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the best of culture, tr avel & art de vivre

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$5.95 U.S. / $6.95 Canada


LE HAVRE’s West Side Story


LALIQUE Gets a New Museum

Summer 2011

features 28 A Good Look at Fashion’s Bad Boy A Montreal retrospective proves that 35 years on, Jean Paul Gaultier still merits his moniker by Tina Isaac

36 Lutetia by the Sea A massive urban renewal project aims to transform Le Havre into the port of Paris by Michel Faure

46 Fragile Beauties A new museum showcases the unique alchemy of René Lalique by Amy Serafin

departments 5 The f: section Culture, film, music, travel, shopping, food & wine edited by Melissa Omerberg

24 Interview Télécoms Sans Frontières by Sara Romano

56 Calendrier French Cultural Events in North America by Tracy Kendrick

60 Temps Modernes Street Cred by Michel Faure

Lalique’s 2011 collection celebrates Yves Klein’s take on the “Winged Victory of Samothrace” with a life-sized reproduction of the famous statue. Story page 28; photo ©Lalique.


Pissarro’s People



Publisher LUIS VASSY

June 12 – October 2

Chief Revenue Officer steven p. aaron

Director of Sponsorship and Advertising Marika Rosen

Circulation Manager Meredith davis

A fresh look at one of the masters of French Impressionism

Accountant Maria de Araujo

Intern Youssef Boukouss

France Magazine is published by the French-American Cultural Foundation,

a nonprofit organization that supports cultural events as well as educational initiatives and exchanges between France and the United States. Tel. 202/944-6090/91/69 advertising

Marika Rosen Tel. 202/944-6093 sponsorfrance @ subscriptions

Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Williamstown Massachusetts 413 458 2303 Detail of Jeanne Pissarro, Called Minette, Sitting in the Garden, Pontoise, c. 1872, by Camille Pissarro. Private Collection


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France Magazine is published four times a year. Yearly subscriptions are $23.80 ($28.79 for Canadian and other foreign orders, $24.78 for DC residents). To subscribe, go to or contact Subscription Services, France Magazine, PO Box 9032, Maple Shade, NJ 08052-9632. Tel. 800/324-8049 (U.S. orders), Tel. 856/380-4118 (foreign orders), Fax 856/380-4101. POSTMASTER

Please send address changes to France Magazine, Circulation Department, PO Box 9032, Maple Shade, NJ 08052-9632. ISSN 0886-2478. Periodicals class postage held in Washington, DC, and at an additional mailing office.

Dear Readers, Much has been said and written on the topic of the French and seduction of late, prompted largely by the publication of La Séduction by New York Times correspondent and Paris resident Elaine Sciolino. Her readers may be surprised to discover that most of the seduction she writes about has nothing to do with sex, and they will likely close the book expecting all French to be the masters of seduction she profiles. Which has us fretting a bit, wondering if, by extension, a magazine on France will be expected to elegantly seduce as well. In truth, we have always tried to. Not in the original sense of the Latin seducere, “to lead astray” (which is how most Americans understand the word), but in the contemporary French sense Sciolino describes as “intending to attract or influence, to win over, even if just in fun.” Our purpose, of course, is to convey information, but just as the French have turned the simple act of nourishing themselves into moments of great sensual pleasure, we try to make absorbing that information as delightful as possible. Every word choice, every photo, every design element—even the attention COVER Beach cabanas given to spacing letters evenly on the page—is done •have been part of the Le Havre with your pleasure in mind. landscape since the 19th century. Story page 36. Photo ©Le Havre How could we do otherwise? Like most foreigners, Tourisme. I have always loved the ability of the French— admittedly, I’m talking about the most sophisticated and artistic among them—“to make banal things beautiful,” as Sciolino writes. Whether it is conversation, clothing, food, drink or décor, the attitude seems to be, Why settle for the ordinary, boring or predictable when you can opt for the amusing, stimulating, witty or engaging? The ultimate objective, of course, is pleasure—intellectual, sensual, physical. Most of the subjects we treat are seductive in and of themselves—in this issue, René Lalique and Jean Paul Gaultier perfectly incarnate that quality. But what about Le Havre? This is no picture-postcard seaside town, brimming with colorful charm. The rectilinear buildings built after the city was destroyed during World War II are not easy on the eye, even if they are architecturally interesting. The pebbled beach has no sand, the commercial port is not exactly picturesque. And yet this town possesses a seductive charm, an appeal not unlike that of a French woman of “a certain age” whose experience, spirit and detached perspective make her desirable in ways unmatched by her younger sisters. Writer Michel Faure e-mailed us that he came away from this assignment surprised by how much this city and its people touched him. Unanticipated seduction, they say, is the sweetest of all. Karen Taylor

Editor 4

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France magazine

Editor Karen Taylor

Senior Editor/Web Editor Melissa Omerberg

Associate Editor RACHEL BEAMER

Copy Editor lisa olson

Art Direction todd albertson DESIGN

Production Manager Associate Art Director/Webmaster patrick nazer

Contributors mIchel faure, now

retired from L’Express, is pursuing a variety of journalistic ventures • Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher are New York-based writers and the authors of four books about wine and life • TINA ISAAC, the Paris correspondent for Travel + Leisure and Flare magazines, also contributes to a number of other international print and online publications • tRACY KENDRICK is a freelance journalist who often writes about French culture • Sara romano covers cultural topics for a number of international publications • JULIA SAMMUT is a food writer and partner in TravelFood, which offers custom culinary tours • AMY SERAFIN, formerly editor of WHERE Paris, is a Paris-based freelance journalist who has contributed to The New York Times, National Public Radio, Departures and other media.


4101 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007-2182; Tel. 202/944-6069; mail @ Submission of articles or other materials is done at the risk of the sender; France Magazine cannot accept liability for loss or damage.

• This cherry-red

1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa turns heads at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs’ “L’Art de l’automobile: Chefs-d’oeuvre de la collection Ralph Lauren.”

© Michael Furman



Edited by melissa omerberg

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Paris & the provinces

• Tony Soulié’s “New York 3” is part of Avignon’s “Ponts,” which explores the theme of bridges.


Madame Grès The Musée Bourdelle’s Madame Grès, la couture à l’œuvre showcases the designer’s emblematic evening gowns. Always in silk jersey and often in ivory or pearl gray, these draped and pleated dresses are timeless creations of remarkable purity and deceptive simplicity. Also on view: her daywear, which still inspires couturiers and designers, as well as original photographs by such legends as Richard Avedon and Guy Bourdin. Through July 24; Impressionist Paris Haussmann’s transformation of Paris fascinated artists and provided them with fresh motifs. Paris au temps des impressionnistes, 1848-


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1914 at the Hôtel de Ville features masterpieces

that portray the French capital during this time of transition. They include canvases by artists such as Manet, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Caillebotte and Pissarro—all passionate about Parisian life and eager to highlight the city’s modernity—as well as ballroom scenes and society portraits by lesser-known painters. Through July 30; Art of the Automobile Fashion designer Ralph Lauren boasts one of the world’s greatest collections of classic automobiles, featuring sports cars from the 1930s to today. The Musée des Arts Décoratifs showcases some of these sleek beauties in L’Art de l’automobile: Chefs-d’œuvre de la collection Ralph Lauren. Designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the exhibit contains 17 exceptional vehicles, from a 1929

Bentley to a 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, as well as films and sound recordings. Through Aug. 28; Works in Progress The Musée Rodin’s

L’Invention de l’oeuvre:

Rodin et les ambassadeurs

looks at how

EDITOR’S PICKS DON'T MISS Charlotte Perriand, Paris-Delhi-Bombay, L’Exemple de Cézanne, Robert Doisneau, Les Rencontres d’Arles. IT'S A GUY THING L’Art de l’automobile.



Opening B l e u n u i t, j a u n e , b r u n / © M . B e c k- Coppo l a / R M N ; S p r a k a I K EA P S / © Ik e a ; Esm e r a l d a / © G é r a r d Jo n c a / S è v r e s , C i té d e l a c é r a m i q u e ; R ay / © Pat r i c k G r i e s ; L’â g e d u J a po n / © C l a u d e G e r va i s

For the last 25 years of his life, Pierre Bonnard lived in Le Cannet on the Côte d’Azur—an area as inspirational to him as Giverny was to Monet. Le Cannet’s new Musée Bonnard, housed in an early

20th-century hôtel particulier, showcases works created during Bonnard’s years in the town and will occasionally feature artists inspired by the master. Its inaugural exhibit, “Bonnard et Le Cannet: Dans la lumière de la Méditerranée,” presents 40 paintings and a selection of sketches. Through Sept. 26;

through some 100 figures. Through Sept. 18;

lesser-known aspect of the artist’s œuvre that is the focus of Le Temps Retrouvé: Cy

Paris-Delhi-Bombay More than a show about India, the Centre Pompidou’s Paris-Delhi-Bombay is a dialogue between the French and Indian contemporary art scenes. Nearly 50 artists from both countries chronicle the profound changes taking place in Indian society today through creations that explore such themes as politics, religion, crafts, the city, the household and questions of identity. More than twothirds of the works on view were created especially for this exhibit. Through Sept. 19;

co-presented by Avignon’s Collection Lambert and Arles’s Chapelle du Méjan. The exhibit begins with Twombly’s years at Black Mountain College along with John Cage and Franz Kline, then moves on to his time in Rome, with a selection of interiors, seascapes, still lifes and photographs of his own paintings and sculptures. Brancusi, Lartigue, Sugimoto, Ed Ruscha, Sol LeWitt, Diane Arbus and Sally Mann are among the other artists featured in the show. Through Oct. 2; and

Twombly photographer, friends and others,

Rodin’s work developed and how it was and continues to be reinterpreted by other artists. Organized in 11 sections relating to sculptural processes—choice of material, modeling, finish, and so on—the show compares 100 sculptures by the French master with works by modern and contemporary artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Willem de Kooning, Anthony Caro, Cy Twombly and Richard Serra. Through Sept. 4; Charlotte Perriand The Petit Palais’s Charlotte Perriand, de la photographie au design is the first exhibit to explore the role of photography in Perriand’s creative process. As soon as the designer joined the Le Corbusier/Pierre Jenneret studio in 1928, she began using the medium as a way of exploring forms, materials and space. The show, which features 430 photos and 70 pieces of furniture, also highlights Perriand’s passion for the natural objects she found in the course of her walks, which inspired her work. Through Sept. 18; Guys and Dolls In Barbie et Ken jouent les stars de tous les temps, the Musée de la Poupée presents some 250 dolls wearing outfits inspired by historical documents, paintings and books. The exhibit encompasses everyone from Adam and Eve to Chanel-clad socialites. A companion show, Ken, 50 ans d’un modèle masculin, marks the 50th anniversary of Barbie’s erstwhile fiancé, tracing his evolution


Voodoo Sculptures An anthropomorphic assemblage of materials such as ropes, bones, shells and pottery, voodoo sculptures play a critical role in the ancient religious cult still practiced from Togo to Western Nigeria. The late curator Jacques Kerchache recognized the aesthetic power and stunning originality of these statues in the late 1960s; his collection is the basis for Vaudou at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, which showcases 100 of these uncanny objects. Through Sept. 26; AIX-EN-PROVENCE

Bridge Mix The children’s song “Sous le pont d’Avignon, L’on y danse, l’on y danse…” is probably familiar to most students of the French language. Avignon’s Palais des Papes pays tribute to one of the city’s most famous landmarks in Ponts, which examines the theme of the bridge—real and imaginary, philosophical and spiritual, figurative and poetic. Some 40 diverse contemporary artists are participating in the show, which includes 70 largeformat digital prints, an original audiovisual work and a short film created specifically for the exhibit. Through Sept. 25;

Cézanne’s Example The eminent French art collector Jean Planque made a point of following Cézanne’s example, acquiring only the canvases that spoke to him the most. He amassed works by Degas, Renoir, Monet, Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin as well as 20th-century masters including Picasso, Braque, Du f y, L éger a nd Klee. The 15-year loan of this exceptional collection to Aix’s Musée Granet was the inspiration for L’Exemple de Cézanne, featuring more than 150 of the 300 paintings on loan. Through Oct. 2; ARLES-AVIGNON

Cy Twombly and Friends Best known for his graffiti paintings and sculptures, Cy Twombly has also pursued photography for some 60 years. It is this

• Both high-design and mass-market ceramics are showcased in “Mise en Œuvre,” on view in Sèvres.

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Culture Glories of Egypt

department, the Château de Malbrouck is presenting a major retrospective devoted to the work of famed photographer Robert Doisneau. Displayed both chronologically and thematically, the 300-plus photographs on view include some of Doisneau’s earliest studies of children, views of Paris between the 1940s and 1960s, landscapes, magazine commissions, and portraits of poets, writers and actors. The show also features some unexpected color photographs taken in Palm Springs in 1960. Through Aug. 28;

at Avignon’s Musée Calvet examines the glories of Egyptian civilization through more than 400 works, including sculptures, wall paintings and textiles. Among the themes dealt with in this wide-ranging show are fauna and f lora; religion, burial traditions and temple sites; Egyptian traditions in the Roman world; Coptic and Muslim Egypt; and the Egyptomania that swept France in the 18th and 19th centuries. Through Nov. 14; Fastueuse Egypte


Ceramic Arts Le décor est planté … La céramique

• Cy Twombly’s “Untitled (peonies)” (1980) is one of the photographs displayed in “Le Temps Retrouvé.”


Princely Splendors Evian’s Palais Lumière welcomes masterpieces from Vienna’s Liechtenstein Museum—the largest private art collection in Europe— in Splendeurs des collections du Prince du Liechtenstein. The paintings, sculptures and furnishings on display are representative of the museum’s focus on both the Italian and Northern Baroque as well as the Biedermeier era. Through Oct. 2; GIVERNY

The Clark Collection Some 70 masterpieces from Massachusetts’s Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute are on view at the Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny this summer. La Collection Clark à Giverny, de Manet à Renoir features canvases by Manet, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro and Sisley as well as more than 20 paintings by Renoir. The show also includes earlier work


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at the Fondation Bernardaud brings together 13 North A merican, British and European ceramic artists whose 60 works and installations—some created for this exhibit—point to the emergence of a new aesthetic in the way the medium is used in art and décor. From fanciful riffs on industrial forms to traditional china patterns to whimsical patterned creatures and highly textured sculptures, the exhibit showcases the infinite variety of ceramic art. Through Oct. 24; cultive la difference

by Corot and Millet, along with academic paintings by artists such as Gérôme and Bouguereau. July 12 through Oct. 31; GRANVILLE

Dior and Artists Before becoming a fashion designer, Christian Dior worked for a gallery that helped launch the careers of Giorgio de Chirico, Raoul Dufy, Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti and Max Jacob. As a successful couturier, he again sought out visual artists as well as writers and musicians. Dior, le Bal des Artistes at the Villa “les Rhumbs” reveals the designer’s passion for the arts and their influence on his own creations through paintings, sculptures, illustrations, photographs and couture gowns. Through Sept. 25; MANDEREN

Robert Doisneau A medieval stronghold in Lorraine’s Moselle


Costume Drama The Centre National du Costume de Scène pays tribute to one of the most quintessentially French theater companies in L’art du costume à la Comédie-Française. Spanning three centuries and comprising more than 200 costumes, the show gives pride of place to apparel from plays by Corneille, Racine and Molière. The ample inf luence of certain 20th-century directors and designers— among them Sonia Delaunay, Cecil Beaton and Christian Lacroix—is also explored. Through Dec. 31; SÈVRES

Feats of Clay Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique has inaugurated a new space devoted to contemporary works with Mise en Oeuvre: Le quotidian et l’exceptionnel sous l’oeil du design. Conceived

Co u r t e sy of Cy T w omb ly / G a gos i a n G a l l e r y

Big Brother After last year’s “Hope,” the Breton town of Dinard takes on a darker theme. Big Brother, l’artiste face aux tyrans at the Palais des Arts et du Festival looks at the relationship between art and power. The show is broken down into five sections with names such as “The Origins of Totalitarianism” and “The Rebel.” This creative journey brings together 30 mostly contemporary artists from every discipline, including Maurizio Cattelan, Jenny Holzer, Cindy Sherman, Wilfredo Prieto and Yan Pei-Ming. Through Sept. 11;

by the French design duo known as Les Sismo, the show illustrates a selection of techniques used in the creation of ceramic pieces—turning, molding, modeling, painting—both through everyday objects from retailers such as IKEA and extraordinary creations by designers such as Mathieu Lehanneur and Ettore Sottsass. Through Sept. 26; SAINT-PAUL-DE-VENCE

Chillida Retrospective Sculptor Eduardo Chillida once wrote, “I never sought beauty. But when you do things the way they’re supposed to be done, beauty can happen.” A descendant of Spanish metalworkers and stone-carvers, he studied architecture in Madrid and art in Paris before gaining international renown for his monumental abstract sculptures in iron and granite, as well as his poetic collages. The Fondation Maeght’s Eduardo Chillida: retrospective traces the artist’s career through nearly 140 works, including 80 sculptures and 60 works on paper. Through November 13;

• Jean Béraud’s “La Sortie de théâtre” is featured in “Paris au Temps des Impressionnistes” at Paris’s Hôtel de Ville.

Destination: Brittany Travelers in Brittany can take advantage of two fascinating cultural itineraries. Abbeys and historic estates in the region’s far west join forces for Chemins du Patrimoine en Finistère,

presenting exhibits, concerts and other events. Highlights include a show devoted to Polynesia, Patrick Dougherty’s intriguing stickwork sculptures, choral music, and fall and winter festivals. Meanwhile, central Morbihan is playing host to L’Art dans les chapelles. Nearly 30 chapels and other religious venues are featuring site-specific works by more than 20 international artists, resulting in a fascinating dialogue between contemporary art and religious architecture. July 8 through Sept. 18;

Summer in France means festival fever. Here

Magazine, a Chris Marker retrospective and

70 performances—from recitals to orchestral

are a few of our perennial favorites.

screenings, concerts and events citywide.

pieces—in picturesque settings; headliners

Jazz in Marciac boasts a stellar lineup

Through Sept. 18;

include Boris Berezovsky, Aldo Ciccolini and

that includes John McLaughlin, vocalist Al

The Festival d’Avignon marks its 65th

Jorge Luis Prats. July 22 through Aug. 21;

Jarreau and T.S. Monk (son of Thelonius).

birthday this year with a plethora of new

July 29 through Aug. 15;

works by international artists such as Boris

The Festival Interceltique de

ANNIVERSARY Reims at 800 The Reims Cathedral—a masterpiece of Gothic art and the coronation site of France’s kings—fêtes its 800th birthday this year. To celebrate this anniversary, the city is hosting a series of special events, including concerts, exhibits, special tours and lectures. Works by young artists are showcased in a competition featuring photography, video, paintings

and sculptures inspired by the Cathedral. And throughout the celebration, a light show projected on the façade will bring the building’s original polychrome surface back to life. Through Oct. 23;


© J e a n - G i l l e s B e r i z z i / R M N ( M u sé e d ’ O r s ay )

summer festivals

Les Rencontres d’Arles presents

Charmatz, William Forsythe, Patrick Pineau,

Lorient offers 10 days and nights of

works by leading and up-and-coming

Arthur Nauzyciel, Patrice Chéreau and Meg

traditional, folk and rock music and dancing

photographers; this year’s festival trains its

Stuart. Through July 26;

from all over the Celtic world; artists include

lens on Mexico. Also on tap: a celebration of

The Festival international de piano

Luz Casal, The Chieftains and Texas. Aug. 5

the 30th anniversary of the New York Times

in La Roque d’Anthéron features more than

through 14;

F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 1 1



spotlight on... Contemporary Art and the Côte d’Azur Art has always been a big part of the Riviera experience, with visitors retracing the footsteps of Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh and other greats. This summer, art buffs are in for a special treat: More than 40 establishments are participating in Contemporary Art and the Côte d’Azur – An Area for

showcasing the work of some 250 artists, including César, Arman, Tatiana Trouvé, Niki de Saint Phalle, Yves Klein and, yes, Picasso and Matisse. Events fall into two broad categories: the historical and the cutting-edge. The former include “Another Look at Painting” hosted by the region’s three national museums of 20th-century art (the Léger in Biot, the Chagall in Nice and the Picasso in Vallauris). These exhibitions focus on the process, materials and limits of the medium. The “cutting-edge” events are staged in venues ranging from art galleries to the International Perfume Museum in Grasse to Nice’s former abattoirs. Céleste BoursierMougenot’s whimsical “Fisheyedrone” installation at Le Lavoir, a converted wash-house, features hundreds of goldfish whose movements generate music. Ben’s exhibition “Suspense at the Windsor,” held in a Nice hotel known for its artistdecorated rooms, reflects a fondness for films such as Psycho and The Night Porter. Then there’s the Galerie Ambulante, an artmobile in which Thierry Lagalla will roam the Riviera presenting his performance piece “Potatoes & Light.” Through Nov. 27;


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Philippe Ramette’s “Rational Exploration of the Undersea: The Contact” (2006), on view at the Château de Villeneuve in Vence. For this underwater series shot off Corsica, the artist wore lead weights under his suit.

M a r c D om a g e / © P h i l i pp e R a m e tt e

Experimentation, 1951-2011,


Julien Doré Bichon

2007 Nouvelle Star (a.k.a. French “Idol”) winner Julien Doré plays guitar and ukulele on his second album, Bichon—a title chosen to reflect the album’s animalistic side. Eclectic and uninhibited, Doré spent three years crafting these songs packed with whimsy and innuendo. Not one to take things too seriously, he thanks his couch in the acknowledgements and pokes fun at popculture figures such as Glenn Close and Bon Jovi. In an album highlight, Françoise Hardy lends her voice to the sexy duet “BB Baleine,” a nod to whales and... Brigitte Bardot? Anybody’s guess. (Sony BMG) Stéphane Grappelli Plays Jerome Kern

Jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli (1908-1997) toured and recorded music—his “fountain of youth”— well into his eighties. The largely self-taught French/Italian musician is best known for creating the Hot Club of France quintet with Django Reinhardt. This compilation of his interpretations of early 20th-century composer Jerome Kern showcases Grappelli’s smooth and inventive takes on familiar standards such as “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Ol’ Man River.” (Just a Memory Records)

Sons & Images •

Sara Forestier in The Names of Love.

On Screen THE NAMES OF LOVE Opposites attract in The Names of Love, a romantic comedy starring Sara Forestier and Jacques Gamblin as Baya Benmahoud and Arthur Martin. Baya is an energetic young French-Algerian hippie who uses sex to convert conservatives to her causes, while Arthur is a middle-aged veterinary scientist specializing in bird-borne illnesses. The unlikely pair ooze natural chemistry and bond over their complicated family histories, impacted respectively by the Algerian War and Vichy. Director and writer Michel Leclerc brings humor and insight to such topics as Arab-Jewish relations, immigration, and cultural and racial identity. Forestier snagged the 2011 Best Actress César for her performance. Slated release: July 15 (Music Box Films) KORKORo The Roma Holocaust led to the death of half a million European gypsies during World War II. French director Tony Gatlif, working with historians and limited archival documentation, has now made the first film on the subject. Korkoro shares the struggle of a fictional family traveling through France to work on the grape harvest. Faced abruptly with the horrors of German occupation—their property is stolen and they are taken to a deportation camp—the family’s fate seems sealed. Two sympathetic neighbors come to their aid, obtaining their release and providing permanent housing, but this new way of life proves challenging to their nomadic spirit. Actor James Thiérrée (Charlie Chaplin’s grandson) gives a tour de force performance as Taloche, based on a Belgian gypsy who died in a Polish concentration camp. Select screenings. (Lorber Films)

new on dvd


ILLEGAL (2010) Belgian actress Anne

Coesens gives a transformative performance as Tania, an illegal Russian immigrant who lives an isolated life in constant fear of discovery, with no other family but her adolescent son. During a routine police check, she is arrested and taken to a detention center, where she endures inhuman treatment. With no easy way out, she begins a perilous journey to return to her son. Director Olivier Masset-Depasse became interested in the subject after

learning of a center close to his home. He began traveling there with a human rights lawyer to get an idea of what life was like on the inside. The film was honored with the Director’s Fortnight Award during its world premiere at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. (Film Movement) ZAZIE DANS LE MÉTRO (1960) & BLACK MOON (1975) Two films from beloved

Nouvelle Vague director Louis Malle have been digitally restored and updated with archival footage and interviews. Zazie dans

Additional film and music reviews as well as sound clips are available at

le métro stars Catherine Demongeot as a young girl ready for an adventure as she spends a weekend in Paris with her uncle (Philippe Noiret). The high-energy film, packed with tricks and special effects, was adapted from a popular Raymond Queneau novel. Malle’s lesser-known Black Moon channels Lewis Carroll—talking animals appear—as it explores the fantasy world of a young woman taking refuge in the countryside during an unnamed war. (Criterion Collection)

By RACHEL BEAMER F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 1 1


Bon Voyage

Notes for the savvy traveler • The Domaine de

Capelongue, celebrated for its food and accommodations.


Biarritz, a.k.a. France’s Surf City, is now home to a dramatic new museum. The newly opened Cité de l’Océan et du Surf

explores the role of GRAND HOTELS

• 2011 is proving to be a banner year for the Domaine de Capelongue, in the Provençal town of Bonnieux. Proprietor and chef Edouard Loubet was named “Chef of the Year” by the esteemed GaultMillau guide, and the Bastide de Capelongue, a charming inn, became one of the latest establishments to join the prestigious Relais & Châteaux hotel association. • Now open on the rue Saint-Honoré, the Mandarin Oriental Paris combines Art Deco details and Asian touches. Amenities include a fabulous spa that offers holistic treatments, a 50-foot-long swimming pool and two destination restaurants presided over by Michelin two-star chef Thierry Marx. From €765; • La Maison Champs-Elysées has just reopened its doors after a redesign by Belgian fashion house Martin Margiela. This chic five-star on the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées features 57 sophisticated yet relaxed guest rooms and suites as well as a restaurant, bar, cigar bar and secluded garden terrace. From €350; • Bohemian charm and Crayola colors are the hallmarks of Hôtel Crayon, a new 27-room establishment in the first arrondissement designed to convey the quirky world of a Parisian artist. Rooms boast vintage furnishings and vivid palettes. From €150;

the sea in human life and global ecology. The striking design, which resembles a glass box balanced on a gigantic cresting wave, was created by Brazilian artist/architect Solange Fabião—the first woman to build a

BY CAR Relais & Châteaux and Michelin have joined forces to create six new road maps (free at Maison des Relais & Châteaux stores in New York, Paris and London; Not only do they make it easy to locate the hotel association’s charming inns and gourmet restaurants, they also highlight the most picturesque ways to get there. And booking a table or a room for the night is now just a tap away thanks to Relais & Châteaux’s new iPhone app (left). • Auto Europe has recently added a large selection of hybrids from Toyota and Honda as well as low-CO2 models from Volkswagen, Citroën, Mercedes and BMW. Tel. 800/223-5555; BY BOAT Le Boat, which offers a wide range of river and canal trips in France, has just rolled out its 1500 Series, a new line of luxury hybrid cruisers. Large solar panels charge the boats’ battery banks, allowing passengers to cruise quietly under solar electric power regardless of the weather. BY PLANE Through September 4, Air France is providing daily service between San Francisco and Paris aboard its Airbus A380. The superjumbo boasts three bars on two levels—a perfect way to start the party.


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museum in France—in conjunction with Steven Holl Architects.

D O M AINE D E CA P EL O N G UE , RELAI S & CHÂT EAU X , I w a n B a a n


Bon Voyage

Notes for the savvy traveler


Participants in France Walk or Ride, organized by the nonprofit For A Cause, can raise funds for their favorite charity while exploring the French countryside by bicycle or by foot. Limited to 24 people, the package includes lodging in an 11th-century Loire Valley castle, meals and visits to different towns, wineries and châteaux. An added benefit to participants: a tax deduction equal to the cost of the trip. Sept. 11 through 17; • Look for deep discounts at summer sales throughout France; the event runs through July 26 nationwide, with the exception of certain departments in southern France (July 6 through Aug. 9) and overseas. For a complete list by department, visit • EZ Roam’s new “Abroad” service offers discounts of up to 90 percent on international roaming rates. The company also has a phone rental program ($19 for up to 3 months) and, for customers with unlocked Quad-Band GSM • Château de cell phones, an Abroad SIM Card Flocellière, ($19). Long-term rentals and host to France purchase options are also available. Walk or Ride. •

des Jardins at the

Domaine de Chaumontsur-Loire is renowned for its beauty, originality and whimsy. This year’s theme is “Gardens of the future, or the art


• When Brittany-born designer Laurence Mahéo returned to Morbihan after her father passed away, she decided to take over the family oyster business, which had been in operation since 1929. Returning to Paris with her baskets of bivalves, she wowed some of the capital’s top chefs and immediately decided to open her own oyster bar. Atao (“always” in Breton) features plates, grosses and creuses but also sake clams, aioli whelks, steamed langoustines and scallop carpaccio complemented by small parsleyed potatoes or new pan-fried leeks. For dessert: crêpes, of course. About €50 à la carte; 86 rue Lemercier, 17e; Tel. 33/1-46-27-81-12. • Pietro Russano was a sommelier before opening his own eatery, so you’d expect Retro Bottega to have a promising wine list. This tiny grocery, with just four tables, offers a selection of vino that extends from Mount Etna to Burgundy. Foodies enjoy the charcuterie: Modena sausage, mortadella, aged prosciutto di Parma.... The eggplant parmesan is to die for. €10 for the daily specialty; 12 rue Saint-Bernard, 11e; 33/1-74-64-17-39. • Pierre Jancou’s diminutive new bistro, Vivant, is housed in what used to be a shop selling exotic birds, which explains the motifs on the wall tiles. A fan of fresh, unrefined ingredients and natural, biodynamic wines, Jancou serves up such flavorful fare as sautéed green asparagus topped with fresh arugula and a perfect grainy parmesan, herbed gnocchi with ragout, and a chocolate candied-orange ganache. About €40; 43 rue des Petites Ecuries, 10e; Tel. 33/1-42-46-43-55.

Julia Sammut contributed to this section.


The Festival International

F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 11

• Vivant

of happy biodiversity.” Designers from eight nations have created 26 spaces with such intriguing names as “The Garden of Tides,” “The Garden of Extinct Plants,” “The Memory Library” and “Lucy in the Sky” (an exploration of soilless gardens). Through Oct. 16;

© S tép h a n e G r oss i n 2 0 0 9 , E r i c S a n d e r , sy lv i e h u mb e r t

(t )



What’s in store

Above THE FOLD François Azambourg’s outdoor Grillage chairs for Ligne Roset are almost too pretty to keep outside. Inspired by origami, they are made from a single sheet of creased mesh and are as comfortable as they are innovative. Available in light blue and satin black. $1,005; Tel. 800/ BY-ROSET;


KNIT and PEARL Designer Pierre Favresse and artist Emmanuelle Dupont collaborated on the ethereal Pearl lamp. It combines opalescent handblown glass with lacy cotton embroidery, which is affixed to the lamp using invisible starch-based glue. Each is unique. €1,800 plain, €2,200 with embroidery;;


F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 11

Birds of a Feather Longchamp hops on the birdie bandwagon with this new bag for spring and summer. The company has branched out a bit with the “Arbre de Vie” design—an adorable update to the classic Pliage tote. $115 to $152;


Brazil’s Campana brothers have teamed up with French porcelain manufacturer Bernardaud to create “Euro Tropiques,” a vibrant new line of dinner and dessert dishes. Kaleidoscopic, seemingly abstract patterns conceal stuffed animals, pieces of wood and fabric, snakes…. Definitely not your grandma’s china. $440 and $480 for the six-piece sets;

Summertime Blues Hermès is seeing blue this summer. Its silk twill Lalbhai scarves—larger and more lightweight than the standard carré— come in two shades of blue, as well as other hues ($760). And its stunning new Bleus d’Ailleurs tabletop collection

features cobalt-andwhite dishes, cups, serving pieces and vases in petal, dot and honeycomb patterns. $90 to $1,800;

Fresh Air

n i n a r i c c i ; © H e r m è s , Pa r i s , 2 0 11 ; bo u g i e s l a f r a n ç a i s e ; q u e l ob j e t; T HE C O NRAN S H O P

Inspired by L’Air du Temps, the iconic fragrance it introduced in 1948, Nina Ricci has just launched L’Air, a light, fresh floral scent with top notes of freesia, honeysuckle and violet leaves. The pink flacon is an unmistakable nod to its famous predecessor. Available in France; €45 to €85;

Wing Master Love birds but hate keeping them in cages? Mathieu Challières’s “Volière Tambour” table lamp has your name on it. Evoking an aviary, this whimsical showpiece features decorative faux oiseaux with real feathers. $595;

WICK AND WICKER A purveyor of high-quality, hand-molded candles, Bougies la Française is known for waxing creative. Its Spring-Summer collection features styles for every taste, including this airy wicker design. At select boutiques.

STARRING STRIPES Nothing says summer in France quite like espadrilles. And if they feature colorful stripes, well, tant mieux! Quel Objet offers a fine selection, including several from its new supplier, Artiga, in the Pyrenees foothills. Each model is named after a tiny village in southwestern France. $48;

F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 1 1


à la carte

French food & drink in America

By DoROTHY J. GaitEr & John Brecher

MOOVING TO THE STATES Michel & Augustin’s sweet treats have developed something of a cult following in France thanks to clever marketing and the antics of the company’s two young owners. High school buddies who went to business school together, they are sometimes called the Ben & Jerry of France; now they are expanding stateside. Available in gourmet shops, on and on

macaron madness


Macarons continue their little-catfeet march across America. This spring, New York celebrated its first Macaron Day, with bakers organized by François Payard giving away thousands to grateful gourmands. New books celebrating the confections include the scrumptious Macarons by Bérengère Abraham ($12.99, Spruce/Octopus).

PURE PHILADELPHIA Le Bec Fin chef Georges Perrier is lending his renowned talents to a new company devoted to gourmet frozen foods. Founded by his wife, her brother and sister-in-law, Pure Gourmet has débuted a line of organic, non-dairy sorbets and gelatos in fun flavors: tropical, pear ginger, apple pie, mojito, bananas foster.... $5.75; available at select Whole Foods and other locations.

NO FAUX MARGAUX Counterfeit wine has been a problem for centuries—The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace is a good book on the subject. Château Margaux is fighting back with a bubble tag on every bottle that will allow owners to go online and verify authenticity. More top châteaux are expected to follow suit.

GINGER, A SNAP! Domaine de Canton, a ginger liqueur made in France’s Cognac region, has been gaining American fans since it was introduced here a few years ago. Typically served on the rocks or in hot toddies, it is now inspiring celebrity chefs: Eric Ripert and François Payard have made it the secret ingredient in dishes ranging from salads to dessert. About $32; recipes are posted on


F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 11

And there’s more sweet news: • Ladurée has announced that it is opening an outpost on New York’s Madison Avenue in late summer. We hear lines are already forming.... • Little Oven in Long Island City, NY, offers an adorable macaron baby gift: “Two mini onesie cookies nestled with eight macarons in four flavors.” $22; • Michel Patisserie in Northern Virginia continues to add to its innovative macaron selection, which can be shipped nationwide. New this summer: milk chocolate with Thai peppers and caramelized bacon. • Launched in November, Austin’s La Pâtisserie by Luxe Sweets features a creative selection of macarons. Owner Soraiya Nagree says that caramel fleur de sel has emerged as a favorite.

M i c h e l & A u g u st i n , p u r e go u r m e t, © J e a n - B e r n a r d N a d e a u , dom a i n e d e c a n to n , É m e r a i n v i l l e

Grower Champagnes are now easier to find, thanks to, launched in January by Bryan and Abigail Maletis of Seattle, WA. A recent favorite: Maxime Toubart Cuvée Brut Tradition ($44). Toubart, 34, is a third-generation grape-grower. His Brut is nicely fruity, somewhat full in the mouth, crisp at the end…and dances with food.

( ) Talking wine at the White House with…

Bill Plante

Veteran correspondent and inveterate wine lover

You have been working the White House beat since the early ’80s and have been senior White House correspondent for CBS News since 1993. Even back when you were on the campaign trail with Ronald Reagan, you were known for your knowledge of wine. When did your love of wine begin? You know, I didn’t drink beer in

• Bill Plante emcees

an event at the 2011 Heart’s Delight wine auction to benefit the American Heart Association.

Does President Obama drink wine? I don’t know the answer to that. The

college. I drank cheap Chianti. But when I got to New York in 1963, I started experimenting with ’59 Burgundies. A couple of years later, I bought my first Lafite for $5.95. Can you imagine? In 1969, when I was 31 and living in Chicago, I bought two bottles of ’49 Cheval Blanc for $20 each. I wish I had bought two cases. But back then, I had six kids and was making $50,000 a year. I still have one of those bottles.

Obama Administration recently had a cocktail reception for broadcast people, and the President moved from group to group without a glass in his hand. I had a sparkling wine. It was a very good sparkler but not Champagne. The White House has served only American wine since the Gerald Ford administration. But I do remember a state dinner President Reagan hosted for French President François Mitterrand and his wife, Danielle, in 1984. They served American wine throughout the dinner but brought out French Champagne at the end. It was a very nice touch.

When was your first trip to France? In 1971. My first trip to Burgundy was in ’72, and my first to Bordeaux in ’75. I still have a picture somewhere of me with way too much hair, wearing ugly bell-bottom pants and sitting on a stone marker for Taittinger.

p h oto c o u r t e sy of H e a r t ’ s D e l i g h t W i n e Ta st i n g & A u c t i o n

Any other memorable firsts? The first Hermitage Blanc I had was in Beirut, in 1970. It was magnificent. Thomas Jefferson loved Bordeaux, of course. And President Nixon reputedly loved Château Margaux so much that he had White House waiters serve it to him (obscuring the label with a white napkin) and pour lesser wine for his guests. Have any presidents you’ve covered really liked wine or admitted to liking French wine? Reagan didn’t have a problem admitting it, although he didn’t drink much. His deputy chief of staff, Michael Deaver, told me that there were still some wines—including Romanée-Conti—at Reagan’s ranch from the President’s movie-making days. They lived pretty high in Hollywood in the ’50s. We’ve heard that you brought wine with you on press trips with Reagan when he was

found some ’55 and ’59 Latour, Margaux and Lafite. He and I actually drank several of them in his office. But when it came to the ’59 Latour, Deaver said, “I think I’d better save this one for the President.”

running for president in 1980. At the time, he was governor of California and a strong supporter of the wines of his state. I had a “flying wine cellar”—I kept bottles in the storage bin above my head. Deaver saw them one day and said we should give some to Reagan. So we took a bottle of Raymond Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa up to his seat, and Deaver says, “Governor, this is Bill Plante of CBS News.” Reagan looks at the bottle, smiles and asks, “Are you Raymond?” Then, he tasted it and said, “You know, the boys at the Wine Institute would probably say this will be a lot better in a few years.” [Raymond Vineyards has since been bought by the Boisset winemaking and importing family, which hails from Burgundy.] One day not long after Reagan came into office, Deaver and I wondered whether any of Nixon’s Bordeaux were still around in the White House wine cellar. Deaver went to look and

What is your current favorite restaurant for wine in the nation’s capital? I like Proof, as a wine-bar restaurant, and Michel Richard’s Citronelle, which has pretty impressive food and wine. And what is your favorite wine? I love mature Bordeaux, and I can never drink enough good Burgundy, though I have more Bordeaux in my cellar than Burgundy. I drink reds mostly with meals and whites anytime. I have quite a few bottles of Chablis and Sancerre. Any trips planned to France? My wife, Robin, and I will be in France this summer. The group with which we often go biking is going to the Dordogne this year. We were there on bikes 15 years ago, but a return seemed in order— particularly because this time, we start in the east and finish in Saint-Emilion. After the bike trip, we plan to spend a couple of days in the city of Bordeaux, two in Margaux and three in Paris. Next year, Burgundy! F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 1 1


à la carte

French food & drink in America

la gazette BORDEAUX'S GOT HEART McMINNVILLE, OR Smack Top Bordeaux châteaux in the middle of Oregon’s once again made generous beautiful wine country, French chef Jean-Jacques Chatelard contributions to the annual and his wife, Deborah, have Heart’s Delight wine tasting an idea at Bistro Maison that should become a national and auction, held in May trend: Bring Your Own Best in Washington, DC, to Bottle (BYOBB) Wine Cellar Dinner on the last Thursday benefit the American Heart of every month ($42 for fiveAssociation. The event course dinner and corkage waived). raised more than $1 million. Clockwise from top left: Chef Jean-Jacques Chatelard NEW YORK Despite the of Bistro Maison; steak frites, the specialty at Medium Donating châteaux included name, Paris Baguette is Rare; Sofia Colin shows off Tout de Sweet’s gourmet temptations; sandwiches to go at Paul bakery. Korean. It’s the largest chain Beychevelle, Brane-Cantenac, of franchised bakeries in Carbonnieux, Clinet, Corbin, Korea, with about 2,500 locations; now it is expanding in the States. The chain recently opened its first outlet in Manhattan, which brings to 14 the number of shops in the U.S.; Coutet, Domaine Clarence the next one is slated for Washington, DC. For training and baking technology, Paris Dillon (Haut-Brion was the Baguette turned to the famous Lenôtre culinary enterprise in France. It shows: The buttery chocolate croissants and flaky raspberry tarts are heavenly. featured first growth), Guiraud, WASHINGTON, DC Founded in Paris in 1889, Paul bakery is now present in 22 countries, Haut-Bailly, Issan, Lafonwhere fans dream about its fragrant breads and chocolate éclairs. This spring, Paul opened a bakery-café on Washington DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue, with another one Rochet, Palmer, Malarticplanned for Georgetown later this year. Next up: stores in Philadelphia, Boston, New York Lagravière and Pontet-Canet. and Miami. • The new Medium Rare in Cleveland Park caters to those with a yen for steak frites: The $19.50 prix fixe—and only—menu consists of pain de campagne, salade verte, steak culotte, frites et sauce secrète. “It’s sort of the Parisian model of keeping it simple,” says les recettes co-owner Tom Gregg, who designed the menu with the help of consulting chef Cédric Maupillier, formerly of Central Planning to celebrate le 14 juillet? Stéphane Verdille, the talented chef at the French Michel Richard, and the great Michel Consulate in New York, has cooked up some liberté-inspired amuse bouches for the Richard himself. mediumrarerestaurant. occasion. All recipes and more photos are available on com • Lyon-born pastry chef Jérôme • Bavarois with a basil infusion, cherry tomatoes, pine Colin and his wife, Sofia, are tempting nut tapenade and hyssop flower “Inspired by the visitors with gourmet goodies at their palette of Eugène Delacroix’s ‘La Liberté.’” new Tout de Sweet pastry shop in Bethesda, MD. • Gougères with rosemary and goat cheese mousseline “Cheese puffs are a must at every buffet!” tout-de-sweet

A Bastille Day Cocktail Party!

• Chewing gum-flavored marshmallow “When the Americans landed in France during WWII, they handed out sticks of chewing gum.” • Mini chou pastries, chocolate mousse and a chocolate Marianne “On Bastille Day, the symbol of the French Republic is de rigueur!”


F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 11

© J a so n Co l sto n 2 0 11, m e d i u m r a r e , A l l e go r y, to u t d e s w e e t, S . VER D ILLE

à la carte

French food & drink in America

A propos...

He brought the world into the kitchen and the kitchen into the world.

— Chef Thomas Keller, praising Paul Bocuse during a Culinary Institute of America ceremony on March 30, 2011, naming the Lyon legend “Chef of the Century.”

DRINK UP…AND UP The U.S. has overtaken France as the top consumer of wine: Americans drank 330 million cases of wine last year—about a third imported—while the French drank 320 million cases. Per capita consumption has soared nearly 25 percent in a decade, with Americans now drinking around 2.5 gallons of wine each year—still only about a fifth as much as the French.

mille feuilles


• Bettane & Desseauve’s Guide to the Wines of France by Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve. The French wine experts bring special expertise to this 800-page reference work. They believe the mark of any fine wine is balance; appropriately, the book itself is a balanced look at the current state of French wine. Destined to be on the shelf of every wine lover. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $35.

• How to Eat a Small Country: A Family’s Pursuit of Happiness, One Meal at a Time by Amy Finley. The author won a Food Network show but temporarily lost her French-born husband. So the family moved to France and healed over locally sourced food, from sheep’s feet to monkfish cheeks. Includes the most uncomfortable rabbit scene since Fatal Attraction. Clarkson Potter, $24.

• Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light by David Downie. This updated series of essays by an American in Paris is a delicious, opinionated and loving look at the history, people and quirks of Paris. Among the most memorable bites is this description of the city’s cafés: “They’re the stomach, lungs, liver, bad conscience and, yes, the soul of the city.” Broadway Books, $15.

• A Covert Affair: Julia and Paul Child in the OSS by Jennet Conant. It turns out that what Julia Child was cooking up during the war was intrigue. A best-selling non-fiction author looks at what Julia and Paul did during the war, as they very slowly fell in love, and how they dealt with McCarthyism afterward. The real focus is on their friend Jane Foster, a fascinating and ultimately tragic figure. Simon & Schuster, $28.

• At My French Table: Food, Family and Joie de Vivre in a Corner of Normandy by Jane Webster. The author and her husband follow their foodie dreams from Australia to Normandy, where they rebuild a château, establish a cooking-school business and raise their four children. A beautiful book in every way, including marvelous photographs and delicious seasonal, regional recipes. Viking/Penguin, $40.

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A B 3 C ; © y v o n 5 2 / F O T O LIA

• Salad as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season by Patricia Wells. Inspired by her garden in Provence, the noted food writer offers easy-to-follow directions for main-course salads. A bonus: wine pairings. For those who don’t think of vin and salade as a natural pair, check out “Warm Asian Shrimp Salad With Kaffir Lime Dust” with a Tavel rosé. William Morrow, $34.99.


Good Connections


the founder of télécoms sans frontières explains how phone calls can save lives by Sara Romano

What do people want most when conflicts or natural disasters destroy their homes or make them refugees? After nearly a decade of international humanitarian work, a handful of volunteers from the southwestern French city of Pau made the surprising observation that in the hours after catastrophe strikes, a phone call was worth as much to most dispossessed people as food or clothing. This eventually led them to launch Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), a non-governmental organization specialized in providing voice and data communications in disaster areas.

Today, TSF has bases in three countries— France, Nicaragua and Thailand—and a nimble staff of 20 employees and 30 consultants who can be on the ground within 24 hours in emergency zones anywhere in the world. The organization’s budget ranges from €2 to €3 million a year and is funded by the European Commission, the United Nations Foundation (created with a $1 billion donation from CNN founder Ted Turner) and a smattering of global telecommunications heavyweights such as AT&T and Vodafone. France Magazine recently spoke with co-founder Jean-François Cazenave, who recounted his organization’s origins and expanding mission. Where did you get the idea for TSF?

In the beginning, we were simply a group of aid workers distributing food and medical supplies on behalf of organizations such as Solidarité Pyrénéenne and SOS Action Humanitaire. Our first mission was delivering food to Iraqi Kurdistan back in April 1991. In November of that same year, we entered 24

F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 11

the besieged Croatian city of Vukovar with a 38-ton truck packed with medical supplies; it was part of a partnership we had at the time with Pharmaciens Sans Frontières. Then between 1992 and 1996, we volunteered in Bosnia-Herzegovina, leading 50 aid convoys through the besieged cities of Sarajevo and Mostar. Everywhere we went—Iraqi Kurdistan, Croatia, Bosnia—people would pull a little piece of paper out of their shoe with a phone number scribbled on it. They’d point to the number and say, “When you’re back in France, when you’re back in Europe, please call these families and tell them we’re alive.” Or they’d say, “I have a child who’s dead, and I have no news of my other child, who was separated from me during the displacement.” Or, “My uncle is dead, but my husband is in a prison camp. Give some news, tell my family I’m here.” And so on and so forth. Gradually, we realized that there was a need among refugees that hadn’t been met: the need for people to get in touch with their next of kin.

When did you first try to meet that need?

In June 1998, we set up our first satellite calling operations with SOS Action Humanitaire in Albania, along the Kosovo border, about 10 hours (in a four-wheel drive) from Tirana. The region was totally cut off from communication networks. Overnight, refugees would cross the border, walk through the mountains and take shelter on the Albanian side. They were hungry and some were injured or wounded. Yet instead of heading for the food counter or the medical unit, they headed straight for our single satellite phone. That’s when we realized that in the early days of an emergency, communicating with relatives and friends was often more important than eating or getting medical help. People wanted direct and immediate telephone contact. What was incredible was that a week later, we saw the first German, French,

• Opposite page: TSF founder Jean-François Cazenave with children in Niger during the 2005

famine; it was the group’s first experience setting up communications systems to relay early warning signs of potential emergencies. Above: TSF can arrive at disaster sites within 24 hours; here, it is on the ground during the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. Right: A refugee reconnecting with family during the 2004 war in Chad.

British and Italian cars pull into this remote corner of Albania to pick up relatives—all thanks to the phone calls they’d received on our phone line. In July, we founded Télécoms Sans Frontières.

Télécoms Sans Frontières

Did your Balkan operations end there?

No. In April 1999, we intervened along the Macedonian border. Slobodan Milosevic had just ousted one million Kosovars—500,000 on the Albanian side and 500,000 on the Macedonian side. At that point, we still had only one satellite phone. Initially, there were 400 people in our camp; three days later, there were 25,000. A line a kilometer long formed in front of that single satellite phone. People stood patiently all night and for much of the next day to make a call. Before long, CNN, CBS, the BBC, France 2, TF1 and other major world media came to film this endless queue of people waiting to use that lone satellite phone. Bernard Kouchner, then the French Minister of Health, was in Thessaloniki, Greece, at the time. I was told that he saw the report on CNN and wondered who these Télécoms Sans Frontières people were. Immediately afterward, the French Foreign Ministry contacted us and donated 10 satellite phones.

Where did your funding come from in those early days?

That first donation from the French Foreign Ministry started our cooperation with them, although that was the only time they gave us any financial support. After that, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees asked us to help them in every emergency situation, which we did for the next two years, going to Eritrea, Guinea Conakry and so on. Meanwhile, in August 1999, we became involved in Turkey after the earthquake. We put all of our voice-based satellite communications equipment at the service of aid organizations. And we found that what was true of refugee populations—that they had no communications equipment—was also true of aid organizations. They had no satellite equipment allowing them to coordinate their operations and react quickly. So a second window opened for TSF: supporting aid organizations. For years after that, we set up satellite telephone links for those organizations. When did the Internet come in?

In 2001, TSF received its first mobile data satellite equipment, meaning for Internet connections. It was transportable and weighed approximately 20 kilos. When we entered

Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, in November 2001, we set up the first satellite connection for aid organizations arriving on the scene. Did you help out during the Iraq War too?

Yes. In April 2003, we followed U.S. forces into Baghdad and set up the first telecommunications center for international aid organizations there. For eight months, every international aid organization working in Baghdad hooked up using TSF’s satellite services. It was our first partnership with the European Commission, which later became a very important partner in pretty much all of our missions. Since 2002, we have been the telecom partner for the European Commission’s Aid Department (ECHO). Can you give any specific examples of instances where TSF has saved someone’s life?

We save lives by saving precious time. One example occurred in Bam, Iran, during the 2003 earthquake. People from France’s civil defense agency were there, and one of their surgeons pointed out a little girl whose leg could be saved if she could get to a Paris hospital— otherwise, it would have to be amputated. The problem was that the child had just lost her mother, lived alone with her father and F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 1 1


had no identity papers, so it was impossible to get her out of the country. The Iranian authorities said they were prepared to draw up administrative documents according to standard procedures, but that would have taken much too long. So we photographed the child’s face and sent it to Tehran; they put it on a document, scanned it and sent it to Bam via our satellite connection. The child was able to fly out that day, and her leg was saved that night in Paris.

though there were prevention systems in place monitoring indicators such as the circumference of a child’s upper arm, the price of millet in the village and the number of sudden bovine deaths. All of these indicators were sent weekly to a central body that alerted institutions such as the World Food Programme, which could declare an emergency in the area. But these villages were located a twodays’ drive—in a four-wheel-drive vehicle— from the first paved road. Sometimes the

“CNN, CBS, the BBC, France 2, TF1 and other major world media

came to film the endless queue of people waiting to use our lone satellite phone.”

branch in Washington, volunteers can be mobilized in three hours to fly out to wherever they may be needed. They can reach any part of the world within 24 hours and be fully operational. Our equipment is light and easily transportable. You can’t be a big machine if you’re going to respond rapidly. We’re an emergency NGO, we have to be able to go everywhere and to get there fast. What were some of your recent missions? Were you in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami?

Of course. We provided telecom support from Tokyo for the first UN units. After that, we ran into logistical problems. It was hard to get around, and after six days, we left for safety reasons. Safety reasons?

What is your current funding picture?

Most of our financing comes from telecommunications companies, the UN Foundation, the European Commission, the Conseil Régional d’Aquitaine and other similar entities. What’s the future for TSF?

Recently, we’ve become increasingly involved in a number of programs that use communications to promote health. One of our earliest experiences was in Niger in 2005, during the famine. When we arrived, there were thousands and thousands of dead children, even

information reached the capital by bicycle, bus or camel, if it got there at all. With the European Commission, we decided to set up satellites in all these remote areas—in Nigeria, Mali, Chad, the Algerian desert. That way, information would arrive instantly. We spent two years working on that project. Concretely, what happens when an emergency situation arises in some corner of the world?

From our three regional bases and our

Yes. We’re no strangers to war zones. We were the first aid group to enter Baghdad, among the first in Afghanistan, first at the Libyan border. We know how to do that. But we don’t know how to provide aid following a disaster at a nuclear power plant. So we decided to fly our personnel back. Are you in Libya at the moment?

Yes. Initially, we set up operations on the Tunisian side of the Libyan border, where we faced an outpouring of refugees. Between February 23 and May 13, we made 40,000 satellite connections for a total of 115 different nationalities. That’s a record for us.

TSF’s U.S. Friends Take a look at the roster of TSF sponsors, and you’ll find a good

It works with the State Department and the FCC to coordinate

number of U.S. names—AT&T and Cable & Wireless chief among them.

emergency telecom response to disasters, and during the Haiti

That fan base is poised to expand later this year, when the Friends of

earthquake, it received help from the White House Office of Science

TSF, an American 501(c)(3) organization, makes its début. Steering the

and Technology Policy.

operation: Paul Margie, a telecoms lawyer who previously served as

which shut down landlines and mobile phones. “We went into the

Commissioner Michael J. Copps.

makeshift camps every day and provided free three-minute phone

Margie first came across TSF in 2005, when he was Senior Director

calls,” he recalls. “It was one of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve

for Technology Partnerships at the United Nations Foundation. Together

ever had. It brought home to me in a very personal way that there is a

with the Vodafone Foundation, he sought ways to use technology to

human need in these terrible situations to reconnect with family, to let

advance humanitarian missions. Again and again, TSF’s name came up

people know where you are, to access the help they can give you when

as the emergency telecom leader. “We decided to fund them and help

all the official emergency-response facilities are struggling.” —SR

them establish deeper relationships with the UN,” relates Margie.

Information about donating to TSF or becoming a volunteer is available

TSF already has friends in high places on this side of the Atlantic:


Margie did some TSF fieldwork himself during the Haiti catastrophe,

counsel to Senator John D. Rockefeller IV and as an advisor to FCC

F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 11


A Good Look at Fashion’s

B D Boy

The first international exhibition devoted to Jean Paul Gaultier is currently on view at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, with future venues planned for Dallas and San Francisco. Call it far-out or fabulous, just don’t call it a retrospective. For the rebellious couturier, it’s a creation in its own right. By Tina IsAac

After more than three decades in the fashion industry, Jean Paul Gaultier is still earning kudos for his groundbreaking collections. Seen here sporting a faux mohawk, he shares a gleeful moment with model Farida Khelfa at January’s hugely successful “Punk Cancan” haute couture show. France • A u t u m n 2 0 0 6


It’s been 35 years

since Jean Paul Gaultier launched his fashion house,

and in that time his ready-to-wear business has swelled to include bestselling fragrances, couture (in 1997), children’s wear, home décor and the occasional foray into makeup (cleverly marketed for men). Yet at 59, the accomplished designer is still known as fashion’s enfant terrible, a reputation he cultivates with gusto and his trademark cheeky humor. A recent example was his Spring 2011 haute couture show, which melded 19th-century French cancan dancers with a London punk inspiration. He dubbed the collection “Punk Cancan,” and the audience loved it. Per tradition, the défilé closed with a ravishing bride—who turned out to be the androgynous male model Andrej Pejic. Gaultier reckons the moniker endures because he still dares to dream. “Since the age of six, fashion has been my dream,” he says. “Forty-one years ago, I started living that dream at Pierre Cardin. And once I started living my dream, it occurred to me that I had no reason to lie.” He notes that he was a proficient fibber in his youth, perhaps in order to make himself more interesting to others. As if to prove that he truly has been rehabilitated, he is brutally honest about his dim view of retrospectives: “To me, retrospectives are for dead people. That’s why I have always refused to do them.” So what made the designer agree to “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk,” now on view at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts? In large part, the answer lies in his lifelong passion for theater. Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin of Montreal’s UBU theater company helped stage the event, turning what might have been a garden-variety fashion exhibition into an iconoclastic event à la Gaultier. The designer discovered Marleau at the 2002 Festival d’Avignon, where he was putting on a production of Maeterlinck’s The Blind. The staging relied on sophisticated, hyper-realistic projection technology to create visual surprise and explore what is and what isn’t. For Gaultier’s exhibition, Marleau has recast his technique as a reflection on individuality. Thirty mannequins with animated faces created by audiovisual projections on specially modeled heads crop up in unexpected places throughout the show, the intent being to surprise visitors with their lifelike presence. In addition to Gaultier himself, visitors will encounter models Eve Salvail and Francisco Randez, Quebecoise TV personality Virginie Coossa, soprano Suzie Leblanc and musician Melissa Auf der Maur. In a very real sense, the exhibition was designed to take on a life of its own, to exist as a creation in its own right. 30

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Barbarella body corset “Les Actrices” collection Haute couture F/W 2009-2010

Étoiles et toiles dress “Les Actrices” collection Haute couture F/W 2009-2010

Helen Mirren in a film poster for The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, directed by Peter Greenaway, 1989.

Stage costume created for Yvette Horner for her Casino de Paris show, December 22–31, 1990.

Nathalie Bondil, the director and chief curator of the Montreal Museum

of Fine Arts, says that Gaultier was a dream to work with. “He’s a dynamo. He is chronically curious about new things, he’s an idea machine, and at the same time, he’s amazingly gentle and generous. It’s astonishing to find all that in someone of his stature.” Even more than Gaultier’s remarkable fashions, it was the couturier’s humanity that made him such an appealing subject. “Beyond his technical virtuosity, his unbridled imagination and ground-breaking artistic collaborations, he has an open-minded vision of society—a crazy, sensitive, funny, sassy world in which everyone can assert his or her own identity, a world without discrimination,” she says. “His is a unique ‘fusion couture.’” She adds that beneath Gaultier’s wit and irreverence lie a generosity of spirit and a powerful message for society. “His work reflects the multicultural world we live in, and his humanist aesthetic touches me deeply.” Accordingly, Bondil wanted to highlight Gaultier’s social relevance as well as his fashion genius. “This retrospective is not only about letting visitors see the extraordinary craft that goes into couture, which is accessible to only a few people. With this exhibition, we’re also


Barbarella body corset“Les Actrices” collection Haute couture Fall/Winter 2009-2010

Calligraphie dress “Les Cages” collection Haute couture F/W 2008-2009

Costume sketch for The Fifth Element, directed by Luc Besson, 1997.

addressing values.” First among them is our notion of boundaries, be they cultural, social or sexual. In spite of the fact that so many of the designer’s signatures are instantly recognizable—the campy iconic sailor stripes; the taste for eroticism, androgyny and kitsch; the urban jungle—the show’s themes took some time to develop. In order to sidestep the constraints of chronology and reflect the scope of his audacity, inventiveness and influences (cultural and countercultural), the organizers eventually settled on six themes: The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier, The Boudoir, Skin Deep, Eurostar, Urban Jungle and Metropolis. Skin Deep, for example, examines both the romance and the trashier side of tattoos and was inspired by the designer’s most recent collaboration with film director Pedro Almodóvar on The Skin I Live In. The 120 ensembles on view were culled from Gaultier’s recurring cast of sailors and mermaids, provocateurs and Parisiennes. Some are borrowed from the runway or from house archives; others are taken from video and dance performances; stage costumes; popular music collaborations with Mylène Farmer, Madonna and Kylie Minogue; interviews; TV shows and films by the likes of Almodóvar, Peter

Gaultier’s most futuristic designs explore advanced technology and science fiction—an interest sparked by the New Wave and House music of the late 1970s. Ever since his 1979 “High Tech” collection, he has remained on fashion’s cutting edge, experimenting with materials such as vinyl, neoprene, inflatables and 3-D fabrics not typically seen on the catwalk. The “Metropolis” section of the exhibition highlights these avant-garde creations as well as his numerous collaborations with pop and rock musicians, from Madonna and Prince to Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. His work with choreographers and filmmakers—among them Pedro Almodóvar and Peter Greenaway—is also showcased through sketches, costumes and film clips.

Greenaway, Luc Besson, Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The show also features a number of rarely seen or previously unseen works by celebrated contemporary artists and fashion photographers: Andy Warhol, David LaChapelle, Cindy Sherman, Pierre et Gilles, Mario Testino, Paolo Roversi, Richard Avedon, Robert Doisneau, Jean-Baptiste Mondino…. Together, they round out Gaultier’s unique world-view. Among the exhibition highlights is a dress repurposed from raffia

placemats the designer brought back from the Philippines in 1975, while he was still at Pierre Cardin—an idea that was both inexpensive and prescient, coming as it did more than three decades ahead of the recycling trend. This is the first time it has been publicly displayed. More well-known are the famous looks from the milestone collection “La concierge est dans l’escalier” (“The concierge is in the stairway,” Spring/Summer 1988). Here, lingerie has been spirited from the wardrobe of the designer’s beloved grandmother and reinterpreted not only into evening attire but an entire attitude. Gaultier has often referred to his grandmother’s profound influence France • SUMMER 2 0 1 1


The Boudoir

Gaultier’s first sketches from the early 1960s reveal his interest in corsets and lingerie. This fascination can be traced back to his grandmother, who introduced him to women’s fashions, and to the film Falbalas (1945), which chronicles the rise of a young couturier. Gaultier’s predilection for every manner of feminine lingerie led him to reinvent classic looks, transforming various undergarments, cone-shaped bras and corset dresses into symbols of power. The exhibit examines the “Boudoir” theme through Gaultier’s designs for Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour, his “Barbès” and “Le Dadaïsme” collections, and the provocative flacons he created for his Classique and Le Mâle fragrances.

Dita Von Teese photographed by Perou for Flaunt magazine, 2003. “Le Dadaïsme” collection, Women’s RTW S/S 1983 xx

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Gaultier’s sketch of Madonna’s stage costume for the Blond Ambition World Tour, 1989-1990.

Jean Paul Gaultier Classique eau de toilette

Jean Paul Gaultier and his maternal grandmother, Marie, about 1958.

on him—it was she who taught him to sew and introduced him to the Théâtre du Châtelet. In a recent interview, he noted that she was the kind of woman who, in an absent-minded moment, could dash out of the house to run errands dressed only in her slip; her strength of character was such that she was unfazed. The insolence of the “Concierge” corset, as worn by Madonna in her Blond Ambition tour more than 20 years ago, resonates to this day (Gaultier included leather corsets in his final show for Hermès, in 2010). With this collection, Gaultier created a brave new world where the louche symbols of the Parisian lower middle class—the beret, the cigarette, the kerchief, the swagger—stepped down from the silver screen and sauntered uptown, figuratively speaking, to the neighborhood of high fashion. “Gaultier drew on proletarian and verging-on-the-criminal-class kinds of looks that are very Parisian, and he’s the only one who has touched on that in fashion,” comments fashion historian Valerie Steele, the director of The Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York and a contributor to the Montreal museum’s 424-page monograph of the show. “His is a very subversive take on fashion in a variety of ways, in particular, in terms of sexuality and gender. It was really unusual for a designer to violate class norms and the norms of good taste, elegance and beauty.” Gaultier also challenged attitudes about gender by putting men in skirts, women in pinstripe suits and blurring the lines between the two. “The most feminine thing about me is my masculine side,” the designer famously said, noting that the opposite is equally true. Similarly, he challenged conventional wisdom about luxury: When he launched his first perfume in 1993, the designer rattled the refined world of perfumery by packaging his corset bottle in a tin can. The industry scoffed at the idea, but the product was an instant hit. The exhibition replays these moments of fashion history while also showcasing looks from less familiar collections, which Steele believes deserve more attention. Of note are the cultural mash-up known as the “Mongol” collection of Fall/Winter 1994-1995 and the “Hasidic” collection of 1993. But the items that will surely draw the most attention are those that focus on sexuality, foremost among them Madonna’s bustier for the Blond Ambition tour and the designer’s cone-bra dresses. Gaultier has always stood out in the fashion world for celebrating different colors and shapes, and many of them are on view in Montreal. “I don’t believe in one type of beauty,” says the designer, who maintains that elegance is both “innate and moral” and comes in all ages and sizes. The women he sends down the catwalk— conventionally beautiful or otherwise—are frequently two or three (or more) times the age of the average model. “Beth Ditto has the confidence to feel good in her own skin,” says Gaultier. “One Beth Ditto is worth four Kate Mosses.” He admits, however, that while his “alternative” approach to beauty may have been born of conviction, it was also a matter of necessity. “Early on, my casting was atypical, primarily because allblonde shows were the norm, and I didn’t want that,” he says. “But I also didn’t have any money, so I recruited friends and hired girls in the street.” The result was the exotic faces of the ’80s, such as the statuesque French-Algerian model Farida Khelfa, whose documentary about the designer aired on French television days before she walked in his latest couture show, and Salvail, whose head is shaved and tattooed. France • SUMMER 2 0 1 1


This past spring,

Puig, which also

owns Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci and Paco Rabanne, bought Hermès’s shares in the Gaultier brand. While disinclined to elaborate on his breakup with Hermès, Gaultier says simply, “Love stories tend to last for three, seven or 13 years—or else they last forever. Mine lasted seven, which is pretty good.” The Puig acquisition opens yet another chapter for fashion’s perennial bad boy, but if his most recent collections are any indication, he is still in fighting form. Time and again, the designer has shown that he can not only survive but thrive by doing things his own way. To wit: In the past decade, his house has stood out among international heavyweights for its absence of an It bag or otherwise über-trendy accessory. Gaultier’s priority has always been fashion. “What has always given me strength in times of crisis is that I started out with nothing and made do, so I know I can do it again,” he says. Still, he acknowledges that fashion is not what it was back when he transformed those souvenir placemats into a dress. Since then, it has become big business, which means that there is no longer the room there once was for improvisation. The extreme stress put on designers today has become common knowledge—especially in the wake of Alexander McQueen’s death and the John Galliano debacle— and the tyranny of celebrity culture makes it easy for young designers to be motivated by fame over fashion. “In the ’60s, hardly anyone knew what Yves Saint Laurent looked like,” Gaultier points out. The designer himself only recently joined the social media age, posting a Tweet pic of himself sporting a mohawk backstage at his couture show. As different as Yves Saint Laurent and Gaultier are, the latter is considered by many—Pierre Bergé among them—to be the fashion legend’s spiritual heir. Like YSL, Gaultier’s style is also instantly recognizable, occasionally provocative (the androgynous factor) and singularly French, with craftsmanship that typifies French excellence. Bondil points out a neat if unintentional parallel between the two: Saint Laurent was the subject of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ previous fashion retrospective. “They share a driving passion and have many points in common, but their careers followed opposite trajectories,” she notes. Yves Saint Laurent came from couture and invented ready-to-wear, while Gaultier came from ready-to-wear, where he created powerful, enduring icons, and wound up as the century’s last great couturier. The twist in Gaultier’s story is that his Parisienne is not on a pedestal—and she is not even necessarily from Paris anymore. “Dita Von Teese is a perfect Parisienne, and she’s from Michigan,” he notes. Fortunately, in the wondrous world of Gaultier, we can all be Parisiennes. “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier” opened June 17 and runs through Oct. 2, 2011, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It will then travel to the Dallas Museum of Art (Nov. 13 through Feb. 12, 2012) and the de Young Museum in San Francisco (March 24 through Aug. 19, 2012).


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Paris est une fête gown (detail) “Paris and Its Muses” collection Haute couture F/W 2000–2001

“Untitled (Garrett Neff),” 2005, by Karl Lagerfeld; appeared in Numéro magazine (Men’s Special Issue), Fall-Winter 2006-2007. “GAULTIER²” collection Men’s RTW S/S 2007

Ensemble modeled by Solange Wilvert in Cuzco; photographed by Thierry Le Gouès for French Revue de Modes, October 2010. “Voyage, Voyage” collection, Women’s RTW F/W 2010-2011.

Model with mercury-dyed feather hairstyle by Odile Gilbert; photographed backstage. “Paris et ses égéries” collection Haute couture F/W 2000–2001

Circé ensemble modeled by Dita Von Teese; photographed by Perou for Flaunt magazine, 2003. “Buttons” collection Haute couture S/S 2003

Urban Jungle Today’s multicultural and ethnically diverse society has had an enormous influence on Gaultier’s designs. This section of the exhibit features selections from collections inspired by boubou-clad Africans, Arabs from Paris’s Barbès neighborhood, Hasidic Jews, Flamenco dancers, Bollywood maharajahs.… It also takes a look at the designer’s use of natural animal-based materials such as feathers, leather, python and crocodile skin.

Dubar gown modeled by Alek Wek; photographed by Karl Lagerfeld for Numéro magazine, March 2000. “Romantic India” collection Haute Couture S/S 2000

France • A u t u m n 2 0 0 6


Glowing ocher in the late afternoon sunlight, Le Havre’s neoclassical city center—reconstructed after WWII by Auguste Perret—was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.


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Lutetia by the

SeA A massive urban renewal p r o j e c t d u b b e d “ G r a n d Pa r i s ” intends to fulfill Bonaparte’s dream of making L e H a v r e t h e p o r t o f Pa r i s . M i c h e l Fa u r e v i s i t e d t h i s r e s i l i e n t Norman city as it prepares to take on this new role.

By Michel Faure

Franc e • SU M M ER 2 0 1 1


Avenue Foch,

one of Le Havre’s main thoroughfares, is a broad, straight boulevard lined with buildings that seem to stand at attention. Only the two distant towers of the Porte Océane rise above the homogenous façades, forming a gigantic gateway that frames the sea. Beyond, container ships, ferries and cruise ships are silhouetted against the western horizon, gleaming brightly in the setting sun. The notion of “west” is key Le Havre to understanding this city that is Paris quite unlike any other. Today’s Le Havre is gearing up to be the port of Greater Paris—the fulfillment of a dream that goes way back. Guillaume Philippe, the Jules Arnout’s “Le city’s young mayor, talks about Havre en ballon” (c. 1855) offers a world-class cities—New York, bird’s-eye view London, Tokyo, Shanghai— of the city’s exwith access to a port, “to facilities panded harbor folfor transporting merchandise, to lowing the opening of the Bassin de globalization.” And Le Havre, la Floride and the France’s leading container port, Bassin de l’Eure. proposes to be Paris’s “safe harbor” in this global era. It’s an aspiration that dates back at least 200 years. When First Consul Bonaparte visited the town in 1802, he declared, “Paris-RouenLe Havre: a single city with the Seine as its main road.” Forty-five years later, the first train pulled into the station of Le Havre after a six-hour journey from the capital; its wagons were emblazoned with a coat of arms bearing the motto Sic Lutetia Portus—“Thus Paris became a port.” But this time, it actually might happen. The “Grand Paris” project—a massive urban renewal plan for the French capital and its suburbs—includes a general overhaul of transportation and infrastructure. With expanded rail service and a TGV line connecting the capital to “its” port in less than an hour, the once utopian idea of a maritime Lutetia even makes sense. After all—and Americans know this better than anyone—“west” isn’t simply a compass point but an idea of the future. And from the beginning, Le Havre was oriented toward the future. When François I established it on marshland in 1517, Franciscopolis, as it was then known, was the first “new city” of France. It has been changing and redefining itself ever since. As playwright Yoland Simon writes in a charming book called Le Roman du Havre, “Ports never look back.” 38

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Le Havre was conceived

with the newly discovered Americas in mind, but things got off to a bad start. François I ordered the construction of La Grande Françoise, the largest ship ever built, weighing 2,000 tons and carrying three decks of artillery, a chapel, a forge and a windmill. Unfortunately, it was never launched—it capsized during a storm while still docked at port. Then in 1555, Nicolas de Villegagnon set sail from Le Havre to establish a French foothold in the southern hemisphere, founding a colony on an island in the bay of Rio de Janeiro. A Place des Cannibales, in the city’s historic Saint-François neighborhood, once commemorated that expedition. Undeterred, Le Havre continued to look westward, motivated first by exploration and then by commerce (including the slave trade), emigration and adventure. Beaumarchais came to Le Havre to equip a ship to assist the American Revolution in 1776. Lafayette set sail for the United States from Le Havre in 1779. In 1783, the first ship flying the flag of the new American republic sailed into the harbor. And it was here that in 1785, Benjamin Franklin boarded a vessel for his return journey to Philadelphia. This transatlantic love affair experienced its apotheosis in the late 1960s with the chic French ocean liners that carried le tout Paris to New York. François Vallejo, a literature professor and well-known novelist (one of his books is called Ouest) is a Havrais who wasn’t born in the city. Yet he says he feels quite comfortable here, and apparently many other transplants feel the same way. According to playwright Simon, “Often the Havrais who came from somewhere else […] doesn’t know exactly who he is. And that’s his identity.” You could say that about Vallejo and about the city itself, which—apart from

Thanks to its port, Le Havre became a major trading center during the 18th century. Above: Louis-Eugène Boudin’s “Le Bassin de la Barre au Havre” (1887). Below: La Maison de l’Armateur (c. 1790-1800), a classified historic monument and museum, shows visitors how Le Havre’s wealthy shipowners of the period lived.

Franc e • SU M M ER 2 0 1 1


being a port—surprises people by its lack of definition. Nothing tells us that we’re in Normandy, for example—not even a local cheese, pastry or culinary specialty. The most popular bistro is a brasserie, La Taverne Paillette, which specializes in choucroute and testifies to the city’s large number of Alsatian immigrants. Some families originally came here to escape the 1870 Franco-Prussian war, but others were lured by the spirit of adventure that thrives in port cities. Take Jules Siegfried, whose father was a master weaver in Mulhouse. He came to Le Havre in 1862 to travel to America. Sensing that the Civil War was imminent, he bought up all the cotton he could—predicting its scarcity in Europe—returned with his load and made a fortune when prices skyrocketed. He settled in the city and, with his brother Jacques, established Siegfried Frères, setting up branches in New Orleans and Savannah after the Civil War. He belonged to what Simon calls, with evident sympathy, “the high-risk bourgeoisie,” which in the 19th century boldly amassed fortunes and built imposing mansions on the “Côte”—the upper part of the city. Siegfried, who was elected mayor of Le Havre in 1878, was a sober Protestant with a passion for education. His son, André, who would become one of the fathers of French sociology, described the feelings of the Havrais who leave their city: “They remain nostalgic; something of the free, windswept atmosphere of the sea continues to live on in them.” I met novelist Vallejo for a cup of coffee at the dreary cafeteria of the splendid Musée André Malraux—a.k.a. “MuMa”—which boasts a fine collection of paintings, including many Impressionist works. Numerous canvases by native Le Havre son Raoul Dufy portray silcontinued to houetted forms against a sky look westward, that is always blue, seagulls motivated first in the form of inverted Vs, and the sea, lightly veiled by by exploration a white mist. Just as there’s and then by a contradiction between the commerce, museum’s modest café and its emigration and extraordinary collection, our adventure. novelist hesitates to say that this is really his hometown. One of the most glamorous ocean He realizes that nearly all of liners ever, the S.S. Normandie his friends who call themselves called Le Havre home in the Havrais, as he does, aren’t 1930s. The city remains a major port-of-call for cruise ships. really locals. They came from somewhere else, drawn to France’s western edge. “This city is an open place,” he says, “and it offers a sense of freedom with the sea, the port and a pressure-free landscape that doesn’t impose its beauty, its charm or its monuments on anybody.” Indeed, monuments are few, and the city center is amorphous. “I couldn’t really tell you where it is,” admits Vallejo. 40

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Remembering the S. S. France


n a warm spring day in May 1960, President de Gaulle was in Saint-Nazaire along with some 100,000 spectators for the christening of the S.S. France— then the world’s largest ocean liner. Madame de Gaulle did the honors, breaking a bottle of Champagne on the ship’s impressive bow. Two years later, thousands turned out to watch as she steamed out of Le Havre, her home port, embarking on her first transatlatic crossing to New York. On board were VIPs and celebrities such as Salvador Dalí and Juliette Gréco. “Paquebot France”—on view at Paris’s Musée National de la Marine and opening in Le Havre next summer—celebrates the 50th anniversary of this legendary liner. The exhibit explores the France’s history, style and

The S.S. France (below) made more than 300 crossings between Le Havre and New York; one of her most famous passengers was the “Mona Lisa,” which she transported to the Big Apple in December 1962 for a U.S. tour.

interior architecture, serving up details of life aboard ship, the illustrious passengers who eschewed jet planes for something much more glamorous, the lavish onboard celebrations, the luxurious cabins and gourmet cuisine. Some 800 objects as well as photos, drawings, paintings, posters, scale models, dishware and cutlery conjure up the elegant atmosphere aboard this floating palace. The expression of an optimistic age and the beneficiary of an ambitious policy to promote France’s national prestige, the S.S. France was a luxury vessel that ignored the reality of air travel, which was cheaper, faster and more democratic. Combining innovative new materials with avant-garde design and absolute comfort, she offered the classiest possible way to arrive in New York or Europe. Between the works of art adorning grand salons and

“Paquebot France,” on view in Paris and opening in Le Havre next summer, re-creates the magic of transatlantic travel through some 800 objects, including (clockwise from upper left) this nurse’s dress, souvenir bookmark, porter’s jacket, sailor cap, lifesaver, coffee cup and deck chair.

dining rooms, the haute gastronomie, the fabulous balls—evening gowns de rigueur— and the stately wood-paneled cabins, nothing could equal this leisurely journey. The splendid ocean liner served a wellheeled clientele for a dozen years, making 337 crossings. Then, with the advent of the oil shock, the carefree days were over. Prime Minister Jacques Chirac announced that the state was keeping the vessel on life support through an annual subsidy equivalent to “two modern hospitals,” and at the end of 1974, the S.S. France was taken out of commission. The crew didn’t take it well. Staging their own modern-day version of Mutiny on the Bounty, they boarded the ship like pirates and blocked the entrance to the port of Le Havre. The drama ended with the venerable ocean liner being abandoned at a dock at

the far end of the harbor known as the “quai de l’oubli”—the quay of forgetting. Thousands gathered to say farewell when the S.S. France was finally sold to a Norwegian shipping company and left Le Havre in 1979 with all her sirens sounding. She was reborn as the S.S. Norway and finally became profitable, while losing much of her former elegance, by catering to economy-conscious American cruise-goers. After a 2003 boiler explosion requiring repairs that were prohibitively expensive, she met her end in India. It took a full year to break her down. —MF “Paquebot France” is on view through Oct. 23 at Paris’s Musée National de la Marine (; from June to September 2012, it will be at Le Havre’s Musée Malraux (http://lehavre. fr/rubrique/musee-malraux).

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Le Havre’s near total destruction during WWII has made it fertile ground for contemporary architecture. Left to right: The children’s pool at the public swimming complex (2008) designed by architect Jean Nouvel; the “Volcano” cultural center (1982) conceived by Oscar Niemeyer, famous for designing the city of Brasilia; a dramatic interior view of Perret’s Eglise Saint-Joseph (1957).

We Say

our goodbyes, and I am left standing at a windswept intersection where a straight avenue crosses what Le Corbusier called a rue corridor lined by concrete buildings in an accomplished neoclassical style, all rather similar and uniform like a chic garrison, if you can imagine such an architectural oxymoron. Le Havre didn’t always look this way. The city center was bombed 132 times during WWII: first on May 19, 1940, by German forces, who occupied the city on June 13. Whatever remained standing was reduced to rubble by the Allies during the continuous air raids of September 5 and 6, 1944, when Le Havre was still occupied. “An apocalypse that was all the more tragic,” says Mayor Philippe, “in that Paris had already been liberated in August. Everyone thought peace was at hand.” He tells the story of a little girl who emerged from a cellar at the end of an alert to see a headless horse galloping among the burning ruins, an image that would remain forever engraved in her memory. Playwright Armand Salacrou, another native son, described Le Havre as “a city burned alive.” The toll of the war was horrific: 5,126 dead, 80,000 injured and 35,000 homeless; 12,500 buildings destroyed, 45,000 seriously damaged, 370 acres of ruins and, in the port, some 350 shipwrecks. In 1939, Le Havre had nearly 170,000 inhabitants. By the end of 1944, there were only 40,000. Survivors who had lost their homes moved to the forest of Montgeon, outside the city, where they were housed in military barracks. There they led lives of deprivation but also solidarity. In 1945, reconstruction minister Raoul Dautry hired Auguste Perret— known as “the wizard of reinforced concrete”—to rebuild the city. According to Armand Frémont, a geographer who penned the moving La Mémoire d’un Port, Perret owed his fame to a reputation that was in tune with the spirit of the time, which was both


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Modernist and petty bourgeois. “Perret’s personality,” he wrote, “combined the qualities of the pioneer and the academicism of the man who had made good.” The son of an entrepreneur who sought refuge in Belgium after the Paris Commune, Perret was 71 in 1945 and was supremely self-confident. “There are only two architects,” he declared. “The other one is Le Corbusier.” On this 370-acre urban reconstruction site, Perret and his team of disciples inaugurated new techniques, working with concrete and prefabricated elements that happened to complement the architect’s neoclassical design, with its vertical and horizontal lines repeating precisely every 20.47 feet—the optimum length of the beams. From this gargantuan construction site completed only in the mid-1960s emerged an austere city that the old residents hated. Not that it “There are only was ugly. It could even be said two architects,” to be elegant, but it is rigid and declared angular, while the city used to Auguste Perret. be curvy and rounded, a charm“The other one ing jumble of bricks, dressed stone, little follies, baroque vilis Le Corbusier.” las and half-timbered houses. Perret, who died in 1954 without seeing the completion of his work, tried to enhance these long perspectives by embedding the concrete columns with tiny pebbles that reflect light and turn the city an Italianate ocher in the sunshine. But “when it rains, it’s a damp gray, as though the façades are absorbing water, like sponges. It’s a gloomy atmosphere, but romantic,” says Xavier Wanstock, the owner of Le Havre’s big bookstore, La Galerne, the name of a northwesterly wind. Most residents, however, saw no redeeming qualities in their rebuilt city. Some referred to it as Leningrad, and Vallejo admits that during the winter, the broad, misty boulevards are reminiscent of East Berlin’s Karl-Marx-Allee before the fall of the Wall. Such comparisons were particularly biting in that the municipal

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Top: Since its founding in 1517, Le Havre’s destiny has been shaped by the sea. Here children play on the long, pebbly beach. Bottom: A temporary exhibit at the Musée André Malraux, which also boasts a rich collection of Impressionist works, a legacy of the many artists who visited here (Monet painted his famous “Impression, soleil levant” in Le Havre).


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government was long dominated by Communists. But in fact Perret’s project was approved well before the Communist Party took charge (for the most part, the PC settled for a few housing projects in the upper part of the city to accommodate workers employed by the port and local industries). Even post-Perret, concrete remained the material of choice. In the city center, Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer constructed a building so bizarre at the end of the Bassin du Commerce that it took some time to give it a name. Painted white and resembling the enormous smokestack of a steamship, this structure, which houses a cultural center and theater, seems incongruous with Perret’s wellLocals’ behaved neoclassical lines. Like reservations the Eiffel Tower or the Centre about Le Havre’s Pompidou in Paris, the building architecture had passionate supporters and furious detractors who dubbed it the began to change “yogurt pot”—a very Norman on July 15, 2005, idea. To console himself, did Niewhen Perret’s meyer read the admirable account city center was of Jean de Léry, Histoire d’un voyclassified as a age fait en la Terre du Brésil? He UNESCO World would have learned that in the Heritage Site. 16th century, the Norman sailors who first laid eyes on Rio de Janeiro’s Sugarloaf Mountain called it “the mound of butter.” Finally, Alain Milianti, head of the Maison de la Culture, proposed the moniker “Le Volcan.” It stuck, and the arguments died down, just as real volcanoes sometimes do. Reservations about the city began to change on July 15, 2005, when Perret’s city center was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Residents began noticing that the foreigners who stepped off their tour buses were looking at their city with interest, often even admiration. At that time, the mayor recalls encountering a group of pretty young women taking pictures of buildings on the rue de Paris. “They were Italian architecture students. I admit I looked at the girls first, and then at what they were photographing. Like everyone else that day, I saw my city with new eyes.” Today, the reconciliation between the city and its inhabitants seems to be taken for granted. Efforts have been made to reclaim neglected areas, with a shopping mall along the Bassin Vauban, a spectacular swimming pool—Les Bains des Docks—designed by Jean Nouvel on the quai de la Réunion, and even a small student residence near the port made from refurbished shipping containers. Still, as soon as the sun comes out, the locals who are showing you around urge you to leave the city behind and take a walk along the beach, where pebbles glisten in the light. If you go all the way to the charming neighboring town of Sainte-Adresse, you can turn around and admire Le Havre. The city shows its best face in the late afternoon light; a warm ocher, punctuated by the 360-foot concrete steeple of Eglise Saint-Joseph. Behind it lies the port, with its lighthouse and cranes and, beyond that, the distant smokestacks of the estuary’s industries. Afterward, you can continue your stroll, stopping to order a drink at the Bar du “Bout du monde,” which is open only on nice days. There, just before the Cap de La Hève, you can sit in a beach chair, close your eyes and bask in the rays of the setting sun. Facing west, f dreaming of the future.

Le Havre

Bonnes Adresses HOTELS Hôtel Spa Le Pasino A modern, very comfortable hotel with rooms overlooking the Bassin du Commerce. Housed in the former Chamber of Commerce, it features a spa, casino and brasserie. Place Jules Ferry; Tel. 33/2-35-26-00-00; Hôtel Vent d’Ouest This charming boutique hotel ensconced in a building that once housed the Perret workshop is located in a lively neighborhood near the central market. Rooms and lounges are decorated with furnishings from the Le Havre company Interior’s, which has 60 stores in France. 4 rue Caligny; Tel. 33/2-35-4250-69; Jean-Luc Tartarin

RESTAURANTS Jean-Luc Tartarin A chef from Rouen, Tartarin earned a Michelin star for his original cooking, which showcases fish and regional ingredients. 73 avenue Foch; Tel. 33/2-35-4546-20; Taverne Paillette In Paris, you go to Lipp or La Coupole. In Le Havre, you go to Paillette to enjoy a choucroute alsacienne— in Normandy. Convivial and lively. 22 rue Georges Braque; Tel. 33/2-35-41-31-50;

from several important donations, including 224 works by Boudin and 70 by Dufy. Today it is known for its admirable collection of Impressionist and Fauvist works. 2 boulevard Clémenceau; Tel. 33/2-3519-62-62; rubrique/musee-malraux. Appartement témoin Perret Open in 2006, this museum consists of a model apartment that demonstrates Auguste Perret’s attempts to reconcile the postwar imperatives of providing modern, comfortable housing while keeping to a modest budget. 1 place de l’Hôtel de Ville; Tel. 33/235-21-27-33; e-mail villeart@ SHOPPING & MORE Pascal Frémont A source for quality contemporary art works, notably by official Navy painter Christoff Debusschere, as well as fine antiques. 37-39 rue du Président Wilson; Tel. 33/2-35-41-22-30; Galerie Eric Baudet A contemporary art gallery featuring works from the 1920s to the present. Eric Baudet also publishes art books and catalogues. 121 avenue Foch; Tel. 33/2-35-42-32-44; La Galerne Le Havre has nurtured a number of literary talents—Queneau, Céline, Sartre.... Fittingly, the city now boasts an excellent independent bookstore in a lovely 4,300-square-foot space. 148 rue Victor Hugo; Tel. 33/2-3543-22-52; Salon des Navigateurs Dressed in sailor garb, Daniel Lecompte offers excellent haircuts in his barbershop/coiffure museum. Walk-ins welcome, friendliness guaranteed. 1 rue du Petit Croissant; Tel. 33/235-42-12-71. Bunkker Stéphane Gosselin creates cool concrete furniture in his workshop outside Le Havre. 22 avenue du Président Wilson, 76290 Montivilliers; Tel. 33/6-61-62-02-53;

MUSEUMS Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux Founded in 1845, the museum has benefited Bunkker

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F ra g i l e In a wooded Alsatian landscape, a new museum showcases René Lalique’s innovative artistry and the alchemy of turning sand, lead and fire into enchanting works of art.

“Two Peacocks” pendant, 1897-1898

By A m y S e r a f i n

B e au t i e s

“Vitesse� hood ornament, 1929

ABOVE: A timeline and photo at the new museum retrace René Lalique’s career. RIGHT: “Jasmin” corsage ornament, c. 1899-1901. This piece exemplifies Lalique’s groundbreaking practice of combining precious metals and gems with commonplace materials such as glass.

T The first thing you see inside the new Lalique museum

in Wingen-sur-Moder is crystal—almost two tons of it—hanging from the ceiling. Those intrepid enough to walk under this nearly 10-foot chandelier might want to note that a weight-bearing pillar had to come down to make room for it. René Lalique’s son, Marc, created it for an exhibition in 1951, but it had been gathering dust in the basement of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris ever since. Now meticulously restored, it has found a home back in the Alsatian village where it was made. Several other Lalique museums exist around the world, from Tokyo to Lisbon, but this is the only one in France. Inaugurated July 1, it is located just a few miles from where René Lalique set up his glassmaking factory, still in operation 90 years later. “The museum shows the breadth of Lalique’s creations from jewelry to crystal,” says curator Véronique Brumm, who claims distant glassmaking relatives in this same town. Taking in the glittering displays, it’s surprising to learn that when the region of Alsace and the local municipalities started planning the museum in the early 1990s, they had no collection whatsoever. The original idea, explains Brumm, was simply to show images and films about René Lalique and his company; only gradually did the project evolve into a “real” museum. The transformation started in 2002 with the opportunity to buy an Art Nouveau Lalique pendant of a dragonfly woman at auction. Subsequently, the Lalique company (which is not a partner in the project but offers support) donated 40 contemporary works to the nascent museum. 48

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The turning point came when René Lalique’s granddaughter Marie-Claude passed away in 2003. Her belongings were dispersed, and the museum acquired several important drawings and objects, such as a 1919 clear glass vase with two large frosted glass rings (like ear hoops) covered in scarabs. In 2007, the institution received the coveted Musée de France designation, which made it eligible for substantial state subsidies and loans from other national museums, including the Musée des Arts et Métiers and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Now there are nearly 600 objects on display. The museum inhabits the site of the Hochberg glass workshop, founded in the 18th century but closed in 1868, when the nearby forest could no longer supply enough wood for the furnaces. Listed as a historic monument, this group of sandstone houses with peaked terracotta roofs stands amid a gently rolling setting of fields and trees. To the south, long-haired Scottish Highland cattle graze on a hillock, their large hooves perfectly suited to the marshy land. One of France’s finest architects, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, was selected to renovate the workshop and create an extension. His plan caught the jury’s eye not for its architectural bravado but for the way it blended into the existing buildings and landscape. “This is a little hamlet with a lot of charm,” he says. “I thought it was best to respect it.” So he placed his addition behind the original structure, semiburied in a sloping piece of ground. Visitors approaching the main entrance don’t even see the extension at first—the only telltale sign is a sheet of glass indicating the front door. But as they draw near, a cube of green Italian stone on a concrete base suddenly appears beyond and to the left. From different angles, one perceives it as a box, a low wall or a street-level garden (which also happens to be the roof). The entire structure is an ongoing game of hide-and-seek between nature and architecture, old and new. Wilmotte chose green stone for the façade and green-tinted glass for the windows so that it would practically disappear into the vegetation. “We made a wound in the earth, but when nature takes over again, you won’t even see we’ve built a museum.”


“Orchidées” vase, 1978, by Marie-Claude Lalique

“Grande Libellule” hood ornament, 1928

The museum’s “tactile table” illustrates the various stages in the creation of a lead crystal piece.

“Fougères” vase, 1912

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Black enameling on a reissued “Tourbillons” vase, orig. 1926

“Muguet” perfume bottle stopper,1920

“Vers le Jour” flacon for Worth, 1926

Each object is painstakingly signed by hand.

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Lalique learned a love of nature from his grandfather. During long walks, the old man taught him about birds, flowers, insects and reptiles—all important themes in his later work.

According to the architect, the modest budget—€2,500 per square meter—was not a disadvantage but a boon. “It directed our thought process,” he explains. With it, his team created a simple, unpretentious building to mirror the traditional workshop atmosphere. They left mechanical aspects exposed, such as screws in the steel window frames and hydraulics in the display cases, which are different-sized glass boxes on black enameled-steel bases. “People who work with glass use sheet metal tables,” says Wilmotte. “It’s dark, there are ovens. That’s the feeling I wanted to create—not a 52

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Parisian museum in a beautiful building with sophisticated window displays. This isn’t the Louvre.” Visitors enter through an old factory building, which still has an original stone wall, high ceilings and wood beams. Black-painted surfaces offset the sparkle from the immense chandelier. Beyond, there is a boutique, an auditorium, a gallery for temporary exhibits and the permanent collection, displayed in 10,000 square feet in the contemporary cube. The presentations are of interest to both aficionados and neophytes. “We wanted to show the historic, artistic,

1860 in Aÿ, a village near Reims. According to Christie Mayer Lefkowith, who recently wrote an illustrated book on his perfume bottles titled The Art of René Lalique, he did not like to talk about himself, so his early years are a bit of a mystery. What is certain is that his parents, of modest means, moved from Champagne to Paris to make a living. His father, an agent representing small goods manufacturers, had a violent temper and died when René was young. The boy was closer to his mother, who made embroidery for sale. She returned to Champagne to give birth to him, then, depending upon which version of the story you believe, brought René back to Paris or else left him with her own father in the countryside. Whether Lalique spent his childhood or only school vacations in Aÿ, he learned a love of nature from his grandfather. They went for long walks during which the old man taught him about birds, flowers, insects and reptiles—all important themes in his later work. Lalique dabbled in watercolor landscapes and started working at age 14 as an apprentice to a watchmaker in Paris, then sketched designs for a jeweler. When he turned 18, his mother sent him to school in England, where he discovered the naturalistic art of William Morris. Back in Paris, Lalique set himself up as a jewelry designer. In 1884, his drawings were exhibited in an Industrial Arts exhibition in the Louvre, where they attracted the attention of an established jeweler who was planning to retire and offered to sell his workshop to Lalique. The younger man lacked the means to buy it, so his mother urged him to marry a rich girl named Marie-Louise Lambert. In his new workshop he allowed his fertile imagination to fly, experimenting with shapes from the natural world, from snakes to orchids to the female nude, a daring motif for the era. He also mixed precious stones with lesser materials such as ivory and enamel. “I began this prodigious search to find a new style of jewelry, unlike anything that had been done before,” he said. At the time the fashion was for expensive stones, the bigger the better, so Lalique’s work appealed to independent spirits such as actress Sarah Bernhardt, who wore his jewels on and off the stage. She introduced him to the oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian, who became his biggest client. In 1900 Lalique triumphed at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, received the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honor and became famous worldwide. “By age 40 he was one of the richest men in Paris,” says Mayer Lefkowith. “He was a member of high society, with friends who were actors, painters, sculptors, musicians.” He had long ago stopped going home to his wife and daughter in Auteuil, especially since meeting a young woman named Augustine-Alice Ledru in 1890. The daughter of a sculptor who had decorated his rue Thérèse workshop with nudes, she became his muse then his mistress, moving into the workshop and giving birth to two children, Suzanne and Marc. Lalique married her in 1902, after finally obtaining a divorce from Marie-Louise. Seven years later, at age 39, Augustine-Alice died. René-Jules Lalique was born in


The museum displays some of Lalique’s earliest works, including this “Flock of Swallows” brooch (1886-1887) made when he was 26 years old. Although crafted with conventional materials, it exhibits the nature leitmotif that would characterize his entire oeuvre.

social and technical context for Lalique’s work,” says Brumm. Various areas introduce the Art Nouveau era, Lalique’s famous clients, 1930s modernity and the advent of electric lighting. Outside, a former hunting lodge is now a restaurant with a terrace, and three new gardens take inspiration from the trees and plants in Lalique’s designs. After touring the collection, visitors walk through a passage overlooking a courtyard with flowers in a pattern like a disjointed orchid, a reference to one of René Lalique’s favorite motifs.

Jewelry makes up the first section of the museum’s

permanent collection. Early works—a flock of diamond-encrusted swallows, a brooch with ivory nymphs unexpectedly framed by bats—are followed by later pieces, when Lalique started introducing glass into his designs. It was his work with enamel that probably led Franc e • SU M M ER 2 0 1 1


la l i q u e’s Le g ac y

In the early 1990s, Silvio Denz was walking past an auction house in Geneva when he noticed some Lalique perfume bottles in the window. “I had never seen that kind of bottle,” he says. “I went in, fell in love with them and bought 10 at auction.” A Swiss businessman who owned a chain of perfumeries, Denz started collecting the flacons, eventually amassing close to 700. He had no idea he would one day purchase the company itself, but in 2008 Denz found himself at the head of Lalique. His original intent was to buy only the profitable perfume division, since the crystal had been losing money since 2000, but it was an all-ornothing proposition. By downsizing considerably and introducing new projects, he managed to bring the crystal business back into the black in 2010. One place he didn’t make cuts was among the ranks of artisans at the Wingen-sur-Moder factory. These men and women have skills that take years to master, and many come from glassmaking families going back generations. Using a process that has changed little in a century, they turn out some 300,000 crystal pieces a year. Incredibly, every step is still done by hand. Muscular men, some with angry welts on their arms, maneuver heavy rods with large balls of molten glass at the end, like boiling honey on a stick. They pound it, blow into it and press it into molds. In the cold glass area, workers sculpt, polish, frost and engrave. They are artists, and several have earned the distinction Meilleur Ouvrier de France.


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While the crystal business as a whole has suffered due to changing lifestyles, Lalique has always been about more than wine glasses and bowls. The company creates everything from fragrances to objets d’art, jewelry and architecture. It has the added value of an artist’s name and has recently launched collaborations with other talents, such as the Andrée Putman design agency. Denz has also revived old practices, notably lost-wax casting, and focused on high-end limited editions, such as a blue crystal version of Yves Klein’s “Winged Victory of Samothrace” sculpture. Last year, Lalique produced a cire perdue crystal decanter for a Macallan 64-year-old single-malt Scotch whisky; it sold at Sotheby’s for $460,000. The company also does bespoke interior design for yachts and ocean liners, recalling René Lalique’s work for the S.S. Normandie. “Now that I’m running the company, I realize what a genius Lalique was,” says Denz. “We have four or five core businesses, and to oversee them, we need a jeweler, a perfumer, an interior designer, an artist, an architect. He had all of these talents in one.”

Cire perdue crystal decanter for Macallan, 2010

for their ovens, moving their operations each time wood grew scarce. Moreover, this area between France and Germany had suffered greatly during World War I, and the French government was offering financial incentives for glassmaking companies to come back. Lalique equipped the new factory to combine mass production with the best aesthetic and structural qualities. “I believe that when an artist has found something beautiful, he must try to allow the greatest number of people possible to enjoy it,” he said. Thus Lalique reincarnated himself, combining two artistic careers in a single lifetime. Indeed, his reputation as a glassmaker surpassed his prior achievements as a jeweler. Twenty-five years after his success at the 1900 Exposition Universelle, he once again dazzled critics and the public at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Wingen-sur-Moder has been Industriels Modernes, which gave birth to the a glass-making region since term Art Deco. He showed glass flacons, statthe Middle Ages, when it drew ues, vases, tableware and lamps, plus a stunnomadic craftsmen who used the ning 50-foot-high fountain on the Esplanade des Invalides. This time, the State promoted sand in the soil and trees from him to Commander of the Legion of Honor. the forests for their ovens. Though Lalique’s style evolved throughout his long career, he always stayed true to Workers in Lalique’s factory change a furnace pot, his major inspirations, the three F’s—flora, the clay crucible in which lead crystal is melted. fauna and femmes. The museum is filled with them: A vase like a coiled snake, its mouth opened in a hiss. Hood ornaments in stream1902 for himself and his new family on Cours-la-Reine (now 40 lined shapes of dragonflies, horse heads and nudes. A “Poissons” cours Albert 1er) in Paris. Unfortunately, his granddaughter sold the statue with transparent fish leaping outward in unison. The fish house, and it has since been divided into offices and apartments, fountain on display here is a crystal copy of the 1937 original. Photos show Lalique’s lesser-known sacred art—windows and though the magnificent doors still stand. In 1907 (or perhaps earlier), Lalique met the perfumer François altarpieces created for churches and chapels—as well as glass panels Coty. At the time, perfume came in utilitarian flacons because 19th- and chandeliers for the lavish interiors of the S.S. Normandie ocean century glassmaking techniques did not allow for mass-producing liner and the Orient Express. sculpted bottles. Lalique developed ways to produce decorative botWhen World War II struck, the Alsatian factory was shut down. tles in series, starting with a glass flacon for a Coty fragrance called An excerpt from a Time magazine article from 1939 reads: “Last Cyclamen. It had six sides and three symmetrical pairs of dragonfly month Wingen was evacuated. From Paris hurried short, scholarly, women smelling flowers. He signed the base, like a work of art. white-mustached René Lalique, now 79 and ailing, to salvage his Perfume has always been a competitive industry, and soon other irreplaceable molds. He found his factory’s fires out, soldiers at its fragrance houses were asking Lalique to design flacons to highlight gate.” Lalique died in 1945, days after hearing that the Allies had their individual scents. As his glass production increased, he bought liberated the town. He left the company to his son, Marc, with a factory in Combs-la-Ville, near Paris. In 1912, feeling that he had whom he had had a contentious relationship—ultimately, it was gone as far as he could with jewelry and annoyed by his many imita- Marc who destroyed his father’s molds, trying to escape the great tors, he organized a final jewelry exhibition and let it be known that man’s shadow. But his real legacy was in making the switch from glass to lead crystal, for which the company is known today. from now on, he was a glassmaker. Likewise, the museum’s permanent display also moves from jewThe final section of the permanent exhibition presents works in elry to glass with more than 200 perfume bottles, many exhibited to crystal, from Marc Lalique until today. It also highlights the work the public for the first time. They come from the collection of Silvio of the artisans in the nearby factory with a “tactile table” that allows Denz, the current owner of the Lalique company and an avid collector visitors to see the steps involved in the production of a “Bacchantes” of rare Lalique flacons. Among the important prototypes he has lent vase, a bestseller since 1927. Reaching out to touch the neo-classical to the museum, Denz is particularly fond of the early fish amphora, priestesses, one can only marvel at how sand, lead and fire are transf the “tiara” flacons with oversized stoppers that frame the bottles and formed into works of such astonishing beauty. the “Four Suns” flacon with 24-karat gold leaves that glow beneath Musée Lalique, rue de Hochberg, 67290 Wingen-sur-Moder. Tel. 33/3-88sunflower motifs like muted light emanating from within. In 1921, Lalique needed to open a second factory to meet his 89-08-14; The museum is about 37 miles from Strasbourg. ever-expanding workload and chose Wingen-sur-Moder as the site. Those visiting by car can easily include the museum in a tour of the area’s many He knew that he would find talented artisans here; this has been a attractions. By train, the trip from Strasbourg is about 40 minutes. For now, glassmaking region since the Middle Ages, when it drew nomadic visitors arriving at the station must take a taxi to the museum, although a craftsmen who used the sand in the soil and trees from the forests shuttle service may be available in the future. him to glass in the 1890s. He installed small furnaces in his workshop and experimented with a technique called cire perdue, or lost wax casting, a thousand-year-old process generally used for bronze that allows for great detail. One early flacon he made using this technique—maybe his first—was shaped like an amphora, smooth on the outside with swimming fish molded on the inner surface. An often-repeated story holds that Lalique mistakenly set fire to his kitchen while creating this bottle, but it is likely a myth. Soon Lalique’s furnaces were too small for his needs, so he bought a property near the Rambouillet forest. This is where he cast glass panels with pine branches for the front door of a house he built in

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Calendrier French Cultural Events in North America

July-September 2011

• Niki de Saint Phalle’s “Nana on a Dolphin” (1998) adds a cheerful note to Washington DC’s New York Avenue.

As a teenager, the French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002) was dismissed from school for taking red paint to the fig leaves on campus statues. Humor, forthright sexuality and love of color would later become hallmarks of her work, not least in her “Nana” (“Chick”) series, begun in 1964. Zaftig yet nimble-looking, these exuberant explorations of female archetypes herald “a new matriarchal age.” “Nana on a Dolphin” (1998) is one of four Saint Phalle sculptures enlivening downtown Washington, DC, during the first phase of the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ New York Avenue Sculpture Project (through Oct.; Interest piqued? Head to Charlotte’s Bechtler Museum of Modern Art for “N iki de S aint P halle : C reation of a N ew M ythology ,” which spans the artist’s career through 60 works ranging from etchings to motorized paintings to several more monumental outdoor sculptures (through Oct. 3;


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R a c h e l B ea m er


exhibits Phoenix THÉÂTRE DE LA MODE

In 1945, Paris witnessed the opening of an exhibition of some 200 27-inch-high dolls clad in stylish attire and posed in elaborate sets. Conceived to revitalize France’s war-battered fashion industry, “Théâtre de la Mode” represented the combined efforts not only of Lanvin, Balmain and other leading couturiers of the day but also milliners, hairdressers, jewelers and theater designers. After enjoying a successful tour of Europe, the show traveled to the U.S. in 1946. Théâtre de la Mode showcases three of the nine original scenes. Through July 31 at the Phoenix Art Museum;


Twenty-five years in the making, the tomb of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, and his wife, Margaret of Bavaria, is one of the prize pieces of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon. Surrounding the base of this lavish work of funerary art are 40 16-inch-high mourners sculpted in alabaster, each one a unique and poignant expression of grief. These statuettes have advanced from supporting to starring role as the subject of The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, currently on a twoyear tour of the United States. Through July 31 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art;

Kansas City, MO

T h e Morgan Librar y & Museu m , N YC ; S te v e Mure z


Monet’s Water Lilies reunites for the first time in 30 years all three panels of the 42-foot-wide “Agapanthus Triptych,” painted between 1915 and 1926, the year the artist died. During this late period, Monet devoted himself to capturing the beauty of his garden in Giverny, whose importance to his work is underscored through archival photographs and a 1915 film clip of the master in action. Using X-ray imaging and other techniques, conservators discovered that the artist—in spite of his reputation for spontaneity—reworked the piece many times over the years. Through Aug. 7 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art;


Through objects associated with dressing, letter-writing, dining, game-playing and other quotidian activities, Paris: Life & Luxury invites museum-goers to experience a day in the domestic life of a privileged 18th-century denizen of the French capital. This

ingenious fly-on-the-wall show displays some 160 objects of consummate artistry and craftsmanship, from paintings and sculptures to garments, furniture and musical instruments. Through Aug. 7 at the Getty;


For the initiated, the intricate paintings adorning illuminated manuscripts offer layers of meaning—religious, political, historical and, as Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands reveals, sartorial. Through a broad selection of manuscripts and early books from 1330 to about 1515, the show explores not only how Northern European garments evolved as a result of advances in tailoring, contact with Italian culture and other influences, but also how illustrators used them to convey information about their wearers. Complementing the manuscripts are four full-scale replicas of outfits depicted in their pages, hand-sewn using period techniques. Through Sept. 4 at The Morgan Library & Museum;

“The Whore of Babylon Dresses the Part,” by Loyset Liédet and his workshop (c. 1470) is a highlight of “Illuminating Fashion.” photographs, correspondence and other archival materials. Through Sept. 6 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art;


By buying groundbreaking works of art, befriending their creators and welcoming people into their homes to see and discuss them, Gertrude Stein and others in her family advanced Modernism both in their adopted home of Paris and abroad. Drawn from private and public holdings around the globe, The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde brings together some 200 masterworks once owned by these influential art patrons, as well as family

Williamstown, MA PISSARO


San Francisco

Through Sept. 25 at The Jewish Museum;

Turkish Taste at the Court of MarieAntoinette is a dossier exhibit focusing on turquerie, 18th-century French aristocrats’ infatuation with all things Ottoman. Apparently ushered in by the 1776 performance in Paris of SebastienRoch Chamford’s tragedy Mustapha and Zeangir, the trend spawned everything from Turkish robes, tobacco and candy to the more full-on commitment of equipping one’s home with a boudoir turc. The show features rare—and rarely displayed—objects from these rooms, whose Thousand and One Nights take on the Ottoman Empire means decorative motifs such as camels, Nubian slaves and palm trees. Through Sept. 11 at The Frick Collection;


Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore explores how two unlikely avantgardists built a now celebrated collection of French art by following their own instincts rather than listening to the critics of the day. Beneficiaries of their family’s thriving textile business, Dr. Claribel Cone (a pathologist) and her sister Etta traveled frequently to Europe, where Gertrude and Leo Stein introduced them to numerous artists, most notably Matisse; they would eventually amass 500 of his works, the largest such trove in the world.

Aurélia Bellet of 3e Étage performs at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

Camille Pissarro’s importance to the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements resides not only in his own art but also in his role as a mentor to such younger colleagues as Cézanne and Gauguin. Drawing on new research, Pissarro’s People is the first major exhibition to focus on the artist’s fascination with his fellow man, illustrated by some 100 paintings and works on paper from throughout his career. The show sheds light on these pieces by examining the artist’s ties with friends and family as well as his engagement with contemporary social, economic and political ideas. Through Oct. 2 at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute;


Whether showcasing men’s skirts or sending plus-size and other atypical models down the runway, Jean Paul Gaultier has consistently embraced an irreverent and fun-loving aesthetic that celebrates individuality. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk marks the 35th anniversary of his first prêt-àporter collection with a retrospective of his work. Emphasizing haute couture, the show presents 120 outfits, most never before exhibited. A wide assortment of other materials—from sketches to film clips to stage costumes—highlights the designer’s fondness for collaborating with fellow artists as varied as Pedro Almodóvar, Maurice Béjart and of course Madonna. Through Oct. 2 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 1 1


performing arts Durham, NC

Enfants offers free French-themed activities for kids, from cooking to ballet to soccer. July 14 through 17 in Cathedral Square Park;


This year’s American Dance Festival features the U.S. premiere of Emanuel Gat Dance’s Brilliant Corners, an examination of “the thing itself”—the choreographic work and its origin and evolution. Although it takes its name from a 1957 album by Thelonius Monk, the piece is actually set to a score composed by Gat himself, a onetime music student who originally aspired to be a conductor. Founded in Tel Aviv in 2004, his company has been based in Provence since 2007. July 7 through 9 at the Durham Performing Arts Center;

Crocker Art Museum’s “Summer of Impressionism.”

San Francisco




Closed for renovations until 2012, the Musée National Picasso in Paris is home to the world’s largest trove of the artist’s work; pieces from his personal collection form the core of its holdings. American audiences now have an unprecedented opportunity to view some 150 of the museum’s most prized paintings, sculptures and works on paper. Covering eight decades, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris surveys the prolific and ever-innovative artist’s career, with prime examples from every major period—Blue, Rose, Cubist and Surrealist, to name but a few. Through Oct. 9 at the de Young Museum;

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s pioneering designs were not only distinctive but also functional: handbags with shoulder straps freed up women’s hands, while garments in knit jersey, a fabric previously associated with men’s undergarments, offered comfort and ease of movement to the once corset-clad. Chanel herself continued working until her death in 1971, at the age of 88, and the fashion house that bears her name has enjoyed enduring success under Karl Lagerfeld, who took over as artistic director in 1983. Chanel: Designs for the Modern Woman brings together suits, evening wear and accessories dating from the 1920s to today. Through Dec. 31 at the Mint Museum Randolph;


The Crocker Art Museum’s Summer of Impressionism unfolds in a trio of exhibitions highlighting the movement’s influence on American artists. “Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism” (through Sept. 18) presents 40 paintings by Courbet, Monet, Sisley and other French masters, as well as such notable American adherents as Sargent, while “Transcending Vision: American Impressionism, 18701940” (through Sept. 25) delves deeper into the ways in which U.S. artists made the movement their own; Childe Hassam, George Inness and George Bellows are among the 75 artists represented. Further narrowing the focus, “Gardens and Grandeur: Porcelains and Paintings by Franz A. Bischoff” (through Oct. 23) displays works by the Austrian-born artist (18641929), who was trained as a china painter but later became known for depicting the landscape of his adopted California.


F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 11


Two Masters of Fantasy: Bresdin and Redon presents works on paper by a pair of artists who depicted worlds observable only by the mind’s eye. Invariably described as “eccentric,” draftsman and printmaker Rodolphe Bresdin (1840-1885) began his career creating engravings the size of postage stamps; his highly detailed renderings of eerily fantastic, often macabre scenes would later earn him the admiration of such contemporaries as Charles Baudelaire and Théophile Gautier. His better-known pupil, Symbolist Odilon Redon (18401916), was particularly intrigued by the world of dreams. Although a gifted colorist, he spent decades working in black and white, notably producing the dark and unsettling drawings he termed les noirs. Through Jan. 16 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston;

New York and Philadelphia


Showcasing classic pictures as well as recent releases, the 16th annual Boston French Film Festival includes a new 35mm print of François Truffaut’s The Soft Skin (1964), about an ill-fated affair between a successful literary critic (Jean Desailly) and a young flight attendant (Françoise Dorléac), and Marc Fitoussi’s 2010 comedy Copacabana, starring Isabelle Huppert as a quirky single mother rejected by her more conventional adult child (real-life daughter Lolita Chammah). July 7 through 24 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston;


A family-friendly fête celebrating all things French, Bastille Day on 60th Street (July 10 between Fifth Ave. and Lexington Ave.; serves up three blocks of food, live entertainment, market stalls and children’s activities. The Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site’s 17th annual Bastille Day Festival (July 14 through 17 on Fairmount Ave.; kicks off with a bar crawl and ends with a Champagne brunch; kid-centered events include a Tricycle Tour de France. The highlight of the weekend is a humorous reenactment of the storming of the Bastille, during which Marie Antoinette cries, “Let them eat Tastykake!” and snack cakes rain down on the crowd from the prison’s towers. Spectators are encouraged to dress as either peasants or aristocrats.

Becket, MA 3e ÉTAGE

The 2011 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival hosts the U.S. debut of 3e Étage, an extracurricular group of dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet. Named after the Palais Garnier’s third floor, where young members of the company earn their stripes, the ensemble is known for its highly polished but also fun and irreverent approach to both classic and new works. The varied program includes excerpts from William Forsythe’s Limb’s Theorem and Artistic Director Samuel Murez’s me2, inspired by a bilingual poem by French-American author Raymond Federman. Aug. 6 and 7 at the Ted Shawn Theatre;


Los Angeles and Santa Barbara BASTILLE DAY WEST

The Bastille Day Los Angeles Festival (July 17 at Elysian Park, Monticello Old Lodge, features singers and dancers, Gallic fare and wares, a Provençal pétanque tournament and a waiters’ race. Visitors to the 24th Annual Santa Barbara French Festival (July 16 and 17 at Oak Park; frenchfestival. com) can sample crêpes, pâté and other edibles, mingle with street performers and take in live entertainment ranging from Tahitian dancing to grand opera to tributes to Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier.


Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Milwaukee’s Bastille Days attract a quarter of a million revelers annually with four stages of nonstop entertainment; a marketplace selling French food, wine and gifts; and light shows beamed out from a 43-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower. New this year, Saturday’s Journée

Now in its fifth year, Crossing the Line is a month-long festival celebrating the talents of envelope-pushing visual and performing artists based in France and New York City. This year’s roster of 20 events and activities includes a free, downloadable audio tour of Fifth Avenue’s “Museum Mile” featuring specially commissioned texts by writers from both sides of the Atlantic; Rachid Ouramdane’s “Ordinary Witnesses,” a choreographic exploration of the resilience of the human spirit based on conversations with torture survivors; and Faustin Linyekula’s dance piece “more, more, more … future,” with a live score performed by five top pop/ rock musicians from his native Congo. A 12-hour marathon of live music centering on themes of resistance and inspiration concludes the festivities. Sept. 17 through Oct.16 at various indoor and outdoor venues; —Tracy Kendrick For a regularly updated listing of cultural events, go to

Co l l e c tion of Pau l and K at h l een B ag l e y

• Franz Bischoff’s “Gold Rimmed Rocks and Sea” (c. 1925) is featured in the



France Magazine and the French-American Cultural Foundation are honored to receive the support of these distinguished foundations.

the florence gould foundation is a major contributor to arts programming with a French focus. Florence Gould, in whose name the Foundation was established, was born to French parents and raised in San Francisco. Throughout her lifetime, she cherished the arts, beauty and letters; the Foundation continues her legacy of French-American friendship and exchange. The Florence Gould Foundation has supported exhibitions, programs and performances at many arts institutions,

The Annenberg Foundation is a longtime supporter of L’Académie Américaine de Danse de Paris, which trains students from around the world.

including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the New York City Ballet. It takes special pride, however, in smaller projects such as helping the town of Vendôme repair its statue of Rochambeau and Poillé-sur-Vègre restore its church belfry in honor of the town’s role in harboring a downed American pilot during World War II. The Gould Foundation helped the residents of Poillé-sur-Vègre restore their church tower in 2004 in honor of the town’s role in rescuing a U.S. pilot during WWII.

the annenberg foundation is a private family foundation that supports nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally. Its mission is to advance the public well-being through improved communication; as the principal means of achieving this goal, it encourages the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge. Since 1989, it has generously funded programs in education and youth development; arts, culture and humanities; civic and community life; health and human services; animal services and the environment. The Foundation contributes to numerous programs that foster cultural exchange between the United States and France. Among its French projects, the Annenberg Foundation provides funding

to the American Friends of the Louvre for the development of educational tools at the museum and supports L’Académie Américaine de Danse de Paris, which offers American-style dance instruction to students from around the world. In the humanitarian sector, the Foundation funds a wide range of programs including clean water efforts in Africa by CARE France, Médecins du Monde’s youth healthcare projects in Peru, L’Envol pour les enfants européens and the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris. The Foundation continues to be a vital presence abroad and remains among the most generous American contributors to France.

Temps Modernes

Street Cred by MICHEL FAURE

kind in France—you could buy aspirin, a toothbrush, a newspaper or gone from being an elegant, quintessentially French avenue to one something to eat, all under the same roof. At the counter, you could of the main streets of the global village. I like the idea of the world order a Croque-Monsieur or steack haché topped with an egg. The opening up, borders fading and diverse cultures blending. For me, hamburger had not yet crossed the Atlantic. that’s what history is all about. But to be quite honest, seeing the Of course, eventually it did. McDonald’s opened its first restaurant transformation of this graceful thoroughfare—laid out in the 17th at the end of a new mall where initiates ate Big Macs while century by André Lenôtre, Louis XIV’s landscape architect—is most people still ordered a sandwich jambon-beurre cornichons sometimes rather depressing. (un double face, the waiters said when the sandwich was buttered on It’s a beautiful avenue, “the most beautiful in the world,” as we both sides). “Et un demi sans faux col”—a beer without too much say with our characteristic chauvinism—and in fact that’s the truth. foam. All this folklore has disappeared, along with the carefree As far as streets go, it sets the standard (“This flâneurs. The big movie theaters aren’t as big is the Champs-Elysées of the city,” Roula as they used to be, and there aren’t as many. Khalaf recently wrote in The Financial Times The proprietor of one of the neighborhood’s about Tunis’s avenue Habib Bourguiba). I’ve last independent cinemas, Le Balzac, reminds seen many famous streets during my extenhis customers that if they’re unfaithful to sive travels, and none of them, not even the him, the space will be taken over by a frozenones that descend toward the sea or overlook food chain. “That’s a chilling thought,” he broad rivers, rival the Champs-Elysées in says, to general applause. beauty and harmony. The rents on the Champs-Elysées are said When the boulevard is decked out with to be the highest in the world. That probflags for national holidays or sparkling ably explains why there are fewer cafés (and with Christmas lights, Parisians enjoy playwhy customers can forget about lingering for ing tourist, reveling in the festive atmohours in front of an empty glass). No wonder sphere and snapping pictures. But what about the old shopping arcades my parents loved the ordinary days, when there are no military are in decline and even the post office has processions, official parades, World Cup finals, closed. It’s also why opening a mega flagship electoral victories or Tours de France? Well, here has become the ultimate status symbol the Champs-Elysées remains beautifor global retail brands such as Virgin, Vuitful, especially since vehicles have been ton, Hugo Boss, Zara, Nike, Gap, Tommy banned from the sidewalks (watch Jean-Luc Hilfiger, Abercrombie & Fitch, Marks & Godard’s Breathless and you’ll see that in the Spencer…. Along with food franchises, they 1950s, it was an open-air parking lot). But • Despite the Champs-Elysées’ recent transfor- offer universalized products to visitors who along the way, its charm has been sacrificed to mation, it remains the avenue of choice for such seem perfectly happy to find the same things popular events as the Tour de France. commercial imperatives. they have at home. In the old days, les Champs was where people came to hang out or In its April 28 issue, The Economist expressed amusement that “like to take a stroll, as immortalized by Joe Dassin in a still-famous tune their politicians, the French always sound defiantly anti-globalisation. (“je m’baladais sur l’avenue / le coeur ouvert à l’inconnu…”). The In polls they are far more hostile to free markets than Germans, Chinese sidewalks were lined with palatial cinemas whose posh gala openings or Russians. Yet when it comes to buying or eating foreign stuff, they offered onlookers a glimpse of movie stars in sexy red lipstick. Then are as enthusiastic.” The truth is that Parisians are like everyone else in there were the bustling outdoor cafés where you might spot some the developed world: They no longer have all that much choice. A-list personality. Rich provincials went to the Lido to see the girls in But at the end of the day, globalization isn’t only about their feathers and drink Champagne; lovers bought their sweethearts a standardized merchandise. It has also opened Paris up to an everbottle of perfume at Guerlain; grandmothers took their grandchildren greater number of visitors from around the world. All of them, in for a snack at the Pub Renault; and parents window-shopped at the their infinite diversity, “their hearts open to the unknown,” admire Arcades du Lido, the ancestor of today’s shopping malls. As a teenager, and love the Champs-Elysées, marveling at its mega-stores as well as I experienced my first tentative flirtations at the old ice rink in the its architectural grandeur. Their enthusiasm is contagious, even to an Jardins des Champs-Elysées and silently admired the hipsters sporting inveterate nostalgic like me. When I look at this legendary avenue American shirts and Weston moccasins—the unofficial members of the through their eyes, as if seeing it for the very first time, I have to f mythical “bande du Drugstore.” At the Drugstore itself—the first of its admit I fall in love all over again. 60

F r a n c e • S U M M ER 2 0 11

© Er i c L a l m a n d / epa / C o r b i s

Since my childhood, the Champs-Elysées has

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France Magazine #98 - Summer 2011  

Since 1985, sophisticated Americans have relied on France Magazine for authoritative coverage of French travel destinations, society, busine...

France Magazine #98 - Summer 2011  

Since 1985, sophisticated Americans have relied on France Magazine for authoritative coverage of French travel destinations, society, busine...