Sunday, October 14, 2007

Paris Day Deux - I'm A Fan of Eventails

My goal for this trip to Paris was to visit small museums and places of interest that one normally doesn't take the time to see. Often you feel you have to concentrate on all the grand sights.

I was a bit mocked by H(usband) for my plans of visiting the Musée de la Serrure, The LOCK Museum. I thought it would be interesting to view history from this unique point of view. He thought it was clear that I didn't need any more trips to Paris.

Unhappily for me, and as a slight relief to A, my friend and companion in these traipsings, the door to the museum was...well, LOCKED. It was fitting somehow, but it was a little strange that there was absolutely no sign, no mention, no indication that this treasure trove existed within.

I was using as my guide an eleven year old book, Little Known Museums Around Paris by Rachel Kaplan. The problem was that I had only found out about it just before I left, so I had no time to buy the actual book. I trolled the internet for info about some of the museums she mentioned. Obviously quite a bit was not up to date. But it was ok, because it took us to different places that we might not have found otherwise.

Our next try was another small museum off the beaten track, Le Musée de l'Eventail, the FAN Museum. Luckily, it didn't open until 2pm and so we had to find lunch. We walked around a little explored area in the 10th arrondisement, noticing first 2 imposing arches, set 2 blocks away from each other. Porte St. Denis and Porte St. Martin were built in the 1670's to honor Louis XV's military accomplishments. Luckily we found a cafe

in the shadow of the Porte St. Martin.

We could gaze at it as we ate our beautiful lunch. History is great, yet fleeting, but an excellent lunch can stay with you for eons.

The cafe, Le Roi Soleil (2, Rue du Fauburg St. Martin Paris 10) featured the usual sandwich, salad and simple main course menu. We opted for croques, which is my déjeuner normale. I like to perform a scholarly exercise of comparing the same dish in different places. Oh, who am I kidding? I just LOVE croque Madames and I would eat them 10 times a day, if I could. The best, and these certainly could be in that class, are made from Poilâne bread.

Then it was off to try to find the building of Le Musée de l'Eventail. There was a small sign outside. We went in the entrance and found an apartment building with a security door and buzzers. I can't remember how we figured out which was the museum's, but we did. Inside, there were no further directions, so we walked UP AND UP AND UP a winding staircase, past at least one apartment that was being completely renovated. I hoped that wasn't our destination, and that we had arrived days too late.

We walked all the way to the top. NOTHING. We went back down and halfway between the first and second floors, we spied a second staircase that did in fact take us to Le Musée de l'Eventail.

After ringing the buzzers on at least 2 doors, a middle-aged woman admitted us into an old Parisian apartment with all kinds of fans on the walls. We paid and spent several serious moments studying the contents of the first room, before we realized that it was the gift shop.

With that out of the way, we passed through to the main rooms of the apartment. Fans from the last 200 years - African, European and Asian were displayed. They ranged from the most basic reed and grass fans to the finest filigree on bone and ivory. Amazing. There also was a workroom with a young woman, bent over a table working silently. She was restoring an old fan with such precision and exactitude that it was fascinating to watch her.

We quietly made our way through the 2 main rooms. Each fan was more beautiful than the last. All kinds of materials were used - ivory, bone, paper, even swan skin.

The European ones with complicated paintings were noteworthy. We learned that the composition on the actual pleats of the fan was all-important. The artist tried his or her utmost to avoid placing a face in the middle of a pleat. We searched each fan for this element and by and large, there were no major folds in the middle of faces. Interesting.

Luckily, I didn't see the sign that said NO PICTURES (in French) until I had taken (almost all) my pictures. A made herself scarce as I snapped the final display cabinet. (Never did I use a flash.) Enjoy these contraband photos: more thing...This is a site listing many fan museums all over the world. Who knew H and I were so close to one in Healdsburg, California, when we were in Napa? Of course, I hadn’t developed a penchant for fans then.

Next time...dinner...à bientôt.


Emilie said...

Have you ever eaten Poilane bread? I want to. You can buy it online....
The croques look good. I'm hungry.

Interesting that you're interested in fans. They are beautiful.

Sue said...

Yes!!! That's what makes these Croques so awesome. It doesn't hurt that the bread is really long (although very thin), so that the resulting sandwich is almost a foot long! Yeah, I should buy it.

I didn't know I was interested in fans, until I saw these gorgeous ones.