17 October 2013

My day in Paris

What a ridiculous concept--one day in Paris! In retrospect, I should have just said "I'm taking the rest of the week" (considering the 11-hour flight to get there!) and stayed until Thursday, but...I didn't, so I made the most of it. Here is my Paris Story...

Before I get on with that, though, here is my "Booking-com" review: Hotel des 3 Colleges, in the Latin Quarter near the Sorbonne, very tiny room, but clean and with all the basic amenities for a good price. Obviously, however, created for a smaller breed of (wo)man than exists nowadays. The hallways were so narrow you could hardly pull your suitcase through them; and I know I mentioned the shower before, but I really couldn't believe it. It was so small that I had to wash my hair standing upright, because there was not enough room inside to bend over and hang my head down. Good water pressure, though, and oodles of hot water, plus a supplied hairdryer and quite nice toiletries. No complaints!

Up at 7:30, a quick breakfast in that glass-enclosed cafe you can see on the ground floor next to the front doors, and then a taxi (no more Metro mishaps!) door to door from the hotel to Le Musée d'Orsay.

It was "free Sunday" at the museum, and the lines to get in were really long, so I splurged and bought myself a ticket so I could go in by the side door with a much smaller group of people. That put me ahead of most of the crowd for most of the day, which was great.

The Orsay is a former train station, redone as a museum, and it is beautiful inside and out. Inside, you're not technically supposed to take any photos, but they do wink at taking them from the platform up on the 5th floor, high above the entire museum, so I snapped a couple:

Under all those panels at either side are individual galleries that you wander in and out of to this central area, and each gallery has a different era, or a different theme. It's amazing how much art is actually in this museum, since if you look at it from this vantage, it just looks like a bunch of sculptures on the central floor. There are five floors, however, and extensive rooms at one end that continue on forever.

I spent five and a half hours and I feel like I got a good look at most of the collection, though I could go back and back and back to revisit. I loved that there were so many groups of quite young schoolchildren with their teachers, sitting like this one and getting an explanation of the art they were seeing. They were quite attentive and well-behaved, too! Much more so than we foreign tourists, who persisted in taking photos where we weren't supposed to!

I wish that I had taken my sketchbook and made notes of everything I saw, but I didn't want to be weighed down with anything while walking, standing and looking, so I didn't. But there were a few "highlights" pictures for me, which I will show here (not photographs I took, but off the web).

This floral picture by Van Gogh, Fritillaries in a Bronze Vase, was completely new to me--I had never seen even a photograph of it--so I was delighted to become acquainted with it.

I also had never seen this one, and I loved the border he painted around half of it:

It was a treat to see some Degas dancers in person, since they are so delicate that sometimes they don't translate well in photographs:

I also love the paintings of Alfred Sisley, and the Orsay has so many of them, of which this is one beautiful example:

And I have never been much of a fan of Seurat or the Pointilism guys, but I had never seen this giant one he did of the circus, and its fresh, limited palette and the simple joy in the faces of the audience was delightful:

I could fill up pages with everything I saw that I want to remember, but I'll leave it to you to go take an online tour of the Orsay. Here is a good documentary view; and here is a short overview with Rick Steves. If you get to Paris, don't miss it!

After about four hours, I took myself upstairs to the café behind the clock, and had a leisurely lunch. I took a few photos from the balcony outside--some panoramas of the city--and then after another hour and a half to see the final things I had missed, I set off on the second half of my day, which I will detail tomorrow...

1 comment:

  1. Certainly not enough time, but I'm enjoying following you about Paris. After an 11 hour flight you should have included London, Rome & Sicily(!) too.