As a teenager I lived in the 17ème arrondissement, closer to the banlieue of Clichy than to anything resembling a Parisian cliché. Between my lycée on the hardscrabble boulevard Bessières and my dance school near the much tonier Porte Champerret, my familiarity with the 17th merely skirted its periphery. To me, Batignolles wasn’t a charming square, but the name of a stop on the 66 bus line, a bus I’d take to Opéra whenever I needed a new pair of pointe shoes. I was myopic in the way that only a fifteen year old can be, etching my life with a fine-tipped scribe and never stepping outside of the lines.
Thank god for being older and wiser, and for yoga which has taught me that life can be both engraved with a sharpness of agency and an aquatinted softness of action. This is the state I was in when I made my way to the Musée Cernushi. One of Paris’ oldest museums, and the second of its asian art museums (the first is the Musée Guimet, which is currently featuring a great show on the history of tea), the Cernuschi is right now hosting a lovely exhibition of Vietnamese art called “Du fleuve rouge au Mékong: Vision du Viêt Nam.” The paintings and lacquer work are quite lovely, and every Thursday at 16h, you can dig deeper into their meaning through the museum’s lecture series (free with entry fee.)
If the show has you craving Vietnamese food, I’d jump on the métro and head down to Pho Song Huong on rue de Choisy in the 13è. As Superbytimai’s Timai says, “best viet cantine in Paris!” (her mother’s cooking excepted, naturellement.)