One of the pleasures of living in Paris is that it is centrally located in Europe and a major hub for other cities. Going away for a day in London or Brussels is like driving from LA to San Diego, but without the requirement of either car or driving. I have friends who live in Brussels so I went for the week-end on the Thalys. For 25€ (about $35) each way and a little over an hour, not only can you experience another city, but another country! The new IDBus does the same trip for only 9€ (about $12) each way, so I may try that next time since I was seated in the "wrong" direction on the train and got slightly "train sick" (half of all seats face opposite directions since trains don't turn around at the terminus).
We didn't make any set plans on what to do other than eat :) but on the train my friend bought a magazine which talked about an exhibit at the Villa Empain and it turned out that both my friends in Brussels wanted to go, so we set out early to what used to be the building housing the German and Russian Embassies. It was abandoned and squatters lived it it for years until it was renovated into a center for art and dialogue between the cultures of the East and West. The architecture is art deco and has been restored beautifully. Entrance to the exhibit was 10€, with discounts for seniors and free for children under 12.
You can walk around the grounds and enjoy the sculptures which dot the grounds.
Unless you are part of a private tour you can only visit the pool area with your eyes.
The building has two floors of exhibit space and the basement has a few pieces, along with a tea salon which serves snacks and champagne. These water lily lights filled the atrium between the first and second floors.
The most stunning piece was a tapestry made of individually knotted candy wrappers which took up an entire wall of about 20 feet. There was a video of the artist creating the work and I can only imagine the patience she had.
There was a wide variety of artwork from textural tapestries, to clothing, jewelry, photographs, painting, and mosaics.
We were all hungry afterwards so we headed to brunch (tomorrow's post)!