Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris (2015)

Arts and Metier metro Paris
coffee shopA morning planned at the Arts and Metier museum. It’s a showplace for scientific instruments and inventions. The metro station is designed to advertise it.

It’s Sunday and before the museum, we need coffee. We walk for blocks. Most places closed but we found this one. Note the chandeliers. Only the waiter spoke any English. Since we hadn’t seen the museum, we asked him. He’d never heard of it. Turns out we’d walked in the wrong direction – it was right at the metro stop.

Arts and Metier Museum

It’s in a church so we were fooled. (See the grey, rainy day. It rained everyday we were in Paris…) The scope of the displays is broad, ranging from a fancy coal measure to a space module.  Here’s a magnet built in the late 1700’s and some old bicycles.
metier magnetAntique bikes

 

 

 

After the museum we metro to the Sunday bird market near Notre Dame. I find the little birds so dear. There’s a man with a pet duck.
b white fluffChickensBirds with orange beaks2

 

 

 

 

We then metro and walk to the Tuilleries Garden. Time to sit and rest feet at the pond, people (and boat) watching. The chairs are comfy, the crowd entertaining.Boat in the Tuilleries

Next: the Orangerie museum to see Monet’s Water Lillies which he painted at Giverny. I’m  very glad we had the pass. The line was the length of the museum. I’d have been sorry to waited for what we saw. The paintings look better to me in photos than in person. They are kinda muddy and dark. But I loved this Urtillo.Utrillo

Walk to the Grand Palais but decide not to go in. Then we get lost and walk for blocks and blocks. Got some good pictures, but oh, my feet.

It’s our last night in Paris and we eat outdoors in thin sunshine. The waitress is nice, the food good. What a pleasure. This is what I expected (hoped for) in Paris.

I’ll close with some last glimpses of this interesting city. Boats on the Seine, one obviously a house boat — note the bicycle and motorcycle.House boat on the Seine
Trio of Boats on the Seine
A street vendor of oysters and lobster. And a shot from the Place de la Concorde. Au Revoir Paris. On to Chartres and the Loire Valley.
Oyster Vendor b2 towers

Musee des Arts Forains and Arts Decoratif (Paris 2015)

PantheonAfter the Cluny Museum in the morning, we went to the Pantheon. Were glad we had the “go to the front of the line” tickets. Otherwise we’d have had to wait forever and we found it a big bore. Lots of graves. Famous people – Victor Hugo, Zola, Voltaire – but dead and unavailable for a conversation.

ad towerThere was, however, an interesting church (seen when we got lost, which despite GPS, happened a lot). Take a look at the spiral staircase on the left with the little landing balconies, and the chimney flue (I think) on the right. The black blotch in the middle is not Bat Man ready to fly to the ground. It’s the back of an illumination light.

Forains theater door
Onward to Musee des Arts Forains.

It contains artifacts from fairgrounds and music halls, including old carousels. The pictures on line looked interesting. The outside of the museum was enchanting, fairy-like. But the tour I really can’t recommend. Total kitsch, boring, a commentary that was false enthusiastic – like watching an old children’s TV show. Can you tell how much I hated it? We left after about 10 minutes, even though it was one of the most expensive tickets. My advice? Avoid it! Musee des Arts Forains

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because we abandoned the tour, we had time to just run down to the Musee des Arts Decoratif, which had been on my wish list, but I wasn’t able to fit it in. That one was really worth while. Just take a look. By the way, the little face on my home page is from a special exhibit about buttons. Thousands of them.

Decoratif bat vase
Decoratif bass fiddle dresserDecoratif Deco stairs
Wouldn’t you love to have that stair rail? Or the bat vase or the funny dresser? The artifacts were from all periods. The little flute pitcher much earlier. I don’t remember about the crazy chair.
Decoratif flutist jarDecoratif weird chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 
 
 

A charming riding toy for a little child. And below that, an early “Hummel” in ivory, a reminder of mortality.

Decoratif  swan toy
Decoratif skeleton

Cluny Medieval Museum (Spring 2015)

c museum
May 2. This morning after coffee, the medieval Cluny museum, a period of art I love. The museum is in an old “town” house of the Cluny Abbots.

There was a special exhibition of carvings from Swabia in SW Germany (I look it up.) I had to photograph through glass, but couldn’t resist the faces of the nuns or the beautiful gold swirl of the beheading.
c nuns 2c beheading
Basement surprise: a Roman bath was discovered and excavated. Since we visited Italy a couple years ago, I didn’t take any pictures. But there were a row of heads taken from Notre Dame during the revolution and discovered in someone’s back yard when he dug.
c boy I’m often surprised by medieval art. The rich people were pooping into the castle walls, but they had beautiful stuff. This boy missing his sword arm and with a dragon(lion?) biting his leg amused me. Sorta like a Hummel… Then there were the reliquaries, fancy containers for bones or teeth or some part of a saint. This reliquary has the three magi marching across its top.
c reliquary
Before we get to the tapestries, I want to show you some fun carvings from a set of misericords. What? you say. These were little seats like shelves in the choir of the church. Those who had to stand for lengthy prayers could use them to lean on. I always look for them in cathedrals because they are usually carved, and not necessarily with religious motifs. The Cluny has a set (in a very dark room, alas) with carvings of daily work. A baker, a couple being drawn in a cart, churning butter, and the most fun of all, two kids riding stick horses and playing at swords. (Click on the picture if you want to see an enlargement. They are slightly fuzzy. As I said, the room was dark and flash not allowed.)
c misry 4
c misry 3
c misry 1
c misry 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

c lionThe Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries – also in a dimly lit room to preserve. There are 6 of them. Five represent the senses – taste, smell, etc. The sixth is labeled Mon Seul Desir. Lots of arguments about what that single desire is. I’m going to stick my neck out and say she’s holding a treasure chest, so her desire is money. My interpretation is in no way colored by our own era!
c ladyc lion2

Now to close with a carving from a church screen a with an unusual subject: the circumcision of Christ.

c circumcism

Giverny Flowers (Spring 2015)

Path to GivernyMay 1, every museum in town is closed and anyway, I always wanted to see the garden Monet created and painted. So, out of Paris by train to Giverny. The train goes only to a neighboring town and you can take a bus from there, but we decided to walk – it’s only 3 miles or so on a paved path lined by woods and the occasional house. People walking dogs or strolling.

g japaneseWe got to the garden after the first flush of tourists. It had rained the night before (this was the rainiest vacation we’ve ever had), so the flowers were a bit droopy. But there were masses of them.

If you are looking at this in your email, you may need to got directly to my web site to see the photo gallery of individual flowers below. Most I recognized but there was one yellow beauty that looked like an exploded canary!

g waterThe water garden was special. So many big-leaved plants, a personal favorite.  There was a stream as well as the famous pond. No waterlilies. Too early in the season, but the wisteria!

The formal garden was laid out in rows with a color theme – seemingly red and yellow or blue and pink. There were arches, as yet un-vined. g-arches
Some trees were in color. The one by the house is a tamarind.

g red treeThe interior of the house is decorated as Mr. Monet had it done. The yellow and blue dining room is a hoot. There are prints hanging everywhere, especially Japanese. The whole house was crowded with creaky wooden floors.g pink house

After we left the museum, we had a nice lunch in the cafeteria across the street. And then decided to walk back (my feet abstained).

A French tradition on May 1, Labor Day, started by King Charles in 1561, is to give Lily of the Valley, Muegettes, to loved ones. We saw little booths selling them all through town. One of the ladies who was selling alone by the train station, asked me if I would watch her bunches while she went to the bathroom. My first good deed negotiated in French. I received a bouquet in thanks which I gave to the owner of the Chinese restaurant downstairs from our apartment; we ate there again-it was practically the only thing open, but also we liked the food.

I was particularly taken by a vine made into a railing.
g vine

And now for those closeups…note the rain drops.

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Impressionists (Paris, 2015)

imp monetWhile I’m not a big fan of painting – all those heavy women rendered in heavy oil – I love the Impressionists. The first time I saw a major collection was in Paris at the Jeu de Paume (a king’s tennis courts re-purposed for art). So much better in person than in books. I could put my face close to the picture and fall into it. I saw the air, the trees, the sea, the snow. imp archer

The collection has now been moved to the old train station, a wonderful space at least in the center, with its decorated ceilings and arches. The rooms on the sides with the paintings are more jumbled but the art remains entrancing. This shimmering river was new to me. Sadly, I didn’t snap a picture of the label so I’m not sure of the artist. Seurat?

imp saurat

However, this visit it wasn’t the paintings that caught me; it was the art nouveau exhibit. Beds, vases (see the dragonfly vase below), bookcases and a wonderful piece which was a chaise in a smoking lounge in a billiard parlor.

imp chaiseimp dragonfly

imp screen

bed2

Our visit was in the evening and I took a series of pictures out the windows across the Seine as dark came on and lights were lit. You can see Sacre Coeur where we were in the morning in the distance, then I pulled it into closeup.

The magic of Paris.

imp blue haze

imp blue haze2

imp sacre coeur2

imp sacre coeur