Thursday, October 26, 2006

Paris, Troisième Visite

Our first stop on our last tourism visit to Paris was the Musee d’Orsee. This museum has an impressive collection of Impressionist masterpieces, and an enormous collection of sculptures.


I was amazed at how close we could get to some of the most famous paintings in the world, and that we were allowed to photograph them, which we were forbidden to do in most parts of the Louvre.

This particular museum seems obsessed with clocks. There are few places where you cannot see at least one enormous clock. The one shown below is in the museum café. It's almost as though the museum designers want to emphasize the passage of time for the visitors, while attempting to stop it completely for the artifacts contained within the walls.


I was completely charmed by this Monet painting of a lemon, which is approximately life size. I wondered what compelled him to invest the time to paint this image. Also, who is the person at the museum responsible for the selection of frames? The one on this lemon picture is far too ornate and bulky for such a tiny, simple image. It’s almost as though the curator wanted to emphasize the importance of the artist, ignoring the fact that it’s a goddamn picture of a lemon.


Here I am standing in front of one of Monet’s famous haystack paintings. He did a whole series of these, and they’re quite lovely. I was suffering from a nagging, phlegmatic cough the entire time, so I’m afraid I left a fine spray of bronchial mucus on some of the great Impressionist works of the early 20th century. Some poor conservator will have to clean it off someday.


My daughter reached art saturation fairly quickly, and found a place to sit where she could read a book, surrounded by beauty she was unable to appreciate. Note the large clock on the far end of the sculpture hall.


After the museum, we went out for coffee. In Paris, you can order coffee in many forms. We had café noisette, café Viennois, and cappuccino.


Later, we strolled through the city, and I pointed out a Boucherie Chevaline (a butcher specializing in horsemeat) to my daughter, who was totally grossed out. We visited a Fromagere, a shop selling nothing but cheeses. My daughter was in heaven, and bought a giant lump of Mimolette to bring home.


Well, that about sums it up for this trip to France. I would like to thank the French people, who were unfailingly gracious hosts. In particular, I would like to thank the proprietor of Les Princes café, which was located near the parking garage. We used the bathroom there every day on arrival and every evening on departure from the city. Merci, mon ami. I would also like to thank the mayor of the city of Paris for installing the cool space toilets in high-tourism areas. These little pods would open at the press of a button, enabling you to do your business, then they would clean and sanitize themselves before admitting another desperate tourist. Formidable!


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