Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday in Paris

05/06, Sunday, French voting day for President
We're off to a quick start by10:30! Can you believe right across the street we find a great place for coffee...Starbucks. It's the first really large cup of coffee I've had in months.

A couple of Metro stops brings us to Jacquemart-Andre Museum on Boulevard Haussmann. Baron Haussmann redesigned the Paris streets in the 1860s.

This museum houses the largest private art collection in Paris in a ornate and outstanding mansion. Great fun going through it and a very comprehensive audio, with lots of tidbits that I love along with the interesting history was available. Really showed how an upper class couple lived in the late 18 th century and spent their lives gathering art from around the world. Their parties were renowned with rooms that had retractable walls to make space for over 1000 people, flowers everywhere, hundreds of candles burning and musicians playing.

We had a wonderful lunch in the museum tea room (played Scrabble...Mom won on last tile), then walked about a mile to the Orangerie in the Tulleries, a park by the Seine River. The cafe was originally the couple's opulent dining room. I had a fantastic salad with chicken, figs and marinated vegetables. Dick had a chicken and vegetable dish. Great setting.

National museums are free on the first Sunday of the month as is the Orangerie. On the walk there we stopped at the very imposing St. Madeline's church.

The Orangerie home to Monet's water lilies. He donated these pieces to the French people in 1908 and they were installed here in 1926. Two large oval rooms are consumed by four wall-size canvases. Their impact is overwhelming and mesmerizing. When they were first displayed they were not well-received by the public because Impressionism was out of vogue. Now, after cleaning and restoring in 2006, they are very popular again. The oval rooms were built just for Monet with sun shining down on these huge paintings that are a panoramic fresco. He worked on these for over ten years and died a year before they were placed in the rooms. He wanted to express the unexpressable !

Downstairs the artwork represents several artists...Utrillo, Cezanne, Pisarro, Picasso, Renoir, Modigliani and several more. What made it unusual is that all the paintings were part of a collection of Paul Guillaume, an art dealer. The pictures by Renoir of young girls were especially touching. We again had a very good audio guide, but had to really move along since the museum closed at 6pm.

Talk about timing ! We then strolled all the way down the Champs d'Elysees stopping in some elite car places and then toured the Arc de Triomphe at the end. Lots of history there. It is dedicated to the glory of all French armies and serves as a parade gateway. Then it was a few minutes after eight and the cars started blowing their horns and people racing around with flags. It had just been announced that Mr. Hollande had become the next President of France and all celebrations start at the Arc de Triomphe. It was quite a spectacle and fun to be watching it.The police and gendarmes were really out in record numbers, but did not hear about any major problems. Just lots of very happy people celebrating.

We ended the night by viewing the Eiffel tower at 10pm. There is a special light show at the top of each hour and it was impressive.

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