After a very good night’s sleep, we started out the morning at a neighborhood boulangerie (bakery) with some very good pastries and two cafe cremes (kind of like a cappuccino…because asking for a cafe would mean a tiny little cup with a shot of espresso and no milk–the French prefer sugar over milk). We then headed to the Metro for our first trip on Paris’s subway. I have to say that coming from New York, the Metro system in Paris is very clean, well-maintained, efficient and quiet (but the lack of A/C is hard to grasp).
Our first stop was the Musee d’Orsay, an art museum located in an old train station that specializes in Impressionistic artwork. The museum itself is beautiful and the amount of art almost overwhelms you. We saw a lot of Renoir, Cézanne, Lautrec, Monet…after an hour it was all a big blur (figuratively and literally).
The weather today was what I suppose is typical summer weather in Paris. Much like what we think of London weather. One minute it is cool and misting…two minutes later the sun is blazing hot….then a cool wind picks up and there is a brief rain shower…back to sunny and humid. You sort of have to be prepared for it all. Despite the occasional heat of the day, and no air conditioning anywhere, all of the Parisians were wearing leather jackets, scarfs, sweaters….taking it all in stride.
The second stop was the Eiffel Tower (la Tour Eiffel). To see it in person is just one of those moments that we all have when you see something for the first time. To see the Statue of Liberty or the Grand Canyon…or the White House….whatever sort of iconic thing you have always pictured in your mind which is now before you. It was amazing. That being said, we got a bit turned around getting there, got a little flustered…quarrels broke out over who read the map wrong (Josette)…but we found a taxi and we were quickly rushed to the tour to wait in line….and wait….and wait….and wait. And this was with “reserved” tickets. But once we got up (to the lower level) of the tower, it was worth it. What an incredible view!
From the Eiffel Tower, it was time for a late (3PM) bite to eat along the Rue Clare. We found a cafe that seemed to have lots of locals eating there (always a good sign)…but we were relieved when the waiter handed us menus in English. Despite wanting to TRY to use what little French we know…thus far, everyone takes a look at us and just starts speaking in English. I might be offended, but I’m not. My 6+ years of Spanish is of no use in Paris.
Last stop was the Musee Rodin. Housed in a former private Mansion, buit in 1727…the museum was as much about the surroundings as it was the art. Stately old rooms, beautiful gardens….it was a nice way to end the day.
Le Penseur (the Thinker)
To end a very long day, we met up with two of Lena’s classmates. Yes, you read that correctly. Two of Lena’s classmates (who are twins) have Parisian parents. They were both born in NYC, but they live with their grandmother a few weeks during summer. The girls’ grandmother happens to give architectural history tours of Paris, and we met to discuss the things that we want to see on the private tour that she is giving us this week!
Goodnight after another looooooong day. Jet lag is still present.