Cruising the Seine from Honfleur to ParisAuthor: Bob W. (More Trip Reviews by Bob W.)
Date of Trip: June 2009
Everyone's first impression of the Louvre is of its sheer size. We discovered a long line of people at the main entrance by the glass pyramid. Fortunately, some Americans just leaving the museum reminded us that there is no wait if you enter at the right front of the building by the lion sculpture. By any standard, the Louvre's collection is outstanding and huge. The Louvre exhibits paintings by every major European artist through the 19th century as well as many sculptures and artifacts from around the world. We looked for exhibits that particularly attracted our interest, of which there were many. We marveled at the dimensions (considerably larger than our living room floor) of many of the paintings of Peter Paul Rubens. Moving along as quickly as the July crowds permitted, we still managed to view much less than half of the exhibits. They were spectacular. Dinner consisted of a light meal in the basement level of the museum.
The following day, we returned to center city to visit the Musee d'Orsay that houses a spectacular collection of impressionist and pre-impressionist paintings. Because this is a much smaller museum than the Louvre, we were able to take in all of its exhibits. For my money, this is the museum to see if you have time for only one. We dined in the museum's beautiful restaurant, on the top floor. The setting was gorgeous and the food delicious and moderately priced.
When we returned from the Musee d'Orsay, our program director and a group of us picked up breads, meats, cheeses, wines and other transportable items for a picnic. We headed for the Eiffel Tower where we found a spot on the grass between the tower and the French military academy to have a delightful and affordable picnic. Many Parisians did the same. In fact, some French picnickers approached us to borrow plastic cups and napkins or to offer their spare items. This is a great spot for a picnic! And, of course, we took pictures of us picnicking and standing at the base of the tower. Long waiting lines discouraged us from ascending the tower. On our next and final day in Paris, we went as a group to visit the Ile de la Cite. There, we viewed the Notre Dame cathedral, royal palace of Louis the 13th, Paris city museum and beautiful parks. In addition to admiring the cathedral's flying buttresses and gargoyles, we were amused to spot the sculpture of the famous hunchback of Notre Dame high in a corner on the outer wall of the cathedral. After grabbing lunch at a cafe in the area, we walked past the Louvre and through the Jardin des Tuileries, the large park that extends from the Louvre to the Musee de l'Orangerie.
We entered the Orangerie to see the eight huge panels of Claude Monet's water garden and water lilies, painted by the artist at different times of the day and in different seasons. These panels surround the viewer in a large oval room. Also displayed in this museum are other works by Monet, Rousseau, Cezanne, Picasso, Utillo and others. The Orangerie is smaller than the Orsay and tiny compared with the Louvre, but worth a visit. After returning to our hotel, we enjoyed a terrific pizza at L'Esprit restaurant near our hotel. After breakfast the next morning, we were driven to the airport for a pleasant flight home, very pleased with the Seine river cruise and our days in Paris.
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