It's almost 2:00 AM and today has been a long and fun day. We began at Musee de l'Orangerie. The walk to the museum that we thought would take only 15 minutes actually took 30 minutes, but it was so well worth it. The museum houses eight room size Monet waterlily panels that are breathtaking. Photography isn't allowed anywhere in the museum, so I've taken a picture of a postcard so you can get a sense of scale.
The museum also has works by Cezanne, Renoir, Matisse, and Picasso in its permanent collection. This is a small/lesser known museum, but definitely worth the trip. Even if you can only sit and contemplate the beauty of the Waterlily canvases, it will be well worth your time. (I also got up as close as I could to the paintings to marvel at the seemingly random brushes strokes of color.)
After a quick lunch we walked back to the hotel, past lovely shops and mouth-watering market stalls.
We swapped shoes then went off to meet our bike tour compatriots and guide. We had a wonderful time going along the back streets of Paris, seeing more in four hours than we ever could have accomplished on foot. I have limited photos because I'm just not that good at biking, avoiding pedestrians, and snapping pictures at the same time. But here are a few, beginning with Notre Dame the starting point of our tour.
Here's a little fun fact: Did you know that creatures that extend beyond the facade of a structure that are used as downspouts are called gargoyles, but those that are simply decorative are called grotesques?
The individual homes that surround this very old garden square are the most expensive in Paris. Victor Hugo's home was on one corner of the square (not pictured here) and is reputedly the largest of them all. Considering that Victor Hugo was paid by the word and he not only wrote the longest book ever written (Le Miserable), but also the longest sentence (800 words), it's no wonder he could afford to live here.
We spied a few of the anonymously created "Space Invaders" on some of the ancient walls of Paris. This artist's story is one of success and a FABULOUS marketing agent.
By this point we had made half of a large circle and came up along the Seine to spy Notre Dame from the other side.
Oh, there we are -- a little disheveled from the wind and very hungry. Fortunately, there was a patissiere close by where we each picked up a burger-size macaroon to tide us over until dinner.
We drove by the Louvre. It was nice to see it in the sun; it really is remarkable. As per our guide, the Louvre has 35,000 works of art. If you took just 30 seconds to look at each one (and never stopped to eat, drink, sleep, or go to the bathroom), it would take you 13 days to see it all. That's a lot of art.
We also saw the Pompidou center which isn't nearly as picturesque on the outside as the Louvre. But, I find it fascinating that they put all the interior workings of the building -- staircases, air vents, pipes -- on the outside of the building so the interior exhibition spaces could be clean, uncluttered, and as spacious as possible. I hope we have time to go in, but it's not looking like it right now.
Our last stop was opposite the city hall outside of which the guillotine resided. I can't recall if it was here that many of the famous beheadings took place; what stuck with me more is that the last beheading was in 1981.
After our fun and very educational bike tour, we dashed back to our hotel to freshen up, then dashed back out again to meet up with friends from dinner. These friends joined us from Geneva and my youngest hadn't seen them in seven years so it was talk, talk, talk for hours. We finished dinner at 12:30AM, emerged from the restaurant and saw this: