’est pas grave car on l’aura attendu, et cela aura contribué à tirer sa journée, comme disait Beckett


On est aussi surpris par la contemporanéité de cette pièce qui a plus d’un siècle. Solness dicte une lettre. Il poursuit des jeunes filles de ses assiduités. Les costumes aident probablement cette construction mentale – peut-être aussi l’embonpoint plus que naissant de Yordanoff – mais on se prend à imaginer quelques secondes une pièce de David Mamet, Race par exemple, écrite en 2009 mais montée à Paris juste après l’affaire DSK, en qui tout le monde avait vu une pièce à clé à l’époque. Et justement, Solness a des allures de DSK


La litanie des personnages continue sur scène. Entre Aline Solness, alias Dominique Valadié, encore un membre éminent de l’écurie Jaoui-Bacri-Françon. On dirait Belphégor. Elle flotte sur scène, irréelle, anachronique avec la modernité du reste du casting. Son débit, son intonation, font tout pour la démarquer des autres. Elle, et plus tard le médecin, sont comme ces personnages de tragédies grecques antiques qui sont là pour aider la compréhension ou le commentaire. Un peu à la manière des interventions directes à la caméra de Kevin Spacey dans la version contemporaine de House of Cards...


Le printemps, dehors, n’est pas encore là. Les tousseurs sont enrhumés. Ils sont déchaînés. Je refuse de croire que c’est une manifestation de mauvaise humeur contre cette pièce qui me plait de plus en plus


Puis entre la solaire Adeline d’Hermy, alias Hilde Wangel. La fille du médecin, là-haut, tout là-haut, où Solness, autrefois, avait construit une tour, la tour la plus haute. L’entrée de ce personnage un peu fantasmagorique nous plonge en même temps dans Lolita et dans la Bible. Elle nous renvoie au titre – le Constructeur – comme au prétexte de leur rencontre, et en même temps nous en éloigne au maximum, puisqu’elle évoque à demi-mot des circonstances pour le moins choquantes. Elle jure, aussi. « Merde, Constructeur ». Comment dit-on merde en norvégien ?


Hilde est une visitation. Elle est là pour pousser Solness dans ses derniers retranchements. Lui faire tenir ses promesses. Le faire sortir de sa zone de confort. Lui rappeler son passé, bon et mauvais. Est-ce un succube pour une fois apparu sous les traits d’une jeune fille séduisante ? Est-ce l’ange de la mort de Solness ? La joute verbale et argumentative entre Solness et Hilde a des airs de combat de Cyrano du Vème acte. « Je sais bien qu’à la fin vous me mettrez à bas / N’importe, je me bats, je me bats, je me bats ». Solness est-il déjà mort ? On ne sait pas, mais on sent toujours que quelque chose transcende ce que la scène nous montre


Cela n’a en fait pas beaucoup d’importance qu’il soit mort ou vivant


Le reste de cette pièce magnifique est la conséquence logique des bases de l’intrigue posées jusqu’alors. Hilde veut un foyer, construit par celui qui a justement dérangé le foyer de ses parents. Elle ne l’aura pas, mais encore, sera sur le point de l’obtenir. Rentre Aline. Hilde entre Solness et Aline, c’est Charlotte Valandrey au milieu du couple Cordier. Tout semble s’arranger. Solness a enfin quelqu’un à qui parler. Tiens, Phèdre. On croit pour un moment que Michel Robin va voir son rêve exaucé. Et puis non, Solness tient trop à sa réputation. Il est d’accord pour remonter, lui qui a le vertige depuis l’incendie de la maison d’Aline. Le plaisir de reconstruire est « effrayant ». Tiens, Alceste. Il remonte. Hilde le montre du doigt. La salle se retourne. Tiens, Confucius


La fin se précipite. Solness est en haut, à nouveau. Et il tombe. Vous ne l’attendiez pas ? Come on...


Courez en tous cas voir cette excellente pièce, brillamment et très simplement mise en scène par Alain Françon, qui vous fera redécouvrir de superbes comédiens, et un des meilleurs textes du répertoire scandinave. Et peut-être, n’oubliez pas de méditer cette superbe phrases des Revenants (du même Ibsen, et bientôt aux Amandiers) : « L’homme le plus fort au monde, c’est celui qui est le plus seul. ». C’est sans doute ce qu’aurait du faire Solness. La méditer, cette phrase



Solness le Constructeur, de Henrik Ibsen

Mise en scène Alain Françon

Avec Wladimir Yordanoff, Adeline d’Hermy, Michel Robin et Dominique Valadié

Théâtre de la Colline

Jusqu’au 25 avril 2013

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PAD Paris (5/5)

PAD Paris (5/5) | Culture and lifestyle |

I did not know Milo Baughman until I met him, through a stunning pair of orange stools, at Galerie Jean-Louis Danant. American born in the 20s, Baughman is one of the most prominent American designer of the middle of the 20th century. His vocation came to life at thirteen years old, when he was asked by his family to design the interior of the house they were building in California. Why not? Every family with a thirteen year old should not need an interior designer


This pair of orange stools immediately caught my eye in the magnificent stand of the Danant Gallery, all made of orange and red - and particularly well set up


As I do not want any competitor in buying these stools, I have put a picture of a whoel sitting room made by Baughman, to show a more complete overview of what he was capable of


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PAD Paris (3/5)

PAD Paris (3/5) | Culture and lifestyle |

Os and Oos is a young designer duo who graduated in 2009 from Eindhoven, was created in 2011 and received the Wallpager Design Award this year. No time wasted


Their Sygyzy collection is presented on Galerie Grosserez stand, a very innovative gallery with one of the nicest gallery owners I have met at this opening. The principle of Sygyzy is simple: the three disks can move and change colours, owing to polarisation. This represents the alternance of nights and days in real life, and astral phenomena like eclipses


The electrical wire that hangs from the disk gives an industrial dimension, given otherwise to the lamps of the same collection by a small block of concrete. Delicate and raw in the same object. An oxymoron I love


Brava, Madame Grosserez

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PAD Paris (1/5) | Tuileries, until 31 March

PAD Paris (1/5) | Tuileries, until 31 March | Culture and lifestyle |

Like every year, the Pavillon des Arts et du Design has settled down in the Tuileries for just ,ess than a week. I have decided to explore it with you in 5 posts and 5 objects


Here is the first of the 5


The Barry Friedman Gallery,New York, presents photographs by Michael Eastmann. Metallic, exceptionally well composed, their draw one's attention immediately. Special mention for Blue Tunnel #1, Osaka (pictured) - and Barcelona, the excellent photo lf Barcelona's Casa Battlo staircase


Editions of 6, c.7500 euros in 160x120

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Becoming Picasso | Courtauld Institute, London

Becoming Picasso | Courtauld Institute, London | Culture and lifestyle |

For the first time in the two + years of existence of this blog, I thought the exhibition had a perfect title for my article. Becoming Picasso... C'est tout un programme. It reminds me of this well-known anecdote when Picasso was asked by someone - one of his suppliers? - to draw something for him. He scribbles on a paper tablecloth and hand the piece to the guy who had sollicited him. "That's all? the guy says. 10 minutes of work". "No, you got it wrong, Picasso replies. It took me fourty years to get there" 


So the Courtauld Institute, in an ambitious way, is asking the question. How do you become Picasso? Ambitious because there is no shortage of Picasso exhibitions globally - on this note, one of the best ones was definitely the one given by the Albertina in Wien four or five years ago, Picasso and the War. A very innovative and untraveled perspective on Picasso's work 


Courtauld, as it may seem, has been surprised by its own success. Only two rooms and 20 paintings, and nevertheless the exhibition is sold out several weeks in advance. Got European-wide press coverage (pls note the good article two weeks ago in Le Figaro). So probably worth seeing, I thought 


Fraying through St Patrick's day parades, London's usual road closures and other city ailments, I finally reach the adorable Courtauld Institute (adorable by its collections, clearly not because of the people working there) 


Top floor, first room. We are in 1901 in Paris Montmartre and Quartier Latin. Picasso has just arrived from his native Spain for his first exhibition at Ambroise Vollard's whom he met through a common friend, Spanish and a painter too. He is nineteen. This will be a success and yet he will change completely his style a year later, to start his wonderful Blue Period - my favourite! But back in 1901. The young Spaniard paints what he sees. French can-can (Private collection) is wonderful of movements and colours, prefiguring those of the Blue Period. Tribute to Toulouse-Lautrec - and possibly his love of ethanol 


Women are dancers, almost prostitutes. Vivid colours. Provocative in poses and attitudes. Human beings are misshapen. Bibi-la-Purée (Private collection on loan to the National Gallery, London) est dans la mouise mais chic comme un pape. The ancestor of the Sapeurs?  The Spanish Woman (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen) is the Spanish and authoritative version of Rodin's Thinker. At the Moulin Rouge (Private collection) could possibly figure one of Gauguin's Polynesian indigenes, but in the French cabaret. The Dwarf-Dancer (Museu Picasso, Barcelona) comes straight from las Meninas, par petites touches. Striking! 


I am totally enchanted by the second and last room. So many Blue Period's works in the same room. So rare! The only one missing is the one from the Stein's collection 


Before, or more accurately next to, his Blue Period, Picasso's first self-portrait: Yo - Picasso (Private collection). Amazing: the bold look, the blunt clothes (plain white shirt and orange cravat), the dark skin. It is Joey Starr-meet-Basquiat (pictured) 


First painting in the room of the Blue Period, The Blue Room (Phillips Collection, Washington) is a condensé of tributes: a ballerina (Degas), May Milton on the wall (Toulouse-Lautrec), muted colours and clear outlines (a new feature of the young Picasso's work) à la Toulouse-Lautrec: this piece is a summary of late nineteenth century painting 


Some of the single figure portraits are less attractive, I think. The Mother (Saint-Louis Art Museum) and Mother and Child (Kunstmuseum, Bern) display less genius than other pieces. A social statement, says the cartels. Really? 


Amongst the various figure portraits, Harlequin and Companion (Pushkin Museum, Moscow) is immensely interesting. Clearly a re-invention of the traditional café drinker subject, this is far from the only reason why it is interesting. The composition, first. Three areas vertically, three areas horizontally. In the middle, Harlequin with the clothes of Pierrot, looking away to plot something for sure. To his right, Colombine, with a bit of an empty look. Trying to understand what her cunning clown is plotting? The lack of communication between these characters, traditionally so close - but close geographically - is emphasised by the different directions of their looks and the vivid orange colour and disordered brushstrokes of Colombine's blouse. Who is leading the pair? Unclear to me, even after fifteen minutes of contemplation. And I don't think the size of the glass in front of each of them is a good clue 


The back wall holds one of the most beautiful Blue paintings: The Burial of Casagemas (Musée d'art Moderne de la Ville de Paris). Greatly moving, this piece immediately reminds me of the Greco (colours, elungated shapes, mystic feeling) - and Chagall, 15 years later, with the Procession or the Burial in Vitebsk. It is such a tribute that Casagemas is almost represented in some New Testament's postures. Wait a minute, just read the wall's comments - and they also refer to El Greco. Pity! Thought it would be a reference of my own 


What? It is already over. 20 paintings, the board said. There are only 18 but I realise I have been there for more than an hour. And could stay even longer, undeterred by the loud voice of an uninteresting guide shouting next to me 


Chapeau bas, donc, to the Courtauld Institute that was bold enough to dedicate a very well publicised exhibition to one year only, 18 paintings and 2 rooms. Book early, and multiple times 



Becoming Picasso, Paris 1901

The Courtauld Gallery

Until 26 May 2013

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My 23rd most subjective to do list

My 23rd most subjective to do list | Culture and lifestyle |

1) Visit Artplay in Moscow, an old factory turned into art and shopping centre, with a cafe and cinemas (Moscow,

2) Experience the well advertised uniqueness of the Maharadjas' Express for a couple of days in Rajahstan - old Orient Express style, without Hercule Poirot hopefully (India)

3) Visit Fondation Cartier for the Yue Minjun exhibition, L'Ombre du Fou-Rire, if not done already (Paris, extended until 24 March 2013)

4) Visit the new outpost of the Louvre, in Lens, opened on 4 December 2012, with its inaugural exhibition on the Time - Galerie du Temps, le Temps à l'oeuvre (Lens)

5) Spend a night in an igloo, in the ephemeral Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, in Lapland (Sweden)

6) Shop at the uber-creative Zipper vintage shop, for delicious suavepants or some colourful vests (Amsterdam or online

7) Spend a week end at the 25HHZW aka 25 Hours Hotel Zurich West - of the "you know one, you know none" Camper-related chain (Zurich)

8) Attend une "Mortelle Soirée" where, while having dinner, the guests have access to clues and witnesses to solve a difficult murder case (Paris,

9) Get a flower subscription from Baptiste Fleurs, one bouquet per week and more (Paris,

10) Revel in Bees of the World, the first-ever millesimed honey sold in golden pots (Internet,

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Pop, splash et autres curiosités | Roy Lichtenstein, Tate Modern, London

Pop, splash et autres curiosités | Roy Lichtenstein, Tate Modern, London | Culture and lifestyle |

After a delightful lunch and having been thrown out by an unpleasant clerk from the Courtauld Gallery - apparently their two rooms on Becoming Picasso are having their one-in-a-century success, I decide to head towards the Tate Modern. Lichtenstein, what a bizarre name I remember thinking when, at 12, I heard this name for the first time. A painter with a Family name. Spelling was not my strength at the time 


Here again, a huge queue. It is hard to imagine, for a non-English, the power of attraction of orderly queues on the average English man. Fortunately, Schlangen here are more tidy than file there... 


After a lousy ticket check, here I am. Inside. I have always liked Lichtenstein, like families in the 80s used to like Dallas. In a friendly and not too serious kind of way. I like his wit, his imagination, some of his inexistent brushstrokes - and probably his avant-guarde spirit too. But I cannot help thinking that the Tate is definitely these days giving us very well known artists and lacks the exploratory flavour that it should have 


The first room precisely contains brushstrokes (in particular the excellent Brushstrokes, 1965, Private collection). It is a deep dive into Lichtenstein's philosophy: the representation of brushstrokes with Ben-Day dots and without any brushstrokes. The brushstroke becomes the object and not the means. It is a good idea to have started unchronologically, by this emblematic series. The second room is another deep dive, but into average American life from the 60s. A sort of Desperate Housewives-meet-Madmen, a tone down. At the present time, when the masculinism philosophy has started to spread from the other side of the pond, the woman clichés with a sponge or a spray are quite amusing. So much distance since the 60s. And back... 


Look Mickey is also funny, as a piece of art history. Considered by many as the watershed of a middle-aged Roy's career (I believe it is after having seen this painting that Leo Castelli decided to represent him), it is nothing else but a gross re-interpretation of an everyday life cartoon. The result of a challenge by his sons to the then fourty-ish year old Roy. Think Damien Hirst, think Richard Prince. Is it really so different? So why has Lichtenstein's favours with art lovers not crumbled then, like the other two? Maybe because he was the first one (arguably one of) to do this. Try to put a hole or a slash in a monochrom now. You can be no Fontana, yoh! 


A French man behind me is trying to explain to an Italian nonna how the museum could write on the walls. So curious. Come on guys, this is not the walls but the paintings you're supposed to comment on. Or maybe better if they don't 


The third room is a nice collection of black and white, overscaled objects, grossly represented. And that's precisely the point. The gross representation. Special mention for the Magnifying Glass (1963, Private collection), a dotted canvas with a magnifying glass, where the dots become larger behind the glass. It all looks trivial but one touches here the border between representation and reality, in a Joe Public kind of way 


Room 4, Roy goes three-dimensional. And telenovellas. And Captain Flam. Brad and Jeff, Roy's fictional characters, are making war. Or their wives are suffering because of them. I love the Drowning Girl (1963, New York MoMA) saying: "I don't care! I'd rather sink -- than call Brad for help!". Reluctant acquiescence says the curator. Yes, in a Madame Bovary kind of way 


Also, I want to ask: who knows of a weapon shouting "Bratatat" (1962, Collection Simonyi) or "Takka Takka" (1962, Cologne's Ludwig Museum) ? Roy's world is real in feeling and unreal in aesthetics. Women are all beautiful. And they all suffer. Men make war. Weapons reach their targets. Colours are simples. Strokes are straight. Points are monochromatic, and at this time of his career, of equal size. Despite the crowd - however less than I expected - a sensation of serendipity is coming from these walls. Am I the only one? Are we all plunged in this ueber-real world? 


What is less real is Roy's pieces without characters. But how would you figure the Atlantide - or even a normal seascape - with only dots and black surfaces. And three colours. Room 5. Pass. Only exception is Sea Shore (1964, Private collection), painted on layered sheets of Plexiglass 


In room 7 (room 6 can be skipped as well), people are looking at the Rouen cathedral series from close by. Stupid. The series is actually extremely well hung, as it is possible to see it from the far. Well done. The whole room is magnificent. Mondrian by Lichtenstein. Delacroix by Picasso by Lichtenstein (Femme d'Alger, 1963, Broad collection, LA). Purist Painting with Bottles (1975, Wolverhamptonm Art Gallery) uses two nuances of green. Rare enough to be noted. Same greens in the tribute to Matisse, the magnificent Reflections on Interior with Girl Drawing (1990, Broad Collection, LA). Only Van Gogh is missing, in Lichtenstein's old masters' Pantheon 


On the backwall, the Triptych (1974, Private collection) shows the transformation of a beautiful menagère de moins de cinquante ans into a cubist collage Am less fond of Laocoon (1988, Private collection) and Washington crossing the Delaware (1951, Roy Lichtenstein Foundation). In the former, the straight lines and plain colours have been replaced by messy curves and white surfaces. And the latter looks like a young Miro, on a dirty background 


The Artist's Studio in room 8 sends us back to the Roy we like. A tribute to Matisse (the Dance), a tribute to himself (Look Mickey, a lot cleaner than the original one), these four paintings have been here reunited for the first time since 1974. Well done Mr Tate 


Wit stands at its paroxysm with Self-Portrait (1978, Kravis collection): a mirror is placed on top of a bust, supposed to reflect the viewer - except it is a painted mirror. It is Lichtenstein gone Pistoletto. or the other way round? The other examples of mirrors are fun, but it is not Roy's best. No comment on the then contemporary entablatures. Only one here, meno male 


The two ante-penultimate rooms are there for the best. The rather unknown Perfect / Imperfect series, the older horny Roy nude paintings (I don't know why but I think about Marc Desgranchamps's horses and Alex Katz' cinema-inspired close-ups). Would not say the same about the last two: early brushtrokes and late Chinese scroll paintings, too bad to end this brilliant exhibition with this. But fortunately, it does not spoil it - go there, and you will get reconciled with pop culture if you ever needed to  


Roy Lichtenstein, A retrospective

Tate Modern, London

Until 27 May 2013

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La semaine dernière (week 7/13)

La semaine dernière (week 7/13) | Culture and lifestyle |

J'ai aimé: 


- Rita Pavone - you don't know her? Of course you do. Viva la pappa col pomodoro! Does not ring a bell? Yes it does, at least if you are Italian, or live in France, or both. This is the super entertaining music of the 4G see which one? Hum... The music is good but I don't remember the name of the operator 


- Populaire - bien sur, une histoire de dactylos qui gagne un concours de machines à écrire, ce n'est pas tres appétissant au depart. Mais c'est très enjoué, Romain Duris est exceptionnel comme toujours, et l'histoire suffisamment tournée pour que l'on ne s'ennuie jamais. Un excellent film de dimanche soir. Mieux qu'un film d'avion 


- the Following - a great brand new TV drama that started on Fox in January. The pitch is simple but imaginative: a well-educated and well-read serial killer, charismatic and charming as he is (James Purefoy), creates a cult - the following - of followers throughout Virginia who can complete his "works of art" while he is in jail. But best is to watch it, the actual series is brilliant  



Je n'ai pas aimé: 


- Les Fermes de Marie: the best hotel in Megève? What? Nice setting indeed. But incapable of accomodating an early arrival (by a mere two hours) - the head of accomodation suggested next time I book the night before, smart, no?-, to give the room service menu in the restaurant or to show commercial gesture and offer a coffee while I am waiting for the room. The spa is great, the food is delicious but there is this stressed feeling with the personnel who is either too polite to be even half-sincere, or so unpleasant that arriving relaxed, you leave stressed. And the worst thing is that it is now the same at the Lodge. A friend summarised it so well: the hotel where nothing is possible. There will come a time when people will not come anymore, and there will be no wonder why 


- the new Depeche Mode. Yes, you read well, DM is back. But one would prefer to forget the new and remember only Enjoy the Silence, Personal Jesus or Shout 


- le Village - un Costes à Paris dans le Village Royal. Pas de réservations possibles au déjeuner, un service à la va-vite en attention et tout en longueur quand il s'agit du temps d'arrivée des plats: après une heure dix à table, nous n'avions toujours pas eu nos plats. Qui dit mieux? 


- finally, after fifteen years in London, I managed to put my finger on what I hate about London service: it is the lack of empathy. And even the lack of a mere attempt to make you believe that they are vaguely sympathetic with the complaint one is formulating... Latest experience: Heathrow,Saturday, 3pm



Je n'ai pas tranché sur: 


- le Cafe Biobaa, rue Montmartre. Delicious organic brunch place, nice people to serve and nice bunch as clients. But 2 hours for a simple brunch, et encore, arriving when the restaurant is empty, it is clearly too much. To try, but only when you don't have anything to do before supper

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La semaine dernière (week 3)

La semaine dernière (week 3) | Culture and lifestyle |
J'ai aimé:- Novotel Tower Bridge, London - yes I know, no one expected me there! But in these times when everyone is trying to save pennies, if you have business in East London, Novotel Tower Bridge appears like a good bargain: impeccable service, small but immaculate bedrooms, Nespresso machine in the room for the most fortunate ones, decent gym, good breakfast. Of course, this is not Aman or Mandarin, but a good place to crash at a fraction of the price- mx chocolate with fleur de sel - to be bought in the Museum of Chocolate on Carrer de Comerc in Barcelona: an absolute delight- Au Passage, un delicieux endroit pres de Bastille dans un petit passage (Saint-Sebastien, Paris 11e). Adorable equipe, ambiance locale et bobo a souhait, mais pas de pose, un frigo et la poubelle a l'interieur du resto, des assiettes inventives a partager (encornets aux herbes, foie de veau a la sauce aux pommes de terre, betteraves et ricotta) Je n'ai pas aimé:- que la neige une fois de plus paralyse le Royaume-Uni et la France, Heathrow, BA, Air France et l'Eurostar - tell me, Mr Eurostar, how do they do in Sweden or Russia? Je n'ai pas tranché sur:- Coya - first time I went there, I was totally seduced: great people, incredible food, brilliant atmosphere. It was 3 days after the opening and in the private club. 3 weeks later, back in the main restaurant. Food as delicious as before, but the crowd was a different story. Conclusion: join the private club
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Culture and lifestyle

Culture and lifestyle | Culture and lifestyle |

La semaine dernière (week 51)

ArnauddeG's insight:


J'ai aimé:
- Engineered Garments - a new brand, Japanese of course, specialising in must-have useless pieces of clothing: a detachable hood to put underneath a jacket, a smart beret, an unwearable tie. Need to improve their catalogue to reflect the originality of their brand
- El Cellar de Can Roca - I was told it is the best restaurant in Spain. It certainly is one of the top three. Magnificent house and decor, ambitious associations, matching wines which are real discoveries - clearly their Grand Festival is a must. And it does not matter if one has to drive for more than one hour from Barcelona
- Joffré, in Turo Parc - definitely a Barcelonian week. Great multi-brand shop, which shows the whole collection of menswear, womenswear, sportswear, children, furs, accessories etc. Impossible to be in Turo Parc and not to buy something there
- B14, contemporary art club in Barcelona. Quite new apparently - six month old - in a tucked away street near Turo Parc (again). Surprising when description seen on the door, but this art school-cum-gallery-cum-cafe has one of the best cafe solo / squeezed orange juice of the city
- Meine Faire Dame - Imagine the Babel tower creating chaos in the middle of Professor Higgins' house and Eliza Doolittle suddenly transformed into Moneypenny. This is exactly the feeling you would get when seeing what is, to me, the first success of the season of the Odeon theatre in Paris

Je n'ai pas aimé:
- la crèche de la Madeleine à Paris: un couple de modèles du Printemps devant un écran de veille avec de la neige, est-ce vraiment ça Noël?

Je n'ai pas tranché sur:
- The Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona - Of course, it is great. Great service, great food, great room etc. But on closer look, some details are not 100% right. The aircon temperature that changes, unasked. The concierge that gets confused in our restaurant bookings. The waitress that harrasses us for our names, bedroom numbers etc. The gym the temperature of which is definitely closer to that of a pool than of a serious pallestra. But all in all, very nice hotel
- La Fabrica Moritz, Ronda Saint Antoni, Barcelona - Fully redone 6 months ago by Jean Nouvel, great decor, possibly great café but does not look so appetising to even have nibbles or tapas there. Great concept store though. Mixed then

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