Our Metro Station of the Month, Liège, is not as central or as easy to reach as the previous ones. Indeed it is located on the metro line 13 which is reputed to be the most crowded and the most irregular metro line in Paris. I recommend you to go there at off peak hours!
Yet Liège is one of the most beautiful and original metro stations in Paris. For several reasons… Firstly it is one of the two Parisian stations whose platforms are not lying opposite one another but one after the other. This happens quite often in the London underground while in Paris only two stations were built in that way: the second one is Commerce, located in 15th arrondissement on metro line 8. Regarding Liège this is due to the narrowness of the street where the station was created.
Secondly the metro station Liège has got for many years limited opening hours. I remember that when I started to run Good Morning Paris I had a B&B very close to that station. Nevertheless I did not mention to my guests the metro station Liège but Place Clichy, which was a little further but always open, while Liège was closed from 8pm and on Sundays! Fortunately this changed in December 2006… further to a demonstration of the inhabitants inside the station.
And above all the station Liège is beautifully decorated with ceramics from Welkenraedt (a Belgian town located in the province of Liège) which show monuments and landscapes of the city of Liège and its surroundings. Those works were added in 1982 to cover the white walls facing the passengers in each half-station. One does not know why the ceramics are in colour on the platform towards south while they are in Blue and White only on the platform towards north. No matters! Each of them (eighteen in total) is remarkable and mention the name of the place represented.
Unusual opening hours, unusual platforms… The metro station Liège is unique and charming with its ceramics and its traditional white, blue and brown glazed tiles, so typical of the Parisian metro.
Back to earth: Do not miss the New Athens area where many painters and writers used to live in the 19th century. It is located only a few minutes walk towards the east and is really peaceful and romantic.
La Monnaie de Paris reopened last autumn after six years of conversion work. The renovation plan led by the French architect Philippe Prost had to take up four challenges: open up the place onto the city and the world; perpetuate its original purpose, striking coins; make its traditional know-how and treasures known; let the public admire the beautiful architecture of an historic building. It is a great success!
Thanks to the magnificent restoration of the premises one cannot visit the Monnaie de Paris today without immersing oneself in the French history, traditions and know-how. And the temporary exhibitions of modern art which are taking place there create the link with the present and give the whole a timeless nature. One leaves the Monnaie de Paris amazed by the French ‘art de vivre’: Not to be missed, whether you are a Parisian or a tourist in Paris!
Firstly the surroundings and the architecture…
The Palace of the 11 Conti was built in 18th century and has been housing since that time the manufacture or the making of coins and medals. It is a huge and very elegant building with two main entrances. The most majestic is located on 11 Quai de Conti between the Pont-Neuf and the Pont des Arts. It allows to enter the ‘Cour d’Honneur’ with in the end of it the historic heart of the place: the workshop of ‘Grand Monnayage’. The second entrance is on the Rue de Guénégaud next to the new bright souvenir shop -located in former workshops- and to the tea-room Bloom… whose terrace in the lovely ‘Cour de la Méridienne’ is for sure a very pleasant place where to have a drink by fine weather.
Inside one discovers several buildings and wanders through several inner yards, each one more charming than the last and with suggestive names: Cour de la Méridienne, Cour des Fonderies, Cour des Remises, Cour de l’Or. When the renovation is completely over, one will also be able to take advantage of an inner garden at the back!
As far as visits are concerned the Monnaie de Paris offers two different spaces. The first one is permanent: the 11 Conti. It recounts one thousand years of history of the making of coins and emphasizes the fifteen art craft works still taking place there. The exhibition design is very beautiful and educational. The collections are integrated into the workshops themselves, which makes the visit more lively, even if one cannot see the craftmen at work as the working hours are not the same as the opening hours of the museum. But one can imagine…
In the largest exhibition room, which is also the main one, one can experiment in a very educational manner different ways of striking, engraving or reducing coins. I have also appreciated the numerous videos in which each craftman tells his specific work: so lively and informative! One can see Didier the reducer, Stéphane who works in specialized coining…
Monnaie de Paris-Video of a craftman
Monnaie de Paris-How to engrave
Monnaie de Paris – Chanel Coin
Monnaie de Paris-A reduction machine
Monnaie de Paris-Engraving
Monnaie de Paris-About rare coins
The following rooms show successively: the creations of the Monnaie de Paris -trophies, medals, rare coins, jewels-; some treasures whose exhibition is set as if one were in the strongroom of a bank; different types of collections; and finally the uses of currency through ages. In any room the explanations are great and translated in English and most of the time also in Spanish.
The second space of the Monnaie de Paris shows temporary exhibitions and is intended to exhibit only modern art. The exhibition taking place at the moment, Women House, is really worth the visit. It tells how the domestic space has been for a long time a prison for women, a space of domination of the female body; but also how it has been turned into a space of creation by female artists in the 20th and 21st centuries. All the works exhibited are from female artists, including the famous Niki de Saint Phalle or Louise Bourgeois. I have also noticed that most of the visitors are women…
The exhibition starts with a striking video of Johanna Demetrakas which is a tribute to the original exhibition ‘Womanhouse’ that took place in Los Angeles in 1972 and launched the movement of women’s emancipation in art. Do not miss it!
Then 17 rooms illustrate 8 themes, from ‘Desperate housewives’ to ‘Woman-House’ through ‘Une chambre à soi’ referring to Virginia Woolf’s essay ‘A Room of One’s Own’, or ‘Une maison de poupée’ in reference to Henrik Ibsen’s play ‘Doll’s house’.
Women House-Pia Camil-Gabil T-Shirts
Women House-Laure Tixier-Felt Houses-1
Women House-Laure Tixier-Felt Houses-2
Women House-Rachel Whiteread-Modern Chess set
Women House-Karin Mack-Ironing Dream
The works, a mix of photographies, videos, paintings, sculptures or wider installations are all exhibited with much care. The colour of the walls varies from one room to the next, from yellow to dark grey. The exhibition lies on two floors. The rooms downstairs are small and without windows: they illustrate perfectly the domestic space as a prison. While the rooms upstairs are much wider and brighter and emphasize more and more the emancipation of women through artistic creation.
One can admire the beautiful decoration of some rooms upstairs, their wooden or black and white tiled floors, their period architectural features… without forgetting the amazing views on the Seine from the large windows.
Women House-Grand Salon-Louise Bourgeois-Spider
Women House-Grand Salon-View on the Seine
The highlight of the exhibition is the Spider, by Louise Bourgeois, which stands in the middle of the ‘Grand Salon’ of the palace…
… As far as inside is concerned. Indeed the exhibition goes on outside with some other major artworks such as Nana Maison II, by Niki de Saint Phalle, that everybody can admire in the ‘Cour d’honneur’ while entering the museum. But my favourite is The Teapot, by Joana Vasconcelos, in the ‘Cour de la Méridienne’… So amazing at night when the shadow of the sculpture gets drawn on the enlightened ground!
Women House ends on 28 January 2018. The next modern art exhibition will be a retrospective of Subodh Gupta, a major contemporary Indian artist, and will start on 13 April 2018.
Before ending I must tell for the wealthiest that the Monnaie de Paris is also the place where to find the three-star Parisian Retaurant of the Chef Guy Savoy. Its entrance is located on the opposite side of the ‘Grand Salon’ on top of the ‘Grand Escalier’. You will be welcomed by the motto of the Chef: ‘La cuisine est l’art de transformer instantanément en joie des produits chargés d’histoire’ (Cooking is the art to turn instantaneously into joy produce with a lot of history). An absolutely unique and unforgettable experience… for those who can afford it.
Practical information: Monnaie de Paris – 11 Quai de Conti ou 2 rue de Guénégaud 75006 Paris – Tuesday till Sunday: 11am-7pm (9pm on Thursdays-and Wednesdays from 31 January 2018) – Exhibition Women House: Until 28 January 2018
Paris is not only the city in the world where one drinks the highest quantities of wine. Paris is not only the capital of the most famous country which produces wine, France. Yet Paris is THE capital of wine, THE unique place where to find everything from the vineyards to the glass of wine. Last week I discovered by chance that Paris also has its Winery. It is called Les Vignerons Parisiens and is located near the Metro way out Arts et Métiers. There, since April 2016, wine is Made in Paris. I love Paris and I love wine! So I am happy to share with you this unexpected discovery.