April 30. We had bought tickets three days earlier to go to the Musee D'Orsay today. This museum pretty much picks up where the Lourve leaves off around 1850. You can find works before and after that time at both, but the majority of the art at the Musee D'Orsay covers the period after 1850 through the early twentieth century. This time we did not have tickets to a special entrance so when we arrived at the museum there was a large crowd outside. The museum had already opened, but because of security, the line was slow. It was also cold and raining rather hard that morning, but as the crowd wound around the barriers, we eventually were under a large canopy outside the museum for the majority of the wait. Once inside, the crowds were much smaller than at the Lourve. The museum was a train station in another life and was considered a showpiece in its day. It still is with a beautiful clock inside the main hall on the wall facing the entrance. In fact there are clocks throughout the museum--so you won't miss the train! The main hall of the museum is quite impressive and can be seen from most floors in the building. This hall exhibits all the sculptures of the period, mostly mid to late 1800s. Off the main hall are galleries many which featured one or two artists only. Some of the galleries were actual collections and were displayed together rather than broken up by time period. The first floor galleries were all pre-Impressionists. Many times an artist would paint the same subject more than once, but each was slightly different and both would be displayed for comparison. Aside from the sculptures, the earlier artwork started on the ground floor and each floor represented the next time period. I could see the influence the early artists had on later work since some of it was very similar to the Impressionists. On the second level was a beautiful gallery of furniture from La Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau movement. There were individual pieces and then entire rooms of furniture. In one case, the carved, wooden walls of a dining room were displayed which was absolutely beautiful and must have been quite modern in its day. From there we climbed to the top floor where the Impressionists resided. There were very large individual galleries for Monet and Degas, but all Impressionists were represented. Mr. Van Gogh was also very well displayed along with his friend, Cezanne.
My biggest disappointment was that there was only one Mary Cassatt painting. Possibly because she was an American and the French certainly did dominate the place. Two other Americans were represented, Winslow Homer and Whistler (who would have expected this work to be in Paris?) We had covered the entire museum in about four hours and were hungry, but it seemed that Paris museums are not always user friendly. There was a small restaurant on the top floor with a long line waiting for seating. We decided to leave and look for a place to eat outside. The rain had stopped and we found a cute little cafe just off a side street which was run by an Asian couple who spoke better English than French. This place was tiny, but clean and quick. After lunch, we traveled to the Boulevard Saint Germain which we realized was one of the better areas of Paris--hey, this is the Left Bank! We strolled down the boulevard looking in shop windows, checking out the wine shops and stopping at a chocolatier to buy a little box of goodies. Then we turned onto Boulevard Saint Michel where we found Gibert Jeune (with the yellow awnings), a french bookstore. We spent quite a bit of time there looking at books we could hardly read! One thing about France, bookstores only sell books, but not magazines like in the States. So finding a copy of Patrones was all the more difficult. Across the street from Gibert Jeune was a little brasserie where we stopped for refreshments and did some serious people watching from our window seats. We then went down a side street and followed the street along the Seine wondering what it would be like to live here. We crossed over to Ile de Cite, then to Ile St Louis (the two islands located on the Seine). Ken was looking for an art gallery that was exhibiting the son of a friend of ours (imagine having your work shown in Paris!). Since Ken had the address, we did find the shop but it was closed. It was too late in the day, even though it was only around 4 p.m. However, we did see some of his work in the window. From there I found a shop that sold mostly scarves and a few other accessories. I had all my fabric swatches with me and tried to coordinate a few. I ended up buying a long dark red silk scarf with fringe. This went nicely with the coat fabric I had bought the day before. From there we crossed the bridge to the Right Bank, looked around the Marais district and ended up having dinner at a little bistro near the Pompidou Center. I had curry for supper that night. From there we decided to take the Metro back to our hotel.