After two days in Paris – walking along the banks of the River Seine and visiting the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe – it was time for us to get acquainted with art in Paris in museums and art galleries. Whilst it was fun to see the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, I felt the experience was mainly to sort of “tick off the list” but the experience of seeing art masterpieces up close and personal which we have often heard of or watched on telly was incredible and exciting.
So first stop: Musee de L’orangerie.
Musee de L’orangerie
Musee de L’Orangerie is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings located at the corner of the Tuileries Gardens. I have no idea what impressionist and post-impressionist mean because I’m an art idiot but I appreciate art which is pleasing to my eyes or evoke some emotions in me.
Musee de L’Orangerie is renowned for its eight Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet. The murals are housed in oval rooms and the atmosphere is exceptionally quiet. Perhaps visitors are in awe of the Water Lilies murals or because of the sparse interior decoration, plain white walls and natural light make art enthusiasts and tourists to speak in hushed tones or to admire the murals in silence.
The art gallery also displays other works by Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, and Renoir, just to name a few.
Another museum which houses the impressionist and post-impressionist paintings is the Musee d’Orsay. It is situated on the left bank of the River Seine and the building was a converted railway station. The museum has other collections of paintings, sculptures and photography.
I didn’t take any pictures at all inside Musee d’Orsay. Not because they were not interesting but it was the fourth day of visiting art galleries and museums that I was already past the moments of taking pictures of everything I liked. While I was there, I began to revert to “just appreciate” mode using my brain and heart to commit all these beautiful things to memory instead. I didn’t want to have my memories of Paris confined to just the view finder of my camera.
Musee Rodin is a museum dedicated to the works of French sculptor Auguste Rodin and his personal art collections. It was a sunny day, and we took the opportunity to see his renowed masterpiece, The Thinker and many of his sculptors displayed in the museum’s extensive gardens. The museum also has a room dedicated to his talented model and muse, Camille Claudel.
Our visit to The Louvre was actually on the third day in Paris but I want to save the best for last in this travel post. This is because The Louvre is the best museum I have ever visited thus far.
According to Wikipedia, nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet). With more than 8 million visitors each year, the Louvre is the world’s most visited museum. The guide book Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Paris stated that the Louvre was built as a fortress by King Philippe-Auguste in 1190 and Charles V (1364-80) was the first king to make it his home. In the sixteenth century, Francois I replaced it with a Renaissance-style palace and founded the royal art collection; revolutionaries opened the collection to the public in 1793; and shortly after, Napoleon renovated The Louvre as a museum.
The main entrance to the museum is beneath the glass pyramid but you can also enter through Carousel du Louvre shopping mall. The works are displayed on four floors with paintings and sculptures arranged by country of origin.
Needless to say, many tourists flocked around the portrait of Mona Lisa. It’s hilarious to find the portrait is actually quite small compared to other paintings in the gallery, and tourists would hoist their cameras up to take the picture…but not realizing that the largest painting in The Louvre, The Wedding at Cana, is directly opposite the Mona Lisa portrait.
We spent the entire day at The Louvre, and my feet ached from all the walking and exploration of every floor, nook and corner to discover more and more art masterpieces. I was told it would typically take about three days to see every piece of art work in the museum. By evening I was Louvre-fatigued but I don’t think this would be my last visit to this wonderful museum. If I were to visit Paris again, The Louvre will be a definite visit for the second time.
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