No place like the Cidade Maravilhosa to chase throw-ups and pieces on walls and sidewalks. Including into one of the 750 favelas often set as “morros” (hills) where the best views display opposite the worst poverty. Everywhere, a tropical languor overwhelms the traveler but also strong messages down the streets and along end-to-end walls, staircases, front doors, telephone booths or electric plots. Graffiti has become a carioca political language and city’s authorities remain in a permissive consensus and more and more, encourage official crews …for the Olympics, a 190 meters end-to-end (3000sqm) was commissioned to Eduardo Kobra in the new Porto Maravilha area
Rio’s phenomenon now extends beyond a very active and accurate local community. Burners come from around the world, Brooklyn, Berlin or Melbourne, to use their cannons or mop markers where they are allowed to dress-up. Watch out for no “going over” landmarks. Kings could be mean …and the answer to “toys” seriously harsh. Among many street artists and writers, the black-tie monkey stencil of Natafamilia is easy to spot. The collective Muda stands up as an alterntative to tags and bombs, using tiles into industrial wastelands or abandoned sites.
JR was one of the first European artists to enter the favela, covering houses with giant eyes paste-ups of destitute women living there. In 2016, he is back again in Rio, to pay tribute to the Olympics athletes and pasting-up bigger and bigger (no wonder when your reverse initials are RJ)
An artistic and poetic trail in the city …until Sunday August 28th
Every summer since 2007, Nantes reveals itself through a cultural itinerary and as usual, the 5th edition of Le Voyage looks like a huge playground. Here, art meets landscape as heritage assets and new artworks come together. Though, about 50 thrilling and poetic stops allow everyone to fast-forward centuries of history, to try a sporty hand at a “basketball tree” or a panoramic view at Le Nid roosted on a 32nd floor of a tower and even watch some real fish hanging on a telephone booth.
Watch out ! the green line is around the corner and guides you all along the city, heading from place to place, from cultural spaces to an installation that might leap out at you down some random side street or riverbank between Nantes and Saint-Nazaire.
Résolution des forces en présence is the title of this huge sculpture of Vincent Mauger. It looks like a medieval war machine or a kinetic pine cone that plays with differences in perspective and scale when walking around it. One sure thing, its size and volume make it majestic and just as equally frightening.
Quai des Antilles
Les anneaux. Daniel Buren and Patrick Bouchain, two of the most famous french visual artist and architect have designed together a serie of 18 rings set along the Loire. At night, the rings light up and reveal the magic of the artwork and another perspective onto the bank, on the way to La Cantine.
LaCantine du Voyage is housed in a collapsible greenhouse and located alongside Daniel Buren’s Les Anneaux on Île de Nantes. This fun and lively restaurant (created for the 2013 edition of Le Voyage) is now on the menu every summer as dressed up by the Nantes-based collective “Appelle-moi papa”. It’s a strategic spot with a large restaurant area, a very long bar, table soccer and its own pétanque pool. By the 2016 edition, an organic vegetable garden is now set next door to La Cantine on 900 sqm. producing tomatoes, basil, radishes, zucchinis, cucumbers, …all treats of the starter salad at La Cantine come from here (you may taste the unique single fixed price menu / 10 € at lunch !).
Hangar à Bananes / Hab galerie La mer allée avec le soleil. Famous video artist Ange Leccia’s work is a multi-screens in a specially-designed structure. Images are weaving a story of water, storms, reworked TV shots, young faces, nature and memorable pop songs …a introspective exhibition that ends naturally with the sea.
The Machines de l’île. No way to miss the Grand Elephant as it walks along the quays of Loire. Born out the brain and imagination of François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice, the Machines feed on the worlds created by Jules Verne, the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci and naval and industrial history of Nantes. This fantastic living menagerie is housed in the former ship building house yards and around the three former workshop sheds and boiler house. The Gallery is enriched by the productions from the Atelier, a magical wood and steel workshop where everyone can watch the whole creative process. This year, the Atelier has revealed a brand new machine : a giant spider is now stepping out nearby the magnificent Heron Tree, a monumental project taking shape (35m high X 50m large) as two herons are already opening their wings (a couple of visitors can ride them). When totally completed, the birds will fly from branch to branch in an incredible hanging garden. A 20m prototype branch is right now making its way at the entrance of the workshops while waiting for the final implantation.
Boulevard Léon-Bureau Traverses
This lively and chaotic flow of lines far away from the usaul rectilinar pedestrian passages focuses on the Euclidinian axiom of the shortest distance between two points. But stage director Aurélien Bory in charge of this busy corner, said eventually there is none.
Cours Cambronne Cours à travers
Within the straight perspective of Cours Cambronne, Pierre-Alexandre Remy shakes up the perspective in questioning space, rythm and our own bodies. Movement centered into his sculpture seems to play apart from the ground. Is it a fly run around Cambronne’s statue ? Let’s say it’s smelling much better !
Château des Ducs de Bretagne
Undercurrent. Collective Hehe (Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen) doesn’t shy away from humour when questioning our current use of energy and modes of production. Here, the massive pylone seems to waste time and energy into the narrow basin of the castle moat. Beyond the absurdity of the image, the collective hopes the aesthetic, historical and heritage values upon landmarks over time is a question in itself.
Pledges. Echoing the exhibition Icônes, trésors de réfugiés, set in the Château (built in XVth century on the Loire, it was both a residential palace and a military fortress), Kalliopi Lemos is presenting in its courtyard an allegory for a journey filled with hope and the memories of exiled populations. Abandoned after transporting migrants to the Greek islands, this turkish boat is covered in thousands of tamata or handmade votive offerings that are left in Orthodox churches by migrants to overcome the challenges of an uncertain journey awainting them.
Place du BouffayTemps étrangers. This year’s vast renovation of the tramway system has made a bit tricky to feature an artwork in Place du Bouffay. But Julien Berthier plays constructions as part of the city through an oversize mobile suspended to a crane surrounded with containers. The simple round shapes, primary colors, slight pendulum movements and unstable equilibrium are reminiscent of Calder’s own mobiles.
Jardin des plantes Potempo.
Claude Ponti, the famous illustrator and great children’s writer is invited for the fourth summer in a row to give birth to his dreamlike and cute world along the seven hectares of one of a top five botanical garden in France. It looks like a whipped cream cloud is topping his brand new production, isn’t it ?
Jean Blaise is involved with cultural programming for over 30 years (among many events around the world, he founded Nuit Blanche in Paris in 2000 and became the director of the “lieu unique” in the ten following years). In Nantes, the amazing city wizard is operating since 1982 and has anchored art in the public spaces. Since 2011, he is the bustling head of Le Voyage. His expertise and vision – recognized beyond the boundaries of Nantes – carry an idea of culture that de-compartmentalises the city. For Le Voyage’s 5th edition, I spoted him in Passage Sainte-Croix, Musée Nomade (awaiting the reopening of Musée des Beaux-Arts for next spring 2017) in front of Claudio Parmiggiani’s boat which carries seven planets, an invitation to make a cosmic and symbolic trip.
NB : the easiest way to discover Le Voyage à Nantes is buying the Pass Nantes, i.e 1, 2 or 3 days pass (25, 35 or 45 €) that offers access to many sites : from Carrousel des Mondes Marins to the Galerie des Machines de l’île, from Château des Ducs de Bretagne to the famous cultural platform of the ‘lieu unique’… local attractions (cruises on the Estuaire, planetarium…) and public transportations (tram, buses…).
Heading to Rio ? You’re right, it’s time to go ! No doubt thanks to the upcoming Olympics, Guanabara Bay holds many more surprises and new places. Beyond the postcard image, the Cidade Maravilhosa is a roller coaster in itself : from Ipanema or Lagoa to Santa, from Jardim Botanico to brand new Museu do Amanha, the whole city deserves a road-book, and mine is a small concentrate off-the-tracks. I hope you’ll like it as much as I did.
Guanabara, nous voilà ! Rio ? Ótimo !
(By the way, you’ll hear this word “Ótimo” anytime, everywhere, i-e ‘the best’)
A kind of secret place mainly known by hip cariocas, the Antiga Fábrica da Bhering was previously a chocolate factory.
Located in Santo Cristo, an industrial neighborhood on a slow path of gentrification (but a taxi is still the safest way to get there !), not so far west from Centro. Nowadays, a community of artists, start-ups and collectives have set up their workshops here, quickly joined by vintage furniture and streetwear stores (M.O.O.C, Velt…) or thrift shops that open on week-end and also some exhibitions. The place is huge, on several storeys, and the atmosphere unique, since the big old machines still remain in abandoned high ceiling spaces …don’t miss the ceramic atelier on the rooftop.
Beyond the old chimney, you’ll step into Feira, the world of art director Kiti Duarte (photo), an amazing concept-store, open everyday, full of home daily purpose items, chemistry flasks, zinc containers, fuzzing plants, rustic table clothes, enamelled tablewear, beautiful horn jewels and vernacular objects and small furniture… Design addicts and compulsive shoppers will appreciate for sure.
Most of the time, a couple of food-trucks are setting deck chairs all around. A groovy spot to chill !
“Si tu vas à Rio n’oublies pas de monter là-haut” was singing Dario Moreno in the French 50’s. The quaint neighborhood Santa Teresa (Cariocas say Santa) is always a good option for hanging around. Who can resist its romantic cobbled streets, old-school tramway like in Lisboa, shabby-chic façades and that breeze of freedom blowing upon the hill ?
Start at the top, at Largo do Curvelo, by visiting a modernist gem, the villa designed by architect Alves de Souza. Honestly, I’d rather come here for the splendid architecture of this Museu da Chácara do Céu than for the collections of Castro Mayor, the king of ananas in the early XXth century. Rua Murtinho Nobre, 93. http://museuscastromaya.com.br/
And besides, the lovely Parque das Ruinas is just off the villa’s garden. Here is the best panoramic view on the bay and Centro. See the pyramidal Catedral Metropolitana, work of architect Edgar Fonceca built in 1979 and that can host up to 20000 people. Then, stroll to the Largo named after Joaquim Fonseca Guimarães (a local resident whose house became Hotel Santa Teresa, just up the road, read below) and that is now the epicenter of bohemian Santa. This is a key cable-car stop on the bonde (say “bondjee” as any word finishing by “de”) and a number of restaurants, handicrafts and vintage shops lie within a short distance.
Bar do Mineiro, an authentic boteco where locals drag on at lunch in front of their week-end’s traditional feijoada. Rua Paschoal Carlos Magna, 99. Tel. +55 21-2221 9227 (Santa Teresa).
Cafecito for a cheap coffee break, a pastry or a pizza, climbing the stiff stairs to upper floors. Rua Paschoal Carlos Magna, 121. Tel. +55 21-3497 3579 (Santa Teresa).
Café do Alto for a Nordeste tasty escapade in a color-block decor. Rua Paschoal Carlos Magna, 143. Tel. +55 21-2507 3172 (Santa Teresa)
Aprazível of course, I double recommend one of the top 5 restaurants in town, no doubt the best of the hood, for a gastronomic thrill among the mango trees, and facing the Guanabara bay (average R$ 180 à la carte). Rua Aprazivel, 62. Tel. +55 21 2508-9174 (Santa Teresa).
And by the way, I’m sure you’ll call for a drink, don’t you ? Believe it or not, the Magnifica is the only one cachaça (traditionally made out sugar cane, in different strength and aging …the oldest, Reserva is a premium treat) allowed in my caïpirinha (for my part, I avoid the very common “51” label …a basic tord-boyau for a headache guaranteed !). De Faria’s family (João Luiz and Cau and their children, Raul and Ana Luiza), a terezina family of teachers and ingeneers, runs the small Magnifica‘s local production at Fazenda do Anil, west of RJ state. Here in Santa, an exquisite chapel (a very rare property in that neighborhood) hides near the back door of their house and their garden-parties are always strongly expected. FB Magnifica
Time to hang out at Lagoa de Freitas, in Zona Sul, the wealthy residential neighborhood, a few blocks away from Ipanema and Leblon pristine beaches. Although the Cariocas prefer its flat runway for their morning jog on 7.2 kms of bike paths all around (rowing, skating and horse riding are also available), my guilty pleasure remains to sit in Palaphita Kitch, trendy tiki-like spot to enjoy a piña colada in diving my eyes into the silver sparkling waters that shade the Pedra Dois Irmãos at sunset. Down the morro do Cantagalo, Quiosque 20.
A picture is often worth a thousand words…
Before that, further west from Leblon beach, you may visit the Instituto Moreira Salles, a flawless modernist house surrounded by gardens also signed by landscape architect Burle Marx – father of iconic b&w organic swirling pattern of Rio’s sidewalks he designed in 1971. Nowadays, the place is a great cultural venue through relevant photographic exhibitions.
While you’re in Leblon, don’t miss to shop at Granado, an fancy old-school pharmacia that sells hip brasilian beauty products (a centenary antiseptic powder, delicious soaps and also some barber’s stuff…). Very nice packaging patterns and mostly organic recipes. Phebo perfumeria is now part of the brand. A much better choice for presents than the very common “bonfim” bahia bracelet (or do buy both ?!)
Rua General Artigas, 470 (Leblon).
In this neighborhood, the casual – and just reopened – option for diner late at night remains Braseira da Gávea, crowded by artists, students and intellectuals who are sharing the same passion for typical picanhas (beef) or linguiças (sausages) with vegetables and farofa (manioc semolina).
The Prodigy is a brand new hotel integrated to the terminal at Santos Dumont Airport, dedicated to domestic flights and located right down the city center. Not worth getting a room there but if you have the opportunity to fly to other parts of Brasil, don’t miss a laid-back hour admiring the view, one of the best on Pão de Acúcar (dixit a guinuine Carioca), or even a healthy lunch around the pool on the roof (a buffet restaurant is available at ground floor too).
Here is an awesome mirador to watch Gloria’s marina, which will host the Olympics sailing events. Yep, Suzette gives you great tips !
Av. Alm. Silvio de Noronha, 365 (Centro) T. +55 21 3478-4100
At ground floor, a mini-mall where among half a dozen of stores, the trendy carioca brand Osklen deserves the attention of fashionistas. Nearby, Museo de Arte Moderno (MaM) stands the emphatic modernist architecture of Alfonso Reidy (surrounded by Burle Marx swirling gardens) that houses the collection of Gilberto Chateaubriand, tireless collector of modern and conceptual arts. The Maxxi museum (by Zaha Hadid) temporary exhibition ends in September 2016. Pay attention to the building itself in its oversize performance. Nice restaurant Laguiole, open Mon to Friday, 12am-5pm. Tel. +55 (21) 2517 3129 http://mamrio.org.br Open Tuesday-Sunday 12am-6pm and 11am-6pm weekends. R$14. Then, walking towards Gloria’s marina, you’ll reach Parque do Flamengo, with another pure modernist construction, a martial WW2 memorial. Beyond, the 20ha garden (also designed by the smart Burle Marx in the 70’s) where are usually held big crowd events …Rihanna’s shows and that kind of stuff.
Jardim Botânico is a neighborhood in itself with the famous botanical garden and its vertiginous alley of imperial palm trees. But in this majestic garden (consider a two hours visit is a minimum) of 6200 tropicals species pampered by exotic birds and devoted gardeners, another splendid alley is my favorite : the Pau-Mulato tree, native of the Amazon region, reaches a height of 20 to 40 meters, and from July to September, its trunk turns to red-orange, then green, and little by little, returns to its original “mulatto” color. Must see ! On the edge of the garden, Tom Jobim, brother figure of bossa-nova, has his very moving memorabilia space, just across La bicyclette, a bakery and café you won’t miss for lunch. Rua Jardim Botanico, 1008
A short walk away, Parque Lage is another appealing green promise. In line with the Cristo Redentor just above, on the edge of Tijuca primal forest (part of fragile Mâta Atlantica), the public park houses the Escola de Artes Visuais. No wonder that Nicolas Ghesquière has chosen this lovely Belle Epoque palace for his aftershow party (besides, his Gucci’s fashion show was held in iconic Niteroi, across the bay) …as the mansion was notably featured in 2003 by Snoop Dogg’s single “Beautiful” music video.
Though, the old stalls are the kingdom of cheeky monkeys, the enchanting park belongs to students carrying their sketchbook and the Plage café around the atrium pond is a perfect haven for dreamers.
Few months ago, Hotel Santa Teresa entered the world famous French group Accor under MGallery portfolio, upscale boutique-hotel brand. It doesn’t make much difference as its 44 rooms, garden pool and trendy bar dos Descasados (literally, bar of divorced people) were already a cosmopolitan showcase of tropical flair and wood furniture tempo by renowned designer Sergio Rodrigues.
Further down at back street of the hotel, the manager keeps an eye on the upcoming Mama Shelter (since Accor eventually entered Mama’s board). Two separated mansions and 55 rooms are standing both sides of the road. Let’s find again the Mama’s successful usual gimmicks (although Philippe Starck has now stepped out of the boat) : a huge turn-around bar, here in a mix and match of “grecques” and azulejos, sketches and tags on ceilings… At ground floor of Bela Vista aisle, rooms have their own terrace. Opposite to the lobby and courtyard, the restaurant is a tribute to the Sambodromo and its overexcited scenery : a high stepped platform (or tribune) where wannabes and hipsters will go crazy, fore sure. Officialy opens in September, but the Olympics is the right time to check if the software is on duty.
About 100€ for a standard double room, breakfast in extra.
There have been radical changes as the city is engaged in a large urban restructuration plan in the port area since 2009, removing the freeway Perimetral and sprawling turnpikes in favor of up to date transportations including a brand new tram recently commissioned. Known as the business district of RJ, Centro is so busy that you may go straight to the point, directly to Praça Mauá to discover this ambitious harbour area. First step, the Museu de Arte do Rio (Mar), completed here two years ago. Its exhibition “Color of Brasil” is about to open on August 2nd. Icing on the cake, Mar’s rooftop has the best views on Porto Maravilha and onto the state of the art Museu do Amanha, the one of a kind neo-futuristic structure by Catalan architect Santiago Calatrava.
Next stop is required for selfies : bet that #CidadeOlimpica hashtag at square’s junction will hit the web very shortly.
You’ll probably have to queue up at the museum entrance, but the scenography inside is really worth the wait. You may stroll through five different spaces along the 200-meters-long hall and displays, ranging from the origins of the planet to our possible futures (you’ll read all cartels and captions in sweeping your magnetic entrance card on them).
It’s not a conventionnal museum for objetcs -Amanha means tomorrow – but a museum for ideas, mixing science and art, and heading to think and shape the next 50 years of life on this planet in a sustainable coexistence. Don’t miss the playful Santos Dumont exhibition ; a replica of his plane stands at the front door. Neither the walk around the peculiar construction. With solar wings that bristle, the building attempts to set new standards of sustainability for the city, using 40% less energy, but powered from the sun and the deep water cooling system taping at nearby Porto Maravilha.