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Friday, December 01, 2006

Museums, museums, museums!

Art lovers who have roamed the Paris museums will have marveled at the array of options available. Although our Centre Pompidou expedition failed, there were so many alternatives it didn't matter - and so many that we wished we had several more weeks in Paris! I really recommend getting a Paris Museum Pass if you will be making multiple visits, free entry to other sites such as the Arch de Triomphe or the Notre Dame towers are also included but the biggest advantage is avoiding queues as most places have a dedicated queue for pass holders. Note though that due to security checks, some places don't have dedicated queues but the signs are pretty clear. Impressionists
Musée d'Orsay is a must for anyone who likes Impressionist/Post-Impressionist paintings however there is an immense wealth of works from 1848 to 1914 representing the period starting with the Second Republic through the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist eras of art, ending before the start of Wold War I. The museum has just turned 20 - Bon anniversaire! Opened after the transformation of the Orsay train station, the building itself is also a lovely space to walk around.We went straight to the top level where the Impressionist/Post-Impressionist works are and this was where we concentrated our time. It was such a treat to see the works of artists such as Renoir and Monet, and witness Degas' devotion to ballet (and ladies bathing!) but what really stood out for me were Seurat's "The Circus" and van Gogh's "The Church in Auvers-sur-Oise, View from the Chevet".

Make sure you head to
Café des Hauteurs for the spectacular view from the balcony and this view through the clock. It was a bit smoggy but in the right weather, you can apparently see Montmatre spectacularly.For more Monet, Marmotton is just on the edge of Paris.

Well you can't go to Paris without setting aside time for the Louvre. Lots and lots of time if possible, we went on a Wednesday when it stays open later and spent 7 hours walking around. (We still missed 1 floor and 1 wing, and did selected viewings of the rooms we did get to!) Everything from Egyptian antiquities to sculptures to a wonderful collection of French (naturally!) paintings is there.
The "Mona Lisa" is tiny when you do get to it! We were lucky in that there wasn't a crowd 3 deep around probably the most visited work there but most people are there to see that and the others of the big trio, the "Venus de Milo" and "Winged Victory of Samothrace". Again picking my favourites, I was mesmerised by Canova's sculpture of "Cupid and Psyche" and the Etruscan "Sarcophagus of the Spouses". The latter was very moving and although rather morbid, the couple in a loving embrace expresses so much joy and love, you can't not be moved.

There are plenty of caf
é's where you can fuel yourself for more walking and we felt very sophisticated during our champagne break, enjoying the view of the nearby Tuileries Garden and the exterior of the museum. (And if you must, the Da Vinci audio guide is available for hire - the inverted pyramid is in the shopping centre part of the building that you enter from the métro exit.)

Le Royal
There are so many eateries open late it's great. Le Royal is close to the Louvre and has a very typical bistro menu. I had foie gras that was creamy and very yummy, but the sausages I had were like hot dog franks - I'm not recommending them!
Make sure you ask what the tart of the day is, this apricot one was delicious!

Musée d'Orsay
1, rue de la Légion d'Honneur
(Métro: Solférino)
(RER: Musée d'Orsay)
*Closed Mondays, open late Thursdays

Musée Marmottan Monet
2, rue Boilly
(Métro: Muette)

(Métro: Palais-Royal-Musée du Louvre station)
*Closed Tuesdays, open late Wednesdays and Fridays

*Current information only: always check opening times!

Le Royal
Near cnr of rue de L'Echelle and ave St Honoré



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