May 14, 2016
Day 2 in Paris! The weather has turned a little cooler so we are doing museum hopping today. We started out by visiting the Musee D’Orsay. The museum is located in the former Gare d’Orsay which was built in the late 1800’s. Renovated in 1986, the museum is a beautiful backdrop to a very fine collection of French art and furniture dating from the mid 1800’s thru the early 1900’s. Included in the collection are a large amount of impressionist and post impressionist paintings which was our primary focus on this visit. Monet, Manet, Gauguin and Van Gogh were just a few of the artists on display. We were also treated to an exhibit on Henri Rousseau a French post-impressionist painter (who is known for being self-taught and started painting when he was 40 years old) is known mostly for his colorful renditions of tropical scenes although he never traveled out of France. I don’t have any photos of the exhibit since they were not allowed but if you look on-line and read about his life, it makes for some fun and interesting reading. He is one of France’s most infamous but largely unknown and under appreciated French artists who was (as many artists of the time that broke away from convention) shunned at first but later accepted as a major influence on the direction of art. Full of these types of stories, Musee d’Orsay is good place to spend the day. Get the audio guides! Here are a few images of the Musee d’Orsay and works on display.
From the Musee d’Orsay, we were very close to the Musee d’Orangerie located on the west end of the Tuileries Gardens and the Place de la Concorde. We mainly had this museum on our list of must sees due to it being the home of Claude Monet’s mural masterpieces called Water Lillies or Nympheas. He donated the paintings to the French government as a jeasture and statement of peace in 1922 after the first world war. The galleries housing the paintings were redesigned to Monet’s specifications in oval plans with curved walls to give the paintings the conceptual basis Monet was after. During World War II, the museum was bombed but with only minor damage to Monet’s paintings. Unbeknownst to us (a very wonderful surprise) the museum also has a very fine collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works by Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso and Renoir. Oh, and some Rousseau, too. Again, get the audio guide for your tour. It adds so much to your understanding of the art and artists intentions. The museum was originally built in 1852 and was recently renovated in 2006. (Well, that’s pretty recent to me, anyway.) Here are just a few images of the Muesee l’Orangerie.
From the Musee d’Orangerie, we strolled along the rue Rivoli and ended up at Notra Dame Cathedral for a quick look at the exterior.
We capped the day with a very gastronomically typical French dinner of escargot, a mixed grille of chicken, pork and something I couldn’t pronounce, cassoulet, delicious silky bone marrow, and a fillet of skate. Oh, and creme brulee to die for.
Tomorrow, we head to Giverney and the home of Monet with a couple of other stops on the way back to Paris–Poissey to see the Villa Savoy and Versaille.