Sunday, October 10, 2010

Paris Part II – Degas, Van Gough and Pissarro, Oh My!

Not to sound snooty, but this mini holiday was actually my third visit to the French capital.

I had my first taste of Paris when I was 17. I scrimped and saved and begged my relatives and friends to give me only money for every conceivable gift giving occasion. All this and some serious help from my parents and grandparents and I was able to go on a ten day March Break trip to Paris and Venice with my school’s travel club. It was a lot of fun and it officially kindled by devotion to all things Europe, but it was definitely a whirlwind trip. We saw all the important sights in record time and the result was I only sort of remembered the experience.

Then the summer I was 20, I was living with my family in Germany, and I met my now husband. At the end of our romantic summer courtship it was time for me to go back to complete my third year of university in Canada. Dreading the looming separation we decided to spend a long weekend in Paris. Again we saw a bunch of the important and interesting sights, while also adding a few neither of us had ever seen before. It was wonderful and romantic and full of laughter.

But at the end of it, there were still a few things I had never done, that I really wanted to do.

So when my Dad sent me an email, before Madeline and I arrived, asking if there was anywhere that I really wanted to go while I was in Europe, my mind kept coming around again and again to those missed opportunities in Paris.

So, it was thanks to my fantastic parents that I found myself in line to enter the Musee D’Orsay at 11:30 in the morning on our first full day. Here I am,

Not only did they make it possible for me to visit this temple of awesomeness, but they also took the Munchkin for some Grandparents Time so I could enjoy the work of the masters to the fullest without interruptions of “Mama? Mama? Mama?” every few minutes.

Parents of the year? I think so!!!!

So I’m waiting in line to enter the Musee. Here was the line,

Ummm, this wasn’t exactly part of the plan. In fact it was a line like this that had kept me from my artistic Mecca in the past. Remember my comment in “Paris Part I” about getting lost?

So, the plan was to get up and get to the museum when it opened at 9:30 am. I’d spend the morning soaking up the colour and brilliance. We’d meet for lunch and then head on to our next fun filled destination.

We started by waking up at 9:00 a.m. By the time we were washed, dressed and had some food in our bellies it was about 10:00 a.m. We were already behind the eight ball, but hey we were in Paris, so whatever, right?

Heading into Gare du Nord, I asked my parents if they knew which subway line we were going to take. “Yup!” my Dad replied, “Got it all mapped out!”


An hour and a half later… after carrying Madeline up and down various stairways… second guessing and stumbling along… consulting and re-consulting maps and signs… ending up on the right train, but going the wrong direction… then find ourselves sitting on the wrong platform, waiting to go the right direction… finally running to the right platform and missing our train by seconds… cursing quietly under our breath while trying to keep our smiles firmly fastened…. we made it to the Musee D’Orsay.

Leaving me in line with a time set to meet, my parents took Madeline off for some Parisian fun of their own.

Luckily for me the line moved really quickly and I was inside the museum in about 20 minutes. Photography and videography are strictly prohibited inside, so unfortunately I can not share the full beauty that is the Musee D’Orsay, but suffice to say that for as amazing as I imagined it would be… it was… and more.

On each of my previous visits to Paris, I’d been on a mission to see the works of my favorite artists. Van Gough, Degas, Monet. Also I was eager to experience the works of artists I had only heard in passing, Pissarro, Cezanne, Toulouse-Letrac. I have a serious love for impressionistic art. The colours, the imagination, the techniques, the genius! It was my assumption that such fabulous works would be housed in the Louvre, but after two visits without ever seeing the masters I was looking for, I figured out that I was looking in the wrong place. Although the Louvre is stuffed to overflowing with many phenomenal works, the pieces I was lusting after were housed elsewhere.

As I entered the museum I was struck by the beauty of the building itself. Housed in an old train station the Musee D’Orsay is GOURGEOUS! The domed ceiling is BREATHTAKING! After taking a few moments to appreciate the architecture, I made a beeline for the impressionist wing.

Not to sound like a teenager but… O.M.G.!!!

Standing inches from pure genius I was utterly giddy. I seriously could not wipe the smile from my face. So much of the brilliance and subtlety of these works just does not translate when you view photos and prints. The work done by Degas has not in the past been my favorite, but in person… I can not even describe the brilliance adequately. The majority of the pieces I saw were done with pastels. I had no idea that that kind of vivid richness could even be achieved using pastels. And the techniques he used?!?! The slightest of scribbles here, a bit of shading there, a combination of colours I would not even dream of to achieve a realism… in the end you have…. well… a masterpiece!

There was just so much to take in!

My three hours spent roaming through the great works was time I will always remember. Discovering new artists I was not previously familiar with. Sitting in front of a marble statue so perfectly carved that the folds of fabric look REAL. Soaking up the quiet beauty and culture, all I can say is that ultimately my long awaited trip to this Paris hotspot was good for my soul. I left feeling inspired, humbled and honestly wanting to take some art classes!

And how was Miss M fairing on her own “Adventures Francais” you might ask? Well…

A visit to a beautiful park in order to enjoy the great weather and pose with Grandpapa for a picture.

Then on to the Louvre for a little education in the classics,

with a quick stopover at the fountain for a little fun with Grandmaman.

Quickly followed by a light lunch, which she kindly shared with the local wildlife.

With a final stop at another beautiful, historic, and fun fountain.

The result, one serious wore out little girl.

The fact that she is sleeping in her stroller is a first and I'm told resulted in an exultant Grandparents high five once achieved.

Our first morning in Paris may have been a bit frustrating and chaotic, bit it was quickly overshadowed, and the evening to come replaced any memory of it completely!

I’ll tell you all about that bit of unbelievable next time, but suffice to say it pretty much ROCKED MY SOCKS!!!

Still dreaming dreams full of colour and beauty,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i totally have tears in my eyes to see how much fun you had and to see mom and glenn enjoying their time with maddie. it absolutly adorable!

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