If you have been reading each day, you’ll know that we’ve been talking about seeing the Garry Winogrand exhibit at the Jeu de Paume almost since we arrived in Paris. Winogrand is a particular favorite of Maureen’s and I just like photography. So, we headed out in time to be there for their 11 am opening time (many museums seem to open quite late in Paris). There were almost no lines to get in or buy tickets, but the exhibit itself had a fair number of people inside. We remarked that it was probably wall-to-wall people (and hard to thus appreciate the photos) when we declined to go in on Saturday.
Jeu de Paume
Three sections comprised the large exhibition: Down from the Bronx (photos from his native New York, mostly taken in Manhattan), A student of America (largely Texas and LA in the 1950s and 60s), and Boom and bust (his later photographs). Most of the later photos are images from the 6600 rolls of film he left behind, so they were never even seen by Winogrand. You can actually download an app that has many of the images from the exhibition–see this link to the App Store.
As someone who was born in America during the era in which these images were taken, I think I see this collection very differently than the mostly European crowd that surrounded me. Compared to much of what we have seen on this trip, these images are very modern. But for a twenty-first century American, they represent a time VERY long ago. 1950s Texas no longer exists. 1960s LA is a fairy tale. Two photographs stood out for me, because they are familiar places–Castle Rock, CO and Albuquerque, NM.
Winogrand Albuquerque image
The rock and Sandia Crest, respectively, are visible in the photos, but otherwise you would not recognize the barren frontiers in modern-day Castle Rock or Albuquerque. And I think when it comes down to it, that is one of the big ways in which America and Americans are different from Europe and Europeans. We don’t have truly old buildings and places (notwithstanding the plundered native cultures and sites, but that’s a topic for another time) and they do. We continually expand and build new, eating up our frontiers as we go. They do some of this (the major cities extend far into suburbs and exurbs, just as ours do), but they also preserve their historical buildings, monuments, and city centers. It’s not better or worse–just different to grow up in a place that doesn’t have old stuff as opposed to a place that does. So, unlike Denver, which looks far different than it did even when I moved to Colorado 25 years ago, Paris or Rome or Vienna look much as they have appeared for a very long time.
After philosophizing about photos and culture, we moved on to what’s really important–donuts! When we were in Paris in 2011, we went to the Eiffel Tour on a Sunday. Wanting to picnic, we looked for a baguette on our way. But it was Sunday, so most of the boulangeries we passed were closed. Finally, we saw a boy with a baguette and went in the direction from which he had come. We got our baguette, but more importantly, they had mini beignets on top the counter. We tried to buy 2, but the girl who served us insisted we needed 5. We caved. All 5 were gone before we reached the end of the block. We’ve been looking for the equal to those beignets since. Sadly, we had no idea where we bought them. So Tuesday morning I fired up Google maps, located our 2011 hotel, and scanned the possible walking routes from there towards the Eiffel Tower. I narrowed the possibles list down to two probables, and wrote down their addresses. We headed for the first one when we finished with Winogrand.
On the hunt…
Happily, it was the first place we visited! The beignets were slightly larger, and of course more expensive, but still scrumptious. We ate two right away and actually managed to save the other four for our afternoon tea break.
Finding lunch was a challenge, but we finally settled on a Chinese restaurant that was packed when we went by 1:45 pm. The food was adequate, and the ice cream (part of the lunch special) was really good–the best we’d had since Rome. Satisfied, we headed back to the flat for an afternoon break.
In the evening, we enjoyed our best dining out experience in Paris. We met a friend of Maureen’s from her Jonckers days, along with her husband, at La Cagouille in Montparnasse. We had a nice time chatting with them and they treated us to a lovely meal that started with bread and a plate of cockles (yum). Maureen had “green” mullet, and I had mahi-mahi stuffed with tapenade. Both were great. Dessert was apple/pear crumble (me) or tart (Maureen). I could not stop eating it. Until it was gone. We also shared a bottle of Sancerre white wine. We really appreciated that Martine came all the way into Paris from their home 50 km away to have dinner with us!