Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quel Bonheur!!!!

I have realized part of the reason I am just so not ready to leave Paris is because there is always something going on. There is always more art to see, food to eat, and life to experience here. And just when you think you have covered it all, they bring in more. Amongst so much else, we did the Louvre over 3 visits, finally managed to get into the D'Orsay, will get to the Rodin museum today or tomorrow so we are feeling pretty good about having covered Paris.

Well that is until you find out some tiny obscure museum up here in the 17th has just opened a Bruegel, Memling, and Van Eyke show and I happen to love all three. And the Louvre has a Titian, Tinteretto, Veronese show that opened last week and seems quite similar to the MFA show that just closed which I happened to have missed. Seems as though the Louvre brought it in especially for me! And oh yeah, the Renoir exhibit that opens today at the Gallerie National du Grand Palais. YIKES. What is a girl to do with only 10 days left.

Well even if I go home having missed a few things, I can at least feel good that I didn't miss Les Journees du Patrimoine! Two days each September the country takes pride in its national heritage and opens up government buildings and discounts museums so everyone has a chance to see the treasures that are here in France. Quel bonheur pour nous! This morning we were off and running and hit so many sights we were dizzy by the end. There were a few long lines but most places were free and we hit some places that just are not regularly open to the public. Whoohoo!

For the first time ever, Le Moulin Rouge decided to participate and let people backstage and into the costuming area. We tried both days and each time we went by the line was 3-4 blocks long. As fabulous as it might have been to see the inner workings of such an illustrious venue, we would have waited in line all day and missed so much more. So we skipped it.

Today we metro'ed to Pigalle and upon finding the line at Le Moulin, we headed to the Starbucks across the street - I know - horror of horrors when in Paris but it was early and we had bolted the apartment without coffee. We then walked to a nearby parc, drank the coffee while the kids played and then realizing how many people were in line at Le Moulin Rouge we leapt up and ran to the D'Orsay hoping the line was short. And it was. And it was discounted. And the kids are always free. The weekend's events spread out all the crowds evenly throughout the city so the D'Orsay was pretty quiet. But also, I learned from a new friend I met at Parc Monceau that families are allowed to use the door for special groups. Oui, c'est vrai! I wished I had known all summer that I could jump the queue with my small people. Side note: Paris is perhaps the most kid friendly city I have ever been to. Children are given so many allowances and the French care very much about exposing kids to art and culture so especially in those venues they carry the highest rank of visitor.

Wouldn't you know that of all days to leave your SD card in the card reader attached to your computer it would be this one. After 2.5 hours in the D'Orsay with Sweet Pea impressing people by explaining why Monet painted the same thing over and over with different colors and posing sweetly like the Degas Dancer, we headed off down the left bank in search of food. We ducked into the side streets of the 6th and found a cute little creperie and had galettes, vin, and crepes for lunch. We headed back to the river to walk along the booksellers and when we got to the Pont Neuf we realized that La Monnaie de Paris was open for all to see. This is the location of the old Mint of France. We went in and got a coin made for us using an old coin press and then got to see the oldest coins of France. We learned that coins were first made in Ateliers (workshops) but due to the inconsistancies, they started developing machine presses to make coins. I won't bore you with the rest but it was fantastic.

Then we headed up St. Chapelle but it was very busy so we hit La Consiergerie which is next door. It was part of the original royal residance established by King Clovis in the 6th century. When the royal residance was moved by Charles V in the 14th century and the Consiergerie was used as a prison. Marie-Antoinette was held here after her famous crimes involving cake. So sorry I have no pictures. It was a beautiful crypt type lower level building.

It was nearing the end of the afternoon by now so we headed off to see if we could get into Hotel de Ville which was also open but got lost in the maze of fun stuff for kids on the plaza in front of this magnificant building. There were games and free t-shirts for the kids. Buddy did the climbing wall and his skills provoked the man managing the activity to come over to SJ and ask if Buddy was his son. When SJ beemingly said "Oui", the man launched into a song and dance about how good our littly boy was at climing the wall. We lot lots of hand gestures and eyebrow raising all indicating a very impressed man. I believe a special thanks should go out to our local YMCA!

We gave up on the Hotel de Ville as it was now probably after closing time and we were POOPED!

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