Alice Neel at the Pompidou, Shakespeare and company cafe, Canal Saint Martin, St.Germain/ Odeon, La Coupole – Paris

My mom took me to the Pompidou museum many years ago, soon after it opened and I remember how excited we were to be there. Visiting decades later, I thought its exposed pipes/industrial vibe might feel dated, but the building was still engaging and vibrant, packed with people inside and outside on the big plaza.

Pompidou view

I forgot how cool it is to ride up several floors on an escalator inside a see-through plastic tube along the outside of the building. Stupendous views of the city, with Sacre coeur off in the distance to the north, the Eiffel Tower to the west.

We caught the terrific Alice Neel show, a fascinating American painter (communist, feminist, Andy Warhol-ist). It included a cool video of Neel painting a portrait of a very pregnant woman. The portrait hung near by.

We also did the greatest hits (Anselm Keifer! Delanay! Chagall!) of the main collection on the 4th and 5th floor which a museum brochure helpfully led us too. And did some shopping in the design store, which reminded me of MOMA.

Another day we wandered with surprise visitor Francine around Canal Saint Martin, walking up and over the cool metal bridges along the canal, peeking in a few shops, and having hot chocolate the texture of pudding. And we wandered around the Left Bank, not only buying a book at Shakespeare and company but having an excellent hearty split pea soup and toasted sandwich at the store’s rustic cafe. Also wandered around the snazzy Odeon area, stopping at a cafe near saint germaine.

La coupole scene

Dinner was at old favorite La Coupole, a famous art Deco brasserie in montparnesse that was even livelier than usual on a Saturday night. We happened to hit the once a month floor show, of sorts, with dancers in exotic costumes and a Marilyn Monroe look -alike winding through the cavernous building followed by a brass band. Totally fun. I was tempted to have the steak tartare, in honor of my dad, but went with the mussels and frites instead. Lots of French groups celebrating birthdays but lily begged us not to make a similar fuss for her so we didn’t.

La coupole

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