Wednesday got off to a normal start finally – up at 5am, worked on the blog for a couple of hours then went downstairs for breakfast to finish it. I either didn’t realize or had forgotten that I picked places that included breakfast – for some reason I’ve been envisioning having to go out every morning. Glad that hasn’t been the case, will see if that continues!
The coffee wasn’t quite as good though 🙂
I discovered that Montmartre has its own museum about its history so you know I had to check that out. I left around 9:45. My hotel is on Rue Lamarck; Rue Caulaincourt is a larger street it intersects. I will use this metro (subway) stop later but for now I just walked up the steps and crossed Caulaincourt to make my way to the museum.
The museum’s focus was the development of Montmartre as an artists community back in the late 1800’s. Renoir, among others, lived in this house and did some of his paintings here. It was turned into a museum in 1960.
This was definitely a niche museum, probably more appreciated by other artists who were familiar with the works of those displayed here, many whom I didn’t recognize. There weren’t any Renoirs!, who I do like, and much of what was here wasn’t of great interest to me. Still, some fun things I recognized. I probably haven’t thought of the Cancan since high school but they had a little thing on that, since it was born at the Moulin Rouge.
They had a little video running of a movie from the 50’s of the same name. I took a little clip of it here, you will undoubtedly recognize the music, just may not have known where it came from.
The Swing by Renior is on display at the D’Orsay, so maybe I’ll see it when I’m there later today!
Much of the story of the museum was told from the perspective of Suzanne Valadon, a French painter and artist’s model who lived here for many years. This was her studio. She was the first woman painter to be admitted into the National Society of Fine Arts.
It’s a beautiful neighborhood. I went back to my room and actually took a micro-nap, I was feeling very tired for some reason even though it was only about 11:30. And I was surprisingly hungry, so decided to take the subway and head to a place my friend, Jalena, recommended. It was in a part of Paris I hadn’t been on the other side of the Arc de Triomphe.
This place has an interesting approach. There’s essentially only one thing on the menu: steak and fries. When seated, the waitress asked me how I wanted my steak prepared. I paused thoughtfully then said “rare.” She smiled as if that was the correct and only appropriate response.
A little salad to start off with, with walnuts and a dressing that had a mustard base which was a nice change. And bread of course.
This doesn’t look all that appealing but it tasted good! The sauce was like an au jus but also had something like brown mustard in it which is where the look comes from. This was an all you can eat place so they will just keep bringing you as much as you like. I had a similar helping to this after and I was done. (Thanks, Jalena, for the recommendation!)
Something light for dessert was in order.
Those are chocolate covered coffee beans.
From there I made my way to the Louvre. I was about an hour early for my 3pm reservation but they didn’t seem to care. Having the reservation got me in quickly though so it was definitely worth doing the day before. This is the main entrance from Rue de Rivoli. I remembered this entrance from my first day in Paris in 2014, because we had wandered in this way just looking around.
So I knew I would come across this – in fact the fast track line I was in was right next to the glass, making this an easy shot. When I first saw this in 2014 I was enthralled – it was the most beautiful museum display I’d ever seen, before or since I believe. When we came to the Louvre on that trip several days later, we never made it over here – we got sucked into Egyptian Antiquities and then courdln’t find our way out! – and ran out of time. I was determined to find it today.
I have grown to appreciate the pyramid. On the last trip I went from what I thought was at a minimum tacky if not full on monstrosity, to this place of: it’s an interesting juxtaposition of an ancient symbol constructed modernly in a medieval setting. From there I could live with it and I actually like it now. And I do love the natural lighting that it allows into the visitors center.
My only plan was to stay way from Egyptian Antiquities 🙂 Seriously, the thing that makes the Louvre special is its enormous collection – over 35,000 objects in 8 different departments. It’s definitely the largest museum in the world on physical size, but also on collection size I believe as well. So you have to go in knowing you ain’t gonna see it all 🙂 That said, I did want to see some things I knew I’d missed the last time.
Try to look at those photos as one, although I didn’t get the angles quite right. The lovely thing about being in the Louvre, for me anyway, is even if you don’t care about the art in the section you’re in, you’re still in a palace! So the building itself is often more interesting than the art.
I seemed to be focused on sculptures while I was there this time.
Many of the artists names I didn’t recognize and I decided I didn’t need to get bogged down in details of every piece! So I didn’t take notes, sorry…
This is the Winged Victory of Samothrace, part of the Greek Antiquities collection. She sits on a huge pedestal on the landing of a staircase that leads to the hall of Italian paintings (one guess what you might see there). All that to say, it is difficult to get this shot without people in it 🙂
I really had no intention of seeing the Mona Lisa again but somehow found myself headed in that direction. I remembered that we’d left shortly after we saw it in 2014 and I never went through the rest of that long hallway which this room is off of. So while I was passing, I decided to amuse myself by viewing the chaos. It really is ridiculous. There’s a ton of beautiful art in that exhibit hall that no one pays any attention to.
And looked what I missed: a nice Raphael. This was in that hallway I mentioned earlier, which you’ll see a couple of photos down.
The Louvre is organized by 3 wings, if you were looking at it’s upside down U shape from above would be Richelieu on the left, Sully across the top, and Denon on the right. I’d been in Denon so far, stayed out of Sully (as far as I know – Egyptian Antiquities is there!) and had never made it to Richelieu the last time. And I knew those rooms I saw from the outside were there, so I went in search of. You navigate all of this, by the way, through tunnels that meet under the pyramid.
This is part of the French sculptures collection. I love this room and spent a fair amount of time in it. The lighting is spectacular, and everything about it just strikes me as stunning. I loved most of the pieces in here but tried to limit the photos!
I also decided to see if I could get a 360 video of the room using the self-stick. This was my first attempt, before I realized the shutter button on the stick would work on the video as well. Duh.
At some point I was looking back through my photos and looked closer at the one I’d taken from the outside when I first arrived. I realized after studying it that it was NOT the one I’d taken the video on. There was another! It was across the hallway, tunnel really,
I kept being drawn to these sculptures that also had some movement to them – where the figure was in action somehow, or about to be.
I saw a fair amount of this throughout the museum, too.
This and the few photos that follow reminded me of things I saw in the Pergamon museum in Berlin two years ago, which was my first exposure to this period and region. You don’t see stuff from Mesopotamia, Persia, etc., too often, at least not in Europe.
Lesson #1: if you wait for people to get out of the way you may never take any photos! But I liked that he was there to show perspective – that archway has got to be 20-25 feet high.
What impresses me even as I’m putting this together is the diversity you find as you move through the museum.
This is probably my favorite find of the day: a statue from ‘Ain Ghazal, a region that was found in the 8th millennium BC and prospered for 2000 years. At 9000 years old, it’s the oldest object in the museum.
At about the mid-way point of my visit I gave up on the map and just decided to wander. I did come across Medieval Louvre, which I was happy about because when I’d seen it on the map it looked interesting to me. This took you through the history of the building – originally a fortress for the city, then a royal residence (castle), then the fortress aspect was dropped and it become a palace, and continue to be added on by various rulers until it became what it is today (minus the pyramids of course). It’s been a museum since 1793.
Some of the original construction is still in tact. This area that we’re walking in would have been the moat!
This model of the original castle sits on a diagram of the complex as it is today, so you can see where it is in relation and also how it’s changed.
I was about done after this section but thought my feelings wouldn’t be hurt at all if I ran into Greek Antiquities on my way out, but I didn’t feel like going in search of. As I came up the staircase out of the medieval section, there it was on my right. Score!
I loved this!
I missed her when I was here in 2014. She is one of the more famous residents of the Louvre, thought to be created around 100 BC. And now it was time to go 🙂
Time to come up for air. I exited at the very far end of the complex. I’d hoped to come out somewhere around the pyramids but had lost all sense of where I was. But when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. It was nice to be in fresh air again.
I’d thought about taking some photos of the complex before I left but suddenly a different thought occurred to me. My first attempt at a talkie here gives you a 360 degree view of it. I think I like it!
It was approaching 7pm and I was definitely hungry. I went in search of food and stopped at something far enough away from the Louvre to not feel like a tourist trip. The other patrons certainly appeared to be locals to me.
I had the veal (with no apologies!), which came with a small salad and an amazing mushroom risotto. The salad has a mustardy dressing again and I swear that dark stuff was chocolate based! Forgot to ask about that.
I warned that you might be seeing this a lot! Skipped the coffee though.
After this I took my time wandering some more around the central district, then took the subway back to the hotel. Despite using the subway a fair amount today, I still managed to somehow walk 9.8 miles today according to my phone. I was shocked. At least 1/2 of that must’ve been in the Louvre! I honestly don’t know how that happens.
I finally remembered to grab a shot of the hotel. This is a great little place, I would definitely recommend it if you’re ever in the neighborhood.
That’s a wrap for day 3. See you tomorrow….