Paris - Day 2
13.04.2013 - 13.04.2013 17 °C
Our second day in Paris and further confirmation that we're not going to get everything done or see everything that everyone thinks we should - or that we'd like to. Apart from anything else, we're five weeks into a six week trip and we're getting a little tired. That's not blunting our enthusiasm but our energy levels need managing.
Today started off promisingly sunny and was enough to send Hugh out in shirtsleeves and me thinking twice about wearing a jacket. In the end I wore it which I was glad of as the sun didn't last but it was a good start to the day. After a coffee, we set off wandering past the Ecole Miltaire and past the glorious Tour. The school is fascinting for the sight of the bullet and shell marks in the wall and wood work and one wonders which of France's revolutions and uprisings were the cause.
We'd been recommended to spend some time in the Rue de Cler which is written up as the quintessential Parisian street shopping experience.We had a petit dejeuner of coffee and croissants there before experiencing the sights. The food displays were works of art and, amazingly, are typical of what you find in towns and cities all over France. The pride in product whether it be natural raw ingredients such as asparagus or strawberries - which seem to stand to attention in pride - or the chickens roasted at the traiteur. All looked wonderful and our only regret was that we were on our way out so shopping seemed a bad idea at that moment.
After a small but necessary diversion when I booked a manicure for Monday afternoon - well I'm a) catching up with my beloved friends and family in the UK next week and b) have to have Parisian nails to show the lovely Elizabeth (my manicurist supreme) - plus we're going to dinner at Jules Verne restaurant at the Tour Eiffel (Alain Ducasse no less) on Monday night so have to lift my game!! After this was done we wandered through the backstreets toward the Seine. We really underpinned the value of random wandering as we spotted three embassies - including the British - and the place where Marshall Foch died. We also saw a magnificent church - St Clothilde - nothing feted but absolutely glorious!
Our target was the Musee d'Orsay. Our art adviser - aka my best friend Keri - had said that this was the gallery for me if we only did one and she wasn't wrong. We encountered our first queue for entry which was surprisingly long and we also encountered a security check. That would have been fine if Hugh hadn't had his Opinel knife and a waiter's friend in his vest. The security guy was fine and were simply escorted to the cloakroom and the "contraband" was checked in. What's annoying is that when he picked it up, nobody checked whether we were going back into the gallery so it was all for nothing really. The other really annoying thing was that there are lots of signs around the gallery regarding no photos which we absolutely understood given the treasures there. We stuck to the rules and got really really cheesed seeing so many people ignoring them without any interference - what is the point????
Having got the nasty bits out of the way, let me tell you that this is a wonderful experience and should be on everyone's list. I have more than a soft spot for Monet and impressionism in general and Hugh has now developed an interest in Pissaro which he will no doubt discuss with Keri in more detail back in Australia. The collection is vast and sympathetically presented. The building itself is magnificent and worth a visit in itself. It's also large enough for the huge number of visitors to be able to move around without falling over each other. We started at the top and worked our way down and loved it all.
In the middle, literally, we stopped to have lunch in the room that, when the building was still the Gare d'Orsay, was the restaurant of the Station Hotel. It was also lovely - I had Parmentier de Canard (sort of Duck Shepherd's pie) with salad and Hugh had Sea Bass ( a pattern is developing here). We both had creme caramel and champagne to drink. A lovely chat to a gentleman from Gloucestershire on the next table and a bright, cheeky French waiter and it was perfect. Fully sustained, we finished the Musee - replete in stomach and soul.
A cab back to our home area and a walk around the district exploring beyond the local block - marketing as locals do. We decided to eat at our Parisienne "home" tonight and picked up food and wine at a number of specialist shops in the area. Dinner was a simple quiche and salad and raspberry tart for dessert. We have some fruit leftover for breakfast tomorrow. Hugh has just done the dishes - with our grasp of the language he may have washed them with floor cleaner - and we're finishing our wine and then to bed. Tomorrow promises to be sunny and we're going out and about - which is what you do in Paris!