Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dawn til Way Past Dusk

Mom and I were in Paris for only 2 and half days, so we had to make the most of the 54 hours. Day two started beautifully - literally - with a gorgeous sunrise and magnificent rainbow.
After picking up croissants from Hilaire ( "where the hotels buy their croissants" according to Rick Steves), we headed to mass at the Notre Dame.
It was nice to be able to walk through the church and appreciate the sheer size of the cathedral before the hoards of tourists descended upon it just hours later. Although, I do have to say the "modernish" nativity did surprise me and felt quite out of place in the medieval building.Yes, there is a flat screen and floating lights in the nativity at the Notre Dame. It had the same tacky effect that a flat screen fire place does in living room; you just wonder, "Why?"

Next we walked down the Seine River to the Orsay Museum, my now second favorite art museum. The building was just as grand and magnificent as I remembered and the paintings even more beautiful. My favorite part of the museum (like most people's, I'm sure) is the impressionist paintings. I love the Monets of the women with the umbrella in the fields and Degas' ballerinas.There was also a temporary exhibit exploring the connection between the Le déjeuner sur l'herbe by Edouard Manet and a series of paintings and sculptures by Pablo Picasso. It displayed the original painting by Manet surrounded by works by Picasso that were inspired by the painting. I found it amazing that one painting could inspire an entire series of work by Picasso.

After the museum we started a walking tour of the historic core of Paris, which included the Ill de la Cite and the Ill St. Louis - the two islands in the center of the Seine River. We began by walking past the booksellers along the river; unfortunately many of them were closed due to the dreary weather.

Along the first part of the walk we visited Pont Neuf, the Latin Quarter, the Concierge (which had a very nice architecture exhibit on Paris' past world exhibitions), and ended up at the Sainte-Chapelle. The chapel, built for Louis IX, is an amazing display of stained-glass windows, tiled floors, and painted walls. The upper chapel is truly breath taking (even the second time).
Next we returned to the Notre Dame to visit the archeological museum under the cathedral and climb the towers to see our favorite gargoyles.
Continuing on to the Ill St.Louis, we picked up a picnic lunch from the cheese shop and bakery. Unfortunately, due to the rain we ate our picnic under the awning of a closed shop. Then we browsed through the shops and boutiques lining the streets of the island, including my favorite kitchen stores that sells goods made by Pylones. We ended the walk with some ice cream (and coffee - our day was far from over) from Berthillon.

No comments: