Saturday, July 15, 2017

Musee d'Orangerie and More (Paris #3)

After we visited Versailles, Jaime and I had a whole list of things we wanted to see in Paris for the rest of the afternoon, so we headed back into the city to see some things. We got off at the metro stop by the Musee d'Orsay and walked from there. I wouldn't say Paris is highly walkable, because most things aren't super super close to one another, so we got a ton of steps in each day. 

Our first stop was the Pont des Arts, which was the famed "love lock bridge". Unfortunately, the locks have been removed from the bridge (it was weighed down too much by all that metal and threatening to fall into the Seine), so we just looked at a regular bridge with a pretty view. Some people had cleverly tried to put up locks anyway on light posts and benches on the bridge. We'd wanted to buy a lock just for the touristy nature of it, but I'm glad we didn't, because it would have been difficult to find a good spot!

This man was playing "La Vie en rose" on the bridge, and it felt so... romantic, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. I will say that I understand why Paris is called the City of Love. I definitely wished Carson could have been there too, so we will have to go back sometime! 

We crossed the Seine and walked around the Louvre. We'd decided that we didn't have time to go inside and do it (or the 17 Euro admission!) justice, so we just took pictures outside.

Other people were taking these touristy pictures of the Louvre triangles, so we hopped up and did it too. It may look like there aren't any people around, but everywhere we went in Paris was so crowded, and all the people here are on the other side of that triangle, standing in line to get in.

The entrance to the Louvre. Jaime has been to Paris before and said that the Winged Victory is right under that triangle.

We were starving, so after we passed the Louvre, we stopped at the very first place we saw for lunch. We had not-that-great chicken wraps, which were amazing only because they quelled the hunger! We hadn't eaten in 27 hours unless you count Macarons (although Jaime did have a crepe the night before, I guess).

It was coffee time for one of us, so we stopped at a McCafe. McDonalds in Europe is WAY better and almost all of them have a separate McCafe coffee bar area with nice looking cakes and cookies and fancy coffees. This one had macarons too! And the world's best caramel pecan cookie, which I bought at the one on the Champs-Elysee the next day.

Here is a statue of Joan of Arc!

A Laduree shop without macarons. I guess they have candles and gifts too, and all of them were beautiful but very expensive. 

I'd heard good things about the Musee d'Orangerie: that it was small enough to actually see everything (unlike the Louvre), that it wasn't crowded, that it wasn't as expensive (it was 9 Euro although I could have sworn I'd seen that it was 12 online, and admission was once again free to EU residents under 26), and that there was an impressive collection of Monet's Waterlilies

Now, I am not a museum person and not particularly an art person either. I took an art history class in... probably middle school? And I remember very few things about architecture (flying buttresses, probably because the word sounded funny) and the different periods in art, but I DID remember Impressionism and I DID remember Monet. When I was little, I had a book about a little girl named Linnea who visited the home of Monet (here it is on Amazon! I had the doll of Linnea also!), so he's always been an artist that I had a semi-familiarity with. 

Again, I'm not an art person, but honestly, this exhibit blew me away. There are two rooms of the waterlilies, each massive and taking up an entire wall. Walking in and seeing the paintings up close, you notice the use of color, and how there's orange in a scene where the morning light is hitting the water just so, small details that are impressive close up. Then you step away, and the paintings are totally different. I honestly don't know how you could make a painting of this scale without planning it out well, because from far away it's almost better. I read that the waterlilies took about thirty years to complete, and that the paintings were given to France after the Armistice at the end of WWI. We stopped and stared at these for probably close to an hour in total, and saying that blows me away, because I usually go through museums at lightning speed, not really getting "it".

Once we'd discussed the colors and lighting of the paintings and gazed at them from every angle, we went downstairs and viewed a collection of paintings from lots of artists. Some works were familiar to me, and others were just done by artists I'd heard of before. I've seen prints of this painting by Cezanne:

And here are some of Degas' dancers

Here are two much smaller waterlilies by Monet

Another Monet

We ran upstairs and visited the waterlilies again before leaving the museum, then walked down the Champs-Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe. 

We hit up the Laduree on the Champs-Elysee. It was large and crowded. They have a dining room and a bar, but we were interested in the cookies. Jaime picked some up for her roommates, and I just took pictures, because I didn't want to justify that expensive purchase again.

We also visited Louis Vuitton. We felt very out of our element there. Those purchasing things were given complimentary drinks, their items handled by employees with gloves, placed into protective cloth bags. We considered buying key chains as they were definitely the cheapest things there, but we didn't really like them, and instead walked around and looked at price tags, quizzing each other on how much we thought each item might be. We agreed that we did not belong and that we wouldn't really like to own a 5,000 bag because that just seems like a lot of risk for a tiny clutch (do you insure it? You must, right?). We tried on sunglasses and took a picture, but ultimately left pretty quickly before we accidentally broke something and ended up in the Bastille for inability to fulfill the terms of the "you break it you buy it" rule that I'm sure must exist there. I tried not to be surprised by how many people were dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars on bracelets or bags or clothes. 

We took the metro from the Champs-Elysee to the Moulin Rouge. I have heard of the movie but never seen it (I randomly had a few songs from the soundtrack once on a mix-CD in high school), and all I know about this place is that it's a cabaret. But still we snapped a picture of the outside and carried on our merry way. This area was really touristy, but felt SO much safer than the area where we stayed.

We walked from the Moulin Rouge to the Wall of Love (Le mur des je t'aime). It is a 40 square meter wall (and our apartment is 25 square meters, for reference) with "I love you" written in hundreds of different languages. It took us a long time to find it in English (we are pointing at it in the picture, but it's pretty high up there, nearly at the top of the picture), and we never found it in German (but I googled it and found this picture of it in German, so we just missed it, and we don't really know German script, so it makes sense that we couldn't find it). This is free to visit, and was just sort of a fun stop!

Next up was the Sacre Coeur, which we also walked to. To our dismay, we had to walk up two flights of stairs like the one below. We realized at that time that our legs were pretty sore from the Eiffel Tower the day before.

We decided not to go in, partly because to do so, we would need to go up more stairs, and partially because we thought it might be closed. There were lots of people around there sitting and enjoying the view.

You can see the Sacre Coeur from the Eiffel Tower, but from where we were standing, the Tower is just out of sight. It would be on the right behind those trees.

We were hungry again and descended the treacherous stairs in search of dinner in Montmartre. 

We found a cafe with reasonable prices and decided to have dinner outside. Both of us had pasta and it was delicious. I also had a coke, which I enjoy trying in glass and in cans in other countries because they generally have a distinct taste. My favorite was the one in Barcelona, but this one was pretty good too. 

From Montmartre, we walked back to our hotel. Here's our little metro that ran right by our hotel, with the moon in the background.

Here's another skinny walking man!

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