It was a very long and wonderful day. I spent the morning in the hotel garden, having my breakfast there and working on a watercolour sketch of the lovely fuchsia and violet bleeding hearts found there. In the afternoon we braved the metro to travel to Musee d’Orsay. The metro is very fast. It is also very hot, smelly and noisy, not to mention I get claustrophobia in dark enclosed spaces. There are also numerous stairs to hike, down 2 sets, up on e set, down one set, on the train, off the train, down one set, up two sets, etc. etc. I managed not to throw up on anybody, but I was a happy girl to get the hell of the dungeons and back to sunshine and air that did not reek of railway tie preservative.
d’Orsay, what can one say about the beautiful opulence of this restored train station? It is truly magnificent, both outside with it’s two clocks and lovely facade and inside with it’s huge gold clock and curved ceiling. So sad no one is allowed to take photos inside, but I got an awesome one of the outside of it. The restored building is itself a work of art. And then to see so many of Van Gogh’s, Monet’s, Degas’s, Gauguin’s Manet’s, Delacroix’s and Toulouse-Lauters works, was overwhelming. Jeff and I were both emotional seeing the Van Gogh’s. Seeing pictures of his art when I was young, was what inspired me to first pick up a paint brush.
We ate lunch on the 5th level Cafe Campana and I had the most delicious Torte Poulet ( chicken pie). From the cafe you can then go out on the roof. We got our first good look at the Louve which is just across the river and we could see La Basilique du Sacre-Coeur and the Grande Palais in the distance. On the top of the d’Orsay building there are giant sculptures of chess pieces.
After d’Orsay we walked across the closest bridge to the Louvre side of the Seine river and through the Jardin des Tulleries outside the Louvre. There is no way to describe how absolutely huge the Louvre is, you just have to see it with your own eyes. The Tulleries gardens are very pretty with many chestnut trees, a lovely pond and flowers and statues when you get closer to the museum. Across the street from the Louvre we checked in for our cruise tour and found we had a couple of hours to kill.
We found a small hole in the wall Spanish bar and had a couple of drinks and were highly entertained by the lively bar tender. We still had a little time to kill so we did some banking and then to my great delight stopped for tea at La Rotonde Des Toileries. I was finally sitting outdoors at a cafe that was frequented by Hemmingway and other authors of the lost generation. I admired the view of apartments with lovely scrolling wrought iron work and iron lamp posts and took some reference photos so I can draw them at a later time.
Finally it was time to head out for our cruise. We had a lovely driver and guide named Claude from Paris CityVision who told us about the buildings as we drove back to the other side of the Seine and to a docking area right in front of the d’Orsay. (See the photo of the d’Orsay above, it is where all those steps lead down to the river). It was now dark out and there are very little lights at the docking area and the steps had many groups of people picnicking on them, so it was rather tricky getting safely down to the boat. Thank you Claude for helping us. Soon we were on board and off down the river. The cruise and food were out of this world. We dined on a selection of appetizers, scallop on a bed of fresh tomato and basil crumble, shrimp with quinoa and confrit vegetables, duck foie gras with red fruit chutney and little chou pastries with fresh goat’s cheese and a balsamic vinegar coulis. I had chicken leg with thyme juice, sweet potato and baby vegetables and Jeff had a slab of beef with a rosette of of potatoes with a truflle sauce. We had a bottle of Rose and then dessert and cafe Americana. Dessert, mummmm… Light toffee cream with a fizzy chocolate marble, a glass of strawberry tartare and fromage blanc, lemon meringue shortbread with apricot coulis ( my favourite) and chocolate mousse with a crispy crepe and pistachio chips. While we were feasting on all of this amazing food we were cruising by the Institut de France, Notre Dame, the Biliotheque Nationale de France, La Conciergerie, Le Louvre, Docks on Seine, Place de la Concorde, Grande Palais, the Trocadero and Statue of Liberty to finally the Eiffel Tower (our first view of it) all beautifully light. I got very emotional again when we passed Notre Dame, it’s towering spires awash in golden light and bells ringing, it took my breath away.
As the boat turned and we went past the Eiffel tower again, we were treated to the hourly light show and the boat played rousing French music and had flashing lights to match. Then the party was on, as the dance floor opened until we got back to the dock. Claude was waiting for us and so began another little adventure. His van had broken down, so we waited for a Paris CityVision tour bus to come and get us. They had to take another couple to their hotel on the other side of the river, so we got another little tour, driving over the Pont Alexandre, which is the most opulent bridge I have ever seen, by the Grande Pallis and Obelisk and past the Opera Garnier, Claude all the while explaining the sights to us. After the other couple got dropped. We came back across the river through the grounds by the Louvre. It became quite the mission to get that big tour bus througt the narrow warren of streets in the Latin Quarter to somewhere near our hotel. Amazingly the driver got us to Rue Clovis, just half a block away.
Paris is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. We were very tired, but this was one of the best days of my life.