In Paris, taste the chocolate and the art

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

If romantic bridges, the mysterious smile of Mona Lisa and the Rugby World Cup aren't enough to draw you to Paris this fall, here are some events that might:

The Contemporary Art International Fair, one of the largest in the world, opens Oct. 18. It unfolds for five days in the Louvre Museum courtyard and inside the glass-domed Grand Palais, built at the turn of the 20th century for the World's Fair.

You can open your eyes to hundreds of new works by artists from around the world, including a classic photo of a beach scene and a statue of a dog that looks so real you may think it will bite.

If contemporary art doesn't dazzle you, visit another part of the Grand Palais for an exhibition dedicated to 19th century painter Gustave Courbet. The exhibition has brought together 120 of his works, including masterpieces such as "The Origin of the World" and "A Burial at Ornans." The show runs from Oct. 13 through Jan. 28.

To indulge another appetite, take a tour of the Paris Salon du Chocolat from Oct. 19 to 22. Chefs will offer up original recipes of chocolate concoctions -- and the public gets to dig in. Also featured are fashion shows with dresses carved out of chocolate and designed by Ines de la Fressange and other artists.

If you're not a chocoholic, you might want to try something stronger on Paris' hillside Montmartre. For 73 years, local winemakers annually have offered their neighbors a tasting from their small vintages. This year, the celebration will be Friday to Oct. 14. Besides wine and other products, festivities include readings, street artists, art exhibits, movies and concerts paying tribute to French musician and poet Georges Brassens.

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