l'Orangerie, Louvre and les Jardins des Tuilleries

August 14, 2015 - Paris, France

We had Louvre or Musee d'Orsay tickets included in our hotel package and this morning we collected our tickets to the Louvre from the desk clerk. We are still not sure of his name but on our last visit we dubbed him Henri so for our purposes he is still Henri. He always seems happy to talk to Margaret in French and rejoices any time I attempt the language, all in good humour.

With our tickets in our pocket we ambled along to the Louvre and looked for la Porte des Lions where the internet suggested entry may be easier but the sign said it was not open on Friday so today we would have to use the entry at the Pyramid, like everyone else. We had only come there for a look and continued across to the Tuilleries gardens and to the Rue de Rivoli to find an Autoteller to top up our cash before going on the Paris Wheel for a bird's eye view of the city. That was definitely worth the price even just for five minutes.

At this time of year the Tuilleries were crowded but mainly full of tourists walking the paths. Unlike our previous visit this time there were plenty of empty chairs available to sit and relax but we pushed on to Place de la Concorde and then went into l'Orangerie. There was no line outside and only a short wait for a ticket at the counter inside. This time we went downstairs to the collections rather than directly to the Monet waterlillies exhibit upstairs as we had to cut our visit short on our previous trip. There was plenty of time and space to appreciate the art and the way the paintings are displayed.

At different times we both tried to enter one exhibition space from the wrong direction and we were sternly sent packing by some pint-sized little uniform. I was amused as I watched as the same thing happened to Margaret and she appeared as confused as I was about how to get into the room as we both thought we had explored every possibility in the other parts of the exhibition. We eventually found our way into the room through the maze of corridors and chambers. After looking around there we went back up to the Monet exhibition which was very crowded and therefore difficult to get a good view of the huge works that surround these spaces and certainly not conducive to the peace and tranquility that was the intent when the renovated building was planned especially for these paintings. I don't suppose they envisioned coach after coach landing hundreds of people an hour. I always get a bit annoyed with poorly planned displays and in the glass link leading to the Monet Waterlillies exhibit was a glass display case with a series of exhibits, perhaps about Monet's life and work but the reflections made them impossible to decipher let alone appreciate.

After our visit we went outside, took a couple of unoccupied chairs and sat in the shade looking toward Place de la Concorde. We were surprised to see that the line to enter l'Orangerie was now stretching along the path. We wondered if the entry to the Louvre would be packed or if people had wandered up this way after being overwhelmed by a day in the Louvre. We enjoyed the shade and the relative peace watching the tour buses come and go in Place de la Concorde before walking back through the gardens toward the Louvre. The shade of the plane trees and chestnuts made for a pleasant amble along and we were still struck by the number of empty chairs available. Most of the people seemed to be headed away from the Louvre and we hoped the busloads were leaving to be collected at the other end of the gardens. As it happened we walked directly through the ticket holders security check and down to the main hall below the pyramid.

We had decided beforehand that we would only go to the Richelieu Wing to see the Dutch and Flemish painters and limit ourselves to just that section but before that we thought a cup of coffee and a seat was an important part of any plan and the cafeteria near the entry to the Richelieu Wing was a good place to stop before heading upstairs.

Of course the first section you see on the second floor is the Rubens room with its twenty four huge paintings commissioned by Marie Medici for the Palais de Luxembourg. That room itself is a lot to take absorb. If only for the sheer scale and power of the painting without even getting down to the events depicted and the allegorical content. Margaret translated the labels for me as my translations are a bit like skim reading. A word here or there, a little interpretation and a lot of extrapolation. I manage to get the general idea but finding the smaller details is beyond me. We probably spent an hour, perhaps more, before deciding to move on.

On to the rest of the Flemish and Dutch artists, that is. Everywhere you turn there is something impressive to be seen and way too much for me to assimilate. It is amazing to me that we were free to take photographs and, although I don't like the idea of just photographing whole paintings, the power of the Medici room or the fine detail in some of the other artwork was worth trying to capture. We finally had to say enough is enough and descend to the ground floor via the sculptures in the two courtyards. We were still not out of the building, or even out of the Richelieu Wing and once we entered the section between the courtyards we still needed to search for the brighter light of the area beneath the pyramid to find our way to the exit.

The day was well spent, in the art we had seen, as well as the hours that had slipped away. It was already well after opening time at Vins et Terroirs and we took a detour in that direction to look for physical nourishment. It had been raining a little while we were at the Louvre and it threatened to rain again before we got to the restaurant but we arrived with only a few spots. Tonight we were greeted with an apperitif again and we decided on Noisettes d'Agneau for me and the Magret Canard for Margaret. Both meals were up to the usual high standard and as we ate we ended up in a six way conversation with two Japanese women on the next table and an Aussie couple on the table next to them. The Japanese women were just paying their bill so we moved along one for our Creme Brulee dessert, delivered once more with a brandy and a Calvados. Margaret had heard the Aussie bloke say he was in Japan for a while working with a steel company so she asked if they were from Newcastle or Wollongong. Another small world story. They live in Mount Ousley and he had worked for the same steel company as I had and overlapped all of my time there so we knew several of the same people although we never actually met. So that is two people I have met on this trip with mutual acquaintances, this chap, John with his wife Helen, and Martin the cave diver we met in Rosslare. We exchanged travel experiences and ideas while we drank our brandy and coffee then we headed back to the hotel to pack in preparation for the train to Barcelona in the morning.


Through the portico to the Louvre forecourt
Gardens at the Louvre
Warm pigeon pie
La Roue de Paris
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