Well, dear Reader, the Reporter, as always at her most courageous, ambled through a lot of Paris today, as she wanted to ask different urban people their views on culture.
If you talk to the french people on that subject, they consider, in their usual modest ways, that they are extremely interested in culture, and cultivating themselves in an ongoing way.
So when you ask them to get into some detail about this, you ask something like " Well, how do you go about it, do you watch television ?"
Francois will immediately tell you ; " Oh no, I never watch television. " And you can feel there is a sense of finality about it. So you say, " Well, not even Arte ? " [ Arte is a franco-german channel which often has art programs, but also documentaries and news, it's a bit like our PBS in United States. ]
And immediately Francois will tell you, " Oh I watch Arte of course." And this, is a recurrent response, no tv, and then Arte of course. And when we talk of recurrent, we mean everyone we asked. Which is an interesting fact, when, if you look, for example, at the percentage of viewers for July 4th 2014, 71,8 % watched football on channel 1, while the wonderful High Noon movie on Arte on February 2nd had 6,1 %.
Of course, on July 4th, it was La Coupe du Monde, or the World Cup. So you ask then, " Did you watch La Coupe du Monde ? " And Francois will way " Oh, no." with the air of someone you asked to pet a slug.
So all in all, the ruban french will not watch television, and certainly not football. And, what is more peculiar is that the Reporter managed to interview the exact 6,1% who only watch Arte.
So you say " What about movies ?" and Bernard will say, " You know, I work a lot and I come home late, and I am just too tired, and movie theaters have become so expensive." So you ask Bernard something like, " Did you watch Captain Philips ?" And Bernard will say, " Of course, that was a really good one." So you say politely something like, ' But you don't go to movie theaters ?"
And Bernard will say, " Oh I watched it on television." So you go very tactfully, "But so, that is television." And Bernard will say, " No, that is a movie," which of course makes total sense.
Then as Francois notices that you have an english speaking book under your arm, he bends over and says " Did you watch House of Cards ? " and you say, " Yes, did you ?" And he will nod silently. Then you say something like, " But that, is television." And he will answer, " Oh no, that's a series."
Which of course makes total sense again.
So after that, you will ask " Any play, in theaters ?" and Jean-Paul will nod negatively in a very mournful way. So you say, " So you read books ? " And Jean-Paul will say, " Oh yes, when I have time, but that's rare, you know I just come home and crash." It's what the french call : " La France au travail." which means just " France Working ."
Typically it can be illustrated in that type of photography taken at 3 pm on a business day, in the center of Paris, most certainly a man organizing a seminar in a somewhat relaxed environment.
So just when you are about to end the interview, Bernard will say , " Oh but I go to the exhibits, I don't miss one. I love les expositions." Les expositions are not where people expose themselves, but are art shows. Ask every urban french, they will all tell you they go to all the art shows.
Fact is there is always truly a line at the art shows, any art show. The most popular ones are at the Grand Palais. But then at the Grand Palais you can, before you go, buy a Carte Sesame, which is as its name conjures up is a Sesame card, and with that you can skip the line, and everyone in the line will look at you with les gros yeux, which means a very, very stern look. Here is a picture of the wonderful Grand Palais.
Every frenchman who arrives in town, every parisian who returns from a holiday or business trip will ask, " Qu'est ce qu'il y a au Grand Palais a voir ?" Which roughly means ' What is there to see at the Grand Palais.' As if you might go to an exhibit not to see.
But that is because Jean-Pierre might answer " Oh, il n'y a rien a voir." or " Oh, there is nothing to see.' Mind you, it means there is a perfect exhibition on, but simply it doesn't rise to the level to be seen by already cultivated minds, and Bernard will shrug mournfully knowing now that this one is not good, and he will say, " Oh I see."
It's, as in all french matters, très compliqué, or, very complex.
Anyway, the Reporter who wanted very much to infuse herself with more culture after all these elevated exchanges with Bernard, Francois, and Jean-Claude, decided as she was by chance near the Bon Marche, to step in, and exactly as life would have it, there was there an exhibit, dedicated this time to Japan.
As you can see it says " Le Japon. rive gauche "
which means : " Japan. left bank " as the Bon Marche is very proud to be settled on the left bank of the Seine.
The fact is that Francois, Bernard and Jean-Paul really missed something there, although they might have seen it considering they don't miss one, except when there is rien a voir.
So it was a quite beautiful, dedicated to Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect, who created on three little islands, the Benesse Naoshima Art Center [ islands are a pretty regular phenomenon in Japan ]
And a very nice installation was giving an idea of how serene and beautiful this architecture was melting in the landscape. And, there were different colored lights, so it was pretty groovy.
Then, since there was quite a crowd sitting and watching the installation, everyone was talking about exhibits, since the french love to talk while they watch an art exhibit, because they have a lot of culture to share.
The consensus was that everyone should then go to the Hokusai show which was just opening that same day, October 1st at the Grand Palais, and there, the french experts around the Reporter were all saying : " C'est a voir." which means, that one, you have to see.
With all love,