Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Luc’s Violet Ice Cream

Dessert has arrived in Montolieu, and it’s purple and floral.


Figs and violet ice cream

by Luc Lemeur, chef of Le Marque Page

Photo: Bill Bishop

Montolieu, France, has more bookstores than schools, more bookstores than restaurants—maybe more bookstores per capita than any city in the world. The French government nursed this old town in the Aude region north of Carcassonne back to vitality by helping book dealers move here and rehabilitate the beautiful old (and empty) buildings around town. Now the “ville des livres” is home to 15 book shops—a secular shrine for a certain humanist pilgrims.

After a long, happy day of snooping and page-turning, we recommend, as kind hotelier Heidi Miller of Les Anges au Plafond recommended to us, Le Marque Page (The Bookmark), a wonderful restaurant right on the tiny town’s square. Imagine our elation when for dessert we found ourselves looking into a white bowl of fresh figs and violet ice cream. (Violets have been a specialty “crop” of Toulouse, one hour to the west, for more than a hundred years.)

Chef Luc Lemeur has quite a number of tasty tricks up his sleeve, but this Human Flower Project, as well as delicious, was telepathic. A cold scoop of purple violets turned this bookworm into a butterfly.

Posted by Julie on 09/12 at 02:42 PM
Art & MediaCookingCut-Flower TradeTravelPermalink

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Flowers—Making an Impression

The huge collection of Impressionist art at the Musee d’Orsay encompasses flowers in every phase.


Chemin Montant dans les Hautes Herbes, c. 1875

Pierre Auguste Renoir

Silly to play favorites, maybe, but ours among all the floral works of art at the Musee d’Orsay today was this wonderful painting by Pierre Auguste Renoir, “Chemin Montant Dans les Hautes Herbes” (Path through High Grass).

With the interest in portraying “low” subjects – like women washing their feet and folks dancing at an outdoor bar – the Impressionists were naturally drawn to flowers as subjects. Their domestic interiors usually have a vase with some blooms casually spilling out the top, or a ballet dancer may have just received a bouquet of gratitude from the audience. Their fascination with the ephemeral qualities of light gave them also a real feeling for flowers—Manet’s clematis bloom that’s already fading, or these red wildflowers -– the gift of one afternoon.

Posted by Julie on 09/09 at 03:55 PM

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bookstore of Your Dreams

Yes, there is a place to find that rare book on olive trees or the evolution of perfumery.


Inside the perennial Librairie René Thomas, Paris

Photo: Julie Ardery

Paris has not yet been Barnes-and-Ignobled. There are tiny bookstores not just around the Sorbonne, but everywhere, with crowded cases of paperbacks out on the sidewalk and rare editions with savory color plates on tall shelves inside.

imageRené Thomas in front of his Paris bookstore

specializing in the Natural Sciences, since 1947

Photo: Julie Ardery

The most exciting we have seen is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), 28 rue des Fossés-Saint-Bernard, not far from the Jardin des Plantes. M. Thomas has been in business since 1947 selling books on the natural sciences. Here you will find works in many languages, about non-human animal architecture, predatory birds of Africa, and volcanology. And, the librairie is truly a Human Flower Project: we’ve never seen so many intelligent and beautiful books – magazines and post cards too—on botany, ecology, gardens, and flowers. Where else will you find D. Pardon’s Guide to the Fruits of Tahiti and J.Ch. Gueguen’s Odyssey of perfumes: from the therapeutic to the aesthetic.

Furthermore, M. Thomas could not be more gracious, even to those of us from the land of “freedom fries.”

If you can’t have the immediate pleasure of visiting the bookshop, its web address is Treat youself to a look around.



Posted by Julie on 09/07 at 05:02 PM
Art & MediaCulture & SocietyPermalink

At the Place d’Alma Tunnel


Flowers laid August 31 wilt in remembrance.

Photo: Julie Ardery

Walking over toward the the Eiffel Tower, you may note an odd sculpted torch above the Place d’Alma tunnel and cars streaking down the hill. If it’s early September you’ll also see memorials to Princess Diana, who died after a car crash in the tunnel August 31, 1997, her driver racing away from photographers on motorbikes.

Obviously photographers of the non-professional, slow sort, are still chasing “Lady Di.” And so are Parisian admirers, with letters and of course flowers.

Posted by Julie on 09/07 at 02:42 AM
Secular CustomsPermalink
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