O-day — Orangerie, Opera, and Olga

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Majella’s itinerary had us set for another long day with our first museum visit planned for 9:00 am. I set alarms for 7:00 am but woke soon after 6:00 am and had no need of the alarms. We were out to the cafe across the road for coffee and pastries soon after 7:00 am and easily got back and out again to the station by soon after 8:00 am. 

After a day of moving around Paris we are becoming comfortable with navigating the Metro so we easily found our way to Concorde. We were early so spent some time lookng for a pharmacy to find something to ease Majella’s sore throat. Nothing useful was open so early so we headed through the Tuilleries gardens to Musée de l’Orangerie, arriving 10 minutes or so before it was due to open. Unlike some of our previous experiences, just a handful of other visitors were waiting so entry was easy.

DSC_3672The main attraction on the ground floor was the pair of elliptical rooms constructed to house the large water lily paintings by Monet. We were lucky to be among the first in there today and had mostly uninterrupted views of the paintings in the space. Close up they are large swirls of colour but with a little distance they are clear depictions of the water lilies and reflections of trees on the water. We are looking forward to our visit to Giverny with Marie-Francoise and Roland in August.

We spent some time on the lower floor in the special exhibition of pieces from the collection established by the Japanese founder of Bridgestone. There were many pieces from the Impressionists and related groups of artists. We were especially impressed by the faces in Renoir paintings. Of all the artists we have seen in the past couple of days he seemed to have the most sympathetically pleasing representations of the faces of his subjects. We also wandered through the other galleries that presented a variety of (mainly early to mid) twentieth century painting until we realised that our scheduled time there was done and we needed to move on.

DSC_3697The Metro took us a couple of stations to the vicinity of the Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier) where we hoped to take the tour. By this time the shops were open and Majella was able to find a pharmacy and get something for her throat. We crossed the street, found the entrance to the visitor area, produced our Paris Passess, and were assigned to an 11:00 am English language tour with just 10 minutes to wait.

Our tour guide, who spoke good English and was very enthusiastic for his topic, issued us with ear pieces so that we could more easily hear his commentary. I expected the tour might take an hour or so but it ran to two hours. Our guide was well versed in the history of the building and a variety of quirky details including the decorations in the hair and around the necks of the female statues holding lights in the hall where patrons mingled at interval – oil, gas, candles and electric – representing the historical forms of lighting used. We had no reason to lose interest throughout the tour but our feet were feeling it by the time it ended.

Majella’s daily itinerary had us visiting the Pompidou Centre at 1:00 pm, about the same time we finished our Opera tour. She had planned a bus transition but, after 10 or 15 minutes of searching, we could not find the right stop. We did find a Metro station and took that instead, arriving close to the centre but hungry for lunch. We looked around near where we had arrived and found Flunch where we enjoyed a couple of salads before heading off to the Pompidou Centre.

It is an unusual building with much of the usually internal ducting showing outside. It took us a few minutes to find the entrance but once we did our passes worked their magic again. Perhaps it was the exhibition that we selected as our starting point but neither of us could see much, or any, artistic or other value in most of the work on display. The modern, minimalist work in the spaces we visited seldom demonstrated any apparent mastery of technique or any obvious message of value. One piece consisted of three large boards covering an entire wall from floor to ceiling, painted white, with the label “untitled”.  After revelling in so many masterpieces over the past couple of days, to us these works seemed pretentious to the point of silliness. Our visit there took rather less than the planned 2 hours.

Our final destination for the day, Musée Picasso, was within walking distance. I conjured up directions using maps.me and with some assistance from signage on the streets we were able to find it easily enough but not before we had stopped for coffee and to buy some fruit.

DSC_3707The Musée Picasso is in a magnificent old building which was once a hotel. It is worth visiting just for the architecture, especially the stone work, but the Musée has a large collection of Picasso material from which to build interesting exhibitions. The current exhibition highlights Olga Picasso, his first wife, whom Picasso met in 1917, 100 years ago. It includes a large number of works by Picasso featuring Olga along with other historical material including photographs, films, and letters that shed light on their relationship. It was fascinating to see the work of Picasso across mutiple media in relationship to their personal circumstances. His mastery of the various media was evident in a variety of works, even when some of his more experimental pieces seemed difficult to appreciate. We enjoyed the exhibition and, as a bonus from shortening our prior activity, finished not long after we had planned to start there.

We located a nearby Metro station on a line that would get us home with one change and walked there. We were home by about 5:00 pm. Majella settled to rest and fight her sore throat. I set off for a short excursion on my own.

I had been hoping that the Fon WiFi linked to Telstra Air would give me the Internet access that I need but, although I have been able to find hotspots (less often than the Fon map suggests) and even connect, I have not been able to get a stable connection that would be useable. In my investigations a few months ago I had decided that the Free network might be my best alternative for a SIM with phone and decent data allowance that supports hotspot use and roaming in Europe. The deal that seemed best, 19.99 Euro plus SIM, is available only from their vending machines and the nearest of those was 2 stops away on the Metro.

Even with an address it took me some time to find the machine in a newsagency a few doors from where the address suggested. Then I had to wrestle with a French vending machine that ultimately wanted a postal code and address – I had to use the hotel. I got the SIM and it works with a promise of unlimited 4G data for a month with no ties but the opportunity to extend and use it elsewhere in Europe (I think). At least it has solved my immediate problem with access.

After checking on Majella at the hotel I slipped out to L’Oustal where we enjoyed happy hour on Tuesday night. I had the Petite Assiette Italienne (bread, ham, salad, cheese, and rockmelon) with a beer before heading back to find Majella resting.


3 Responses

  1. Sounds like you are having an interesting time Pete, hope Majella gets well soon. She will be buoyed by the fact that Qld won the State of Origin so convincingly . It was a great game. Pity you missed it. Cheers Jim

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