Posted by: thedirtybaker | July 20, 2011

Paris – Coffee, Art, Dad, and Napoleon

My travel advisors informed me that I HAD to go to the Musee D’Orsay.  My second attempt was on a cooler day, with museum pass already in hand.  This time, there was no real wait.   Nicky insisted I go there for the art.  Ninian recommended the coffee shop.  They were so determined that it was worthwhile that I figured I should check it out.  My advisors are pretty smart people, after all – that’s why they get to give me advice.

Plaque on the side of the Musee D'Orsay that identifies it as the central location for French prisoners of the Nazis to be repatriated in 1945, when it was a train station, the Gare D'Orsay

The building alone is impressive .  The Musee d’Orsay used to be the Gare d’Orsay: a train station.  It’s not a train station like Penn Station, NY, though, or even like Gare du Nord, where I arrived in Paris.  It’s gorgeous!

Ninian told me that I had to go to the coffee shop, because both the space and the drinks are beautiful.  I had to admit – he was spot on!  The restaurant itself is gorgeous, between the paintings, the sculpture, the chandelier, and even the view. And the coffee was pretty, too.

The Restaurant at the Musee D'Orsay

Cappuccino at the Musee D'Orsay

The best news (because really, neither pretty nor delicious is news in Paris, though it is certainly cause for joy), is that this museum, while billed as being about the Impressionists (snooze), is really focused on all sorts of 19th and early 20th century art.  The accessible parts (some of it was being renovated) included mostly paintings and sculpture (including Orientalists and other non-Impressionists) but also art deco furnishings and a section on dioramas.  I finally have an idea of what the point is of dioramas, when not made by kids or as part of the Washington Post’s annual Peeps contest. (I hated making dioramas, but I love the Peeps contest.)

I was able to see most of the museum, aside from the special exhibit that I didn’t have time for the line for.  (Side note: I’ve finally found a way to not be tempted by the books in a gift shop – have them all be in French!)  I met up with Celina, and we went out on a special, non-touristy mission: visiting my father’s old apartment.

The building where my father used to live.

As it happens, my father was born in Germany, and moved to France when he was very young.  For several years in the 1930s, he lived in Paris, eventually fleeing  with his mother to the US in 1940-41 via Morocco.  Nicky gave me his old address, and we went out to the 19th Arrondisement to find it.

At the door to the apartment building

We then went to Montmartre to do some shopping for a friend’s bachelorette party

Where are Nicole Kidman and Ewan MacGregor? Are they here?

that was to take place the day after my return home.  No pictures of that will be posted on the blog!  The relevant shops are down the street from this well-known building.

After dinner, we did The Walk – from the Louvre, through the Tuileries, down the Champs-Elysees, to the Arc de Triomphe.  We were sightseeing so late  that we were afraid we’d missed the last metro – Hard Core Tourism at its best!

Some large phallic symbol of a building

Carnival at the side of the Tuileries

You might have heard of this street.

Unusually ornate light poles!

More ornate light poles

I don't think we'll be seeing this ad in the U.S. Or, perhaps, the movie.

Napoleon's monumental ego, ancient Roman style.

Goofy pose for a picture


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