Our New Room
With "mood" lighting....?
Our new room in the hotel--the one that has lights--looks down onto the street, onto the very wet, rained on street. It rains on the average of 19 days in May in Paris, so we are happy that we had glorious sun yesterday. By the end of the day we will be a bit more soggy and pessimistic, but I get ahead of myself.
Back we go to the cellar breakfast room. The beautiful Nigerian lady who keeps everything going always has a beautiful smile for us and lets me practice my emerging French skills while trying to keep a straight face, but she is not afraid to laugh heartily and then help me along. A croissant, a soft-boiled egg, a latte, and a brief lesson in conversational French- what could be better?
We put on several layers of clothes and begin our walk with a stop at the Eiffel Tower. The Tower is very close (a mile or so) to our hotel, so we snap a few photos and go on. By now it is raining very hard and the kiosks are doing a brisk business in umbrellas, rain ponchos, and plastic hats. Our goal this morning is
A Typical French Hotel Room
The blue thingee is the closet/chest of drawers, bathroom to the left, bed to the right, suitcases up top.
the Rodin Museum, but we stop along the way at Les Invalides. It is good to get out of the rain for a bit and get our bearings. Les Invalides was originally designed as a rest home for veteran soldiers, however over time it transitioned into a series of military museums. The chapel houses Napoleon's Tomb and the tombs of his family, favorite officers, and French military heroes. The chapel is massive over-powering Baroque at its best, and the visitors here are quiet and respectful as they walk through the marble hallways. Best of all, with a little time out of the rain, we are now sorted out and know where we are going--on to the Rodin!
The Musee Rodin consists of several parts. There is the museum itself which displays the show "Rodin, Flesh, Marble." Plaster models, partial works, and finished pieces are on display giving one insight into the process. Unfortunately there is no photography allowed so I can't share this with you, but it is an amazing show, although I found that I liked the plaster models better than the large scale works. John was over-awed by all of it. Then it was out into the
rain and the Sculpture Garden. The original "Thinker" is here, and the smaller scale version is easily recognized at the top of "The Gates of Hell," not far away. It is a beautiful garden to wander in, discovering Rodin's work tucked away in corners and under trees. Across from the museum, through the garden, is the Hotel Biron, which Rodin used as his workshop. We tour the bottom floor, filled with more sculpture and paintings from his private collection, but when faced with the very tall spiral staircase, I know that I cannot go on---this goes on the list for next trip. As we leave we pass by the Chapel--also to go on the list--which has wonderful displays behind glass facing the pathway. We are filled to bursting with the work of Rodin, but empty of food and water.
Close by, we find a very, very crowded café --the rain keeps most people indoors--where we are seated about 6 inches from the next table and have a table perhaps 15 inches wide. But it is warm, dry, and the food is hot; I also get to understand why I have never liked quiche before-we don't make it correctly! When
Three of these and I am ready to go!
it is made mostly of cod, Quiche Lorraine is delicious!
Our afternoon stop on the agenda is the Musee d'Orsay. This is the Impressionist Museum-in all of it's phases from the early to the late Impressionists-which picks up the art timeline where the Louvre leaves off. Now we are in the 19th to early 20th century in art. We are also, despite our Museum Passes, in a very, very long line. The kind attendant watching the line apologizes. "It is Tuesday and all the museums are closed except us. It is a very long line." We knew that we had picked awkward days for our Paris visit with many shops and restaurants closed on Sundays and Mondays, and museums closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but that is how it worked out. At least we luck out and the rain has stopped and only begins pouring again when we are below an overhang.
At last we pass through security and are in the museum. It is huge, as it should be since it was converted from the Orsay railway station, and as the long snaking lines outside would hint, it is packed. I have read that the end of
day closures begin in the upstairs galleries, so we begin there. It is more frustrating than the Louvre, in some galleries we are unable to get within viewing distance of famous paintings. Then we discover a hallway, "The Hays Collection Exhibition." Here, where the pieces and artists are less well known, there are gems and the space to stand before them and breathe and absorb. There are more Derains, but also Matisse, Modigliani, and Bonnard. This is better, so, with hopes high, we walk on to the Van Gogh gallery and I swear there is not room to turn around. I spy one of my favorite works across the room, but there is no way to get to it. We continue to bumble around trying to find galleries where paintings are approachable, which sometimes works out and sometimes doesn't. And then we find "The Little Dancer." We stand in front of this wonderful bronze statue dressed in a tulle tutu, silk corset, and satin ribbon and just gawk.
We go downstairs to the sculpture galleries which are not nearly as crowded as the painting galleries. We wander about and occasionally find a bench to sit and stare at a
at Les Invalides
statue, but as we wander we realize that we are just filled up and worn out. It is time to head back to our hotel, reward ourselves, again, with a bit of Jameson's, make dinner plans and rest our aching feet and weary bones. It has been another 10+ miles of walking and climbing stairs today--every one of them worth it!
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