Paris, Volume 22, Number 1 January, 2011

Paris

In the early days of our infatuation with all things Parisian, most of us dallied with the world of the kings and their romantic haunts — beginning appropriately with Henri IV’s Place des Vosges, Paris’ oldest square, and lovelier today than Henri ever dreamed. Created on the edge of time, between the Renaissance and the Baroque (1605-1612), on land once a medieval swamp, it became the most fashionable residential square in Paris and the model for virtually all European squares thereafter. The symmetry of the red brick facades, the elegant vaulted arcades, the majestic hip roofs — all gave birth to the French Baroque, which glimmered at its golden climax in Henri’s grandson’s (Louis XIV) palace — Versailles. But his charming Place des Vosges, with its tiny, picturesque park at the center, remains a prelude to much we love today. There were, of course, bad times. The royals moved back across the Seine and the square fell into ruin after the French Revolution. It was not reclaimed until the 20th-century removal of the Les Halles food markets and the 1977 construction nearby, of Centre Pompidou.

Beyond the Place des Vosges, Henri also commissioned the Place Dauphine and the Pont Neuf and he is remembered for his contribution to architecture. But, when Louis XIII followed him, the medieval Louvre Palace became the home of monarchs until the revolution. During the 18th century, the rambling Louvre was expanded and became increasingly elaborate, but it was left to Napoleon — at the dawn of the 19thcentury — to crown it the world’s first public museum (1893). The other royal enclave that remains part of my own Paris love affair is the intimate Palais-Royal (1641) across from the Louvre, which began as the small private theater of Cardinal Richelieu and became royal property after his death. Like the Louvre, it has accepted contemporary alterations only with the greatest controversy: at the Louvre, we have finally made peace with I. M. Pei’s glass pyramid in the Cour Napoléon, while many still decry Daniel Buren’s fanciful and architecturally magical black-and-white striped columns in the court of the Palais-Royal. With its tempting arcaded shops, topped by some of the most desirable residences in the city, and the cherished presence of Paris’s oldest aristocratic restaurant, Le Grand Véfour, it may be the most romantic square.

From the guilded Baroque of Versailles, my eyes always wander to the delicious excesses of the 19th-century — especially the glorious Opera Garnier (1874) by Charles Garnier — and the remodeling of the city as a whole by Baron Haussmann, the creator of the grand boulevards, sculpted parks, and a modern sewer system — a prelude to the sparkling Belle Époque.

This year, I wondered if my architecture passion could extend to modern Paris, the Paris created in the 20th century, which to many seems lacking in the traditional magic. Most of us allow our interests to wane after the great Arts Decoratifs exhibition of 1925, which launched the stunning, highly refined Parisian Art Deco. By the 1950s, even the advances of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and the Cubist revolution of Picasso and Braque could no longer sustain Paris as the undisputed center of the art world, which moved abruptly to New York during and after World War II. Was there as much to love in 20th-century Paris?

To find out, I created an itinerary, which included the modernism of the 1920s and 30s, all of the new museums, President François Mitterand’s Grand Projects that brought contemporary architecture to the City of Light, and the new neighborhoods that welcomed avant-garde design, art and architecture. It can’t be done all in one gulp, but it can be divided by location or you can just choose your favorites for a visit. About the only way to do the first segment is to hire a car and drive, and/or engage a good guide (ARTExpress loved having the talented services of Christopher Back of Paris Private Guides. He’s originally from Laguna Beach, but is a Paris pro).

Remember the historic Art Nouveau “Metropolitan” signs and glass-enclosed entries to the metro? Created in 1900, they are the obvious introduction to the new century. Their designer was Hector Guimard (1867-1942), the most prominent figure of French Art Nouveau. Unfortunately, only three of the full, glass-roofed enclosures remain: the original one at Porte Dauphine, and the reconstructed ones at the Abbesses and Châtelet stops. It is said that Guimard’s style (the organic swirls and floral-like curlicues so typical of Art Nouveau) was derived from his acquaintance with Victor Horta’s work in Brussels, but if you follow our path through the 16th arrondissement to see Guimard’s residential architecture, you’ll feel that the most obvious visual comparison is to the organic stonework and elaborate carving of the Barcelona apartments by Antoni Gaudi. All in the 16th, we walked around five apartment complexes, two houses (called hôtels) and a petite café, where we stopped for a coffee. Castel Béranger (14 rue La Fontaine) 1898, and Hôtel Mezzara (60 rue La Fontaine) 1910-11, both important buildings, are special delights, although the interiors can rarely be visited. Except for coffee at his Café Antoine (17 rue La Fontaine), Guimard’s architecture is a drive/walk tour in a beautiful neighborhood and a perfect prelude to the sea change brought about by the Swiss architect/designer/artist/writer and pioneer of Modernism, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, who chose to be called Le Corbusier (1887-1965). The next destination on our itinerary was the Fondation Le Corbusier, composed of two joined houses — Maison Jeanneret and Maison La Roche (1923) — at 8-10 square du Docteur Blanche. The foundation operates the houses, set at right angles to each other, as a museum and archive of Le Corbusier’s work and is open to the public. If you’ve been to his great Villa Savoye (1928) — the most important Modernist house on the continent, in the Paris suburb of Poissy-sur-Seine — the foundation constitutes the Paris heart of the development of his style. The pure white façades, broken by iron and concrete elements, are complimented by a two-storey curved gallery that calls to mind the swooping curves of Villa Savoye. In case you think of Corbusier as an all-white designer, here you will see interiors in his original colors of cream, sky blue, pale yellow — even a rusty red.

Now, across the Seine, in the 15th, not far from the Eiffel Tower and the Parc du Champ-de-Mars, we turn from Le Corbusier to his contemporary, Robert Mallet-Stevens (1886-1945), regarded, with Corbusier, as the most influential architect and designer between the wars. While there are a number of noted villas by Mallet-Stevens in suburban Paris, here in the city his signature work was designed as the home and studio of the renowned stained-glass artist Louis Barillet (15 square des Vergennes). Set back from the street by an entry and delivery court, the first view of the façade is a showstopper. White concrete forms — the flat studio exterior enhanced by the great curved bay of the residence — are punctuated like a Cubist collage with giant, black-frame windows and a monumental multi-story stained-glass ribbon in shades of translucent pearl, beige, a faint pink and black in small accents, which describes glassmaking activities in a semi-abstract composition. In addition, it is possible to see Mallet-Stevens’ work at 1-10 rue Mallet-Stevens, where the street named in his honor dead-ends in four housing blocks (1929), one of which is presently a gallery, open to the public. A leader of the Art Deco movement, Mallet-Stevens was an architect, interior designer, furniture-maker, filmmaker — and more. He was greatly under-recognized until the large, full-scale retrospective held at Centre Pompidou in 2005.

For the grand finale of our first-half-of-the-20th-century exploration, we headed to an appointment at 31 rue Saint-Guillaume in Saint-Germain-de-Prés — an appointment for a group of 10 students and professionals to tour the legendary Maison de Verre by Pierre Chareau and Bernard Bijvoet (a Dutch architect). Maison de Verre (House of Glass) is the centerpiece of every book on modern Parisian architecture and must, sooner or later, be visited by every serious architecture devotee (it’s the Paris Fallingwater!). Fashioned in the geometric patterns of the Art Deco period, it is a song to the transparency of the design and use of industrial materials. Glass blocks cross-marked by steel lines set the distinctive pattern of the house, which is hidden from the street by closed gates and tucked under the façade of an older building that the tenant refused to sell. Built for Dr. Jean Dalsace (1928-1932) as his office and residence during the 1930s, the house served as the site of a regular salon for the avant-garde, including the Surrealist poets, artists Jean Cocteau, Yves Tanguy, and Joan Miró, plus Marxist writers and intellectuals like Walter Benjamin. Today it is privately owned by a New York financier who has begun a meticulous restoration and resides, occasionally, on the third floor.

On the following day, we switched our attention from the 1930s to the post-war achievements of the world-renowned architects who came to fame, in part, because of their participation in François Mitterand’s Grands Travaux or Grand Projects. For the most part, the projects are public and easy to visit. The first three, begun by Giscard d’Estaing and debuted by Mitterand in 1986-87, include the Institut du Monde Arabe, a glittering silver structure just beyond the Seine, turning its magical eyes (that open and close automatically to control the light) toward the Íle de La Cité and Notre Dame. A museum devoted to the Arab world with offices, a restaurant, library and shop, it was designed by France’s most important living architect, Jean Nouvel — as were a number of other remarkable structures on our tour – and received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. At the moment, some of the electronic eyes are not functioning properly, but the elegant metal-screen façade remains a signature landmark of contemporary architecture in Paris. The other two initial projects were Gae Aulenti’s conversion of the Gare d’Orsay train station — a 19th-century Beaux Arts behemoth — into the Musée d’Orsay, with which we are all familiar (the current renovation will be completed in March, and all of the Cezannes, Gaugins, Van Goghs and Manets will be home from San Francisco and other stops along the way), and the Parc de la Villette. The park, designed by the Swiss/French deconstructivist architect Bernard Tschumi (as were the 35 charming red follies – tiny Cubist structures – sprinkled throughout the park), is little known to many travelers, but enjoys 10 million visitors a year from tourists and the surrounding neighborhoods. Noted French architect Christian de Portzamparc created the Cité de la Musique conservatory in the park (another Grand Project of 1995), and under construction at the present time is Jean Nouvel’s remarkable, futurist symphony hall. Do think about spending a sunny afternoon in the park — on the edge of the 19th arrondissement, in the northeast corner of Paris.

The next Grand Project to be unveiled was the Opera Bastille — for which a blind competition was held. The jurors are said to have voted for the presentation that they thought belonged to Getty Center architect Richard Meier. However, in actuality, it was the proposal of Canadian/Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott. Today, it serves as the home of the Paris Opera — facing the Place Bastille.

The signature project — and certainly the most controversial, was I. M. Pei’s Grand Louvre – the expansion of the palace that would also force the Ministry of Finance out of the Richelieu Wing and feature the now beloved glass pyramid designed to mark the new main entrance.

Next came the competition for a monument at La Defénse, a business center on the far west side of the city. Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen’s design for the “Grande Arche” — the huge white marble arch or open cube framing the vista to focus on the route down to the Arch de Triomphe and the Champs Elysées, which was universally well-received. On a clear day, looking west from the Tuilleries, the formal procession of Paris’ most beloved monuments is clearly visible with the arch in the distance.

Finally, in 1994, Mitterand inaugurated the National Library of France with four great glass towers facing each other, set alongside the Seine. Designed by French architect Dominique Perrault, it was planned to be the center of a newly developed area called Seine Rive-Gauche, which hasn’t yet fully materialized.

With a few minor touches, the Grands Travaux were complete and modern Paris was set in place. Since then, Jean Nouvel’s Fondation Cartier and his new Musée Quai Branly have raised the bar, along with Frank Gehry’s 1994 American Center (now the Cinémathéque Française) — the creamy limestone sculpture that critics called “too Parisian.”

All of these are easily accessible to the architecture buff and shed clearer light on modern Paris when viewed as a body of work by many of the 20th-century’s most lauded masters: Pei and Gehry had already won the Pritzker Prize when tapped, followed by Portzamparc in 1994, Renzo Piano (Centre Pompidou) in 2007 and Jean Nouvel in 2008. Among other Pritzker winners, Tadao Ando (1995) has done a ceremonial space at Paris’ UNESCO Headquarters and there is a fine apartment block by Herzog & de Meuron at 10-17 rue des Suisses in the 14th. After your tour, you’ll be convinced that the City of Light has much to offer, more than a century after the height of the Beaux-Arts pinnacle.

If you’ve mastered this itinerary, you certainly deserve a nice place to stay and some brilliant French cuisine. We stayed in a modest but charming hotel on the Rue de Rivoli, sandwiched alongside the very grand Le Meurice and the Westin, plus the legendary Angelina tearoom, where we enjoyed old-fashioned Parisian breakfasts. The entire diplomatic corps seemed to be coming and going from the Meurice at every hour of the day — given the constant motorcades — but thankfully we found the four-star Hotel Brighton a bit off of the radar. We chose it because every morning we could throw open our windows and look down into the gardens of the Tuilleries. Warning: the downside is that the Rue de Rivoli is never quiet. In the 1st arrondissement, the Westminster and the Bedford are quiet; while on the left bank, we like the Lutetia, the Pont Royal, the Montalembert, the Bel Ami and any number of picturesque respites. Notice there are no Philippe Starck hot spots: is it our age or our desire for quiet and comfort after walking 10 miles? On the contrary, for cuisine and upon our food editor’s advice we opted for trendy bistros by Paris’ most celebrated young chefs. We loved all of Christian Constant’s establishments paraded along Rue St-Dominique from Le violon de Ingres to Café Constant; our guide said she found the fare at Le Comptoir a “transformative experience,” and Le Petit St-Benôit, the supreme comfort-food haunt. chez l’Ami Jean and Frenchie were on the list as well. Near our hotel, a new, modernist bistro without the street flavor of the others is getting great reviews: the pristine Pinxo, by star chef Alain Dutourner. And, of course, Restaurant Georges, at the tiptop of the Pompidou overlooking all of Paris, was splendid.

And then there is chocolate! Pierre Hermé is at the top of the pyramide, but we found wonderful chocolates and pastries wherever we turned. Walk rue du Cherche-Midi on the left bank, where, if you can’t pass up the original Poilâne, taste the croissants, and proceed directly on to a là Reine Astrid chocolates. And, strolling the Rue St-Louis en L’Île, you will find more tempting patisseries than the macaroon police will allow.

While the shopping in the 1st, especially on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, is without parallel, it requires very deep pockets these days in light of the unfortunately expensive euro. That said, we would never miss the famous concept store Collette. Then there is the quite visible upgrading of boulevard Saint-Germain, with the hugely popular new Ralph Lauren store with Ralph’s Restaurant (a very long reservation wait). Give me Sonia Rykiel any day! Our favorite shopping was in the haute Marais (north of the Place des Vosges area), where we could hardly leave the curated house of delights, Merci (the new Collette) and Isabel Marant — who had just come from Fashion Week with tons of gorgeous, wearable, everyday clothes. At Isabel Marant, they sent us down the block and around the corner to the best bistro lunch ever at Café Charlot.

As we prepared to unwillingly depart for Charles DeGaulle (in the midst of the transport strike!), I realized we had scratched very little off of my list. It is simply impossible to “finish” Paris. Would our list be so long and our love so enduring if it were not so heart-stoppingly beautiful?

Focus Paris

HOTELS
Hotel Brighton, 218 rue de Rivoli, Tel. 33(0) 1 47 03 61 61, www.hotelbrightonparis.com. If you’d like to face the Tuileries for less than half the price of Le Meurice a few doors down, this is your best bet. Be sure to ask for a rue de Rivoli room, but remember, whether you’re ensconced here or at Le Meurice, the price you will pay is noise, unless you keep your windows tightly closed. The view is so grand, I’ll opt for the noise any day, with modern comforts in a restored Victorian building. Instead of the lobby breakfast, just step out the door to the famous and delicious Angelina.

Hotel Bel Ami, 7-11 rue St. Bennoit, Tel. 33(0) 1 42 61 53 53, www.bel-ami-hotel.com. A tasteful hotel by the woman who breathed life into the Montalembert — Grace Leo-Andrieu. The décor is chic, no-fuss, restrained and it’s lovely to be in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

Hotel d’Aubusson, 33 rue Dauphine, Tel. 33(0) 1 43 29 43 43, www.hoteldoubusson.com. Enjoy a beautiful 17th-century building, with décor highlighted by the tapestries of its name. The salon is pretty and cozy and there is even a garden courtyard. Opt for one of the grand beamed-ceiling rooms, the fine service, and the excellent breakfast. Hotel Relais Saint-Germain, 9 Carrefour de l’Odéon, Tel. 33(0) 1 43 29 12 05, www. hotel-paris-relais-saint-germain.com. The perk here is the hotel kitchen — run by arguably the hottest young chef in Paris: Yves Camdeborde. His restaurant on the premises is Le Comptoir, where there is a long line every night. His wife, Claudine, is in charge at the hotel — an ancient, beamed building that is charmingly updated. The downside is the busy, noisy location.

Hotel Saint Vincent, 5 rue du Pré aux Clercs, Tel. 33(0)1 42 61 01 51, www.hotelsaintvincentparis.com. This boutique does boast a quiet Saint-Germain location in a lovely old villa with 22 rooms. Ask for one of the larger rooms — with a fireplace.

Hotel Lutetia, 45 Boulevard Raspail, Tel. 33(0) 49 5446 10, www.lutetia-paris.com. The Lutetia (the original name of Paris) has long been a favorite. On the Boulevard Raspail side, the lucky guests have a fine view of a magnificent Beaux-Arts building across the street, and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. On the rue du Cherche-Midi side you won’t be able to resist the chic shopping — or the breads at the original Polaine. Sonia Rykiel’s 1990s design has been carefully preserved and updated.

Le Bellechasse Saint-Germain, 8 rue de Bellechasse, Tel. 33(0) 1 45 50 22 31. Designed by Christian Lacroix, it’s witty and fun, plus in a great location near the Musée d’Orsay.

Hotel Westminster, 13 rue de la Paix, Tel. 33(0) 1 42 61 57 46, www.warwickwestminsteropera.com. A classic spot at a legendary address in the heart of the luxurious neighborhood close to the Opera. This is traditional elegance and comfort amid antiques and marble fireplaces.

Hotel Bedford, 17 rue de l’Arcade, Tel. 33(0) 1 44 94 7777, www.hotel-bedford.com. The secret of our Zürich friend Clarisse Gagnebin, this well-located, family-run hotel is understated in its décor, but also blessed with delicious Belle Epoque detail — especially the remarkable dining room. Near the Madeleine and the Opera, it’s a four-star find. Ask for a superior room for a bit more space — the price will still be reasonable.

RESTAURANTS
We went bistro hopping and found special favorites, including: chez l’Ami Jean, 27 rue Malar, Tel. 33(0) 1 47 05 86 89, www. www.amijean.eu. Chef Stéphane Jego serves splendid southwestern-French fare. The atmosphere is less than elegant, but you can’t beat the dense Basque stew. His years with Yves Camdeborde at La Régalade have served him well.

Le Bistrot Paul Bert, 18 rue Paul Bert, Tel. 33(0) 1 43 72 24 01 (no website). Good luck finding this out-of-the-way spot in the 11th, but it’s a classic favorite with Paris foodies. Again, down-home plain (this description seems to be bistro de rigueur), but the chalkboard menu that always features steak-frites is full of mouth-watering dishes.

Le Comptoir du Relais, 30 Carrefour de l’Odeon, Tel. 33(0) 1 44 27 07 97, www. www.hotel-paris-relais-saint-germain.com/flash/us. Already praised above, the trick is knowing that you can come on weekend nights and line up. Otherwise, the weeknight, prix-fixe dinners are the toughest reservation in Paris, with only 10 indoor tables (the sidewalk is filled in nice weather). We went at 5:30 on Saturday and waited 45 minutes for a sidewalk table — you know it’s got to be terrific! Not a single fancy thing here, but the food!

Benoit, 20 rue St.-Martin, Tel. 33(0) 1 42 72 25 76, www.benoit-paris.com. Founded in 1912 and greatly loved, this bistro has become nothing but better in the hands of Alain Ducasse. It may be “cuisine bourgeoise” but it is truly fine cuisine. Reserve in advance.

Café Charlot, 38 rue Bretagne, Tel. 33(0) 1 44 54 03 30, no website. A divine lunch spot on a sunny day (great people watching on the sidewalk) in the haute Marais, just around the corner from Isabel Marant, where they provided the recommendation. A real find!

Café Constant, 139 rue Saint-Dominique, Tel. 33(0) 1 47 53 73 34, www.cafeconstant.com. One of haute-chef Christian Constant’s three virtually side-by-side restaurants on Rue Saint-Dominique. The Café is a no-reservations spot, so come early! The simple menu holds super dishes and, oh, the desserts! Constant’s other restaurants here include his jewel, Le violon d’Ingres, and trendy Le Cocottes, at #135. This is not to ignore his two divine chocolate shops either. Kudos to chef Constant!

Frenchie, 5 rue du Nil, Tel. 33(0) 1 40 39 96 19, www.frenchie-restaurant.com. Frenchie is the restaurant no one wants to tell you about because it’s hard enough to get in as it is! The small menu will include only what is “en saison” because “market fresh” rules here. Uniformly, every diner reports having “the best meal in Paris” — just keep trying to make a reservation; it’s worth the effort!

Restaurant Georges at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Place Georges Pompidou, 4th Arrondissement, Tel 33 (0) 1 44 78 47 99, www.centrepompidou.fr. On the top floor, with the most glorious, panoramic views of the city, Georges is a trendy entry by the Costes brothers that is, in fact, well worth the effort (many calls to snag a reservation). We chose lunch rather than dinner in order to spot each of our favorite landmarks below; however night, when Paris is carpeted with a sparkling pattern of lights, is equally popular. Happily, we found that the food and the service accompanying the view were excellent. The contemporary décor perfectly suites the museum, and the environment is completely captivating.

ARCHITECTURE
Save the most famous late 20th century examples — the museums — to do on your own; simply remember to include Musée d’Orsay (Gae Aulenti), Institut du Monde Arabe (Jean Nouvel), Fondation Cartier (Jean Nouvel), Centre Pompidou (Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano) and the “new” Louvre (I. M. Pei). These should be the finale of your tour. Our itinerary, which began with masterpieces of the earliest years of the 20th-century, included buildings open to the public, those open by appointment, and those visible from the street only. The only efficient way to see them is to hire a car and driver. We had the excellent assistance of Christopher Back of Paris Private Guides (www.parisprivateguides). The buildings we chose to see are listed by architect:

Hector Guimard
Apartment, 1928, 36-38 rue Greuze, 75016;
Le Castel Béranger
, 1893-95, house, 14 rue La Fontaine, 75016;
Café Antoine, 17 rue La Fontaine (in a Guimard building), 75016;
Apartment block, 8-10 rue Agar (Guimard designs for street signs and a group of apartment buildings) 75016;
Hôtel Mezzara, 1910-11, 60 rue La Fontaine, 75016 (owned by French Government, offices may be open; built as a private home).

Le Corbusier
Fondation Le Corbusier
, 1923, 10 square Docteur Blanche, including Maison Jenneret and Maison La Roche.

Robert Mallet-Stevens Atelier Louis Barillet, 1931-32,15 square de Vergennes, 75015.

Pierre Chareau
Maison de Verre, 1928-32, 31 rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007 (open by letter request/appointment).
Bernard Tschumi Parc de la Villette, 30 avenue Corentin Cariou, 75019;
The Parc and follies, 1982-1998.

Christian de Portzamparc
Cité de la Music, Parc de la Villette
, 1995.
Herzog & de Meuron
Apartment block, 10-17 rue des Suisses, 75014 (exterior view of metal-screened façade).

MUSEUMS
Exhibitions:
Be sure to check current hours before you go; closed days and hours differ.

Louvre, www.louvre.fr. Arriving by Métro: Palais-Royal-Musée du Louvre station; by car: an underground parking garage is available; entrance is located on avenue du Général Lemonnier. Claude Lorrain: The Draftsman Studying Nature, April 20-July 18.

Centre Georges Pompidou, place Georges Pompidou, www.centrepompidou.fr. Mondrian and De Stijl, through March 21; Paris-Delhi-Bombay, May 25-September 19.

Musée d’Art Moderne, 11 avenue du President Wilson, www.mamparis.fr. Basquiat, through January 30; Haute Culture: General Idea, February 11-April 30.

Musée du Quai Branly, 37 quai Branly, www.quaibranly.fr. The Making of Images, February 16-July 17.

Fondation Cartier, 261 boulevard Raspail, www.fondation.cartier.com. Moebius Transe-Forme, through March 13.

Musée Jacquemart-Andre, 158 boulevard Haussmann, www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com. Rubens, Poussin and the 17th Century, through January 24. The Caillebotte Brothers Private World, March 25-July 11.

Musée d’Orsay, 1 rue de la Legion d’Honeur, www.musee-orsay.fr. Pre-Raphaelite Photography, March 8-May 29; Manet, April 5-July 3.

Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint-Laurent, 3 rue Léonce Reynaud (exhibition entrance), www.fondation-pb-ysl.net. David Hockney: Fleurs fraîches, through January 30. [donotprint]

Grand Palais, 1 avenue Géneral Eisenhower, www.grandpalais.fr. Claude Monet, through January 24; Anish Kapoor, May 10-June 21.

Jeu de Paume, 1 place de la Concorde, www.jeudepaume.org. André Kertész, through February 6; Arenout Mik, March 1-August 8.

Bibliothéque Nationale de France, Site François Mitterand, Quai François-Mauriac, www.bnt.fr. Richard Prince: American Prayer, March 28-June 21.

We recommend the website Paris Update (www.paris-update.com) for the most current information regarding exhibitions, theater, music, restaurants and more. Also, the Paris Museum Pass, www.parispass.com is a significant benefit. It provides access to some 60+ museums and attractions, is much less expensive than individual access if you are visiting numerous museums, and can be ordered on-line in advance and delivered to your home. Until recently, those with passes did not have to wait in line; at the moment, it gets you past everything except the security-check line (which can be long!).

OPERA & THEATER
Palais Garnier
, 8 rue Scribe, www.operadeparis.fr. Opera, ballet and musical theater are presented in Charles Garnier’s opulent Beaux-Arts masterpiece. If you’re not going to the theater, at least visit the great staircase, the foyers, and the auditorium. Tours are available every day, 10-5, except on days when there are special events. Generally, you’ll find the Opera Nationale at the Bastille Opera and the National Ballet and other musical events here. A new hall for the Paris Philharmonic is under construction in Parc de la Villette - to be completed in 2012 (by Jean Nouvel).

SHOPPING
Note: In Paris, we’re strictly neighborhood shoppers. We don’t run (metro) back and forth from the 1st, to the 6th, to the 4th, and, if we’re going to spend the day in and around a particular arrondissement or neighborhood, we make a list of not-to-be missed spots. The trendiest shops of the moment can be found in the Marais, or, more precisely, the haute (or north) Marais, while the long-loved luxuries remain primarily in the 1st, along or near rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré/rue Saint-Honoré.

Marais/Haute Marais
Merci
, 111 boulevard Beaumarchais, Tel. 33(0) 1 42 77 01 90, www.merci-merci.com. Concept stores (curated shops) are all the buzz and this one is the success celeb of the moment. The treasures range from tabletop beauties, to clothing, jewelry and rare books. Plan on spending time!

Isabel Marant, 47, rue de Saintonge, Tel. 33(0) 1 42 78 19 24, www.isabelmarant.tm.fr (also 16 rue de Charonne and 1 rue Jacob). Our favorite, super-wearable designer. We were there just at the close of Fashion Week and the selection was grand (be sure to eat around the corner at Café Charlot).

Azzedine Alaia, 7 rue de Moussy, Tel. 33(0) 1 42 72 19 19. This exquisite space by British designer Marc Newson, is home to the fabulous designs by the man who has been the “enfant terrible” of French design for more than thirty years. The shoes and accessories are displayed in “museum” vitrines, as well they should be!

Galerie Francois Renier/un jour un sac, 6 rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, Tel. 33(0) 1 44 61 07 79, www.unjourunsac.com/fr. While this is the Marais-convenient location, there are three other stores, plus, two boutiques that carry the line. All of the addresses are available on the website. You’ll find a sac (purse) for every day; choose from hundreds of bucket/tote/handle combos that are interchangeable at your whim.

Champs-Elysées
Louis Vuitton
, 101 avenue Champs-Elysées, Tel. 33(0) 1 53 57 52 00, www.louisvuitton.com. The stunning Champs-Elysées flagship is an “ode to fashion, contemporary art, and, of course, shopping.” Don’t miss the James Turrell video installation at the entry, or the Olafur Eliasson “black box” elevator. There is also a regular schedule of exhibitions and events in the Espace Culturel (entered through the store or around the corner on Rue Bassano).

H & M, 88 avenue Champs-Elysées, Tel. 33(0) 1 53 20 71 17, www.hmchampselysees.com. There may be 11 wildly popular H & M boîtes in Paris, but only one is a three-story extravaganza by starchitect Jean Nouvel. Put this shop on the “must” list, if only to see Nouvel’s major retail project, just unveiled on October 4th.

Opera/Palais Royal
Pretty Ballerinas
, 38 avenue de la Opera, www.prettyballerinas.com. Need a pair of Parisian toe shoes? We’ve never seen such a large selection. Several locations.

Rick Owens, Jardins du Palais Royal, 130-133 Galerie de Valois, Tel. 33(0) 1 40 20 42 52, www.rickowens.eu. Luxury fashions by the hot-scene favorite.

Pierre Hardy, 9-11 place du Palais Bourbon, Tel. 33(0) 1 45 55 00 67, www.pierrehardy.com. The name is synonymous with exquisite Parisian footwear.

Faubourg Saint-Honoré/rue Saint-Honoré
Colette
, 213 rue Saint-Honoré, Tel. 33(0) 1 55 35 33 90, www.colette.fr. The grandmere of concept stores (along with 10 Corso Como in Milan), marrying fashion, art, technology, toys, jewelry, cosmetics . . . more!

Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Sonia Rykiel, 175 boulevard Saint-Germain, Tel. 33(0) 1 45 49 13 10, www.soniarykiel.fr, (additional locations). This multi-talented designer — “Queen of Knits” — continues to amaze! She’s beautifully showcased in this sleek Left Bank flagship.

Pierre Hermé, 72 rue Bonaparte, Tel. 33(0) 1 43 54 31 61, www.pierreherme.com. Make your gift the finest chocolates, the most divine macaroons, the rarest pastry, from this iconic purveyor.

News

So it may not compete with the Grand Canal of Venice, but it is saying something when you can tell friends about the river taxi you caught to get to a museum, and you’re in Texas!

The pride of San Antonio, is, of course, the venerable Alamo. When seen under blue skies on a crisp day, it is surprising how beautiful it stands as a piece of architecture, apart from its prominent place in U.S. history. It also now serves as the anchor attraction at one end of the River Walk, which meanders along the San Antonio River, offering riverside access pedestrian-only restaurants, shops, historic buildings, and more. Stroll the cobblestone pathways until you decide it’s time to hail a river taxi, which will deposit you at the far end from the Alamo, and our destination for this trip: the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA), the latest addition to River Walk taxi stops.[pay] Before we get there, a word about the river taxi service. Be aware that taxi tickets may be purchased along the route, but if you buy yours at the entrance near the Alamo as we did, you have the choice of taking a round-trip tour, or an all-day, unlimited on/off pass. Not being aware of this, we inadvertently bought tickets for the tour. We found it enjoyable and well worth the time — filled with anecdotes about the history of the buildings that abut the San Antonio River; some having been there since the 18th-and 19th-centuries, such as the San Fernando Cathedral, and the Southwest School of Art & Craft, housed in what was originally a convent and girls’ school built in 1851. Our favorite River Walk story was of more recent vintage — that of the 500-room luxury Hilton Palacio del Rio — designed in 1967 with the seemingly-crazy promise to be open in time for the 1968 Texas World’s Exposition. The builders were good to their word, and did the job in an unprecedented 202 working days. Using a crane to stack modular rooms which were already outfitted for guests with beds made and towels hanging on racks, they swung out over the river before carefully coming to rest, one on top of the next. (And by the way, did you know San Antonio was the birthplace of Conrad Hilton?) The aforementioned Southwest School of Art & Craft is worth its own stop. Currently a lively community arts center, it is evolving into an accredited university (they project their undergrad degree program will be official as early as 2013), with contemporary exhibition space and a lovely lunch spot, Copper Kitchen Café. Currently at their Russell Hill Rogers Gallery: San Antonio artist Leigh Anne Lester’s exhibition, Beautiful Freaks/Nature’s Bastards, an environment examining genetically modified plants, created from cut mylar, vinyl, and carbon paper drawings, through February 27. Arriving at our destination, SAMA, we alight at the Gloria Galt Landing, completed in 2009 to serve as the welcome entrance for river taxi riders, featuring an esplanade and terrace — also providing a space to rest and people watch. SAMA’s history dates back to 1925, when it was part of the Museum of Art and the Witte Museum of Science and History. Since 1981, it has existed on its own, housed in a historic 19th-century Lone Star Brewery building, following a $7.2 million dollar renovation begun in the 1970s. The collecting effort has always leaned towards art of the Americas, although European, Oceanic and Asian Art also make up a large part of the permanent collection. In fact, the Lenora and Walter F. Brown Asian Art Wing currently houses one of the largest Asian art collections in the country; and the ancient Mediterranean collection is also formidable. In 1998, the 30,000 square-foot Nelson A. Rockefeller wing was opened, devoted to Latin American art, it houses the folk art collection amassed by Rockefeller and Robert Winn. Contemporary art is also well represented, with important works by such disparate masters as Richard Diebenkorn, Philip Guston, Helen Frankenthaler, Richard Estes, Wayne Thiebaud, and many more. Changing exhibitions tend to focus on regional art and artists. Currently, you can catch (through February 13) an amazing photography installation by two Mexican photographers and brothers, No Escape: Photographs of the Brothers Montiel Klint. Fernando and Gerardo, born ten years apart, work together as successful commercial photographers in their native Mexico. As fine artists, they work in the faux-cinematic tradition of Cindy Sherman or Gregory Crewdson (with a hint of Pieter Bruegel and Odd Nerdrum thrown in), meticulously creating backdrops and interiors for their own created dramas. Unlike other famous artsy-brother-duos such as the Brothers Quay, the Starns Twins, or the filmmaking Coens, their fine art images are created independently of each other. When the separate series come together in one exhibition, it’s an amazing experience that had us psycho-analyzing the two over a lively lunch. Speaking of lunch, there are many choices along the River Walk. If you have not had your fill of Texas beef, there is an (always reliable) Morton’s located at the Alamo end of the River Walk in the Rivercenter Mall. Although the helpful tour guides that you will find everywhere will tell you to enjoy lunch with live music in the lagoon area of the Mall, don’t fall for it. At least during the day, we found it over-amped and under-talented. Get back on the River Taxi and keep a lookout for one of the following recommendations . . .

Since losing Chef Andrew Weissman’s lovely Le Rêve in late 2009 (more on his current whereabouts later), our favorite River Walk fare is now found at Chef Bruce Auden’s Biga on the Banks. The cuisine is Southwestern contemporary, emphasis on seasonal, with a bit of an Asian twist to some of the dishes. Even on a hot day (warning: most of them are in San Antonio, in case you were not aware), you can’t pass up the three-onion potato soup with black truffles. A nice change of pace from beef is the “close-to-bouillabaise” soup, served with a martini rouille. Our other favorite lunch spot along the river is the paella/pasta bar open weekdays at the Citrus, in Hotel Valencia — which just happens to be our hotel pick as well — so let’s cover that while we’re here. Interiors are by Dodd Mitchell, who went for an urban, hip take on traditional Southwest. The standard rooms tend to be a little dark, with black carpeting and low lighting, offering a respite from the unrelenting Texas sun! If that is not to your taste, be sure to ask for a room with a balcony. Note that it can get a bit noisy here some evenings, when River Walk nightlife heats up, as it is right in the heart of things. For a quieter, less urban stay, there are many charming b&b’s located close by, such as three operated by Noble Inns: choose from Oge House, on the Riverwalk, the Jackson House, with a beautiful indoor conservancy, or the Carriage House, a very private, secluded house offering a choice of three suites. For dinner, we backtracked beyond SAMA to another re-purposed brewery building, Pearl Brewery, which is being developed as an arts and culture mecca, offering residential, retail and office spaces to boot. It’s here that we found Andrew Weissman’s latest venture, Il Sogno Osteria, an Italian bistro as authentic as you will find in the Southwestern U.S. — e.g. the long wine list offers Italian wines only, and specialty of the house is wild boar. Although we were not able to sample the breakfast menu, it comes highly recommended, with the espresso comparable to that found in Rome. Shopping along the River Walk is mostly of the vintage/antique and folk art variety, and there is lots of it, so don’t feel the need to tarry too long at any one shop. More notable stops are waiting up top in downtown San Antonio, away from the River Walk, but a very short distance away if you’re at the Alamo end. These include Paris Hatters — outfitting everyone from The Pope (John Paul II) to any number of stars with cowboy hats since 1917; and Gallery Vetro, an elegant selection of art glass by about 100 different U.S., European and Canadian artists. Their specialty is lighting: chandeliers, sconces, floor and table lamps, mostly from Murani, Italy. While in downtown, we took a snack break, as well as a change of pace from all things Southwest, at the authentic, locally-beloved German deli, Schilo’s. Founded the same year as Paris Hatters, 1917, it feels like you are in a time capsule — very little has changed here since opening day. The “legendary” split pea soup lived up to its name, but the homemade root beer, while delicious, is extremely rich and sweet, so approach with caution — order one and share all around. Finally, if you have a chance to attend a performance at the Majestic Theater (again, downtown, just up top from River Walk), be sure to go — it’s self-billed as “the most ornate theater in the country,” and that gets no argument here. Designed and built by John Eberson and opened in 1929, it seems to borrow from every architectural tradition you can think of — from Baroque to Mediterranean to Spanish Mission — and defies you to take your eyes off the décor and onto the stage. Its sister venue next-door, the Empire Theater, another eye-popper, was built in the 1800s as an opera house, nearly destroyed by flood in 1921, then lay in ruin and neglect for many years. Renovations in 1998 revealed original gold leafing found throughout, plus the beloved copper eagle that once graced the entrance (hiding in the ladies room), all under many coats of white paint. The City of San Antonio is now the owner/operator of both completely restored and modernized theaters, with the Majestic serving as home base for the San Antonio Symphony. In addition, both venues offer everything from country music to Broadway mega-musicals (Wicked opens February 16), so chances are good that something will appeal.

One side note to our San Antonio mini-sojourn: as we were traveling from Austin to San Antonio, we stopped in San Marcos, at Texas State University to tour a gem of a photography and literary archive: The Wittliff Collections. Call ahead to the helpful staff: 512-245-2313, as hours vary, and to ensure you know which entrance to use for parking (it is on a university campus, after all). Focus of the photography exhibitions is on such prominent Southwestern and Mexican photographers as Keith Carter, Rocky Schenck, Kate Breakey, Graciela Iturbide, and many more; the permanent collection is much wider, and includes everyone from Robert Frank to Henri-Cartier Bresson. Their newly expanded photography exhibition space allows anywhere from 130 to 200 prints to be on display at any given time. It makes for a great “art-rest stop” if you happen to be traveling Interstate 35. Don’t miss it! If you’re headed for lively Madrid for the next — 30th anniversary incarnation — of ARCOmadrid (2011), February 16-20, be prepared for the anniversary updating by the fair’s director/curator Carlos Urroz. The ungainly size has been reduced to what is referred to as “manageable” — two pavilions and 149 galleries. There will be a special section devoted to Latin America (15 galleries, curated by Urroz); eight galleries dubbed Focus Russia — the guest country; and another new project: Opening: New European Galleries (15). Not only is this year’s fair headed for success, lucky visitors will find some fine exhibitions in local museums. The Prado will feature (through February 13 — arrive early) A Passion for Renoir, from the collection of the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute, and Dürer’s ‘Adam and Eve’ (through March 20), which has just emerged for a four-month display after two years in conservation. The Caja Madrid Foundation and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza will present Impressionist Gardens concurrently with the Renoir exhibit. Mar. 1-14, and the Thyssen will mount a Jean-Léon Gérôme retrospective. If you’ve been to Madrid within the last few years — or even if you haven’t — there are two important new museum buildings to savor: Herzog & de Meuron’s brilliant CaixaForum of 2008 and Jean Nouvel’s Reina Sofía addition — three red pavilions under a common roof — of 2005. Both are splendid contributions to the Madrid architecture boom of the first decade of the 21st century. Upcoming CaixaForum exhibitions include Dali, Lorca and the Residencia de Estudiants (through February 6), and A Floating World: Photographs by Jacques-Henri Lartigue (March 4-June 19); while the Reina Sofía will showcase Hans-Peter Feldmann and Overflow: Val del Omar (through February 28).

Architecturally, the real surprise is the Quatro Torres (Four Towers) Business Area on the Paseo de la Castellana. Composed of Torre Espacio by Henry N. Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed, Torre de Cristal by César Pelli, Torre Caja Madrid by Sir Norman Foster, and Torre Sacyr-Vallehermoso by Carlos Rubio Carvajal and Enrique Álvarez-Sala Walter. The complex, finished in 2008, includes the four tallest buildings in Spain, completely changing the skyline of the capital city. In the SyV (Torre Sacyr-Vallehermoso) Tower, the Hotel Eurostars Madrid Tower 5 — a five-star hotel — occupies the first 31 floors of the 58-story building with views guaranteed to bowl you over.

It’s not often — OK, it’s never happened before — that we take you to a destination via cruiseline, but longtime ARTExpress friend Tom Peckenpaugh generously offered to share his trip diary, written while on a dream vacation with his wife Barbara, and we are happy, in turn, to be able to pass it along (with his wonderful accompanying photos) to those of our readers who might consider an onboard vacation. “From Istanbul, Turkey to Venice, Italy: Cruising the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Adriatic Sea” From May 4 through 14, 2010, our ship, the Regent Seven Seas Mariner, traveled 1,745 nautical miles, which equals 2,008 land miles. We visited five countries: Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. Tuesday, May 4 - Istanbul, Turkey

Our adventure in Istanbul began with a visit to the Church of St. Savior in Chora, which began life as a 5th-century Byzantine church outside the walls of Constantinople. It is renowned for containing some of the finest examples of Byzantine art. The church’s Christian frescos and mosaics were plastered over when the church was converted to a mosque in the 1500s, but much of the art has been uncovered and restored, revealing, many beautiful works, such as a striking fresco showing the Resurrection of Christ and a glowing golden mosaic depicting John the Baptist. We next toured the huge Sultan Ahmed Mosque (built 1609-1616), known around the world as the Blue Mosque, which is still in use for regular prayers; then on to the Hagia Sofia. This massive building served as the Cathedral of Constantinople from 360 to 1463, except between 1204-1261, when it became a Roman Catholic cathedral. A former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, it later became a mosque, and is now a museum. As a Christian church, with art on its walls, painted faces were covered when the building was converted to a mosque. Now, as a museum, some of the exquisite images are visible again.

We were left on our own to walk through a profane temple of sorts: the teeming Spice Bazaar, which carries on much as it did in the 17th century. This busy building, completed in 1660, is packed with colorful stalls offering all kinds of exotic spices, candies, caviar and other foods, as well as gold jewelry and handicrafts. From the spice market, our bus took us to our ship, reached by crossing the Galata Bridge that spans the Golden Horn. Checking into our stateroom (809) was very easy and was followed by a whirlwind of unpacking, life-vest drills, cocktails and a nice dinner. Our beautifully appointed room with 301 square feet, included a bathroom large enough for two people to move around with ease, and a walk-in closet. Furnishings included a writing desk with a slide-out upholstered stool, a vanity with angled mirrors, lights and its own upholstered stool, a six-foot long sofa, an upholstered chair and coffee table that doubled, with an add-on top, as a meal table. A flat-screen TV could be seen from the queen-size bed, the couch and chair. The balcony, reached through a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door, was ample, with a table and two chairs. The public areas of the ship are pleasantly decorated in soft beiges and blues. Scattered throughout the ship are a boutique, casino, many comfortable lounges, an equipment-filled gym, a huge swimming pool, two spas and endless deck chaises, plus a library nicely stocked with books and DVD’s, deep chairs, and an internet café with 24 computers. Meals were simply outstanding. Some examples: we had steak and Maine lobster, yellowtail tuna tartare with soy sauce and wasabi, sashimi, the best-ever Caesar salad, amazing mussels and clams in wine sauce, New York style cheesecake, and much more. Mercifully, the ship does not have: bingo, a guest talent show, an ice-carving show or waiters parading around to music with flaming Bananas Foster!

Wednesday, May 5 - Mykonos, Greece As the Venus fly trap lures flies with its brightly colored center, so also Mykonos entices swarms of tourists with its dazzling, bright, mostly white buildings. These flat-roofed, clustered, cube-shaped structures with bright red and blue doors and window shutters are quite a pleasing sight. Unlike flies, tourists are soon released to shop, drained only of a little of their cash. Rows of colorful motor scooters, all-terrain vehicles, and tiny 4-door rental cars line up everywhere, ready to take adventurers over the island’s rolling hills on its narrow winding roads, while the town is a maze of narrow corkscrew lanes, lined cheek to jowl with shops selling everything from junky trinkets to serious jewelry. We learned that the narrow pathways were made winding and maze-like to confuse pirates of previous centuries. After shopping, we visited a lovely old Greek Orthodox monastery that still has two elderly priests in residence. The church reminded us of Russian Orthodox churches because of its ornate interior with icons in silver and gold. Speaking of icons, sadly, the island’s iconic antique windmills are being allowed to rot away as they are no longer fitted with canvas “sails” to harness wind power for grinding grain. Thursday, May 6 - Kusadasi and Ephesus, Turkey

The highlight of our long excursion today was a tour of Ephesus, the legendary city founded as an Attic-Ionian colony in 10 BC. Razed about 650 BC, it was rebuilt and prospered — a splendid seaport city. However, with the passage of time, earthquakes and silt from the hills filled the bay and the city crumbled, and was buried. It is now miles from the seashore. Its design and construction were quite sophisticated with a clay pipe water and sewer system, marble baths, and toilets with seats warmed by hot air. Roman Ephesus — at its height in the 1st- and 2nd-centuries AD — was known for its magnificent library and open-air theater built into a hillside, with seating for 25,000 spectators.

Perhaps the most striking ruin is the partially restored façade of that library — the Library of Celsus, which once held some 12,000 scrolls. An unusual feature associated with the structure is an underground tunnel that connects the library to a building about 50 yards away, which was used as a brothel. The toilets, 48 of them, lined up “cheek to cheek,” were part of the brothel. Visitors would be sent to the baths and toilets to be entertained by fountains and musicians, intended to overcome the sounds emanating from the facilities. An ancient brothel madam etched — on the roadway into the city — what may well be the first advertisement. It consists of the images of a heart, a woman’s face and a footprint, meaning if you are seeking a woman’s love, follow the footprint. After our walking tour through these amazing ruins, we visited the Ephesus Museum, near the entrance to the Basilica of St. John in Selçuk (6th-century AD), where we saw frescos, mosaics, furniture, crypts, statues, and display cases filled with 2nd- and 3rd-century religious artifacts and personal items such as combs, mirrors and bottles used by the Romans. Santorini, Greece This extraordinary island juts up out of the Aegean Sea over 1,000 feet, with the sparkling white towns of Oia (”ee-ah”) and Fira (”Fearah”) perched along its top. Clusters of whitewashed houses cascade part way down the island’s steep cliffs. These houses differ slightly from the cube-shaped dwellings on Mykonos — new buildings and renovations are required to be rectangular, white, and must incorporate an arch into the architecture. The latter is usually accomplished by creating a vaulted or domed roof, arched windows, or a combination of these features.

Santorini is said to be the most photographed island in the Aegean, due to the stark, white brilliance of bell towers and angular structures set within a backdrop of blue sky and sea. Although the central area of the island supports a small but prosperous wine industry, this island’s main commerce is tourism. The small towns can barely accommodate vehicle traffic, but their marble-paved pedestrian walkways provide an interesting experience, with dozens of shops, restaurants, small boutique hotels and bars. Visitors arriving by ship are bussed up the steep sidewall of the island on a vertigo-inducing switchback road south of the town of Fira. There are three ways to get back down to sea level: via a ski-lift, gondola-like ride called the “cable car,” which takes about 5 minutes; by donkey, which takes about 20 minutes; or by a switchback stairway of 600 stairs — about 25 minutes of descent. We opted for the cable car, which afforded a thrilling ride and an amazing view over Fira, our ship, and the nearby other Greek islands. Wow! Saturday, May 8 - Katakolon, Greece; Olympia This sleepy little town of Katakolon gives cruise ships easy access to the ruins of Ancient Olympia. The impressive ruins date from the 5th-century B.C. and encompass the site that spawned our modern day Olympic games. Visitors can trace the foundations of the athletes’ dorms, meeting and practice areas. Foot race distances varied from venue to venue in Greece because the actual foot of a local person was used to establish each race course - standardization came many years later. The original Olympic contests began as religious celebrations. The festivals included foot races, wrestling, boxing, javelin and other contests. Olympia gave us the word “gymnasium,” which is a contraction of the ancient Greek words for naked and exercise. Every four years, the Olympic flame is started here by thrusting a bundle of wooden sticks into a mirror-lined vessel aimed at the midday sun. The wood, once ignited, is taken to light the first Olympic torch and start the transfer of the flame to the next site for the games. The stadium here has four gently sloping grassy sides that will accommodate about 50,000 people sitting on the ground around the contest area. Our tour today was topped off with a delightful festival (of sorts) at a nearby five-star Best Western Hotel, the Europa. The hotel’s hillside setting was lovely, overlooking a vast green valley, dotted with farm patches in many shades of green. The setting consisted of several loggias covered with vines, near a beautiful swimming pool with infinity edges. Tables under the loggias were set with inviting Greek snacks, local wines, juices and water. Then the fun began with familiar Greek music from a mandolin, electric piano and guitar, making it sound like the “Zorba” experience we were told it would be. About eight costumed dancers performed traditional dances for us and then invited guests, now “lubricated” by the wine, to join in, which many did enthusiastically, while the rest of us cheered and clapped along. Sunday, May 9 - Corfu, Greece This island has changed hands many times, starting with the Byzantines. Later, Venetians ruled, followed by the French (twice), Russians, and British, finally unifying with modern Greece in 1864. With this scrambled history, it is no surprise that the place is a shambles.

Reportedly the “greenest” and most lush of the Greek islands, it must also hold the record for abandoned and rotted-out buildings and boat hulks. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our visit to the Achillean Palace (palace of the Greek God Achilles), built by Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1890, later owned by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and now a museum. The hilltop mansion has a commanding view across the Ionian Sea to the snow covered peaks of Albania. Its interiors contain beautiful frescoes and bas-relief sculptures, as well as historical curios. The lovely surrounding gardens and verandas are graced by many marble sculptures of poets and prophets and boast a 20-foot-high bronze sculpture of Achilles himself, enjoying the magnificent view. The old town of Corfu is filled with a nice combination of high-end stores as well as the usual tourist shops. Its pedestrian walkways are paved in marble from a more prosperous era. And, if one looks beyond the store-level façades, one sees how very old, old, old this place is. The cruise ship docking area and disembarkation facility appear to be relatively new, clean and quite modern. But the mood is spoiled by the scene directly across the street from the entry: a crumbling abandoned factory building with a partially caved-in roof and rust everywhere. This place must have invented the term “deferred maintenance.” Monday, May 10 - Dubrovnik, Croatia In terms of being well maintained, clean and neat, this tiny, tidy republic is everything that Corfu is not. This is especially remarkable because the place was under siege by Bosnia and Montenegro less than 20 years ago. We had a great visit here, starting with a stroll around the pretty little seaside town of Cavtat, followed by a drive into the lushly green Konavle Valley filled with many farms planted with row crops, orchards and vineyards, each contributing its own version of “green.” We were taken to the famous (”posh” according to our guide) Konavoski Dvari Restaurant, located in a former mill beside the cascading Ljuta River. In the restaurant’s tree shaded patio, with the white noise of the little river in the background, we were served a snack of local smoked ham and cheese on homemade breads by women outfitted in traditional Croatian costumes that included perky, silver-banded, bright red pill box hats perched on their heads. We finished this day’s touring with an easy walk through the ancient “old town” part of Dubrovnik, enclosed by a high and intimidating stone wall. This well-preserved piece of history, still throbbing with the lives of its residents and wide-eyed tourists, certainly deserves its classification as a UNESCO world heritage treasure. Tuesday, May 11 - Korcula (kor-choo-la) Croatia Korcula is another compact ancient, high-walled town, sited on a peninsula on the northeast shore of the island of the same name. The town plan is laid out like a fish skeleton so that its buildings are protected from harsh north winds, but benefit from east to west cooling sea breezes in the summer. Guidebooks tell us that this town design is an early example of sophisticated urban planning. We agree. Like other destinations on this part of the planet, Korcula has had many conquerors over the centuries. However, its architecture is clearly Venetian. The main Gothic-Renaissance cathedral contains a large, dramatic painting attributed to the Venetian master, Tintoretto. And the legendary 14th-century explorer, Marco Polo is said to have been born here. In the nearby Bishop’s Palace Museum we saw sketches and drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, among many others. These were an impressive visual treat, but their preservation is worrisome because the buildings are ancient and without climate or humidity controls. Wednesday, May 12 - Koper, Slovenia The seaport town of Koper was our ship’s destination this morning, 176 nautical miles from Korcula. After docking, we began with a bus ride to the oldest town in Slovenia, Piran. The name has its root in the Greek word for fire, “pyre.” This follows from the historical use of the town’s rock outcrop to light signal fires to guide ships sailing to Koper. Piran and Koper demonstrate their heritage by labeling street signs in Slovenian and Italian. Slovenia gained independence from Yugoslovia in 1991, formed a democratic republic, and is now a member of the European Union — the only Slav state that is. A unique touch for today’s touring was a leisurely ride through green cultivated countryside to the hilltop site of the producer of Santomas wines, a winery that has been owned and operated by five generations of the Vinakoper family. The pleasant surprise that awaited us at the end of the winery tour was a tasting of four of the wines produced by this winery, as well as their estate-produced olive oil. These were accompanied by delicious rustic bread, cheese and prosciutto. A festive mood was inspired, not just by the wine and food, but a cheerful costumed three-piece ensemble, consisting of an accordion, guitar and bass. They charmed us with folk music, even inducing us to sing along with them. The music was a delightful touch. Venice, Italy………….” A note from ARTExpress: We will save Venice for a future issue, but are grateful to Tom, and to Barbara, for the alluring description of a trip that will no doubt attract our ARTExpress cruisers. In the meantime, Great Addresses fans are invited to consult our Istanbul issue, vol. 21, no. 2 (2010); and our most recent (2009) Venice listing, vol. 20, no. 2.

Great Addresses

ON THE SAN ANTONIO RIVER WALK
The Alamo, www.thealamo.org. The venerable mission/fort/symbol sits on a 4-acre complex and hosts 2.5 million visitors per year. It serves as a good anchor and home base to start your tour (ignore the terrible Ripley’s Believe It or Not/Guinness Museum complex sprawling across the street).

San Antonio River Walk, www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com. The River Walk begins across the street and down stairs from the Alamo, and ends (currently) at the San Antonio Museum of Art. For an onboard, guided tour that lasts approximately 30-40 minutes, the ticket booth is located in the Rivercenter Mall, across from the Hilton, with boarding nearby. For boat taxi service, the same company operates the shuttle, with ticket locations along the River Walk, at hotels, or purchased from the driver. Both services operate 9 AM-9 PM, every day. For more information, visit www.riosanantonio.com. (Note that the canal will be drained for annual cleaning from January 3-11 this year.)

San Antonio Museum of Art, 200 West Jones Avenue, Tel. 210-978-8100, www.samuseum.org. Open Wed.-Sat. 10 AM-5 PM, Sun. 12 noon-6 PM, Tues. 10 AM-9 PM, closed Monday.

San Fernando Cathedral, 115 Main Plaza, Tel. 210-227-1297, www.sfcathedral.org.

Southwest School of Art & Craft, 300 Augusta, Tel. 210-224-1848, www.swschool.org. Open Mon.-Sat. 10 AM-5PM, Sun. 11 AM-4 PM.

Hilton Palacio Del Rio, 200 South Alamo Street, Tel. 210-222-1400, www.1.hilton.com. Rooms are comfortable, if a bit short on style— balconies overlooking the River Walk make up for this. The Ibiza Patio Restaurant offers a nice spot for an al fresco breakfast or lunch.

Hotel Valencia, 150 East Houston Street, Tel. 210-227-9700, www.hotelvalencia-riverwalk.com. Urban, hip. We enjoyed drinks on the terrace of the Vbar, as well as lunch at the Citrus.

Noble Inns, Tel. 1-800-242-2770, www.nobleinns.com. Three separate well-run B&Bs to choose from — the Oge House is your choice if you want to stay on the River Walk.

Morton’s, 300 E. Crockett St., Tel. 210-228-0700, www.mortons.com/sanantonio. Located in the Rivercenter Mall, not the River Walk. Bragging rights to the “best steak and seafood in Texas” is a big claim to make, but you know Morton’s lives up to it.

Biga on the Banks, 203 South St. Mary’s St., Tel. 210-225-0722, www.biga.com. Exceptional food in an upscale, yet comfortable, setting.

Citrus, Hotel Valencia, Tel. 210-230-8412, www.hotelvalencia-riverwalk.com/dining/citrus. Rising star chef Jeffery Balfour emphasizes locally based ingredients — including game. If you’re headed to the nearby Empire/Majestic complex for an evening performance, order Citrus’ prix-fixe, Pre-Theatre Menu, a three-course meal “designed to get diners well-fed and on to the show.”

Pearl Brewery, located at the far end of the River Walk, beyond the San Antonio Museum of Art, www.pearlbrewery.com. Now under development, check the website before you go to see what’s new. Restaurants currently in situ include: Il Sogno Osterio, 200 E. Grayson, #100, Tel. 210-223-3900. Chef Andrew Weissman serves authentic Italian, morning to night; and La Gloria, 210 267 9040, www.lagloriaicehouse.com. Delicious street foods of Mexico. (Andrew Weissman’s Sandbar Fish House & Market also dwells here.)

Schilo’s Delicatessen, 424 E. Commerce, Tel. 210-223-6692, www.schilos.com. Housed in an old mercantile exchange building dating back to the 1800s, Schilo’s turned the historic site into a deli in 1917 — and has not changed the décor since! Locally loved, and an authentic experience.

Majestic & Empire Theaters, 208 East Houston Street, 210-226-3333, www.majesticempire.com.

Gallery Vetro Creative Artglass, 513 East Houston Street, Tel. 210-354-0001 (no website). Wonderful displays, with Italian lighting fixtures well represented. The shop’s interior is so striking that it is often used as a site of receptions and events.

Paris Hatters, 119 Broadway, Tel. 210-223-3453, www.parishatters.com. A well-worn, very utilitarian little shop that boasts a Texas-sized reputation for their custom cowboy hats. Has outfitted Pavarotti, Johnny & June Cash, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain . . . so many more.

Wittliff Collections, Texas State University, San Marcos, Tel. 512-245-2313, www.thewittliffcollections.txstate.edu. Hours vary, call ahead. Founded by Bill and Sally Wittliff in 1986, with a gift of papers from author and folklorist J. Frank Dobie, the collection has grown by leaps and bounds since then, and has permanent quarters at the Albert B. Alkek Library. A beautiful setting and great collection of Southwest writers and Mexican photography.

IN MADRID
Museo del Prado, Paseo del Prado, Calle Ruiz de Alarcón 23, Tel. (34) 91 330 28 00, www.museodelprado.es.

Caja Madrid Foundation, Plaza de San Martin 1, Tel. (34) 902 24 68 10, www.fundationcajamadrid.es.

ARCO, Parque Ferial Juan Carlos 1, www.arcoiferma.es.

CaixaForum, Paseo del Prado 36, Tel. (34) 91 330 73 00, obrasocial.lacaixa.es.

Reina Sofía, Santa Isabel 52 (Sabatini building), www.museoreinasofia.es. Jean Nouvel Addition, Ronda de Atocha Street, corner of Plaza del Emparador Carlos V.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Paseo del Prado 8, Tel. (34) 91 369 01 51, www.museothyssen.org.

Hotel Eurostars Madrid Tower 5, Paseo de la Castellana 259B, Tel. (34) 91 334 27 00, www.eurostarsmadrid.com. A luxurious, business-oriented, five-star hotel — the closest thing Madrid has to a Ritz Carlton – this is a minimalist haven with a views, 360o views!

Asiana, Travesia de San Mateo 4, Tel. (34) 91 310 09 65, www.asianadeco.com. A bit under the radar for a few minutes, Asiana is one of the most exciting food experiences in Madrid. Chef Jamie Renedo (an El Bulli alum) is serving cutting-edge dishes at just eight tables set amid Asian treasures in the basement of an antique shop. Make your reservation well in advance!

Sergio Arola Gastro, Callezurbano 31, Tel. (34) 91 310 21 69, www.sergioarola.es. Launched in 2007, this Michelin two-star eatery is the headquarters of super-star chef Arola. There are just four menu options: the seven-course “short” selection, the fourteen-course “long” one, the cheese selection, and a prix-fixe lunch. For those without the time to worship at the fourteen-course font, try the informal bar and bar menu. The best table in the house is the private dining room in the kitchen.

Travel Bookshelf: Paris

Guides
Luxe Paris
, Luxe City Guides.
Jon Hart. eat.shop paris: A Curated Guide of Inspired and Unique Locally Owned Eating and Shopping Establishments, Cabazon Books, 2010.
Catherine Le Nevez. Paris Encounter, Lonely Planet, 2009.
Wallpaper City Guide Paris 2010
. Mike Gerrard & Donna Dailey. Top 10 Paris, Eyewitness Travel, 2010.

History & Literature
Graham Robb. Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris, Norton, 2010.
Ernest Hemingway. A Moveable Feast, 1964.
Gertrude Stein. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, 1933.
Diane Johnson. Le Divorce, Plume 1997.
Leonard Pitt. Walks Through Lost Paris: A Journey Into the Heart of Historic Paris, Counterpoint, 2006.
Munro Price. The Road from Versailles: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and the Fall of the French Monarchy, St. Martins Griffin, 2004.

Art & Architecture
Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos. Paris: City of Art, Vendome Press, 2008.
Jean Nouvel. Jean Nouvel: Complete Works 1970-2008, Taschen, 2009.
Le Corbusier. Toward an Architecture, 1923.
Steve Martin. Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays, Grove, 1997.
Jon Kear. The Treasures of the Impressionists, Deutsch, 2009.
Georges Vigne. Hector Guimard: Architect, Designer 1867-1942, Greenidge, 2003.
Michael Carmona. Haussmann: His Life and Times, and the Making of Modern Paris, Dee, 2002 (English translation).
John Richardson. A Life of Picasso: The Cubist Rebel 1907-1916, Knopf, 2007.

Cuisine
Julia Child. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, 1961.
Joel Robuchon. The Complete Robuchon, Knopf, 2008.
Linda Dannenberg. Paris Bistro Cooking, Clarkson Potter, 1991.
Dorrie Greenspan. Paris Sweets: Great Desserts from the City’s Best Pastry Shops, Clarkson Potter, 2002.

and, strictly for fun . . .
Mysteries
R. A. Scotti. Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa, Knopf, 2009.
Cara Black. Murder in the Marais, Soho Crime, 2003.
Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code, Dell, 2003.

Calendar

Through Jan. 17 Seattle Art Museum Picasso Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris
Through Feb. 13 San Antonio Mus. of Art Moctezuma’s Table: Briseño’s Mexican and Chicano Tablescapes Through Feb. 13 San Antonio Mus. of Art No Escape: Photographs of the Brothers Montiel Klint
Through Feb. 27 MOCA, Los Angeles Light, Color and Space
Through Mar. 6 Miami Art Museum Susan Rothenberg: Moving in Place
Through Mar. 13 ICA, Boston Mark Bradford
Through Mar. 21 MoMA, New York Andy Warhol, Motion Pictures
Through Apr. 3 MCA, Chicago Urban China: Informal Cities
Through Apr. 10 Whitney Museum, New York Modern Life: Edward Hopper and his Time
Through Apr. 24 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Sol LeWitt 2D & 3D
Through Apr. 24 Menil Collection, Houston Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964-1968
Through Apr. 25 MoMA, New York Abstract Expressionist New York
Through May 22 Whitechapel, London The D. Daskalopoulos Collection
Jan. 19-23 Sixteenth Annual Los Angeles Art Show (FADA)
Jan. 19-23 IFPDA Fine Print Fair, Los Angeles
Jan. 22-30 VIP Art Fair, International Contemporary Art Fair (online only)
Jan. 23-Apr. 17 Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth Ed Ruscha: Road Tested
Jan. 23-Apr. 17 MCASD Downtown, San Diego Rául Cordero: Hendrickje
Jan. 26-May 15 New Museum, New York George Condo: Mental States
Jan. 27-30 Art Los Angeles Contemporary (Art Fair)
Jan. 28-31 Artefiera, Art First, Bologna

Feb. 1-May 15 Tate Britain, London Susan Hiller
Feb. 11-May 29 Schrin Kunsthalle, Frankfurt Surreal Objects
Feb. 13-Jun. 6 MoMA, New York Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914
Feb. 16-20 ARCO (International Contemporary Art Fair) Madrid

Feb. 22-Jun. 19 Castello di Rivoli, Turin John McCracken
Feb. 24-Jun. 27 Neue Galerie, New York Birth of the Modern: Style and Identity in Vienna 1900
Mar. 2-6 The Art Show, New York ADAA

Mar. 2-July 4 Centre Pompidou, Paris François Morelett
Mar. 3-6 Volta, New York VOLTA 7

Mar. 3-Jun. 26 MAXXI, Rome Michelangelo Pistoletto
Mar. 5-Apr. 24 Moderna Museet, Stockholm Jutta Koether
Mar. 10-Jun. 5 Whitney, New York Glenn Ligon: America
Mar. 13-July 3 MOCA, Los Angeles William Leavitt: Theater Objects
Mar. 17-20 The AIPAD Photography Show, New York

Apr. 3-July 24 LACMA, Los Angeles David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy
Apr. 5-July 3 Musée d’Orsay Manet
Apr. 13-17 Art Cologne
Apr. 13-Aug.28 MET, New York Richard Serra Drawing
Apr. 14-Sept.11 Tate Modern, London Joan Miró
Apr. 15-July 17 Museum Ludwig, Cologne Vija Celmins
Apr. 29-May 2 Art Chicago