I’ve always wanted to be a trophy wife. The sort that totters round Hermes in leopard print heels, popping Jimmy Choos and Burkins on the account while the husband holds very important meetings around massive mahogany board room tables like Blake Carrington.
I am more the Bully’s tankard and darts, rather than the FA cup kind of trophy wife, but I was making the most of the hubs being here on business because I’ve never done this before!
I’d heard mixed reports on the Louvre, it’s too big and the Mona Lisa is small and disappointing being the recurring theme. I wanted something that I wouldn’t feel cheated by when I eventually had to leave. I opted for the Musee D’orsay and it’s epic collection of Impressionist paintings and was not disappointed. The building itself is absolutely beautiful, an old station, with high vaulted ceilings, vast expanses of marble, and the centrepiece of the old station clock was spectacular. I had done my research as ever, booked skip the line tickets via an app called Headout, which I highly recommend. I was there 20 minutes before opening and 4th in line. Although 9.30am is the documented opening time, nothing so much as twitched until 9.45, vive la France!
After airport style security, bags and coats in trays and through the scanner, I was in and had the place to myself. Ignoring everything else I went straight to the Van Gogh gallery and I was the only one there! After some clowning about taking a selfie with Vince (no one there to judge me after all!) I spent a leisurely few minutes in there taking it all in. There’s a picture of a starlit sky that I particularly like, I would insert photo but stupid memory card…..
Then, straight up to the 4 massive escalators to get to the “gold”. This is why the Musee D’orsay has got it so right. All of the best stuff in one gallery. It’s like gong to the supermarket and finding, eggs, cheese, milk and bread next to each other not scattered to the four winds.
I particularly love Degas and Renoir, but Cezanne, Pissaro, Manet, Monet, La-Trec, just brilliant! Monet is a lot more than just water lilies as well, there are 2 large paintings of women in pale coloured dresses that are breathtaking.
You’re walking along taking in masterpiece after masterpiece, then you realise Monet’s waterlillies are right in front of you and it stops you dead in your tracks. It’s not small either. Take that La Gioconda!
The views to Sacre Coeur through the open clock face are quite something too.
Cultured out and sore of foot, time for lunch! The restaurant of the museum is like eating in Versailles, just incredible. Did my research again, was in the queue before opening and chose a table by the window to take it all in. Cheeky glass of Petit Chablis, onion soup (again) and a giant chicken and mushroom vol-au-vent which was almost as pretty as some of the pictures. Very happy indeed. Had a good old chin-wag with an art history major from Los Angeles about the state of the world, Trump, Brexit and everything in-between. He was in Paris for the rest of the week then on to Germany and Italy. Not jealous one bit!
Lunch done, and some colour in the cheeks from the Chablis, next stop Notre Dame. It literally was just one stop away and immediately visible in all it’s glory from the Metro station steps. It is quite a sight. Beautiful blue skies really set it off and then the bells began to ring, perfect timing. The first thing I really noticed were the rats. You heard me, rats. Big ones, at least 6, scampering around the low areas of box-hedge between the benches enjoying the sun. I quite like things of a rodent persuasion so I head straight for them with the camera as a couple of tourists squeal and head the other way. Fingers crossed the pictures are retrievable because I think I got a good one of ratty playtime. Other things of note included the man cycling about with a magnificent golden live chicken in his bicycle basket, for reasons unknown……
It’s a beautiful cathedral inside too, that’s not in any doubt, and I do think in this day and age that it’s a wonderful thing to be able to enjoy it without paying a hefty admission fee, so think on York Minster. You only pay for admission to the treasury or to climb the Tower. I’d already seen a sign marked Crypte Archeologique so I knew where I was headed.
My favourite thing inside was the statue of Joan of Arc which is lovely in the light of a thousand flickering candles and the low autumn sun through the stained glass.
I was exited to go to the crypt but it wasn’t what I was expecting. No bodies, no mausoleums, it was an impressive excavation of ancient Roman France beneath the streets of the modern city but I was still disappointed, I love a proper crypt. Plus I’ve been to Pompei and Herculaneum so it was always going to be judged against some tough competition. Wasn’t worth the 8 Euro admission for me.
A few minutes away is the bookstore and fabled impoverished writers doss-house that is Shakespeare & Co. Where writers such as Hemmingway found lodgings in exchange for volunteering to work in the shop. Took some great pictures, but for now, just google it. It’s an interesting read. Oh hello Mr bicycle chicken man, having a little coffee break. No idea what you and your magnificent chicken are up to!
Then back to the hotel, change, and dinner with Craig’s work colleagues. So, one French, one Mexican, one Portuguese, one Moroccan and 2 Brits. Screw you Brexit and all you stand for, we shouldn’t be defined or curtailed by our country of birth. We have far more in common than geography may have us believe.
We were subjected to rival accordion players on the metro. One behind us was hidden from view as a usurper boarded the train at the other side of us and started to play, and it all kicked off. Think Westside Story with accordions, most amusing. That was followed by an angry shouty nutter, bellowing right behind me. A good cross-section of humanity you get on the Metro.
Dinner was confit de Canarde and Il flotant, one of my favourites, thin vanilla custard with airy floating poached clouds of meringue and a drizzle of caramel. Perfect.
Now we sleep.