When you are in Paris on the first Sunday of the month, there is only one thing to do. Well, OK, after coffee and a pastry there is only one more thing to do. The first Sunday of the month means free entry into most museums in Paris – museums with collections that we rarely get to see down in God’sOwn. So today was our chance to soak up some culture and see first hand some of the classics that make the art world buzz. I have to confess I am no fine art connoisseur – I don’t even think I am a close to even a fast-food art appreciator. I struggle to distinguish between even the most well-known artists but Rach has brought our tribe up to appreciate a wide range of literature and art, so this was a good chance for me to learn a thing or two from them.
We headed into the Musee d’Orsay via an intricate round of metro hop-scotch. Rach has fully mastered the skill of finding the best join-the-dot pattern to navigate around the various metro lines, so it only took just over half an hour and four line changes until we arrived as planned at the Musee d’Orsay. We arrived at 9.10 am and joined the tail of the queue which already had snaked its way beyond the pre-arranged corrals. By the time the doors opened at 9:30 our position represented the middle of the queue and there must have been several hundred people lined up in a snake that went back and forth right across the large courtyard several dozen times.
Thankfully the French seem pretty efficient in processing large crowds, and we were soon admitted to the museum building. If there is any scenario that makes a professional museum security-guard nervous, it is seeing a family with a large number of young children enter their gallery. Within a few minutes three of the youngBears had been scolded for getting too near to the walls, peering too close to examine the brushwork, and for allowing a pointing finger stray within a metre of the artwork. Fair enough I guess when these pieces are worth more than I am likely to earn in a lifetime. Cue Mrs McCreedy from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe…”there will be no running, no disturbing the professor and NO touching of the artefacts…”. Yes, point taken! Thankfully weeBears managed to adjust their behaviour and avoid too much further scolding from zealous security guards, although it was clear we remained under a volley of anxious stares throughout our whole visit. This did not detract from the magnificent artefacts and paintings. No cameras allowed of course, and I won’t embarrass myself by even trying to critique or describe the works – so here are some of the family highlights:
Degas’ ‘The Little Dancer’ bronze statue was Ella-Rose’s favourite. Micaiah also liked how “you could see her feelings”.
Jaala was drawn to Degas’ paintings of ballet students, which looked much better than in the books at home!
Kaleisha and Tessa both went for Aristide Maillol’s ‘la femme a l’ombrelle’ and the incredible prettiness of it.
Joisah and I both loved Monet’s ‘La Pie’ – simple colours, but amazing light effects in the snow scene.
Alas, no matter how great the masters’ paintings, there is only so much little eyes and minds can take of watching dried paint, and so we exited the museum for an early lunch on a bridge over the river Seine. More baguettes and French brie – yum!
After lunch we crossed the river to go into the Musee de l’Orangerie – most noted for its display of Monet’s HUGE water lily paintings that each stretch over 15 metres around the oval gallery walls. Certainly worth seeing in person. Another scolding or two from anxious security personnel and then it was back out into the sun for a bit of a rest in the Tuileries Garden (next to the Place de la Concorde). Rach decided to take most of the kids down to the Louvre for a sneaky peek (free entry remember!).
”Let’s head down to the Louvre” she suggested, “And see what we can see”.
Ella-Rose looked up incredulously, smiled as she realised her mistake, and explained,
“I thought you said the loo”.
However, queues of approx 500m put them off and we decided we will save the Louvre for another day. So instead, we went for a quick scout around the Petit and Grand Palais, and the impressive Pont des Invalides.
Energy levels started to wane again and so it was a quick trip home, with dinner of kebabs and tortillas – no, not exactly quintessential French fare, but it was right on our route to the hostel and we were made extremely welcome by a friendly Middle Eastern Frenchman. Frog legs tomorrow perhaps?!