Saturday, April 07, 2007

Paris Encore Une Fois

It was quite exciting standing at Montbard station in the pitch dark, waiting for the quarter to seven morning train to Paris. To allow plenty of time, I got up at four-fifteen, which is seriously early but permitted everyone else to have showers after me, and we set off to drive to Montbard at quarter to six.

Paris was gloriously sunny but very cold when we arrived. There was already quite a big queue for the Musee d’Orsay but it moved quickly, which was just as well as Emily’s hands had turned a perfect blue and Gareth assured me cheerily that my cheeks were actually purple.

The Musee d’Orsay is a huge art gallery with several floors – the artists, in general, get more famous as you go higher, with a particularly good collection of the Impressionists. The only thing that I didn’t like about the whole place were the people who persisted in taking photos of the paintings, so I kept feeling, as I was standing trying to look at a painting, that I was getting in someone’s way.

Okay, I can kind of understand wanting to have one’s photo taken next to a Van Gogh or whatever (though only kind of – I’m not sure what kind of talent it demonstrates other than I Was There) but if you want a copy of a painting, why not buy a print?

I particularly loved the Degas pastels of dancers – the more so because I’ve never really seen the point of pastels, but these really changed my mind. We could, of course, have done with more time but finally headed off to find lunch in a jolly café.

Then we decided to walk to the Picasso Museum, which proved tricky to find as there were no signposts to it at all, and our map was, it proved, somewhat lacking in detail. We took a couple of wrong turnings but found it eventually – but even the wrong turnings didn’t matter as everything was interesting – I particularly liked this former baker’s, now a hat shop - and the weather was glorious.

We passed lots and lots of shops selling handbags, and many selling very, very expensive clothes, such as a striped cotton T-shirt for 245 euros. Emily was, as it happened, looking fantastic in a similar one which cost eight quid.

But finally we reached the Picasso museum, and stayed there until it closed and we had to go for our train. A really interesting museum which shows how his work developed from the more conventional painting style of his early works. There were, of course, many paintings which I’d never seen before and my favourite was “Owl in an Interior” – a rather melancholy and haunting painting.

We walked back to the Gare de Lyon (passing LOTS of signposts to the Picasso museum on the way, grrrrr), just in time for the train back to Montbard – we got back to Montreal at about ten o’clock.

So a long day, but well worth it. For me to give up a day in the Burgundy countryside it had to be good, and it was. Who knows, perhaps eventually I’ll find out why everyone keeps going on about Barcelona.


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