A day in Paris in the 16th district

Parisian pleasures: from art to gastronomy

Carried away by the Napoleonic wars, European painters fantasized the East long before they travelled there to see for themselves. Ingres and Delacroix were the early 19th century precursors, respectively producing odalisques (pure fantasy of the oriental woman) and colourful, exotic works inspired by visiting Northern Africa. Depicting the East is often a new pretext, following the illustration of mythological scenes, for revealing sensual nudes. The current exhibition at the Musée Marmottan Monet retraces the evolution from imagination to reality via the painters’ favoured subjects (women and scenery) and rubs shoulders with modern Art due to the way they started to treat light.

Gradually, it invades everything, simplifying forms and liberating the painter from photographic accuracy. From Marquet to Matisse, from Klee to Kandinsky it's an explosion of pure colour that gradually leads to abstraction. We particularly liked the canvases that Albert Marquet made during his twenty years or so of regular visits to Algeria: any anecdotal pattern is excluded and yet there is a light, a transparency of air and a freshness of colours that are both personal and modern.

At the end of this exhibition, you may be tempted, according to your whim, to either take a break at the Café de la Gare, located in La Muette old train station which has just been redecorated with a very Latin décor and comfortable, colourful terraces, or cross the Seine to reach Montparnasse. Near the Hôtel Aiglon, La Coupole brasserie is an emblematic place of this district. Montparnasse was a hub for artists during the Roaring Twenties in Paris and many of them used to come here. Imagine Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Serge Gainsbourg and others in these magnificent Art Déco settings (listed cultural heritage). Skate à la grenobloise, seafood platters and even Indian lamb curry (original signature dish since the 1927 opening) – the menu is perfect for all tastes. The place, open from breakfast until late at night, is a must for lovers of art and Parisian life!