20 March, 2012

Ah Tuesday.  A long Metro ride to more Monet, a Thinker and a Tomb.  Forgive me, but this post is a little more talk and fewer pictures.  It's hard to go around taking photos in museums.  I am however now armed with a new memory card for the camera.  It tells me I have 1000 pictures left to take.  God help us all if I fill this one up!

First off I decided I couldn't pass up a chance to see even more Monet paintings.  So off I went to the Marmottan Museum.  It's housed in an old mansion that was once the home of a gentleman named Paul Marmottan.  It's a lovely building and you get to see how a moderately wealthy family would have lived in the 1920s and 30s.    The main attraction is the large collection of Monet paintings.  And while I won't say they were my favorite of all the Monets I've seen, they did have one interesting facet to them.  To me they really showed a link to where art was headed.  Now I don't care for modern art.  It's never really made sense to me.  If you want me to see a river or a tree, then show me a river or a tree.  Most modern art leaves me a little cold.  But some of these Monet paintings were as close to modern art as I've seen and liked.  There were several that were just blobs of paint, but from far enough back, you got the idea.  So for the first time, I see the "impression" that he was going for.  Take this first image...

At first glance it just looks like different shades of green smeared all over.  If you already see what it's supposed to be, just hang on, as it really wasn't that obvious when it was larger.  Even when I was standing a few feet from it.  There really are other examples, but this is the best I could find to illustrate my point.

So now, going back to some of the paintings I saw at the Musee D'Orsay.  You would find an example like this....

Same exact subject, just a very different way of showing it.  Take a look at the first painting again.  The bridge is there, just not drawn in strict lines like in the second one.  (which really doesn't have lines either)  Monet spent the last years of his life painting in Giverny and gardening.  Unfortunately for me, the garden is closed until April, but here's a photo of the real bridge just so you can see how Monet really was painting a) the light b) his feelings at the moment.

Ok hope I haven't bored anyone with my little art lesson.  I will say about the Marmottan museum itself... unless you REALLY love Monet and have plenty of extra time, it isn't worth the visit.  I'm really not exaggerating when I say I had to make three transfers to ride a total of four metro lines to get there.  Then it's about a 5-10 minute walk from the Metro to the museum.  I'm glad I went, but I will probably never feel the need to go again.

On to the next!  After taking another three Metro lines, I was back in the city proper and headed for the Rodin museum.  First you enter through a new modern building that currently houses an exhibit called Capturing the Model.  It's 300 drawings Rodin made before sculpting.  Talk about a man who loved the shape of a woman.  Here you see them in every shape, size and color not to mention all angles.  You pass through this building into the courtyard of the Hotel Biron.

This was once a hotel where Rodin stayed, sadly for me... it's closed for renovation until April.  But there is also a garden with two of Rodin's most well known works.  The Thinker and the Gates of Hell.

Well I knew I was going into Les Invalides and the Army Museum next, but first it was time for lunch!  A quick stop at the only nearby cafe and I had the best Quiche Lorraine ever.  Oh and I'm pretty sure Viggo Mortensen walked by. (yes those of you who have been following me on Facebook already know that)  Anyway it was a nice unexpected sighting.

My visit to Les Invilades begins with Napoleon's tomb under the golden dome.  Napoleon was originally buried on the island of St. Helena when he died,  It took 19 years before his remains were returned to the people of France.  (Supposedly he was still perfectly preserved when they got him back.  In Italy don't they make you a saint for that?)

Reminder photo from yesterday.

So once you walk in under that dome, here is the sight that greets you... A giant hole in the ground with a giant dome above.

Once you walk closer and take a look inside, then you see the tomb itself.  Apparently inside that marble tomb there are six different coffins made out of different materials. 

You can then descend into the crypt to get a better look at the tomb.

After that, it was on to the Army museum.  They have a nice and rather complete walk through both World Wars.  They have tons of different uniforms on display along with weapons of every sort including bombs, grenades and canons.  It's a very well put together museum, but once you start getting to the depths of WWII it really makes you stop for a moment.  As Americans we like to think we fought the good fight and came to the rescue, and we did.  But image living in a country that has been torn in half.  A country that not only is at war, but the very place where the war is being fought.  I think that we focus so much on the evil deeds of evil men that we forget the heroes who belong to other cultures.  We all know about Winston Churchill and how he kept the British together during the blitz.  (another horror I can only imagine living through)  But personally I knew very little about Charles de Gaulle.  I didn't know that he became the face of the French resistance and basically the head of the free government opposed to the Nazis.

Enough of war for the moment and on to more pleasant things.  The rest of the day was simple pleasures like shopping and eating.  So far I've enjoyed my moments in Paris and I'm glad to know I still have some time left, but it has amazed me at the different personality European cities have.  I think our cities in America have some personality but it's not the same.  Maybe they just aren't old enough yet.  But Paris is the grand dame.  The elegant old lady, perfectly put together.  She moves along with stately grace and demands your respect.  I think there is warmth to be had there, but I think she only shows that side of herself to locals, tourists simply don't take the time.

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