I worked four galleries and two museums into a few short hours - now that's a work of art
Wednesday was even bigger than Tuesday. I was up early to get to the Louvre before the queues built up, and it was only twenty minutes before I was free to explore what must be the world’s biggest art collection. And when I say free to explore, yes, I did get in free.
You need a map to navigate the museums’s four floors, each of which would take you hours and hours to fully explore. In fact, you could probably stay there for a week and not see everything.
I headed for a few recommended works. I loved the Venus de Milo, and her surroundings were brilliant, too – they’ve really made a huge effort to make the rooms complement the art – the Greek sculpture was in a grand room with classic Parthenon-like columns.
My favourite painting was probably the self-portrait below, by Spaniard Luis Meléndez.
I liked the Mona Lisa, sure, but it’s a bit overrated. How could it not be? It’s actually bigger than I expected, given that I’ve heard so much of ‘it’s actually quite small, you’ll be surprised’. I took this picture to give you an indication of the crowd, rather than of the painting itself, which of course can be found anywhere on the net.
The crowd around the Mona Lisa
The winged horses of Marly
Winged Victory of Samothrace
The views on to the square below were very impressive, too. All in all, a brilliant experience – no wonder people will queue for hours to get in.
View from the Louvre, notice the couple in the square
Napoleon III's living arrangements
I finished up, and walked through the Jardin du Carrousel and the Jardin des Tuileries, picking up a crepe on the way to satisfy my hunger.
If Tuesday was the day for churches, then Wednesday was art gallery time. My second was the Musée de l’Orangérie, the home of Monet’s water lilies, brilliantly exhibited by stretching the canvas around the circumference of a couple of oval-shaped rooms.
There were also plenty of other works by French artists, including Renoir, Rousseau, Matisse and Cezanne. I especially liked the following:
On my way to my next attraction I passed a couple of very impressive buildings – the Grand Palais, where I believe they have operas and so on, and the Esplanade des Invalides, a wide street with tall, gold statues overlooking the river.
I reached the Musée Rodin, dedicated to sculptor Auguste Rodin, whose figures were considered so lifelike that he was thought to have made them from human casts. The museum was nice, but I preferred the gardens, a great place to relax while statues stand around you, not doing much.
I took the Métro (brilliant system – very cheap, fast, covers a huge area, and trains run every two to five minutes, so you’re never waiting for long) to Le Marais, traditionally the Jewish part of town. I indeed saw many Chassidic Jews roaming the streets, and one street particularly was packed with falafel shops vying for your money. I got mine from the shop considered to be the best, which often has queues well down the street (queuing is traditionally British, I know, but it seems the French are on to it in a big way), and while it wasn’t as good as some in Israel, it was very good indeed.
Rue des Rosiers in Le Marais
The best falafels in Paris
I plonked myself down in a square to eat it, and then followed the signs to Le Memorial de la Shoah, the Holocaust Memorial. I wasn’t expecting much, but it was one of the most informative and interesting museums I’ve been to. It outlined the history of anti-Semitism in Europe from before 500BC, with crusade after expulsion after forced conversion, all the way until the French government willingly sent French Jews to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps after the German invasion.
This history complemented mountains of primary evidence, which seemed to bring the terror to life. Luckily they had English translations, or I would have been totally lost.
Conscious of time, I hurried through the last bit to get to the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme before it closed. It wasn’t bad, I suppose, for someone without any knowledge of Judaism, and it certainly had some brilliant artefacts, such as old Chanukkiot and Torot (Torahs), but to me, the text seemed to be a bit simplistic, grouping all levels of observance under one banner.
I did learn, though, that Hebrew was first printed around a decade before Latin text was first printed. And there was this nice model sukkah.
I was almost dead on my feet at this point, but I forced my legs to go to the Pompidou Centre, Paris’s major modern art gallery and my fourth gallery for the day (fifth if you include the Jewish one). It was pretty impressive, with all the big names from the last hundred years, and a great view of the city from the top floor.
Paris skyline from the Pompidou
The Pompidou Centre
The square beneath the Pompidou
I’ve included a few of my favourite works – the room with the piano had rolls of wool along the walls, which shut the viewer out from the rest of the gallery, and blocked most noise from coming in, which I thought was quite interesting.
Picasso in the Pompidou
Mario in his old age
Finally, it was time to head back, and my legs just managed to carry me to the curry restaurant around the corner from the hotel, which had a brilliant mango lassie even if the food wasn’t top notch. And at that point, I would have eaten anything – I had been on my feet for twelve hours.
If you still possess the will to live, there's a few amusingly captioned sport-related works from today's proceedings to finish us off:
The room where Sheedy plans to hold his GWS press conferences in 2012
Running back with the flight
Proof that the Italians invented baseball in the 16th Century
Ponting strides out to the middle, but he's got a nagging feeling that he might have forgotten something...
Achilles (12 to 16 weeks)
'For the fourth and final time, the autograph session closed at midday. No exceptions.'
'3...2...1... GO TEAM.'