Have I mentioned my hotel in Paris is in a great location? It is well worth the extra $$$! The Louvre is a mere 5 minute walk and the Musée d’Orsay is about twice that – just through the Jardin Tuileries and across the bridge over the Seine. If you like museums and being in a central location – do consider the Rue de Rivoli area. Yesterday, the wait to get into the Louvre was about 10 minutes and today’s wait to get into the Musée d’Orsay was about half that. (Another reason to travel in January,)
I simply love the Musée d’Orsay. It is the former Gare d’Orsay, the Beaux-Arts station for trains from Paris to Oreans. It was built in the late 1800’s and only used until 1939. This museum, on the Left Bank, has the world’s largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.
If you only have time for one museum in Paris, make it this one!
It is much smaller with friendlier personnel than the Louvre, it is much more beautiful, it has many of my favorite pieces of art and the ambiance is warm, serene, and romantic with soft, classical music playing in many of its smaller galleries. When you arrive, head to the top floor (5) by escalator. While the whole museum is scattered with some of the best works by Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Gaughin, Courbet, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Seurat, and Sisley, some of the most famous are located here. Don’t skip the second or first floor, though – such treasures are there, too. (Floors 3 and 4 are offices) You can easily do the entire museum in a couple of hours and there are 4 very nice cafes and restaurants with inviting menus to enjoy.
As I wandered the galleries, my first thought was that I felt like I was visiting old friends. So many pictures are so familiar to me and I bet they are to you, too! My second thought was that I wished my Mom could be with me. She was a big fan of Impressionism, basically introduced me to so many of the famous works housed here and the artists that painted them and it would have been so special and fun to see and talk about these pictures with her. I am so glad my Mom did get to visit this museum on a brief trip to Paris in 1983, but just so sorry we never got to do it together. (At least, in 1989, we did get to visit together Giverny, Monet’s home.)
Snow was softly falling and a wind had begun when I left the museum making all of Paris look like an impressionist painting.
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I took a taxi to another one of the Brilliant Book Nooks on my list – Shakespeare and Company and found a nearby touristy type bistro for a delicious, hot lunch of beef filet with Hollandaise sauce. Next, I visited Notre Dame, just across the street. I must say it didn’t hold a candle to the many cathedrals I saw in Tuscany. The snow and wind did stop making for a more pleasant walk around Ile de la Cité, one of 2 small islands in the middle of the Seine. I walked past the palace where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned and across the famous Pont Neuf (meaning new bridge) which was built in 1578 making it the oldest bridge in Paris today. Click on smaller pictures to enlarge them.
It took about 15 minutes to walk “home” down the Quai du Louvre (docks along the Seine River) past the iconic green bookstalls, few of which were open on this cold winter’s day. I past many street food stalls with tempting aromas but in the end, stopped for a baguette with ham, a bit of cheese and red wine to enjoy later for my last dinner here. My one regret of this Paris trip is that I did not book a week in Paris. I will definitely do that for the 2018 Winter Tour I offer!