We Went to Paris and We Skipped the Mona Lisa

It’s true. Paris has so much to offer, and the Mona Lisa (and the Louvre, for that matter) were not a high priority for us. We have no regrets, for what we did see filled us with awe and beauty. With the purchase of a 4-day museum pass (best deal around), we saw six art museums, a church, some places for dead people, and the Arc. Another confession. Although we enjoyed so much of the art we saw, not much was surprising for us. We’ve seen Monets, Renoirs, Picassos, etc., etc., etc. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see new ones (or ones we’ve seen in books or art history class), but what we loved, loved, loved, were the venues. I refuse to pick a favorite museum. Each was a delight. First museum to visit – Musee d’Orsay. This former train station (built for the Universal Exposition of 1900) is the major attraction in this museum which features art from 1848 to 1914. That’s lots of impressionist art. Then there were the clocks, oh, the clocks! Loved those. IMG_5003 IMG_5013 IMG_5020 No photos allowed in Musee L’Orangerie, the building with the curved walls to showcase a number of Monet’s Waterlilies. Just look it up on the internet and imagine that it’s really that beautiful. Going way back in time to the Cluny Museum, or the Musée national du Moyen Age (National Museum of the Middle Ages), we enjoyed the intimate size of the museum built in the late 1400s. Most famous holdings here are the six tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn. IMG_5040 Also liked these old guys: IMG_5035 If we didn’t have the museum pass, we might have just wandered the gardens at the Rodin Museum for 1 Euro. Here we found The Thinker, Balzac and The Gates of Hell among many other sculptures. I remember an art history lecture about the making of Balzac, and every time I see one of them, I remember that prof. IMG_5113 IMG_5115 IMG_5122Inside the museum, the former Hotel Biron (itself a charming venue), showed a chronological  progression of Rodin’s work as well as a few paintings. Rodin owned three Van Gogh works, hung on one wall. The special exhibit in the museum juxtaposed Rodin works with Robert Mapplethorpe photographs. I am glad that we had the museum pass for that one. I heard that Parisians fell in love with the Pompidou at second sight. It is, indeed, a crazy-looking building. The modern art museum is on the 4th floor, and visitors access it through a Habitrail-like tube containing escalators. IMG_5209 IMG_5215Here we saw works by Picasso, Matisse, Dali, Kandinsky, Pollock, etc. Outside is a huge Calder, and inside was this adorable Calder. IMG_5212 Outside is also the Stravinsky fountain, created by Niki de Saint Phalle, the artist who also created the angel that hangs in the Zürich HB. The fountain has 16 sculptures inspired by Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. IMG_5230As I mentioned, the Louvre was not a high priority for us. The kind of art it holds is not our favorite, but hey, we couldn’t just not go. We chose to look at art from Ancient Egypt, and we walked through rooms and rooms of it, and I’m sure we didn’t see it all. IMG_5208 I was completely amazed by HOW BIG the Louvre is. You can say that it is big, but until you see it (and try to walk its perimeter), it’s hard to fathom. We did skip the Mona Lisa and the crowds in her room. We did see the Venus de Milo and watch everyone try to take a picture of her, especially selfies with her. We skipped that part. Another thing I did not know was how old the Louvre is and that it started out as a a fortress in 1190 before undergoing a variety of changes in the ensuing centuries. Here is part of the original walls. (I didn’t get the neon words along most of the walls.)

IMG_5204 Lest this post go on and on too much, I’ll just post a few other pieces of public art that we enjoyed. I think this first one must be by Niki de Saint Phalle. We saw it along the Seine.

IMG_5155 This one is made out of trash. IMG_5161Paris, itself, is an art museum.

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2 thoughts on “We Went to Paris and We Skipped the Mona Lisa

  1. Dear Charlotte,

    This is a wonderful post! And I think you made the right decision about the Mona Lisa. I was glad you saw the Rodin museum. Love your last sentence! Each day these little “Glamping” posts are delightful.

    I was looking through Dürrenmatt’s Die Physiker (which we’ll be reading starting tomorrow in German 204). Folded into the pages was, among other things, a program of a Carleton production of the play. When I looked carefully through the program, there was your name, as a violinist (I gather “Einstein” was “bow-synching”??? I recognized a few other names as well.

    Hugs, Anne

  2. Yes! I played violin for that production. However, Einstein plays off-stage, so no need for bow-syncing. I was supposed to play badly, but people said what a good job I did. That was funny.

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