Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weekend in Paris

We have spent a lovely weekend in Paris doing the museum thing. We went to the Louvre Saturday morning. We followed Rick Steves on our ipods and saw all the important Louvre residents.

The Venus de Milo was gorgeous. We spent some time contemplating what her arms were doing and admiring the curve of her spine before moving onto the Winged Victory. Did you know they found the Winged Victory's hand in Turkey? The French actually negotiated with the Turks to get the hand. It isn’t on her body. It is in a case nearby. It is all quite odd.

We admired Mona but it was difficult to get a good picture given she is now encased in a glass box. She actually wasn’t my favourite piece. I liked “Le jeune martyr” by Paul Delaroche better. She was so calm looking. All right she was dead but peacefully dead. She had a serene look. It was haunting and I wished I knew the full story. I couldn’t read the French very well. We saw many gorgeous paintings here. Some of them were absolutely HUGE! I wonder how painters painted on such a large scale. What if you forgot what was down below? Did you have to redo it? Or did you just turn it into a tree or something? Have you every been painting a wall and it was really high and you didn’t feel like moving the ladder so you just got creative and reached or extended your brush in interesting ways or kind of just…threw the paint? Maybe that’s what separates the masters from the others. If you’re willing to move your ladder, you must be good.

We found a sculpture of Julia so had her pose with the sculpture. It was called “Julia”. Good, strong Roman name.

The last piece we admired was Michelangelo’s “Dying Slave”. I’m sorry but this man does NOT look like he’s dying and if that’s dying then we are all missing out. This statue is REALLY enjoying his stay at the Louvre. What was Michelangelo thinking calling him “dying’? Another name is “Sleeping Slave”. Uh-huh. Right. I think we all know what Michelangelo wanted to call him…

We had some lunch before heading out to the L’Orangerie. This is a smaller museum with quite a few Impressionist paintings. It was quite exciting to see them. The stars of the show were the large wall paintings by Claude Monet of his garden. They were gorgeous and our pictures just don’t do them justice. I love the colours and the way they blend together. I think I would like to live in those paintings. Rhys loved the rooms too but he was more taken by the oval shaped walls.

From the Orangerie we strolled up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de triomphe. The Champs was okay. It was more fun to see it when we had strolled up so many other major boulevards in other major cities that compared themselves to the Champs. The Champs itself was just a really wide street. The Arc de triomphe on the other hand was really cool. We climbed to the top and the views were spectacular. Napolean built it and although I am not impressed with him overall, this was a neat accomplishment. From the top you can see the twelve streets that run like spokes out from the Arch. The Eiffel tower looks like it is just down the street and the Champs Elysees looks far more impressive. Julia was disappointed we couldn’t see EuroDisney from here but the weather wasn’t that great and I think EuroDisney is still some distance away.

Today we started our day at the Orsay Museum, yet another museum filled with amazing art. Julia felt this museum was better than the Louvre. We followed another Rick Steves ipod download for awhile but they had moved so many things so many places, we wound up just going our separate ways and meeting back later. The museum is in an old train station and one has the opportunity to stand on the mezzanine to look back over the entire lower floor of statuary laid out under the glass domed ceiling. Julia said she could tell it was an old train station the moment she walked in. There were lots of Impressionist paintings here. We saw Degas, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet and more. We saw paintings I knew and paintings I had never seen. One we all enjoyed was “The Gleaners”, a copy of which hangs at the cabin at Shuswap. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in this museum, unfortunately.

We spent our afternoon wandering the left bank, stopping at various famous French hotspots. We saw a statue of Voltaire, the apartment of George Sand and Richard Wagner and the hotel Oscar Wilde died in. Apparently, his last words were, “Either this wallpaper goes or I do.” We went inside the oldest church in Paris, St Germaine de Pres. We also saw Saint Sulpice, the church that played a “key” role in the DaVinci Code. It was where Silas recovered the keystone. The best part was that the church has posted a disclaimer trying to refute the author’s assertion that the PS in the window stands for the Priory of Scion or that the obelisk that shows the summer and winter solstice actually hides a keystone. Perhaps too many tourists were trying to lift up stones in the floor?

We ended our day at the Pantheon and saw the tombs of some famous French people, like Voltaire, Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo. We passed by the tomb of Marie Curie but didn’t actually see it. It is truly amazing how cold some of these enormous stone buildings are. The Pantheon was built as a church but was never used as one since the revolution occurred about the time of its completion. It is huge, empty and very cold. There was a space heater in one corner but that was like a cruel joke in light of the size of the place.

We came home to pick up some groceries again for dinner but alas, Sunday the stores all close early so we were forced to go out


maryanncart said...

Loved all your pictures and you all look just great! What a fun time you are having! Love Mom

Rhonda Staples said...

Love hearing about your time in Paris!! If you're still there, then I hope you visit Sacre Coeur and have a chocolate and banana crepe from a street vendor. Enjoy... I'm jealous!!! (But your reading your blog made my day).