Is it possible to fall in love with a museum? I suppose if it’s possible to fall in love with a city, it’s possible to fall in love with a building.
Anyway, I think I found my artistic soul mate: Museé d’Orsay. Contained within this former train station is nearly 100 years of (mostly) French art from the 1830’s to 1914. It’s got (nearly) all the famous symbolists, naturalists, impressionists, neo-impressionists, and more: Van Gogh, Dega, Renior, Monet, and others populate the iron-strung walls of this building.
We spend about four and a half to five hours there, in which I tried to see everything. I spent an hour in their prostitution exhibit (all very French), taking in the complex images of the French sex trade (illegal and legal). At the gift shop afterwards, I saw Dame Helen Mirren. I was too afraid to ask for an autograph or a picture.
Afterwards, I wandered around, taking in the symbolists, naturalists, and others. I stopped by to see Van Gogh and gazed at the brush strokes and the people vying for a picture of them. Then on to the impressionists (and the crowds). My heart literally sped up at the sight of my favorite painters and (some of) their most famous works. If it wasn’t for the crowds, I could’ve spent hours in that room.
My last stop was a female photographers’ exhibit (which was a bit out of place now that I think of it). While it was a little underwhelming compared to what I had seen minutes before, it was still fascinating and very well done. The self-portraits were fantastic, and I couldn’t help but take a second to gaze into the eyes of the Migrant Mother.
I was thrilled yet exhausted by the time we left. I would come back every day if the museum wasn’t so far.
Afterwards, we made our way to the Arch de Triumph, bumping into several outdoor modern art exhibits including an inflatable Swiss chalet along the River Seine, and a modern installation next to the Jardin des Tuileries. To get to the arch we also had to pass the tourist/international/glitzy/rich shopping district on Av. des Champs-Élysées. A combination of Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus in London, it blatantly lures tourists and wealth in like flies to a porch light. I’ve seen it all before.
After taking a quick picture at the arch, we decided that we were too tired and too cheap to try to look for something to eat there, so we went back to the neighborhood of our Airbnb and ate a café there.