Midnight in Paris - The Unforgettable

The Unforgettable watercolour centre-page in ebook Chat Noir
Click to enlarge

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...
Maxim chocolate tin

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

Cd cover of Midnight in Paris
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 salut 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!

Apartment downhill in Montmartre

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.

Open air viewing from Sacré Cœur

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.

Close up city view from the butte

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?

Sparkling roof under layers of magic cloud in Montmartre
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.

The pinkish La Maison Rose café in Montmartre

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
Staircase neighbourhood in Montmartre Paris

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

New release Chat Noir of Petit Paris séries
click to enlarge
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.

Vintage magnet with painting of the woman & the black cat
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.

Chat Noir play card souvenirs

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

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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.

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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

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

Story of Le Chat Noir the cabaret in Paris

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 exhibit in Paris
Shadow play scene by
Henri Rivière (1864-1951)

Wine bar of Le Chat Noir
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!

Rodolphe Salis portrait
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.