Monday 2nd June
Who was HCB? What kind of photos was he famous for? And what era was his heyday? These were the questions we mused on while we queued for tickets at the Pompidou Centre which doesn’t open till 11am. By the way, the 2 for 1 offer plastered all over Eurostar tickets ‘ ne fonction pas’ anywhere.

We emerged from the exhibition at lunchtime very squiffy eyed. The exhibition was mega dense and very crowded. But it turns out HCB was a pretty right on kind of guy who had a way with a Leica. His career spanned over nearly 50 years and as a photo journalist he seemed to be everywhere that anything happened. He photographed Cuba during the missile crisis and was in India when Ghandi died. Most memorable for me was his footage behind the scenes of the Spanish civil war which he covered for the Communist press.

Also in the 30s, he documented people in France enjoying their first free leisure time when 2 weeks paid holiday per year was introduced by Leon Blum’s left wing coalition, Le Front Populaire. He captured naturalistic portraits of Matisse and Jean Paul Sartre. And I was impressed by his foresight in recognising the early signs of rampant consumerism way back in the 50s with his photos of envious eyes on flash cars and couture clothes.

We met up with Molly and baby Sam and headed to the Marais for falafels – which compare with the most delicious street food available anywhere except perhaps actually in the Middle East. Soft squidgy flatbread filled with loads of the herby balls with sliced red cabbage and cucumber covered in tahini sauce and a smattering of a spicy red piquancy. We devoured them sitting on a bench in Place des Vosges under some as yet un identifiable trees.

Can’t believe we actually did patisserie too in the afternoon – Straberry tarts, Mille Feuille and Paris Brest. But the justification is that we are leaving Paris tonight on the night train for Spain and may not get any more patisserie opportunities.

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