Midnight in Paris - The Unforgettable


Years ago, I had received a souvenir from my client, a lovely box of chocolate - from Maxim's, Paris.

I'm sure the chocolate was delicious but the box was my favorite, always. Whenever I've looked at the illustrations on the "tin", I'd wonder what exactly this place was looked like in the year of Belle Époque?

In fact, this 1893 bistro found by Maxime Gaillard is not far from my hotel, located at No3. rue Royale, 8th arrondissement; travelers can still enjoy an unforgettable night there now a day.It's not only famous in its Art Nouveau decor, but linkage of those well known peoples who were there once before...

..."Midnight in Paris", One of my favorite movie (written & directed by Woody Allen), which is also another motivation of my Paris trip.

When Gil (Owen Wilson) and Adriana (Marion Cotillard)being transported further back from 1920's Paris to a bistro in the golden age, there, is Maxim's.

In the movie, Gil was getting lost in the street corner after a gathering with his fiancée & friends, while walking back to his hotel; a mysterious old Peugeot appeared & invited Gil for a ride...which drove him back to 1920's. Since then, every single mid night, he found himself participating in the life of F.Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Man Ray, Dali, Picasso...a dream-able circle of people for this dis-enchanted Hollywood screen writer who are writing his first book. But the one who captured his heart was Adriana - Picasso's mistress.

Whether Gil would finally stay in 1920 with Adriana, or further back to the Belle Époque which Adriana is willing to die for? I will leave this for you to discover!

Everyone who watched this movie love the story line and equally the location of those mysterious scenes. I was drown in this 90mins illusion every time I am watching this movie.

Let me tell you there is another "unforgettable" moment that you shouldn't miss - the opening scene : a 3,5 mins. of postcard show of the Vintage Paris with the background music of "Si tu vois ma mére"(Sidney Bechet)...don't miss it, you'll know why!

p.s.: the watercolor for Chat Noir was inspired by all of the above and salute to those "unforgettable".


Montmartre - part two


"why the train door kept closing when boarding?...Oops!!!!"
Manual Operation! " I seeeeeeee..."

So, I missed the stop...but never mind, just another ride at the opposite platform will do, no hurry!

Although Montmartre is now in the boundary of Paris, it do has a different charisma once I've come out from the Metro station.

The super fresh air? the tranquil atmosphere without much traffic? the infinite "upward motion" to lead you somewhere? the people in a much leisure gesture?...may be everything that counts, I think.

Wow! it seems I am a bit "too leisure", visitors already crowded in front of Sacré-cœur, as well as inside. I have a special experience there but let me tell you later in other post.

The weather is fine but windy, so it's not easy to stay long in the exterior unless the sun comes out to warm up the air. Well, of course the scenery is stunning when you are "up up high", even superior if you climb up to the top of Sacré-cœur, but not this time.

In order to be "leisure", I carry nothing except my phone + an apple. This photo is so worst that the low resolution and freezing hands shaking resulting the pixelate housing at far end; but it seems time freeze, while I am wondering what were the citizen doing right there in those pixelated houses in the year of Belle Époque? and up here?

Divine Comedy...is now in my mind!

There are a lot more places you can discover in Montmartre, usually they have their own stories behind. But those related to painters or writers are far more attractive to me. La Maison Rose is one of the unique café located on cobble stoned pavement that you shall never miss it. It's as charming as a rose, for sure.

The story behind? I would like to invite you to read this post Top 10 Historica Facts about La Maison Rose - by Molli
a very detail & good post that can bring you back to it's past! Thank you Molli.

Okay!I remember I have to let you know whether Montmartre is a "danger zone" or not? Absolutely not in day time, how about at night?

I am afraid I can't tell you this time, because my pair of sore feet beg me to leave, but I promise myself in front of La Maison Rose, I shall return!

In fact, I guess "fascinating" may be a more appropriate word to say, let's see...



Montmartre - part one

Day 6: Cold and Windy, Sunny - 13173 steps

Arrondissement 18 - originally it was not in my itinerary, it is one of the district classified as "danger at night" and advised especially to solo traveler; well, let's come back to this later on.

If you still remember I am having some extra days due to the squeeze of full day visit to the Louvre, so, "where shall I explore tomorrow?"

I have a thought that I may regret if not visiting Montmartre this time, why? I don't know, just have a feeling of...

So I take some time to plan my metro route, first time since I've been here on the 6th day, because I walk all the way through except from the airport. Enjoyable to my eyes but not my feet, and it's time to take a break for one day.

The metro system in Paris is not so scary to a Hong Konger that get used to be with our own metro system; but truly speaking, the route that I've planned is not so satisfied by the staff at the counter of Pont Neuf Station.

The morning is chilled, when I walk down into the Pont Neuf metro station; while I am taking my time to investigate the ticketing machine...either my slow motion or my Asian face catch the eyes of "lady Pont Neuf", she ask /shout to me (cos' I can't hear at the beginning as I am too concentrate to my "toy" + there is no passengers, except me)

"Bonjour...madam, where do you want to go?...I see...your map is not good...use this...oh oh oh, the route you've plan is not good...you better ride from here to here...change the line from here to there...and voila! arriving there!! Remember, change the line at St.-Lazare, remember!"

"Sure! I trust you, merci beaucoup! Au Revoir!"

"Hey, it's simple...." after a few minutes on the train...I've discovered something wrong...


Imagine - My Chat Noir

The first drawing after completing
all text/ or short poems will be the book cover.

Although Chat Noir was in fact a cabaret in the past, I love to imagine...or I suppose it did exist as a companion to the performers, especially to the cancan dancers in those good old days...so, I want one, too :)

My first impression to this symbolic black cat is her pair of eyes, so mysterious with a embedded power which seems telling us, she is not only her companion but protector as well.

The painting in my book "La femme au chat" (the women with the cat)is a version of 1882-1884 by Adolphe Léon Willette exhibited in Musée de Montmartre.

The magnet I've bought there is another version titled "Une paire d'amis" (A pair of friends.

The raw line work of La femme au chat is beautiful but the title Une paire d'amis is much more meaningful, don't you think?

This picture instantly reminds me of a cancan dancer(although there is no specification of this lady is a cancan performer). Early before, most of the cancan dancers are prostitutes not until this performance was highly paid in Moulin Rouge, living of them were greatly improved, as well as being famous around the world.

Besides Adolphe, Toulouse-Lautrec was another artist who always include cancan dancer as one of the element in his paintings; different gestures are artistically expressed.

You can find so many chat noir souvenir now a day in Paris. Designers love to use the traditional handbill version (but wait a minute, look closer, it’s not the original; compare with the one in my previous post). Anyway, I got this playing card as a gift from a Chinese storekeeper of a souvenir shop in Montmartre, so sweet! Merci :D

So, what is you choice?


Following blog 網誌追踪

Dear all,

We must apologize for the "always Mal-function" subscription link to this blog. Thank you to my friend Brian, who evoke this problem to me yesterday, cos' we didn't update some widget function for a long long time.

To simplify the process, submit your email to "follow by email" on the right side bar, follow the verification steps to activate your Feedsburner delivery, voila!

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See you!


Hi, 大家好,

容讓我們先向大家道歉, 這也實在是我們的疏忽; 事縁作天收到朋友電郵向我査問如何可追踪Cocoadesignlife Blog?才發覺原先(多年前)設定的Feedsburner Subscribe Link 早已失效, 於是趕緊修復, 經過測試之後現今運作正常.

倘若你有興趣追踪我們的網誌, 請在右邊 "follow by email" 輸入你想接收文章的電郵地址, 接着完成一些簡單的核實身份程序; 並啓動由Feedsburner提供的連結作實, 這樣便能定時接收査閲我們的最新網文.

如果仍發現任何問題, 歡迎電郵 cocoadesignlife@gmail.com 和我們聯絡.再次謝謝好朋友Brian :D



Le Chat Noir - The black cat

Famous re-opening handbill of the Chat Noir
 by Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923)


The upcoming Book Three of Petit Paris is  titled Chat Noir, French of Black(Noir)Cat(Chat).

A unique name to citizens of Montmartre in Paris. The first cabaret there founded by Rodolphe Salis in 1881. A place for pianists, shadow play performers, artist, writers, poets, musicians...all about arts!

During the era of French Belle Époque, the golden age from 1872-1914, here, Montmartre was a paradise to the high and middle classes.

Shadow play scene by
Henri Rivière (1864-1951)

Café, wine bar, music, cancan dancing...here and there, day & night. The bohemian aroma floats in the air. It became the 18th arrondissement of Paris since 1 January 1860.

Le Chat Noir, Moulin Rouge, Maxim, Bateau-Lavoir, Place du Tertre,Sacré-cœur, Musée de Montmartre, Espace Dali...all well known!

A portrait of Rodolphe Salis
by Pierre Poterlet (1804-1881)

A small village was transformed into a modern world. The long forgotten suffering city during in the Franco-Prussian War and the 1871 Paris Commune which brought
communards buried alive on the butte of Montmartre - where the Basilica of Sacré-cœur was built later from 1876-1919.

What a sad history, it seems no where on earth can be vaccinated from War!

Same fate to the underclass, who barely shared any "fruit" from the flourish golden age; here, in Montmartre.

In the years between WWI & WWII, Francisque Poulbot who lived here, created illustrations, posters mostly concerning the living & needs of street kids; and at the same time, satirized the foolishness of War!

I shall say the feeling to Montmartre is "complicated". Wherever I see the prosperous side through its architecture/ history, it always link to the sorrow behind; but may be that's why it is so attractive, with a touch of regrettable and unforgettable...

P.S.: All photos are taken from the Musée de Montmartre.




或許"貪念"真是人類的天性, 地土、資源、財富、名聲、權力、慾望...沒完沒了.
心想控制了便等於擁有, 以為這一切便會永遠屬於自己, 可以坐着為皇, 世世代代千秋萬世, 真的嗎?

世界上從來沒有一件物件、一個人類、一個思想是屬於我或你. 容讓我以宗教角度而言, 萬物都是神所造, 除祂以外, 沒有人能掌管、能強行佔據. 神尚且讓人類有自由選擇跟隨祂與否的決定, 那麼, 我們憑什麼要同等的他/她向我們"依附"呢? 稍微壓制自我的驕傲, 容讓別人有個喘息空間, 真是那麼"丟臉"嗎? 我們...都是活在同一天空下的受造物, 為什麼不能逆轉"權力令人腐敗"這個咒詛呢?
是我們不能? 還是不願!

你認為對我的 "好", 可以"溫柔"地讓我明白嗎?
如果我的 "愚笨"未能理解並接受你的 "好意", 你能耐心一點, 也嘗試學會明瞭我的憂慮嗎?

是什麼逼使人瘋狂? 不再理性, 不再有同理心, 不再憐惜身邊的人, 不再明白自己在世上只是寄居的, 沒有佔有權...我想, 是"貪念", 也源於驕傲.

倘若世界已經變得無處可容身, 有一個地方仍然屬於你我, 就在我們的心中...一個只有神及自己可以觸及的地方.

倘若你已經很 "疲累", 就在那裡稍作休息罷!
請不要, 也不能絕望.


尋找 Francisque Poulbot

以往甚少會這樣把一篇文章分開寫和刋登, 多數會同時以 Bilingual Post Tag 去處理, 但是今次除了想尋找一幅由 Francisque Poulbot 繪畫的插畫名稱之外, 也實在很想介紹這位插畫師, 又或許法國人會較喜歡稱他為海報/名信片設計師. 由於篇幅稍長, 唯有分別刋登.

事源在巴黎蒙馬特(Montmartre)的博物館内被一系列展品吸引, 尤其這幅令我産生特別興趣, 正因為如此着迷, 連展品名稱及介紹也忘記査看,  不過這也是本人常發生的事...:P

這是一幅相對較特別的作品, 為什麼? 容讓我先來介紹這位畫家.

生於法國Saint-Denis 的畫家 Francisque Poulbot (1879-1946), 自1900年居於蒙馬特, 對當時舊巴黎被遺忘的街童 / 小童特別憐愛; 加上第一次世界大戰期間民間各種的苦况, 他在畫作中大部份以孩童作為主角, 從他們的角度去看/反諷戰爭所帶來的種種...於1923年, 他更在Rue Lepic 開設了ー間藥房, 藉此提供孩童所需; 正因為他的付出, 蒙馬特人特別竉愛這位畫家. 如果你和我一樣也喜愛 Victor Hugo 的 孤星涙 (Les Misérable), 在你看Poulbot的作品時, 也會因着有特別的感受而喜愛他.

Source from Wikimedia Common
不過在他反諷戰爭的同時, 也令他在二戰期間被囚. Poulbot 離世後"安睡於他的蒙馬特".

在博物館、圖書館或互聯網上找到不少他的印刷品或手稿展品. 除了彩色作品外, 我尤其喜歡他用單色繪畫的小孩, 也許很有童真純樸感, 也更表達到昔日孩童的缺乏. 而且, 如果仔細看看在畫作内的"對話", 很令人會心微笑.

雖然是法文, 但用手機翻譯, 即使未必完整, 也能會意. 以下是另外一幅我在館内拍下比較出名的作品.

il aura bouffé du boche
以下两幅可在網上找到, 雖然他的"戰地系列"似乎是較多人提及, 其實好些單色手稿或近似速寫的作品, 在繪畫孩童的形態時也很細緻及動人,
source from Wikimedia Common
Pas de blague! hein?...me les faut pour ce soir

在插畫下的"對白"再加上Poulbot的簽名, 是大部份作品的格式及名稱由來; 但剛巧我在尋找的那一幅只有他的簽名, 所以便成"謎"! 雖然在不同渠道也輾轉追査了個多月, 至今仍然沒有頭緒; 不過無論如何, 我相信終能找到. 如果適逢你知道, 可以告訴我嗎? 感激不盡 :D

Finding Francisque Poulbot

It's all started from this picture, I've spent almost two months to look for the title of this illustration, a very special one by Francisque Poulbot. Why I think this is special? May be first of all, I can tell you some information about him.                 
image from Wikimedia Common
If you like the story of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, you will also love this French Illustrator like me. Francisque Poulbot (1879-1946) was born in Saint-Denis in France, he was an affichiste (poster designer). He lived in Montmartre, the protagonist of his drawings was usually kids on the streets which he cared for, especially in the Paris old days of 1900s, they were the groups of forgotten.                                                                                                        He drawn a lot of pictures about them even in some of the patriotic posters and postcards during WWI, which finally lead him to be house arrested. He also opened a dispensary in 1923 on Rue Lepic to help children in Montmartre.

Here is another one I've took in the museum (sorry for the glass reflection), you can discover that usually there will be some "conversation" as I've described written at the bottom of the drawing followed by his signature.
il aura bouffé du boche

Pas de blague! hein?...me les faut pour ce soir
Some others you can find easily on the Wikimedia Common or lots of websites who admire his works. I myself especially love those in monotone, pure as those kids.

The one which I am looking for, besides Poulbot's signature on the flower card, there is no other data and it is so rarely introduced, I don't know why but I find it is a lovely illustration and hopefully one day I will find it's "name" or in case you know it, please drop a message to me, thank you!



Follow me

Follow me
Last post for Entrée Sortie is definitely the watercolor inside. Most of the museums I've been visited are located on the Right Bank, and they seems to be within distances from my hotel, but in fact, if you prefer to walk instead of taking metro, like me; you need a pair of super comfort shoes + full breakfast, I'll suggest. 

The most difficult decision is whether to have lunch even though, you need one indeed. But I always skip & replaced by fast food or apple because, the café will "drain" my time in the museum, and you will never never want to leave those relaxing café in Paris.

To fully utilize my Six(consecutive)days museum pass, a detailed plan is a must, but still, you'll have to alter your plan due to unexpected scenario; such as renovation or maintenance will temporary close a particular gallery, or a special exhibition may restrict your pass entry in ordinary situation...,etc.

Visiting museum is joyful and indulgence especially in solo, because you don't have any time limit or neediness to concern third parties' issue :P - but of course, the core is you enjoy being alone.

Let me tell you a secret, my original plan is to buy two Six day Pass, but fortunately I've decided not to over estimate of my power and I really need some time to digest/absorb the content.

To conclude my museum journey, I draw this map to share with you, when you follow my steps, I hope you can also share my happiness as well. See you :D




Musée National Picasso Paris

Day 7: Cold & rainy morning /17531 steps

Let's skip day 6 in the mean time,I will get back to you when Book Three is ready, but, this time, will have to wait for a while.

So, lets visit this museum which I shall say it is raw and subtle - Musée National Picasso Paris.

Situated in a historic monument since 1968 - Hôtel Salé, built between 1656 & 1660. Almost 365 years before? Wow! 

I am totally disconnected from reality and try to walk into Picasso's mind. Before this trip, I saw a T.V. series in Hong Kong about his whole life; so, more or less it helps to understand/feel a bit more when perceiving his works. 

Those two paintings in Entrée Sortie may not be the most famous one, but I personally like them a lot. They are so simple, a view from window, may be; what we often do in our daily life, but in Picasso's eyes, they became extraordinary. 

It is raining outside right now, a bit grey...but when I view from here, I see color

Besides Picasso's work, I love to view from the windows of this monument, it's frame & a bit distorted glazing, creating an illusory effect, and that's why I can be detached.

Exposed timber structure in the ceiling

But when these timber structure appear somewhere in the building, sometimes they form part of his art piece; the contradiction of antiquity & cubism forms an interesting combination yet harmonize. 

It's stop raining outside when I've finished to enjoy the last art piece; it's time to return to reality, although I wish there is no Sortie.


Petit Palais

Day 5: Cloudy afternoon / 17758 steps
Grand Palais
Petit Palais
Arriving here at around 1300, the sky is still a bit dull, hopefully it will turn brighter afterward.

There is a square connected two museums that I am planning to visit. One grand one petit, they are just located right opposite to each others, so convenience.

I have to shoot very very quickly here, you guess why?  
"I am attacking by marshmallow!"
Hey, I am serious. 

Originally I thought it is raining, when those feather like marshmallow sit on my camera, they are sticky, so I taste it...omg! so sweet!

Can you see those white kiosk there in the center of the square? Yeah! there they are made and fly in the air every where. Catch them if you can or want a seat? there is another corner for you...a small food plaza.
I am already filled up by the marshmallow, so I jump into the Grand Palais first, but unfortunately, can't access by my pass or I can buy a ticket. Usually in this situation, I will turn to another one and leave it for my next trip. 

Voila! Petit Palais is free entry. It's beautiful inside with wide range of collections, but this area is quite extraordinary.

When I am walking under this gigantic corridor, what I am thinking is "who put the carpet onto the ceiling?":P
This is also an exhibition gallery, see those modern art piece displayed on the floor? Well, 

super beautiful mosaic flooring + uninterrupted marble walls + carpet like hand painted fresco ceiling + lifeless modern art...what do you think? Is it weird but interesting? A totally different style of what I've been visited before, a bit of sadness is floating in the air... 

Leaving Petit Palais at around 1445, then I return to Jardin des Tuileries, this time, God give me a present...Sunny sky! What a wonderful experience there, I'll share with you in my books later. 

Up to now, do you remember how many museums I have been visited? Any more to come?


Musée de I'Orangerie

Day 5: Cold & Windy Morning with shower


A local told me, umbrella is a must in this season, never ever leave it behind. 

Having cloudy sky is quite usually in the morning this week, but it won't affect my mood cos' the scenery are still attractive, even a street corner will cheer me up :D

Walking through Jardin des Tuileries towards three museums that I've planned to visit today. The first one is Musée de I'Orangerie. Not a huge one, but cosy. The most important is still...the collections inside are worth to visit. 

This may be one of the most attractive "oval" shape gallery for Monet's Nymphéas Series. 

It's difficult for me to find a minute to have a clear shot in front of the whole painting. So, that's why you may also notice the one in my book is a bit "shaky".

But luckily,I am interested in the details of his brush stroke, so a very very close view has no problem at all, and I am afraid I've become part of their obstacle instead, sorry!:P

Besides this, I think these are also amazing. A color guide in 1879 by Ogden Nicolas Road, So Cool! See how it was applied to the framing below,delicate and lovely.  

In Musée de I'Orangerie, you will find a lot of the art pieces that are related to Impressionism. Other artists include Matisse, Renoir, Picasso, Sisley, Seurat...,etc. So lots of "dots" and interesting brush stroke dancing in front of you, again, cheer me up!


Actually the interior of this museum is quite simple, it works so well with the complicated dot dot dot,I think.

To end this visit within an hour's time, better having my simple breakfast to move on. à bientôt!


Continue...The Louvre

Day 4: Rainy night/ 18061 steps
Excluding the Reception floor,there are 4 levels in total of three wings: Denon, Sully & Richelieu. Every guide book will tell you that, Plan your route carefully & don't expect you can visit all rooms.

It's 101% true, there are around 464 exhibition rooms/galleries in The Louvre, I started from 0930 till 1930, guess how many rooms I've been staying?...I mean staying is viewing the art pieces in detail, not simply passing by, it's only 184/484. So, my originally planning of 184 x 2.5days = 460 will be quite close to reality.I am so envy to those locals I guess, who can have a seat in front of their favorite painting, to practice with their own drawing technique there, in a timeless environment, how lucky they are, I wish I could...

As a monument from the 12th century, and was transformed/extended into a museum in 1793, you can find numerous traces of the past inside, some are renovated in purpose to cope with the exhibited art pieces. There are always picture in picture, frame in frame... the spatial design are fascinating. 

Today, you can access their web site to study most of the important collections in the museum, comfortably at home, but if possible, it's still worth to visit once in a life time.

I've spend most of the time for all the Paintings, Greek/Roman Antiquities as well as Europe sculpture. But there are some treasure do draw my attention,like this!

It's cool, isn't it?!If my memory is correct, it is a traveler's make-up kit for ladies, so...so...cute yet luxurious,do you want one?

Well, may be it's enough for Musée du Louvre, although I still want to let you know some interesting people that I've met today, may be sometimes later if I still remember...:P

For the time being, I have to sortie in the rain, with my "fuel",Au revoir!


Musée du Louvre

 Day 4: Cloudy Morning

Every time walking along Seine will look at this arch
Morning in Paris is gorgeous even though the air is a bit chilly. I was in a "coma" last night, walking can be enjoyable and exhausted but resulting a very good & deep sleep. So I wake up early this morning at 0600, because today is a big day for me.

My original plan is spending two & a half days in The Louvre, but I have to change my plan to one whole day instead; because I forget the pass will only allow one time skip the line access, and I choose Wednesday in order to take advantage of the long opening hours up to 2100.

I have a full breakfast to fill up my stomach before hand, to enter, I can simply across one road towards Cour Carrée, because my hotel is right opposite to it - which, is one of the major reason for me to stay there. But I choose to enter from the entrance near Pont du Carrousel for short cut to the main entrance at the Pyramid. 

There has already a long long queue waiting outside, now let me "skip" again...(remember to make a reservation online prior visit even though you have the Museum Pass)

When I get the site map at the reception, I search the location of "The Raft of the Medusa", it should be at Room 77, 1st floor of Denon Wing. I do know that my data may not update, so I counter check and find...nothing! there is nothing mention here or there, Oh! I am out of luck, I think.

So I follow my planned route, visiting each room one by one, hopefully I will find it. The Louvre is always under renovation or maintenance, so the re-allocation of art pieces are quite often, when I see the directory near a staircase, I am pretty sure I need to plan for another visit years later.

This wall shall reflect some of my disappointment, but on the other hand, don't you think they are elegant and self exhibiting here? Framing of a painting is always part of the art piece, they can finally have a chance to become the focus themselves, Congratulations, you guys look stunning :D

Hermes is one of my favorite character in the Greek myth. The one in my book is made of bronze, this is another one in marble. His Roman name is Mercury,charming & cunning; he is one of Zeus's son and messenger,too. That's why he has a pair of winged golden sandals as a gift from his father,for him to travel as fast as wind.  

If you want to know more, I'd like to introduce a book to you: Mythology 101 by Kathleen Sears(published by Adams media). 

Then,what's next?