Thursday, August 4, 2011

Musee Mercredi

This morning it was raining when we got up which made a nice, cooler start to the day. We got the Metro to Concorde again, I love this station - it has the words to some constitution spelt out in tiles all through the inside (and punctuation marks along the bottom!).

We wandered through The Tuileries, which was strangely empty at 10am (I think the rain might have deterred some people) to the Louvre where there was definitely no shortage of people.

A girl we talked to in line at the Eiffel Tower had told us about the Museum Pass and recommended we get one as the queue to buy one is shorter than the queue to buy just a Louvre ticket (the line above - which stretches around the smaller glass pyramid and back past the fountains) and the queue to enter. You can also use it to access heaps of the other Paris museums. Our best friend Lonely Planet recommended going through the Carousel du Louvre entrance, around the side, which also saved time. And meant we got to walk through here:

We still had to wait about half an hour though and while in line there was a cool wooden model that shows how big the Louvre is underneath the ground as well as either side of the glass pyramid.

Just being inside the Louvre is tiring. There are so many people and it is SO huge. We took Lonely Planet's advice again and chose just one area to look around (for now - because we have the museum pass we can go back whenever we like over the next 3 days).

We chose the Denon section which has lots of sculptures (such as the Venus di Milo) and Italian paintings such as La Jaconde. She has to be the most photographed woman in the world. I stood behind a man who was painful to watch - he was trying to hold his camera up and take a photo over the heads but he kept swaying and getting bumped so every time he pushed the button the painting would be way off centre, crooked, cut off, blurry. When I walked away he was still trying in vain. I hope he got a decent one.

Ed actually took that photo, being my height in a crowd is never fun, I hardly got to see her at all. I wasn't too bothered, it seems like such a lot of fuss for one small painting when there are hundreds all around her just as impressive, if not more. This one is impressive for its size alone.

It was cool seeing some paintings I'd studied in art history up close and personal, but overall it was just so crowded and huge it was overwhelming and tiring. And what's on display isn't even everything there is...

My new favourite thing to do is to take a photo of myself in the mirror if there's one somewhere interesting. Vanity? Probably. But it kills many birds with one stone - here's me, here's something I saw, here's somewhere I was.

After the Louvre we had some restorative lunch (the sandwiches came with little French flags on toothpicks - cafes around the Louvre obviously know their market) and then crossed the bridge to the Musee D'Orsay. The Tuileries were much busier when we passed them again and the sun was definitely out and proud.

The Musee D'Orsay is housed in an old train station and while we did have to wait in line it was a comparatively small one because we had the Museum Pass. I was slightly disturbed by the men wandering about the courtyard in camoflage with guns. There were some at the Eiffel Tower as well and it always makes me a bit edgy. I don't like the thought that at any moment they could just shoot someone, as unlikely as that is.

You can't take photos inside the Musee D'Orsay (the website has a great photo of the exterior), which was both a good thing and a shame because it's such a fantastic building. I can say without hesitation I liked the Musee D'Orsay more than the Louvre. It wasn't as packed and is much smaller so you can actually see everything. It was cool seeing lots of original Degas and Renoir (some I know very well from a set of placemats we had when I was younger - we were very cultured, clearly...) and my favourite section was the Art Noveau one which was mostly furniture, lamps, vases etc.

Museum-ing is very tiring so halfway through we needed a tea break. A tea and tarte aux fraise break in a big ornate room that is.

After the Musee D'Orsay we headed back to the Tuileries for a rest on the many green chairs scattered throughout the gardens. Leaning back and looking at a view like this is very restorative.

So after about forty minutes or so we felt less dead on our feet and ready to take a stroll up the Champs Elysees. Ed bought a pair of shorts at H&M, which was slightly ironic. I did not go into Cartier.

We marvelled at the crazy traffic zooming around the Arc de Triomphe, but hunger and tired legs prevented us from climbing up it.

Once again it was about 7pm by the time we started heading back to the hostel via a supermarche to grab some things for dinner. Ed managed to avoid the temptation to buy all the weird and wonderful things in cans he saw - such as creamed pistachio.

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