Day 4: Paris, Part 3 – It’s an Impressionist kinda day


Selfie by the lily pond

Impressionism is my favorite period of art, and Claude Monet my favorite artist of that period. (Cliche, I know, but oh well.) I planned this day to celebrate that, with a visit to Monet’s gardens during the day and the d’Orsay later since it has evening hours on Thursdays. The d’Orsay has one of the best Impressionist collections in the world and – surprise! – they allow photos now. I was thrilled to discover that; they weren’t allowed when I was here in 2014. And I took advantage of that. So if Impressionism is not your thing, feel free to bail now! But if it is, you should enjoy this.

I was up a little before 5am, got started on the blog, went downstairs to finish it over a bite to eat and some much needed coffee. I headed out about 9:45 and took a subway to Gare Saint-Lazare, the 2nd largest train station in Paris after Gare Nord where i came in (and where I leave from tomorrow). It has over double the number of platforms of Cologne. I bought a ticket to Vernon-Giverny and luckily it was leaving in about 10 minutes.

Map showing Giverny in relation to Paris
Map showing Giverny in relation to Paris

 

Giverny was the home of Claude Monet from 1883 to 1926, 43 years. It has since been turned into a museum. And the town had another museum dedicated to Impressionists. This is my geek day.

As seen here, Giverny is about a 45 minute train ride mostly west and a little north of Paris.

The Vernon-Giverny train station
The Vernon-Giverny train station

By comparison, this had only 2 platforms – coming and going!

The shuttle to the museum
The shuttle to the museum in the form of a small choo-choo

Timed to match the arrival of my train, this guy was waiting for us just outside the station. It was about a 20 minute ride to Giverny (he wasn’t exactly going the speed limit).

Bust of Monet by Daniel Goupil
Bust of Monet by Daniel Goupil

This is outside the parking lot sort of on your way into town. There was a nice description by the artist of his intent with the bust, some of which is: “The placement of this bust draws attention to a site that I hope will become the destination of discovery walks, an invitation to immerse ourselves in this authentic environment that has become an important part of art history for more than a century. I wanted to place the sculpture here out of respect for a sense of solitude, a notion Monet held dear. He loved this area and found inspiration here for numerous masterpieces.”

Fittingly, this was a few steps away.
Fittingly, this was a few steps away.

It filled the area with a lovely sound.

A quiet street in Giverny
A quiet street in Giverny

It was about a 5 minute walk to his home through the town of Giverny, which now appears to be mostly thriving on tourism.

The map of his home
The map of his home

I don’t know why but I was surprised it was as big as it was. And good thing because there were LOTS of people. So not what I imagined when I booked this. In my head I would be quietly sitting by the lily pond (there in the back) by myself. How delusional of me. This place isn’t exactly mainstream – you have to make an effort to get here. Clearly lots of people like Monet. What I hadn’t counted on was the tour buses. It was almost annoyingly crowded. But I didn’t let that get to me! Thankfully I had bought a ticket online (months ago) and didn’t have to wait in the long line to get in.

The front of his house
The front of his house

The gardens closest to the house were stunning. Then there was a large section that looks quite orderly in the map, notsomuch in reality. Then a tunnel under the road to get to the pond. I went into the house first. Again with annoyingly crowded, and hard to get decent photos so I only included a few.

The larger area of gardens between the house and the pond
The larger area of gardens between the house and the pond
His studio
His studio
More of his studio
More of his studio
Still his studio, the wall to your right as you enter
Still his studio, the wall to your right as you enter

You’re going to see those women with umbrellas later on, too.

The dining room
The dining room

The yellow decor made it light and airy. I managed to catch this at a break in the flow of people.

But let's get to why you're really here: the pond
But let’s get to why you’re really here: the pond

It was as extraordinary to be here as I imagined it would be.

Selfie by the lily pond
Selfie by the lily pond

There were lots of people about, but everyone was being very respectful of allowing all their turn at a photo opportunity.

More of the pond
More of the pond
More of the pond
More of the pond
I zoomed in a little on these two to try to capture some of the closer flowers
I zoomed in a little on these two to try to capture some of the closer flowers

The gift shop had nice murals, I'm guessing 5 feet high maybe 25 feet long? Big. Beautiful.
The gift shop had nice murals, I’m guessing 5 feet high maybe 25 feet long? Big. Beautiful.
The gift shop had nice murals, I'm guessing 5 feet high maybe 25 feet long? Big. Beautiful.
The gift shop had nice murals, I’m guessing 5 feet high maybe 25 feet long? Big. Beautiful.

From there I went to the Museum of Impressionism in the village.

Entrance to Museum of Impressionism
Entrance to Museum of Impressionism

If this museum had a permanent collection, I missed it. It seems to exhibit only one artist at at time, the current one being Henri-Edmond Cross. I didn’t recognize the name, although later saw some of his work at the d’Orsay. I’m a little surprised because his style is one I enjoy very much, very similar to Paul Signac, who might be my favorite Impressionist after Monet. So I indulged in photos. Deal with it. (I won’t even tell you how many I left on my phone…)

All that to say, everything that follows here is the work of Cross.

A woman kneeling - by a creek doing laundry? Something like that.
A woman kneeling – by a creek doing laundry? Something like that.
A man and a woman (facing away from each other - odd) sitting in a field of flowers
A man and a woman (facing away from each other – odd) sitting in a field of flowers
Mostly nude people sitting under a tree by a water with a sailboat in the the background. Can't quite tell the genders, although appear to be women
Mostly nude people sitting under a tree by a water with a sailboat in the the background. Can’t quite tell the genders, although appear to be women
A nude man playing with his dog
A nude man playing with his dog
Trees in the foreground, with 3-4 people in the background, crossing a plank to get to land from a boat in the water
Trees in the foreground, with 3-4 people in the background, crossing a plank to get to land from a boat in the water
Four well dressed women in late 1800's style, and a girl sitting at a glass table on a terrace overlooking gardens, where there is also I think a boy and his dog
Four well dressed women in late 1800s style, and a girl sitting at a glass table on a terrace overlooking gardens, where there is also I think a boy and his dog

I’d gotten there around 11 and made my way back around 3. This was a very old school train station, just like you see in the movies, with the station right next to the tracks.

Platform #2 at the Vernon-Giverny train station
Platform #2 at the Vernon-Giverny train station
Gare Saint-Lazare
Gare Saint-Lazare

The outside of the station back in Paris. I’d come into it from the subway underneath so this was my first time seeing it.

A whimsical - sculpture? not sure what to call it - of clocks facing all kinds of directions, about 15 feet high
A whimsical – sculpture? not sure what to call it – of clocks facing all kinds of directions, about 15 feet high
Pretty building I passed on my way to d"Orsay
Pretty building I passed on my way to d”Orsay

This is a department store called Printemps, which translates to spring or springtime.

Non Coupable, where I stopped for a late lunch
Non Coupable, where I stopped for a late lunch

The name translates to Not Guilty! I realized I hadn’t eaten a proper meal all day and needed something before doing another museum.

A vegetarian crepe with cheese, onions, sweet red peppers, and mushrooms
A vegetarian crepe with cheese, onions, sweet red peppers, and mushrooms

Crepes was one of the things on my list to eat while in Paris so I can check that off now.

Place Vendome
Place Vendome

This was a huge center with an interesting mix of entities – from the Justice Ministry to shopping such as Rolex!

A carnival
A carnival

Tuileries Garden is a huge area between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. And today, there’s a carnival in it!

Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde

This is the largest square in Paris, and was the site of many public executions during the French Revolution. If you look closely you can see the Arc de Triomphe in the center background, with the Champs-Elysees running in between.

Tuileries Gardens
Tuileries Gardens

Behind me is the center of Tuileries, with the Louvre at the end of that in the background. I love that you can draw a perfectly straight line between the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe.

Tree-lined walkway in the Tuileries
Tree-lined walkway in the Tuileries
The opposite view from where I was standing in the photo before this
The opposite view from where I was standing in the photo before this
This will go down as one of my favorite photos of this trip
This will go down as one of my favorite photos of this trip

I’m sure this is the most quintessential Paris photo I’ll have of this trip: that’s the tip of the Louvre to your left, Notre Dame dead center if you look carefully past the next bridge, with a tour boat in front of the bridge, the Seine River of course, the d’Orsay on the right, and love locks in the foreground. You can read about the love locks here if you’re not familiar with them.

The center of d'Orsay as you enter it
The center of d’Orsay as you enter it

For many people, the d’Orsay is a better museum than the Louvre; it’s actually #1 on TripAdvisor’s things to do list; there Louvre is #8. I’d intentionally planned my Monet trip on a Thursday so I could come here  after when they had evening hours. I got here around 5:30pm and my strategy worked: there was no line, I walked right in. As I said earlier, I was thrilled to learn that you could take photos. I don’t know if that changed or we just misunderstood the last time. But I took advantage of it.

As you can see, much of the center is filled with sculptures, many of them quite large. There are also sculpture terraces which contain more large ones. Smaller ones are in the galleries with the paintings.

My sculpture fascination carried over from the day before
My sculpture fascination carried over from the day before

A young satyr perhaps?, killing – or playing with? – a snake.

A lesser known Starry Night
A lesser known Starry Night

A lesser known Starry Night, still by Van Gogh. I couldn’t believe I was seeing this. I’ve never been a big fan of the better known Starry Night with the big swirling stars. I saw this one at the DeYoung in San Francisco when it was on tour in 2010 and fell in love, so much so that I bought a print of it that is now framed and in my office at work. (I joke about a $65 print in a $400 frame, but that’s not really a joke…) At any rate, I’m sure I would remember seeing this if it were here in 2014, but I don’t, so am thrilled to see it again in person. The stars are more subdued, more like actual twinkling, and I love their reflection on the water. This is my favorite Van Gogh. Both of his pieces called Starry Night he painted while in the asylum, and came strictly from his imagination.

Van Gogh self-portrait
Van Gogh self-portrait

Apologies up front for this weird angle and others you may see. It was sometimes difficult to get directly in front of the item because people.

Van Gogh - a whimsical looking house
Van Gogh – a whimsical looking house
A high class social affair
A high class social affair

This and the next one are both Jean Beraud. I love how realistic they look.

A bustling sidewalk in winter
A bustling sidewalk in winter
Another hunter sculpture
Another hunter sculpture

 

Interesting decorative fountain

A tall, thin fountain of sorts, I’m going to say depicting a family, all nude. We’ll call it the mother dominating the top half, with two boys beneath her, and we’ll say the father’s face underneath that. The water would be flowing out of his mouth into a basin. You know, so you could wash your hands.

 

A monkey wrestling a shark?
A monkey wrestling a shark?

Not something you see everyday.

The center hall from the opposite side
The center hall from the opposite side

With a focus on the clock in the background; this building was originally a train station completed in 1900.

Not really sure what's happening here but it was interesting looking. Any guesses?
Not really sure what’s happening here but it was interesting looking. Any guesses?
Another satyr with a snake; must be a mythological reference I don't get
Another satyr with a snake; must be a mythological reference I don’t get
Very tall bronze sculpture of St Michael slaying a dragon
Very tall bronze sculpture of St Michael slaying a dragon
A large painting in the symbolism section: a Christ-like teacher in the center, lots of nude people around him, mixed genders
A large painting in the symbolism section: a Christ-like teacher in the center, lots of nude people around him, mixed genders
Large painting of an ox pulling a boat to shore, men on either side of it
Large painting of an ox pulling a boat to shore, men on either side of it
Tall bronze sculpture at the end of the center aisle, 3 men holding up a globe
Tall bronze sculpture at the end of the center aisle, 3 men holding up a globe

Alright, let’s get to the reason we’re here. All of that was just working my way to the back of the museum and up to the top floor where the Impressionist exhibit begins. There was a nice overview of the period going in, which included how it got started. The first exhibition was organized in 1874 by, among others, Monet, Renoir, Degas and Cezanne, an essential step in recognition. It was a great shock and one critic, ridiculing the work, considered it unfinished, sketches almost, and used the term “impressionist.” The name stuck.

A large Monet done in 2 panels
A large Monet done in 2 panels

This is one of my favorite Monet’s, I remember it well from the last time, it’s so unique. Done in 2 panels, not of the same size. The first tall and thin with a man and two women; one of the women’s dress spreads into the 2nd panel, more square but not quite, and shorter than the first, with two other couples all sharing a picnic on a white blanket. All people dressed in upper class garb of the late 1800’s.

Renoir
Renoir

I can’t decide if Renior is my 2nd favorite or Signac; I go back and forth. Renior is certainly better known. The above is a social affair of some kinds, lot of people chatting in the foreground, couples dancing on the left, a crowd all around.

Three men finishing a floor
Three men finishing a floor

I don’t remember seeing this name before but I liked this piece by Gustave Caillebotte.

Woman in a field carrying an umbrella
Woman in a field carrying an umbrella

These above and below are of the more famous Monet’s.

Woman in a field carrying an umbrella #2
Woman in a field carrying an umbrella #2
Renoir
Renoir

A couple dancing. Probably the thing I like the most about Renoir is his vivid use of color.

Renoir
Renoir

I don’t think I’ve seen a Renoir landscape before – his stuff typically has people in it.

Chrysanthemums by Monet
Chrysanthemums by Monet
Renoir - two girls at a piano
Renoir – two girls at a piano
A beautiful Monet he did from his gardens in Giverny
A beautiful Monet he did from his gardens in Giverny
Paul Signac - Women at the Well
Paul Signac – Women at the Well

Possibly Signac’s most famous work, and certainly one of my favorite. I could stare at the details of this up close for a long time, and did. This is done in a style that he and George Suerat created as a branch of Impressionism called Pointillism, which is just what it sounds like: lots of dots.

Paul Signac - man swinging a pick
Paul Signac – man swinging a pick
Paul Signac - Entrance at the port of La Rochelle; ships in water near what looks like a castle
Paul Signac – Entrance at the port of La Rochelle; ships in water near what looks like a castle

OK, have you had enough? I think so. I’ve got more but am going to restrain myself. Plus I’m tired 🙂

Photo from an outside balcony
Photo from an outside balcony

Another fun photo: Sacre Coeur in the far background on the left, a ferris wheel off center, the Louvre on the right, Seine River in the foreground.

The restaurant at d'Orsay
The restaurant at d’Orsay

You had to walk on the side of this to get to the balcony.

Another pretty restaurant, this one one the ground floor on my way out
Another pretty restaurant, this one one the ground floor on my way out
The d'Orsay from the outside
The d’Orsay from the outside

It was about 7:45 when I left, so was there a little over 2 hours I guess. It was less than an hour walk back to the hotel so I decided to do that and find something to eat along the way. I was so close to the Louvre that I decided to go through that way.

People enjoying the area around the Louvre
People enjoying the area around the Louvre

The guys in the foreground are playing bocce ball in the gravel; there’s an exercise class going on in the grass behind them.

Tuileries Gardens
Tuileries Gardens

So many people milling about enjoying the gardens. There were tons more people over around the museum and the pyramids, which was hard to believe since it had been closed for 2 hours at this point. People just like being in a beautiful environment I guess. I know that’s why I was there, and attempted another video while I was at it. Not very from different from the one the day before, just a little closer to the museum.

The Moulin Rouge again
The Moulin Rouge again

So here’s a funny story. I was following the path set out by Google, and it took me up through all new areas for me, very residential, not a tourist to be found. Which I love – just being where the normal residents are. At some point I noticed things were getting seedier: suddenly massage places were appearing with some regularity, the bars were getting divier. As I get closer to what is clearly a major intersection I understand why: I’m back at the Moulin Rouge, just approached from a completely different direction. All around that are sex shops, etc. So I’m standing at the intersection about to take a photo, and a girl approaches me. She says something in Italian – maybe asked if that’s what I was? I said No. She switches to English: where are you from? I said “what do you want?” She whispers in my ear “50 euros”. I just said No very loudly and walked across the street where I took the above 🙂 As I’m crossing she says she can call me a cab; I just ignored her. Haven’t had anything happen like that since I was in Frankfurt in 2013!

Intersection about 10 minutes from my hotel
Intersection about 10 minutes from my hotel

I had come this way on Tuesday night. The way back was the street going off into the right in the above photo. But I’d been that way before and behind me looked more interesting, as seen below.

The opposite view
The opposite view
Macaroon shop
Macaroon shop

I bought a 6pack of macaroons. Haven’t opened it yet! Will be a good snack for the Saturday train ride to London.

Cafe Bruant
Cafe Bruant

I stopped here in the next block for dinner. I sat outside, at that empty table just to the left of where those people are standing reading the menu. It was 72 degrees and a nice breeze was blowing – really lovely.

French onion soup again, as good as the last
French onion soup again, as good as the last
Poached salmon over fresh peas and carrots
Poached salmon over fresh peas and carrots
Apple tart
Apple tart

I actually couldn’t finish this. There’s a lot of apples in this, not sweet at all, very little crust. But was also full from the entree. The white in the little container they called double cream. Tastes like sour cream but has a soft butter consistency. I didn’t think it worked that well with this but what do I know.

Very tall stairs!
Very tall stairs!

I took a different way back than the other night and guessed correctly where it would lead: the top of the stairs you saw near the restaurant I ate at on Tuesday night. I had no idea they were this high!

I got back to my room about 10:30, which has been standard this trip so far. I have nothing really planned for Friday, my last day in Paris, so I’m looking forward to see what I come up with…

13 thoughts on “Day 4: Paris, Part 3 – It’s an Impressionist kinda day”

  1. Loving this trip! Loved the art-my son and i just looked through the pictures-we did not know about the lesser known Starry Night! So cool! The picture you took with the Ferris wheel in the distance is one of my favorites!!

    1. re: Starry Night – I’d never heard of it until I saw it in 2010 and for me it’s so much better than the more famous one. Glad you’re enjoying it!

  2. My favorite part is the same as Jon’s. Was she pretty? I kept looking for the swing in the Monet paintings as promised in an earlier blog entry. We’re you not able to find it? I sure am enjoying our trip. 😘

  3. What a wonderful day and evening. And because of your generosity in sharing, I feel like I’ve traveled too. I love your word pictures and the captions describing images you ahve included. Very cool. So far, this was MY favorite day on the journey!

  4. I love that I can read the entire blog from the body of the email. Just beautiful, thank you for taking us along.

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