Paris, the City of Love?

I must admit to a somewhat unpopular opinion… I was less than enchanted by Paris, the ‘city of love.’ It’s not entirely Paris’ fault, it’s also mine. When expectations build too high, it is easy to feel let down. After countless stories, movies, songs, and books, Paris had become an idealized, romantic city of wonder for me. It sweeps everyone off their feet, takes their breath away, and even makes them fall in love. However, upon finally arriving there, the only thing I fell in love with was my raincoat – which protected me from the four days of straight rain we experienced in this massively gray, unfriendly city.

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower

I bet my opinion could change with another visit, but this time around I was let down. The one thing that made up for it was my love of Monet and the rich art in Paris’ many museums.

Monet's 'Les Nymphéas' at the Musée l'Orangerie

The Musée Marionette Monet, Musée I’Orangerie, and the Musée d’Orsay were all amazing. The art was stunning, and each of them truly took my breath away!

 

Musée Marionette Monet

Quiet, somewhat secluded, and filled with Monet’s incredible work,  it was by far my favorite museum in Europe. Walking through room upon room full of Monet’s beautiful paintings on a rainy, quiet day was the best time I had while in Paris. There were only about ten other people in the entire establishment, creating a really cozy experience, allowing me to really soak in the power of the art. Aside from Monet, there were works by Aldref Sisley, Gustave Caillebotte, Ecole Espagnole, and an entire Julie Manet exhibit. I have three favorite paintings from this museum; ‘Pommiers en fleurs’ (1879) by Alfred Sisley, which uses gorgeous green and pink hues, setting a tranquil mood,  ‘La maison vue du jardin aux roses’ by Monet, full of bright colors, chaotic up close, yet as you backed away, an image began to construct itself from the wild, seemingly sporadic brush strokes. And my absolute favorite was Monet’s Promenade pres d’argenteuil’ 1875, which invoked in me the sense of peace, on a brisk spring day in spite of windy weather. The colors are wonderful and light, dotty brush strokes leave the details loose, open to interpretation.

 

Musée I’Orangerie

With an interesting layout, this medium sized museum is wonderful. The first floor has two completely white, oval rooms, each displaying Monet’s ‘Les Nymphéas‘ work. Walking in, one is immediately surrounded by his giant paintings, contrasting with expansive whiteness all around. I could have sat in those rooms for hours; mesmerized by these 8 captivating paintings (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). The downstairs was also great; there was work by Picasso, Renoir, Derain, Matisee, Rousseau and many more renowned artists! A few really impressionable paintings – Rousseau’s ‘Promeneurs dans un parc’ which has inspiring detail in the trees, Derain’s ‘Arlequin et Pierrot’ depicting two musicians in the desert, with occupied, somber faces; and Renoir’s ‘Young man and woman,’ displaying dim colors and a lightness of strokes.

 

Musée d’Orsay

I also really enjoyed this museum. Built in an old railway station, the building itself is a piece of art. Walking through this museum I felt transported back in time, engulfed by each different era of art. From marble statues, Renaissance paintings, and impressionist work, to photography and architectural displays, this is an all encompassing exhibit. In particular, I enjoyed the rooms full of paintings by Denis Maurice, Henri-Edmond Cross, Edgar Degas, Pierre Bernard, Pissaro, Redon, Millet Duez, Vincent van Gogh and, of course, Monet. I loved the lines in Bonnard’s ‘La maison de Misia’ and details of Cross’ ‘Cyrpresses in Cagne’. I especially enjoyed Degas’ ‘Au bord de la mer, sur une plage, trois voiliers au loin’ which filled me with serenity. Monet’s ‘Coquelicots’ (1873) displayed simplicity and calm colors. However, the best thing I saw here was Van Gogh’s 1888 ‘Starry Night’which, with its colors, brush strokes, and complexity of detail, is just plain stunning!

 

Notice - The thick line of people wrapping around the Louvre, it continues for hours inside

While on the topic of art, I must reveal yet another unpopular opinion… I hated the Louvre. I can say with confidence that there is only a tiny chance that I will ever return to that museum in my lifetime. It was a true nightmare. Hundreds and hundreds of people clogged the halls, blocked the art, and the sheer size of the museum disabled any human from being able to see the entire place in a single visit. The only lure would be DaVinci’s famous ‘Mona Lisa’ painting. But this too was a disappointment. The ‘Mona Lisa’ was (in my potentially uneducated art opinion) unimpressive compared with some of the art I have seen around Europe from painters such as Klimt, Monet, Alfred Sisley, Vincent Van Gogh, Soutine, etc. This, however, may come down to personal taste, and for me the Mona Lisa alone was not worth the Louvre experience.

Ancient Egyptian Artifacts - my favorite part of the Louvre

Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa'

Aside from my dismal experience with cold, rainy weather and the crowded Louvre, Paris was beautiful. And delicious!

Cappuccino at a Cafe by the Notre Dame Cathedral

Pistachio Raspberry Macaroon

Baguette with Brie, Arugula, and Tomato Pesto

View from the ascent of the Eiffel Tower

Crepes - Nutella and Dulce de Leche

Paris Catacombs

Palace of Versailles

Courtyard at the Palace of Versailles

Riches of Versailles

Riches of Versailles

One of the greatest disappointments of the trip was running out of time to visit Monet’s house in Giverny. At least this will pull me back to Paris someday and give me another chance to fall in love with this city.

2 Responses to “Paris, the City of Love?

  • Greetings. I was looking at your photo of a bicycle chained to the fence at Place Saint Germaine de Pres, and wondered if you realized that behind that fence – visible in the photo – is a bust of Guillaume Appolinaire sculpted by Pablo Picasso?

    Nice photos, in spite of the rain.

    • I had not noticed that, what a lovely observation! Thanks :)

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