Saturday we went to Parc Floral de Paris, the same park where Brenda was locked inside last winter, to see the 11th Annual Seafood, Wine, and Gastronomy Exhibition. Our hair stylist Catherine Calvar had given us tickets the last time visited her. We didn’t really know what to expect, but we took the ever familiar Metro line 1 back to Vincennes and made our way to the park.
Parc Floral is about 75 acres – a very large public space with gardens, playgrounds, exhibition halls, an outdoor concert area, ponds, miniature golf, and all sorts of other amusements. The Tuileries Garden near the Louvre is nearly as large at 70 acres, but Parc Floral is surrounded by the Bois de Vincennes (woods of Vincennes), so it has the feeling of a much larger space in the countryside.
We were headed to the exhibition, but first we were distracted by the beautiful gardens, which we had not seen since winter. The grasses and flowers of many types were in full display – it made us regret we hadn’t made it back in the spring and earlier in the summer. We’ve included some photos in our slide show for your enjoyment. We also saw someone practicing for a free public concert to be held later in the afternoon, so we made a note to check back after the exhibition.
Then we proceeded to the “Salon, Mer, and Vigne and Gastronomie” at one of the park’s pavilions. What we found was a far larger and more magnificent show than we had imagined. There were literally hundreds of artisans selling wine, cookies, spices, escargots, cheeses, foie gras, smoked seafood, candied fruits, breads, dried meats, chocolate, spices, and much more. We spent a couple hours milling around – bought some wine, some chocolate, some spices – my pack was getting heavy. Les Jardins de Morgane was Brenda’s favorite-sampled many of the beautiful honey soaked fruits! The owner told us his plan to take his daughter on a visit to New York as a reward for her good grades in school. It had been her dream to go there since she was a child. The owner was a lawyer by trade, but had taken over the family business and was working very hard to keep it going. We had a nice lunch with roast duck and french fries. You can see more of the gastronomy in our slide show below.
So then we realized we were a bit late for the public concert so we hustled back to that side of the park. The seating was pretty full and a group with string quartet with piano was playing. You can view the Utube video to see and hear a bit of what it was like.
While we had expected that it would be good, it was better than that – professional at a very high level. The group playing, we later discovered was Ensemble Syntonia. This award winning ensemble has been together some 14 years and has produced 5 albums. Follow the link to hear some of their music.
After a couple pieces by the group, another woman joined them. I figured she was an amateur, perhaps a local university student, joining them to play a piece. She was dressed less formally and didn’t appear to be a veteran of such situations. I was hoping she’d hold up under the stress of playing before an audience. Turned out I had nothing to fear – she was totally awesome. After the fact we found out her name was Sarah Nemtanu. Here’s a little about her – be sure to go to the link and hear her play!
When reading about Sarah Nemtanu’s many musical accomplishments in 2012, it is hard to believe that she is only thirty-one years old. At the age of twenty-one she became the joint leader and violin soloist of the Orchestre National de France, and in 2007 she won the French classical music industry’s Instrumental Soloist Revelation award.
In 2009 she was the ‘real’ violinist in Radu Mihaileanu’s film Le Concert. Before all this, however, Sarah Nemtanu began violin studies with her father, Vladimir, the leader of the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine. She then studied with Gérard Poulet at the Paris Conservatoire, graduating with first prizes in violin and chamber music when she was sixteen.
Following the awards she won at the Saint-Jean de Luz and Antonio Stradivari competitions, she was introduced to the public in Brahms’ Double Concerto with Gautier Capuçon, conducted by Emmanuel Krivine. Her solo appearances with the Orchestre National de France, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Orchestra, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra have earned high praise, and she has performed with such conductors as Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davis and Riccardo Muti in some of the world’s most prestigious venues.
Her repertoire encompasses the solo and chamber literature, and she enjoys revisiting the ‘classics’, as her recording Gypsic (Naïve) shows. She also appreciates a variety of non-classical music, as demonstrated by her performances with Richard Galliano, Chilly Gonzales, Ibrahim Maalouf, and the singer Juliette. Sharing her expertise is important to her, and she participates in a variety of causes including the French association Musique et Santé. She also teaches young musicians in master classes and other pedagogical settings.
The violin she plays, made by Giovanni Baptista Guadagnini in 1784, is generously loaned by the prestigious Zilber-Rampal Foundation.
After the concert we headed home on the Metro – all of our expectations had been exceeded.