Thursday, April 26, 2012

No-Unfurl Day

Well, the weather started out with low, fast-moving overcast and stayed that way for quite a while, but although we carried our umbrellas, at no time did we have to unfurl them. That makes today better than the last three days, to a degree.

The target Museum today was l'Orangerie, a building in the Jardin des Tuileries, a park just west of the Louvre. (Garden of the Tile-makers, the reigning queen evicted a bunch of tile workshops to make space.) The Rough Guide said (incorrectly as it turned out) that the museum was not open until 12:30, so we had the morning to spend in the garden.

We walked through the Tuileries, which must be an extremely pleasant place to be on a warm, sunny day. There are open spaces with ponds, and chairs to take the sun, and dense groves of heavily-pruned chestnut trees for shade. Among the trees there are cafés. There's a grand central walkway with a view past the Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, down the Champs Élysée to the Arc de Triomphe and beyond. There's lots of sculpture scattered about, both classic and modern.

Well, today it wasn't sitting-around weather, about 50F and a stiff breeze. But here's a chestnut blossom from the grove.

We reached the Place de la Concorde, which is basically a large oval roundabout, and kept walking along the Champs Élysée for a while, eventually reaching the Grand Palais, a large building with a rather grand glass roof. This is one of two amazingly over-the-top sculptures on its roof.

Do click through on this one.

Here's the view back toward the Tuileries, showing the awesome French pruning practices.

Near the Grand Palais is the Alexandre III bridge, heavily decorated with symbolic things.

Here's the Eiffel tower framed by two of Alexander's columns.

Then we walked back to the Tuileries, had a crepe and coffee in a café among the trees, and went to the museum. (The guard here actually looked at the date on the Museum Passport.) The principal exhibit here is a set of Monet's late water lilies paintings. These are huge meditations on the movement of light in water, displayed reverently in two oval rooms.

We spent some minutes sitting quietly—and quiet is demanded; each room has a guard who will shush any chattering visitors—trying to appreciate Monet's intent. David's brain kept popping back and forth, first seeing the quiet pond surface, then seeing only the squiggles and splats of brushwork, then understanding it as light on water again.

Downstairs is a completely different exhibit, the private collection of Paul Guillaume, an art dealer and collector of the early 20th century who knew, promoted, and collected works by every influential artist of his day. Quite a few of these, including most Modigliani, caused us to make this Modigliani face.

Marian does not appreciate Modigliani

We did like an early Monet,

"Argenteuil," 1875, 30 years before the water lilies on the floor above

And this Renoir,

"Girls at the Piano," 1892. OK, we like puppies and kittens, too.

Heading toward home, the sun popped out!

Now there were kids playing with model sailboats on the pond.

We hopped off the bus at Place Saint-Michel to look at another hyper-dramatic fountain sculpture there, and walked a bit further down Blvd. Saint-Michel to Place de la Sorbonne where we bought sandwiches and ate a late lunch. You can find pictures of these activities, and more of the kids with boats and of the bridge, etc., in The Gallery (skip to the 8th page).

Bought half a rotisserie chicken and some lovely skinny little haricot vert at the market and ate in while doing the laundry. We've been here a week(!) and the clean underwear had run out.

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