Communing Up Close with Claude Monet & Auguste Rodin

Thursday, September 24

800px-Musée_de_l’Orangerie_exteriorThe weather is really nice today, so we decided to walk over to Musée de l’Orangerie, where eight of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies murals were permanently installed in two oval-shaped galleries specially created for them in 1927.

They were indeed as striking as I had expected them to be, though I wished that we were special dignitaries like the king and queen of England so we could get our own personal viewing and spend hours contemplating every square inch of these vast canvases. As it turned out, alas, we shared the two rooms with perhaps as many as a hundred other people who no doubt were wishing they too were VIPs getting a private showing. In spite of that, it was an incredible experience to be there in the presence of these murals, works that I’ve wanted to see ever since I saw them in an art history class in college.


Just one of the eight Monet murals
Just one of the eight Monet murals

l’Orangerie sits in one corner of the Tuileries Gardens, and we’re returning there on Saturday to see what might be left of the gardens from the summer. It’s getting a bit cooler and chillier every day. And beyond the Tuileries is the Louvre. They form one end of the grand esplanade that joins with the Champs Elysees, the great boulevard that extends up to the Arc de Triomphe and beyond. It’s all quite grand and large-scale to say the least.

We left l’Orangerie to go back for lunch at Les Invalides (they have an excellent informal restaurant for visitors that has great, fresh food. Take note, many American museums.),

Then we walked across the street to Musée Rodin , the home of the works of that great sculptor. Unfortunately the Rodin galleries have been under renovation for three years, and (dang our luck) will reopen just a few weeks after we leave Paris! So instead,

The Kiss
The Kiss

they had set up a gallery in the exhibition hall of Rodin’s study sculptures of the works that would eventually become his finished works. Sculptures of Balzac, some works I was unfamiliar with, panels from The Gates of Hell. It was in its own way extremely fascinating, though I would have preferred spending a day in the ten galleries. Fortunately, though, the very large gardens housing some of his most important works, like The Thinker, and The Gates of Hell (among others) were open, and it was a great experience to see these iconic works in person. Also gratifying were the relatively few people there. Unlike Monet’s murals, we weren’t bumping shoulders with people every two inches.

This was a ‘walking day’ for us. And while things are relatively close to each other, there is still a good bit of walking over cobblestones and the like that take their toll on our ‘getting-older’ feet. I think the very end of a ‘walking day’ is when we begin to feel our age a bit. So it was nice to get home, take off our shoes and get some rest. And instead of going out to another restaurant for yet another restaurant dinner, it was off to the local grocery to get some freshly made pasta (linguini), some wonderful bolognese sauce, some freshly cut parmesan and a good bottle of Pinot Noir (we are in France, after all!) and dine in for the evening!


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