Last weekend we went away to see Paris for the very first time! Both my husband and I had never been there before, even though it’s not that far away from here (about 2.5 hours by Thalys). We really enjoyed it! The first two days we were rather exhausted from working still, but the last two days we did a lot more.
On Thursday we visited a beautiful graveyard, the Cimetière du Montparnasse. The graves look like small houses! In The Netherlands, graves are… well… flat, just like everything else. This graveyard was beautiful. very quiet, very tasteful.
We walked on to the Jardin du Luxembourg, a large park. We were not the only ones enjoying the beautiful weather there!
There were chairs everywhere and people were sitting in idyllic spots, reading, drawing, relaxing in the sun or shade. We spent quite some time there. Watching people, enjoying nature. That evening we cooked at our room and went to bed early.
On Friday, we slept in a bit and went for breakfast in the 10th arrondissement. We went to a place that our hostess had recommended, Le Poutch, and it was indeed good. Except that I ordered a nice lentil salad and it turned out to be full of coriander… (I’m one of those people with the genetic variation that makes coriander taste awful).
Then we went on another walk, this time in the city centre.
The Centre de Georges Pompidou looked really interesting, but we didn’t visit the museum. We just wanted to be outside, and empty our heads instead of filling them up. Another time, perhaps?
The Place Igor Stravinsky was right next to the Centre. It’s a playful fountain filled with colourful figures. Fun!
This place has such a nice, weird combination of old and modern, of serious and silly.
We walked on and arrived at another large square with pretty buildings (they’re everywhere).
We were now at the Seine, at one of the bridges that connects the islands to the rest of Paris. We crossed the bridge and then we finally found out how busy the “real” tourist attractions really were! It was very crowded on the way to Notre Dame.
There were some soldiers walking around in front of the Notre Dame. There had been a terrorist attack two nights before – a man had attacked the police with a hammer. But the atmosphere there was light and friendly. That kind of drama felt very far away.
We did not enter the church, but instead we went back to the apartment. We were going out for dinner later at a lovely little restaurant called Le Comptoir. I had great gnocchi (yes, there were vegetarian options) – must try to make that myself sometimes!
On Saturday it was going to be a hot day, so we decided to escape the heat and visit the Louvre museum. We got tickets at a slightly higher price close by and could skip the long lines in the merciless sun.
The Louvre is quite overwhelming. There are so many works of art there, it’s not funny. The danger is that you start looking superficially “Oh, nice. Nice too. Nice.” and never get involved in the art. We tried stopping at some of the artworks and spend a bit more time to study them and let them touch us.
We saw many paintings and sculptures and it was a bit of an overload. Fortunately a restaurant appeared in front of us and we bought some food for ridiculous prices, and sat outside in the shade.
Refreshed, we continued our visit. We approached an extra-busy hall and knew it instantly: this is where La Gioconda hangs.
It was ridiculous. The hall was full of people watching away from the painting. They were all taking selfies. We quickly left. We stayed a bit in a hall full of iconic paintings. This one drew our attention:
I love paintings of people. Real people. I love it when they look a bit quirky, or intense, or interesting, or funny. It’s a bit harder to find that in old religious paintings.
Then we found a hall with paintings that were a bit more modern. This one looks lovely. Look at that lacey veil! The textures are suggested, but look quite realistic.
Another hall with lots of people. Must be the other highlight: Venus of Milo.
It is said that a man may have posed for this statue, which is why her chest is a bit wide and she has a nice sixpack.
I was much more impressed with the Victoire de Samothrace:
She may have no head, but those wings! And the lovely drapey clothes!
We had only seen two floors of one wing of the museum, but we were quite saturated by then. We decided to go back to the entrance. Then we found a small exhibition of Dutch artwork from the Golden Age that was there until next Monday. Of course we had to visit that.
There were nice drawings, more like character sketches.
We decided to go and have dinner somewhere. It was not great. I ordered a salad and it was huge but not nice at all. Drowned in dressing and sadly deceased now.
We didn’t eat at home because we wanted to do something after dinner: take a boat onto the Seine!
It was still very sunny and lovely weather. Being on the water would be fun!
We passed many major landmarks and our tour guide told us a bit about everything, including the bridges.
We did not visit the Tour Eiffel, but we came this close. After out boat tour, we went home and straight to bed.
Sunday was our final day in Paris, and we were leaving in the afternoon. What to do in the morning? Relax, or visit something after all?
I still had something on my wish list: visiting the Musée d’Orsay. I know that I like art from the twentieth century, and that museum had quite a nice collection of that. We were not disappointed!
The museum is situated in an old train station. The wonderful architecture is art in itself, and they have cleverly made use of what it has to offer. The central area is filled with light from above and showcases some wonderful sculptures.
The side wings harboured the paintings – those should of course not hang in direct sunlight. There were so many beautiful works of art! I was feeling quite emotional and got kicked in the feels a couple of times. Like meeting old friends, only you never met them before.
We had a bit of lunch in the restaurant behind the old clockface.
From the museum you have a lovely view of Paris…
We visited the impressionistic and expressionistic areas. It’s so weird to just see a row of Monet paintings as if it’s nothing… By the way, I love Monet. I was attracted to his paintings every time (also the ones I didn’t know yet). I also loved Renoir and his shadow play and his flawed lovely people.
They had several Van Gogh paintings, which was nice. This guy really had a wobbly kind of perspective.
There was a temporary exhibition called Au-delà des étoiles (Beyond the stars) – The Mystical Landscape from Monet to Kandinsky. There were paintings there by Monet, of course:
There were also paintings by Kandinsky, Munch, Mondriaan, Van Gogh, and many, many more.
I was so happy to see all these beautiful works, and that we had decided to visit this museum! It was a good thing we arrived early, because the later it got, the busier, and yes, the selfie people were here too. No space, no time to get absorbed… we decided to leave and go to the train station.
The weekend passed by so quickly! I’d love to return here one day and visit the Centre Georges Pompidou, and all the other things we didn’t have time or energy for this time. But for now I’ll just cherish the memories.