Mar 28, 2015

Under Construction: Le Claousou Brebis


In the "clever solutions" category: What's a city to do when it's a) constantly in need of renovation and, therefore, under construction, b) constantly in need of funding, c) heavily dependent on its beauty for the tourism economy, and d) unable to authorize a lot of billboards because of the old architecture (and because of reason c)?

The answer is a tarp to go over the scaffolding, made to look like the building it's hiding, a portion of which is dedicated to the corporation that pays for it. This spot on Ile de la Cité, as seen from the 5th arrondissement, seems to be one of the most commercial of the sponsored scaffolds. There's just a small chunk of the tarp that's not an ad, though that chunk is really quite nicely done. I appreciate the effort.

You can tell it's a high-visibility, highly-desirable spot because after Apple takes down its oversized iPhone 5 ad (probably because they were about to come out with their oversized iPhone6), up goes an oversized ad for new Coca-Cola Life ("the taste of sugar of natural origins, reduced in calories*").

[*Which, of course, involves alternate sugars. And sounds like it would still dissolve your teeth. But Coke certainly can't be accused of false advertising when they say "goût sucré" -- "sugary taste".]

Perhaps the best example I've seen of this is the Dior sponsorship at Versailles. I love that they made the scaffolding into a whole scene, and one that seems so appropriate to the setting.

It's so subtle, you might not even notice it at first.

When you do, you realize it's so well done, it's closer to trompe-l'oiel art (which means, literally, "fooling the eye") than advertising. If I were going to buy an haute couture dress to wear to a red carpet affair, I would buy Dior just to support their support of the supports at Versailles.

You can see what a difference it makes: Here is another building at Versailles, but one out at Marie Antoinette's hamlet, and therefore much less prominent. It's just not worth anybody putting their name on this one, I guess.

For the first couple years here, the only way I see the Prefecture de Police, right across from Notre Dame, is printed on the tarp around the scaffolding. Still, it's a whole lot more sightly than the plain scaffolding would be. In this case, I suspect it's such a central spot (and on a public building, in front of one of the most important and visited monuments) that the scaffolding goes up without an ad at all. That seem ideal, but I understand that's got to be very expensive and is not sustainable for all construction projects. 
When Notre Dame itself needs work, I think it's too complicated (shape-wise) to tarp it up, but I do applaud the effort to try keep it subtle, and classy. From certain angles, you can hardly see it. 
All the old stuff needs renovation, in constant rotation, it seems. You really can't expect 300, 400, 600 year old building not to need a little (or a lot of) work now and then.
And, sometimes, it's not so subtle: You can't even tell that underneath this modern-looking exterior is an, approximately, 25€ million historical 17th century mansion (Hôtel Lambert) on Ile St. Louis.
One day, walking home, the sky matched the tarp on the Panthéon so exactly (this photo is from a different day, with a lot more contrast), that I actually have time to exclaim out loud, "Did they take the whole top off?!" before I a) finally see the tarped dome against the sky and b) realize that I am an idiot.

The city is full of new construction...
 ...like the entire Les Halles area, smack dab in the middle of Paris.
The renovation of the entire building next door, a building that has been empty for a couple decades (the loss in rental income is staggering) has sent 20 years of mice into my building, which is a story for another posting, which I can't link you to -- yet -- because it's still under construction.

THE CHEESE: Le Claousou Brebis
Le Claousou Brebis, also known as Le Lou Claousou, is a raw sheeps' milk cheese made in Lozère, a department in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. One of the things that makes this cheese unique is the band of epicéa pine from the Jura wrapped around it to help give it structure, keep it from collapsing, and also gently impart a hint of pine flavor into the delicate crust. The cheese is aged for at least two or three weeks, during which time is washed regularly with salt water, and it's aged even longer to intensify the woody flavor.
It's a super creamy, oozy, wet cheese that, once freed from the constraints of the wooden band and allowed to warm to room temperature, can look like it's an amoeba trying to take over the plate. It's sometimes considered a sheep version of a Vacherin, or Mont d'Or.

The odd name is meant to resemble the cry of the shepherds, who call in the sheep from grazing on the grassy plateaus, and is pronounced, roughly like "cloud" without the final "d": "clou-SUE".

The real reason I choose Le Claousou is that, wrapped in its wooden ring, this cheese kind of looks like it's being held up by scaffolding. Also, as a nice little side-benefit, the complicated word "CLaousOU" is bookended by the letters for "clou", which is the kind of nail you use with a hammer, while doing construction.


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