Last night, a thunderstorm hit and I got an amazing night’s sleep. It’s the first night here that I’ve slept all night, so yaye for that! I slept in a bit and since the forecast called for more rain, I knew this would be my museum-hopping day. Thanks to the museum pass I got that allows me to skip lines and get into almost all of the major museums in Paris (as well as a lot of sights), this proved to be an easy task.
I started at the Musee de l’Orangerie. This is where one can see Monet’s water lilies. And they are absolutely breathtaking. Apparently, Monet designed the rooms they were presented in and spent his life creating these paintings (which are huge panoramas and I can’t imagine how he had such vision to paint them). You sit in the center of the room and you are surrounded by these wonderful impressionist colors. It’s stunning.
The best part of this museum is that it’s like a library. Visitors are told to keep it quiet and respectful, per Monet’s original wishes. So it’s a place of solitude in the middle of the city – just perfect.
By the time I was done there (although I could have sat there for hours), I went to the next restaurant on my list: Le Souffle. Obviously, they serve… souffles. I’ve never actually had a souffle, and this trip is about trying new things, so I was really hoping I would like them. Especially considering that they’re mostly egg and I generally have to be in a certain mood to eat eggs (and I don’t like quiche). Fortunately, I lucked out. I like souffle! They were light and fluffy and not at all egg-like. I started with a ham and cheese souffle (whatever that cheese they used in it – it was like crack… mmmmmm…..) and ended with a Grand Marnier souffle. And get this, they actually pour Grand Marnier on the souffle for you at your table and then leave the bottle there so you can continue to pour more over it if you wish! And yes, it was awesome!!!
Then it was Louvre time. And I think I secretly knew it was a museum I just wanted to pass through and get it over with to say I’d been there. I headed down the Rue Rivoli, with a quick stop in a souvenirs shop to buy a Chat Noir print (CATS!) and then proceeded to the Carousel du Louvre, which is the fastest way through the Louvre security lines (a tip I got thanks to TripAdvisor.com). It’s also a mall, with lots of different stores, but we’ll get to that later (note to self: I think I want a Swatch).
I got through the Louvre security line quickly and was in the museum in 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I’m sure a ton of people are standing in line in front of the museum at the pyramids wondering what’s taking so long. But hey, that’s their fault for not doing the research. I headed to the Egyptian antiquities section, which was one of the things I wanted to see. It was pretty nice and I got to see the Crypt of Osiris, but it was HOT. The French don’t believe in a/c and with that many people, it was just miserable. By the time I was through with that, I wanted to seek out the Mona Lisa, forget about the other masterpieces (I’m not a classics fan anyway) and get out.
But I had to use the bathroom. The only line I stood in at the Louvre was for the women’s bathroom. And honestly, it was not worth standing in line for. It was DISGUSTING. And there was excrement on the floor. Just GROSS. My mood towards the Louvre was immediately fouled by that. I mean, really? You must have a staff of thousands and you can’t clean the darn bathrooms??? I’ve been in some nasty bathrooms, but that one was the worse, Way to represent fine art, huh?
That aside, I wandered through the rest of the museum, which is massive and paid more attention to the architecture than the art (it is a lovely old building). I saw the Mona Lisa, but so many people were taking photos with their flash on, that the flash would reflect off the glass she was behind and the viewing was spoiled. And there was shoving and elbowing and it was awful. There was not a single person there that actually knew a thing about art, I can guarantee it. I did NOT take a photo as I did want to look at her, the bags under her eyes and that mysterious smile, but as you can’t really get that close, it’s more or less a loss cause to see any detail. It’s almost pointless to have her out, in my opinion. But the only reason she’s out is for the masses who… again… know NOTHING about art. They just want to take a photo and not even look at it. At least I tried to look at her.
But I gave up. By then, I was so over the Louvre and I would probably never ever return. It’s more or less a tourist dump. I honestly wished that I’d just dropped it from the day’s itinerary. On my way out of the museum, I did notice quite a commotion at the Apple store in the Carousel du Louvre. Excited, thinking maybe I’d get a peek at Gaspard Ulliel (whose billboards for Bleu de Chanel are everywhere – and no, I’m not complaining…) or even Johnny Depp, but the guy I saw was no one I knew. I think he was a soccer star or something from the way everyone was acting. He kissed all of the Apple store employees and they did something that sounded like a sport chant, so who knows? So yeah… that was different.
It was time for a break, as my feet were screaming in pain. So I went to the Angelina Tea Salon and had a cup of their world famous hot chocolate. Which tastes like a candy bar that has been melted down into a pitcher (which you pour in your cup). It was probably 1,000 calories, but oh, was it so good. I’ll never be able to drink powdered hot chocolate again. Ever. I also had a strawberry and raspberry tarte to go with it, which was obviously divine. I’m doing about one pastry a day, at this rate.
Then I finally got to the Centre Pompidou. Now this is the museum of Modern Art of Paris. And it’s in this amazing modern building that has all of its utility things on the outside. So you see these big blue pipes when you approach it. Upon stepping inside, I knew immediately that this was a different sort of environment. And I was surrounded by people who loved art. Because these people took very few photos and actually stood and studied pieces and actually saw what they were looking at.
I discovered a few artists I’d never heard of, especially some of the more modern ones. Yes, some of it was weird and some of it was disturbing (although I liked it). And some of it was not art at all (really? white paint on a canvas is a work of art? I could do that!!!). But mostly, I just loved it to pieces. I saw Warhol, Delaunay (an artist I was unfamiliar with), Picasso, Dali, Modigliani, Pollack, Braque, Miro, Matisse and many many more. It was absolutely amazing. I’d seen all of these pieces in my college Modern Art class book, but had never dreamed I would someday see them in person. I got a little emotional, I will admit, when I turned a corner to stare at a Mondrian I’d always liked – just a simple piece, but I’d had a shirt in college with a similar pattern and I’d tell people it was Mondrian-inspired (to which I’d get a puzzling stare).
And when I needed air, I popped outside on the fifth floor balcony and was greeted with the most amazing view of Paris I’ve seen yet. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, even Sacre Coeur was visible. I took a photo, but it won’t do that view justice.
So I think I have a new favorite museum. And I hope to have time to return before my trip ends since I’m not sure I saw everything because I finally had to admit that my feet had come to their end for the day after a few hours.
So I came back home (to the apartment… but home, right now!) and made a quick run to Monoprix for a meal, which consisted of frozen spaghetti, the last of the Bordeaux and a Chocolate Mousse bar. Surprisingly enough, even frozen dinners taste good here. Okay, maybe not THAT surprising.
Next up? My date with David Tennant tomorrow! Wish me luck on FINALLY getting the guy to sign a program for me!!!