Paris – through an art lens

I’m getting fond of taking buses in Paris now that Google maps directs me where to board them, and then tells me stop-by-stop where I am. My first bus ride today took me to the Tuileries. It’s one of my favorite places in Paris—I am a lover of gardens and people watching.  In the park I got to do both. With a café au lait in hand, I sat for a long time enjoying the scene.

My plan was to go the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Design Museum), a short walk from the Tuileries. When I got there the line stretched around the block. Instead, I headed off to the Musée d’Orsay. It’s a beautiful walk across the Seine River and then along side it.

Typically, there is a wait to get into the museum, but I was lucky and got through security and into the museum within minutes. It’s one of my favorite art museums in Paris, both for the architecture and artwork. The building is enormous—it was originally built as a train station to serve visitors to the 1900 World’s Fair.  It is now home to artwork from 1848 to 1914—that includes a wide swathe of Art Nouveau, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists.

I visited a few of my favorite pieces and spent time at a special exhibition of Aristide Maillol. I always thought of Maillol as a sculptor.  They did have a large collection of both completed sculpture and smaller preparatory “sketches.” But he also painted and drew, and that work was new to me.

When I left, I took another bus that went through the city, passing City Hall, the Marais, and other lovely areas.  I got off and walked a few blocks to the Atelier des Lumieres.

The Atelier was one of the highlights of my trip to Paris in 2018 and I wanted to see the new shows there. Housed in an old factory building, it shows visual art through video that surrounds visitors. The shows on exhibit today were Cezanne, the Lights of Provence and Kandinsky, Abstract Odyssey.  Once inside you are surrounded by a visual and auditory extravaganza. It’s a wonderful experience. A couple of days before I left for this trip, I read that the same company that does the Paris shows will soon be opening a space in New York City.

It was time for some shopping. I went to Galleries Lafayette.  I walked in, took a photo of the spectacular ceiling, and walked out.  The crowds were overwhelming. I don’t like crowds at the best of times and on the day before needing a negative covid test so I can fly home, it wasn’t a comfortable place to be—even with a mask on.

Dinner was at a quintessentially Parisian restaurant—Chartier. They have three branches in Paris. When we arrived, the line to get in was very long.  I didn’t hear any English at all.  There was room after room of diners, each room with an art nouveau décor. The food was good, the wine was good, and it was inexpensive. When we left after 10 pm, there was still a lengthy line waiting to get in.