Springtime in Paris with the Galleries of the Carré Rive Gauche by Carolin C. Young
The Carré Rive Gauche celebrates springtime in Paris on May 30th with simultaneous openings at its myriad top-quality member galleries located in arty and elegant Saint-Germain-des-Prés. This annual happening lends a touch of casual, street-festival jubilance to the more studied act of perusing high caliber art and antiques. The sponsored champagne is nothing less than Ruinart. But attendees can carry glasses from one venue to the next, linger on the sidewalk for a chat, or simply soak in the aesthetic pleasures of the urbane yet tranquil surroundings. Normally hushed and somewhat intimidating galleries feel as welcoming to the casual passerby as to the eminent collector.
What is the Carré Rive Gauche? A dealer association made up of vetted members from the dense cluster of galleries located in a geographic square (carré) on the Left Bank (rive gauche) that encompasses the Quai Voltaire and the rues Saint-Pères, Université, Bac, Beaune, Verneuil, and Lille and that straddles the 6th and 7th arrondissements.
Now in its 36th edition, the event and the association behind it have continued to evolve, reflecting an influx of younger dealers. This year, the theme is “Carrément audacieux,” which can be literally translated as “Squarely Audacious,” in a play on their name, but more metaphorically “Completely Audacious.”
Carré Rive Gauche’s members interpret the theme as diversely as the objects and art they specialize in. Galerie Alb Antiques features a diminutive but bold powder compact in the form of an old-fashioned telephone dial, which Salvador Dali created for Elsa Schiaparelli in 1935. Galerie Sismann evokes Baroque ecstasy with a multi-sensory mise-en-scène installation replete with music in tribute to Bernini’s famed chapel of Santa Teresa that will showcase fifteen masterworks, including a highly emotive, mid-sixteenth northern Italian marble bust of a woman. More discreetly, Galerie Arcanes, a specialist in decorative arts from 1920 through the mid-1970s, displays a new line of boldly linear furniture commissioned from the young designer Pierre-Rémi Chauveau.
From antiquities to contemporary art, and from Asian artworks to Primitive objects, not to mention European fine and decorative art, the breadth of the range covered within a few small streets is breathtaking. Those wishing to focus their viewing can choose from one of seven specialist itineraries suggested on the Carré Rive Gauche website. But the majority of visitors approach the event as more of a springtime frolic, unleashing their curiosity wherever their eyes lead them.
Opening: Thursday, May 30th, 6—10 p.m. Dates: Friday, May 31st – Saturday, June 1st, 11 a.m. — 7 p.m. www.carrerivegauche.com
Even as the galleries of the Carré Rive Gauche explore audacity, the Musée d’Orsay (open until 9:45 on that and every Thursday evening) presents its own take on the subject in a special exhibition devoted to Dark Romanticism from Goya to Max Ernest. The show brings together approximately 200 paintings, graphic works and films that evince a fascination with the shadowy themes of the grotesque, the mystical, the nightmarish, and the horrific.
Those who have not visited the permanent collection recently may wish to explore the museum’s refurbished, color-suffused galleries and new installation. The Angel of the Odd, through June 9th Musée d’Orsay 1, rue de la Légion d’Honneur 75007 Paris www.musee-orsay.fr
WHERE TO EAT:
Restaurant Le Voltaire ,27 quai Voltaire 75007 Paris +33.(0)220.127.116.11.49 This venerable favorite offers old-world French cuisine and service that is correct but not uptight. The dining room has a subdued, clubby aura. The menu is classic but not heavy. Generous side dishes form an especially welcome touch.
Le Bistrot de Paris, 33 rue de Lille 75007 Paris +33.(0)18.104.22.168.83 Set in the heart of the Carré Rive Gauche festival, this cavernous but always bustling restaurant features exquisite Belle Époque décor and an old-guard menu of reasonably priced bistro classics. Slightly on the meatier side, the food is solidly good, if not brilliant.
Restaurant Semilla, 54 rue de Seine 75006 Paris +33.(0)22.214.171.124.50 A new addition to Left Bank dining, this American-owned restaurant with Spanish touches offers an ultra-contemporary, market-driven menu in a fashionably streamlined setting. Casual yet chic, it features fresh ingredients at reasonable prices.
Restaurant Les Climats, 41 Rue de Lille 75007 Paris +33.(0)126.96.36.199.08
L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joël Robuchon, 5 rue Montalembert 75007 Paris +33.(0)188.8.131.52.56 Joël Robuchon’s Atelier Saint-Germain offers two-Michelin-star cuisine for the impromptu gourmand. With dinner reservations taken only for the first, 6:30 p.m. seating, and a casual, bar-counter setting, it provides the rare opportunity to indulge in last-minute luxe (for not inconsiderable prices). The wait can be long, but in good weather prospective diners head for drinks on the next door terrace of the Hôtel Montalembert.
Le Relais de L’Entrecôte, 20 rue Saint-Benoît 75006 Paris +33.(0)184.108.40.206.00 This popular first-come, first-serve restaurant has only one menu question: “how would you like your meat cooked?” The Entrecôte serves a walnut and lettuce salad followed by two helpings of steak, in a signature green sauce, along with a decent house red for those who want it. Those intrepid enough to require dessert can select from a vast variety of choices. Lines can be long but move quickly.
WHERE TO STAY:
Old World Luxe:
Hôtel Montalembert, 3 rue Montalembert, 75007 Paris www.hotel-montalembert.fr
This five-star, luxury hotel — the first of its caliber on the Left Bank — serves as a sponsor of the Carré Rive Gauche and hosts many gallery clients and out-of-town dealers. Its tranquil terrace, on a quiet angle off the rue du Bac, provides an ideal venue for a summer cocktail.
L’Hôtel 13, rue des Beaux Arts 75006 Paris www.l-hotel.com
This boutique, four-star hotel, situated in the thick of the galleries down the street from the École des Beaux-Arts and remodeled by Jacques Garcia, has something of a cult following among the art crowd—not least because it was where Oscar Wilde spent his final days and died. Its restaurant, with 1-Michelin-star, is popular with those looking for a light, contemporary update to classic French cuisine.
Bargain with a View:
Hôtel du Quai Voltaire, 19 Quai Voltaire 75007 Paris http://www.quaivoltaire.fr/
The Parisian hotel with arguably the best view in Paris—a sweeping vista of the Seine, with the Louvre and Tuileries gardens across the river— and unbeatable cultural lore, having hosted Wilde, Baudelaire, Hemingway, Sibelius and Richard Wagner, among numerous others, is also one of the best bargains in town. This three-star along the Quai Voltaire offers simple rooms and service but is a jewel for those willing to forego fancy amenities.