Musee de L’Orangerie

The whole point of visiting the Musee de L’Orangerie is because that’s where Claude Monet’s Water Lilies reside. We’re making the trip out to see Monet’s home and gardens at Giverny next week and we wanted to re-visit these 8 incredible paintings in preparation for checking out Monet’s inspiration for them. Indeed the paintings are displayed on 4 walls in each of 2 adjacent rooms as Monet had planned and they are amazing. The rooms are lit with only natural lighting (at least during the day) through a large oval window in the ceiling. And if you’re lucky enough to visit on a partly cloudy day, you get to see how the paintings change as the sun alternates between covered and uncovered.

Some of the photos look a little strange, caused by using the panorama function on my camera (and not very well, I might add). The Water Lilies are not wavy, they are rectangular.

 

 

 

 

I love this Renoir painting of 2 girls at the piano.

 

These 2 miniature vignettes are replicas of the collector and major donor’s dining room and office/library displaying many of the donated artworks.  These 6-8 inch “boxes” were inserted into the wall and were very interesting.

 

Musee D’Orsay

The D’Orsay Museum occupies an old train station and the building itself is a work of art.  The Museum houses French art of the 1800’s and early 1900’s – The Impressionists.  And who doesn’t love The Impressionists! They also have a lot of fabulous decorative arts collection that’s really fun. Here’s a small sampling of what we saw.

Here’s the front entrance. We picked a good time to visit because there was no line.

 

Looking through the main part of the building that was the waiting area in the old train station. It’s an amazing view through here.

 

This beautiful clock hangs at one end of the building. The photo is deceptive – – the light fixture in the lower left is large. The clock is HUGE!

 

There are windows along the galleries in several places and the views are spectacular. Here we see a view of the Louvre across the river.

 

Here’s a view through another of the windows. This time we get a view of Sacre-Coeur high on the hill.

 

Manet’s Infant and Cat. Does that cat not look contented?

 

One of Edgar Degas’ exquisite ballet class paintings.

 

There’s both a really nice restaurant and a coffee shop in the D’Orsay. I prefer the coffee shop because you get to eat next to this wonderful original clock. And the lights are pretty cool too. (And the food is good.)

 

This marble statue is amazing. The perfect marble looks so much like fabric.

 

A close up of the gown.

 

Don’t you just love this chair displayed in the decorative arts collection!

 

And how about this office furniture?

 

Beautiful arc deco glass panel. (Not quite sure what the ET-looking thing is in front of it.)

 

Bedroom Suite

 

Interesting lamp

 

Unique corner cabinet.

 

Labor Day at Pere Lachaise Cemetery

May 1st is Labor Day in France.  Unions are big here and lots of groups were out marching and demonstrating and selling Lilies of the Valley.  And the same was true in Pere Lachaise Cemetery.  We went to Pere Lachaise because we knew it was a holiday and we thought it probably wouldn’t be closed like so many places are on holidays.  But some areas were very crowded and some of the little cemetery intersections were blocked with police cars.  But we still managed to find Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Chopin, and a cat.  A live cat.

Some areas were very crowded with Unionists supporting Labor Day.

 

More peaceful union supporters. These people were singing.

 

Well guarded . . . and didn’t want their picture taken.

 

Jim Morrison’s grave. There’s a fence around it so people can’t get near it. Except for the people who left all that stuff.

 

But just outside the fence near’s Jim’s grave is this tree with bamboo wrapped around it.

 

And on the bamboo is gum. Lots and lots of chewing gum.

 

Also near Jim is this little tomb structure with trees growing out of a split in one of the roofing logs.

 

A close-up of the little trees. Funny.

 

“A La Memoire des Enfants Juifs Assassine par les Nazis.” There’s something very haunting about this memorial to the thousands of Jewish children who were deported from France during the holocaust and never returned home.

 

This local man comes here daily to feed the cats.

 

La Pere Lechaise chat.

 

He pointed us in the direction of Jim Morrison’s grave and later we ran across him again. Since we still hadn’t found it, he took us there! He spoke no English so it was an interesting conversation.

 

A memorial to the Armenians who fought in WWI and WWII.

 

Oscar Wilde. There’s a long story here.

 

A few other interesting things to share.



I think it’s a rose. Or maybe a can opener.

 

Chuck & Denise under a lilac bush.

More Technical Difficulties

Well I’m giving it my best shot but the hotel Internet just isn’t cooperating.  The speed is very slow and I’ve tried everything I can think of, including lots of complaining to the hotel, none of which seems to be working. I suspect I’m now thought of as that crazy American lady who complains about the Internet all the time. At any rate, I’m going to limp along and publish posts as best I can. Then whatever I haven’t been able to publish, I’ll finish up after we get home.  I appreciate your patience and hope you’ll keep checking back.

Thanks.

Au Lapin Agile (The Nimble Rabbit)

We paid a return visit to Au Lapin Agile in Paris’s fabled Montmartre area.  Since it’s beginning in 1860, the Cabaret has welcomed and fostered generations of singers, musicians, poets, and artists. The show has a melange of incredibly talented singers and artists. Of course the entire show is in French, but even to someone with a very limited knowledge of the language, the performers are so impressive in their sincere expression of emotion that we found ourselves laughing, clapping, and singing along.

The atmosphere is authentic, though they have eliminated the smoky haze of yesteryear. The small, dark, cave-like venue (probably 20×30) is jam-packed with benches around the walls, narrow tables and small low stools. The performers beguile you from the beginning with the intimacy of the space; indeed they come in with the rest of the audience and are sitting at one of the tables in the center of the room; no stage, minimal lighting, just an old, upright piano along one wall.

Once you are seated and served the traditional drink of the house (a delicious 2 oz. glass of cherry liqueur with a couple cherries in the bottom), the piano player comes in, strikes up a tune and the fun begins! The group of performers at the table sings traditional French standards, love ballads, sea chanteys and encourages the audience to join in. Eventually, individuals from the group get solo time for their specialties. Especially memorable was the raspy-voiced woman who played the accordion and sang her heart out.

Each performer was special, and as soon as one performer finished, another began. The piano accompanist was amazing at effortlessly matching the vocalist’s mood, timing, etc. Then he himself played a couple of pieces that showed his extensive and effortless talent.

Speaking of regulars, over the years this place has had some legendary ones such as Aristide Bruant, Pablo Picasso, George Sand and Gertrude Stein, Utrillo, Modigliani and the list goes on and on. Their guest log is also legendary.  There’s a note from Eleanor Roosevelt; Leontyne Price actually sang “Summertime” there when she was here on tour with the NY Met singing the lead role in Porgy & Bess.

And speaking of legends, when Picasso and his friends were regulars there before they became famous, he painted a picture of himself as a harlequin with the owner, Frédé, in the background.  He gave it to Frédé in 1905 to settle his bar bill.  It hung in the cabaret until Frédé sold it in 1912 for $20 . In 1989 it was auctioned by Sotheby’s for $41 million and now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art! A copy now hangs on the wall at the cabaret!

If you go to the Au Lapin Agile website you will find lots more info about this incredible place and it’s remarkable history:   www.au-lapin-agile.com

– Chuck

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

It’s been pouring down rain for the last 2 days – enough already!  And we’re not talking spring showers here – – we’re talking about rains with monsoon winds that make your umbrella turn inside out!

Yesterday morning, we went to find a Metro station with a photo booth to get our pictures taken in preparation for buying Metro passes.  After much hassle, we each eventually left the tiny photo booth with bad mugshot-quality photos in hand and took them to the Metro clerk for quick adherence to our shiny new Metro passes.  Have pass, will travel.  Later in the evening, we took the Metro to dinner and to see Au Lapin Agile.  It was Denise’s first ride on a Metro, always a unique experience.

In the afternoon, Denise and I went shopping in the rain and checked out our neighborhood.  Most of the shops have containers just inside the front door to stash drenched umbrellas so they don’t distribute water puddles throughout the tiny shops.

We took several photos of great doors in the neighborhood which you’ll see in a later post. Then just down the street from our hotel, we stumbled onto a huge Catholic Church, Paroisse St. Louis on I’Ile, initially not even realizing from the outside that it was a church as it extended unobtrusively along the sidewalk. But randomly people were entering and so we did too.   It was beautiful – and huge – inside.  And the windows were gorgeous.  After we got inside, the organ began to play.  It was perfect.

 

 

We haven’t had a chance to take Denise inside Notre Dame yet but we’ve walked by it several times and gotten glimpses of it, as well as the crowds standing in the rain waiting to get in.  In the meantime, this is our view of the back of Notre Dame looking across the river from our island.

 

Today, after hearing heavy rain on our roof all night, we once again woke up to torrential rains and temps in the low 40’s. After breakfast, we tried to brave the weather and walk down to the TI (tourism information) office to buy museum passes, but eventually discovered we aren’t really that brave afterall and turned around and came back to the hotel. Tomorrow HAS to be better!

Small World Dept: The 2 women staying in the room next to ours are from Coronado.

The Amazing Atelier des Lumieres

The Atelier des Lumieres (Studio of Lights) is located in an unassuming neighborhood behind an unimpressive storefront with huge blue doors that make it look like it could be a small neighborhood theater.  The only thing memorable about the outside is the huge line of people snaking out the front door and down the sidewalk waiting to buy tickets.  Until you get inside, that is.  That’s when you realize how amazing this place really is.  As I mentioned in my previous blog, the museum has taken over a former foundry that was built in 1835.  And the only thing they’ve done to the layout in this 16,000 square foot building is add a narrow little balcony on one side of the room to give viewers an additional viewing perspective.  Then the metal structure was refurbished to take advantage of the acoustics and the surface area was designed as a support for the 140 projectors they added.  The floors were left as is and the facility still contains a tall original brick wall as well as a drying tower and former furnace which have now become part of the “show.”  And what a show it is. The whole space has a total of 35,500 square feet of continuous projection space.

But it’s those 140 projectors and a fabulous sound system with gorgeous classical music that are doing all of the heavy lifting.  When we walked in (which we were able to do quickly because fortunately we had bought tickets ahead of time online so we were able to skip the line), it was like walking into a dark movie theater with no seats.  The art was moving and changing on the walls and floors continuously and it was absolutely mesmerizing. It was easy to miss the fact that all around you, almost every square inch of floor space was covered with sitting people.  Until your eyes adjusted and . . . there they were!

It’s almost impossible to describe the show adequately and even more difficult to get photographs that do it justice.  In effect, the show digitalizes the artwork of mainly two artists, Gustav Klimt and Friedensreich Hundertwasser, both Viennese artists.  And that art pours down the walls and moves and grows and shrinks and evolves, and covers those 33-foot walls and expansive floors imaginatively.  It was breathtaking!  We could have stayed and watched that art and listened to that music all day long.

 

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Everything in this painting was moving, including the woman. And look how gigantic she is compared to the people sitting on the floor below her.

 

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It’s like this piece, projected on all walls simultaneously, was being rapidly drawn, line by line, before your very eyes, accompanied by appropiate, fabulous music.

 

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It’s hard to believe that this 3-D appearing imagine was actually on a flat wall.

 

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These really looked like mammouth stained glass windows, lit from behind and separated by pillars.

 

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This tree started very small on all walls and quickly branched out, mostly horizontally, but also up.

 

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A glimpse of some of the people sitting on the floor in front of one wall, looking at a siimilar view on the opposite wall.

 

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This photogenic Parisian couple looks like they’re part of the show, but their shadow gives them away. They’re actually just sitting against the wall like many others, with the images being projected on the wall, the floor . . . and them.

 

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This piercing blue sea was gorgeous and the movement really made it look like water. The little boats floated along in the water too. A few white lights like the one seen here were the only distractions around the room . . . required lighted arrows pointing the way to the exits.

 

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An indication of the coordinated projection on the floor as well as the density of people sitting on the floor.

 

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All projections covered the large round furnace in the middle of the room as well as the walls. The furnace had a small entry door in it (seen on the left) and projections could be seen inside the furnace as well.

Chuck took some great videos inside the museum that do a much better job of illustrating the movement and the fabulous musical accompaniment.  But their refusal to be wrestled into this post is only one of several technical issues I’ve been battling.  If I can eventually get them to cooperate, I’ll add them later on.

And the Journey Begins

So we’re off to Paris.  Paris is one of our most favorite cities in the whole world and there’s nothing like Paris in the springtime.  So much to do, so much to see,  SO MUCH FABULOUS FOOD TO ENJOY!  And one of Chuck’s nieces is going to join us on this trip.  Yay!  Denise is from Indiana and this is her first trip abroad so we’re looking forward to showing her our favorite places…..the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame…..the best ice cream in Paris!

We’re staying in a little hotel on Ile Saint-Louis (Saint Louis Island) again.  As you may recall (what? you haven’t been taking notes from blog to blog?), Ile Saint-Louis is one of two remaining tiny natural islands in the Seine River.  The other remaining island, nearby Ile de la Cite, is home to Notre Dame.  We also stayed in a hotel on Ile Saint-Louis when we visited Paris 2 years ago and we found it to be the perfect location…centrally-located to museums and parks, close to the Metro, and  only a block from the Seine where there’s always so much activity.

By the way, if you’ve visited any of our blogs before, you’ll probably remember that Denise is always one our biggest comment contributors.  So now it’s going to be up to the rest of you to keep those comments coming in her absence. I feel confident that you’ll be up to the task and we look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for coming along.  We hope you enjoy our trip.

Atelier des Lumieres

We’re so excited!  Paris’ newest museum, Atelier des Lumieres (Studio of Lights), just opened on April 13th.  This digital art museum, with its in-your-face, wall-to-wall art, is located in a 1835 former foundry and looks amazing!

Photo thanks to Getty Images

We’ve already got tickets to see the museum on our first day there, so we’re really excited.  Hopefully I’ll get some photos to share on the blog.

Photo courtesy of CultureSpaces

If you’d like to see how this art “moves,” check out their website here: http://atelier-lumieres.com/