Your First Trip to Paris June 6 -13, 2016

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Paris for Art Lovers: November 16 - 23, 2009

Here is a highlight of the museums we'll be visiting on the fall tour. We visit generally two museums a day. One in the morning, then do lunch and then off to another for the afternoon. Guests are provided museum passes that are good the entire stay that can be used at over 30 museums in Paris. A few on the list are even open in the evening, plus you get priority entry, meaning no long lines.

Remember to find the English link on the museum websites. (Hint: Sometimes it's a UK flag and sometimes you have to really look.):

LOUVRE: Everyone knows the name and that it's huge. Well, it's beyond huge. They say nine miles of precious artisan pieces from the earliest civilations through the mid-1800's.

To quote the website: The Musée du Louvre houses 35,000 works of art drawn from eight departments, displayed in over 60,000 square meters of exhibition space dedicated to the permanent collections.

My first visit to the Louvre I decided to start in the Denon section and try to work my way through it. After about four hours, the sensory overload was too much and I had to leave. I never even made it out of the Denon section. Not to worry, these days I generally take the group to see the 'big three' plus you can use your museum pass to visit again.

What are the 'big three'? Of course, number one is the Mona Lisa (or as the French call it La Joconde) painted by Leonardo da Vinci. King Francois I, whose art collection started the Louvre, was his patron . Leonardo lived near the king the last few years of his life and is buried in a small chapel on the royal grounds of Amboise.

Second is Venus de Milo, known at the Louvre as Aphrodite. You will know her as the beautiful woman without arms.

Third on my list is Nike or Winged Victory of Samothrace (shown), which is enormous and imposing,stands at a crossway of steps going to the different areas. You really have to wonder if the people who lived here didn't get lost. Which reminds me, not only is the art displayed overwhelming, but the rooms, the stairways, the ceilings are all incredible works of art themselves.

Whatever period of art history you are interested in, there is a section for it at the Louvre. There is also an area that exposes the medieval Louvre's earliest beginnings that was uncovered when they built the pyramid and the underground reception area. Or you could visit Napoleon's apartments with incredibly rich furnishings. Also, for a separate fee, there is always a temporary exhibition or two or three offered.

We will be attending one of my favorite temporary exhibitions ParisPhoto at Carrousel du Louvre. It's an annual event that runs for four days during November. This event is really a collectors' fair with an incredible range of collectable photography offered by galleries and brokers. You'll see everything from vintage Brassai to Robert Maplethorpe.

To quote the website: PARIS PHOTO - A few figures* A prestigious showcase of 3000 m² in the heart of Paris under the Pyramid of the Louvre* 37 760 visitors (30% foreigners from 47 countries)* 115 exhibitors - galleries, publishers and magazines – from more than 20 countries* more than 500 international photographers represented* Media coverage totalling some 500 stories in the most prestigious international news outlets* 1,200 accredited journalists.

On another note, photographers and photography lovers should make a note that November is photography month in Paris. Over 100 galleries and museums participate with exhibitions.

MOYEN AGE (Cluny): My favorite of all is the Museum of Middle Ages (or Moyen Age). The museum is referred to by both names, and is officially
known as Musee National du Moyen Age, but the building is known as Hotel de Cluny. In French, hotel means a large mansion and Cluny was the sect of monks who lived there and made it a college. It is located in the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank. I have visited it every time I have been to Paris without exception.

This museum is famous for having the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries which, of course, have their own specially lighted and climatized room. The tapestries represent the 5 senses as well as the mysterious "To thine own self be true" tapestry. I love the room of Madonnas. This piece, of course, is Adam. Also located on the site are the vestiges of the Roman baths. On my last visit a few months ago, some of the rooms were being refurbished, so hopefully that will be finished by November.

l'ORANGERIE: Another one of my favorites because it houses the Utrillos and Modiglianis, as well as others from the Paris School. But it is most well known for the series of Monet's Waterlillies that fill the two downstairs rooms.

Monet created these for the museum, and they are overwhelmingly beautiful and lifesize to scale. His home in nearby Giverny is a garden lover's dream, but is only open during the height of its beauty. Here is a little tiny piece of one of the images:
Each of the eight paintings is about twenty feet high and seventyfive feet long. (I'm guessing at the actual size, but I'm probably pretty darn close.) Very overwhelming!
You can also see a bit of the medieval Louvre as well, and images by Rousseau, Chagall and Soutine. They have a wonderful book and gift store as well.

Musee RODIN: This museum is dedicated almost solely to the sculptor Rodin, although recently they added a room for Camille Claudel, the woman sculptor he drove to madness. That aside, we enjoy everything from small pieces inside the lovely hotel to giant bronzes in the immense gardens. Truly lovely, especially on a beautiful day.

You can see the golden dome of Les Invalides from the gardens, the final resting place of Napoleon, which is a short walk away. You'll also find there the Army museum of World Wars I and II, suits of armor, and a very large bookstore.
His most famous piece "The Kiss" is shown here in front of Musee l'Orangerie overlooking Place de la Concorde, with it's obelisques and giant fountains.

The south side of the Louvre runs along the river, and to the west you can see the Eiffel Tower. Our hotel is near Notre Dame and, as you can see, it is a very enchanting walk home from the Louvre in the evening. After adding these photos, I am getting really really excited about visiting the fairytale that is Paris!

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