Needless to say, we spent most of our time during our first week museum-hopping. Not a bad choice in Paris, but we did feel the pressure of using the passes every day. As we mapped out our visits, we had to factor in the days that museums were closed. Some are closed on Mondays and others on Tuesdays.
Versailles is closed on Mondays which means, per the guidebooks, that then the Louvre will have much greater crowds. The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, which means that Versailles will be more crowded. We took all of this into consideration. Finally, there are those museums that are open later than 6:00 p.m. which is helpful when pressed for time. Another good things about the passes - we were almost always allowed us to go to the head of long lines. A real bonus.
Whether we scheduled our museum visits with maximum efficiency is a mute point. We loved each one and always, our feet and eyes were weary at the end of the every single day. And we always vowed we'd return, because we'd not seen enough or had missed entire wings, entire eras.
We did our best during those six days and used the passes for visits to Sainte-Chapelle, the Conciergerie, Versailles, the Cluny and Musee Rodin. I'll write about all of them. The photo above is of Aggie at the doorway of Sainte-Chapelle, a place I fell in love with because of its painted columns. I suspect most folks would cite the magnificent stained glass windows, but it was the elaborately, elegantly painted columns that got me.The Carnavalet Museum, Sacre Coeur and Pere Lachaise Cemetery were all free for the looking and we saved them for our second week. We scheduled Versailles for Friday and found it jammed. Of course. I suspect it was just as jammed as in King Louis XIV's day. I've read the books. Every French man and woman was allowed access to Versailles. Imagine.
During our visit, we were shoulder to shoulder with thousands and in this 21st century, everyone was photographing with a digital camera or an iPad, including me. Here we are in front of the king's bed. No privacy, whatsoever, then or now. Much more to be written about Versailles in another post. The place is incredible, as I remembered from a visit in the early 1980s.
Aggie and I used our museum passes for the first time on our second day in Paris, Tuesday, July 3, for Musee d'Orsay. We met Aggie's friend Jane from San Antonio there. She was staying with her sister Susan, who works at the American Embassy.
The three of us headed straight for Misia, Queen of Paris, a special exhibition I'd read about in Vogue or perhaps Vanity Fair. It was a wonderful compilation of paintings, photos, objects and text about this woman who held Paris in thrall from the Belle Epoque through the 1920s. She was a friend and inspiration to Bonnard, Vuillard, Lautrec, Diaghilev and Coco Chanel.No photos were allowed in this exhibition area and both the catalogue and Dominique Laty's biography of Misia Sert and Coco Chanel were in French ONLY. I was fit to be tied and almost bought the two books ANYWAY. By the way, I am now reading Misia, a biography of this extraordinary woman written by Aruthur Gold and Robert Fizdale. My stay in Paris did not end when I returned to Houston. Books are stacking up by my bedside and have the effect of greatly extending my trip.
Back to the Musee d'Orsay. No photos were allowed anywhere in this museum's galleries, though I managed to take a few. After all, the place is jam packed with paintings we all know and love (see the Renoir below), as well as decorative arts and sculpture. The guards stopped our furtive photography more than once and Aggie, Jane and I took to sketching what we wished to remember.
We saw a fraction of the collection, but after several hours, we were on visual overload. This happened time after time. Obviously, I need to take another trip or two to Paris....
Readers, do you have an idea how much I have yet to write about this trip to Paris? I took several thousand photos and every time I search through them, I see more to write about. This trip was dense.