Last Monday I decided to visit the Orangerie. I wanted to go due to the recommendation of an art history professor that I had last year who said there was a room of Cézannes that eminated a grey light because it was so well lit. Having now seen it, I think this may also be related to the fact that the walls and floor are grey... But anyway, there is a very nice collection from late 19th and early 20th century, including some wonderful Cézannes, Renoirs, Picassos, Matisses... And then the museum is probably most famous for these two enormous curving rooms with frescoes painted in situ by Monet, called the Nymphéas, which were really quite beautiful.
It was really quite serene, with the soft lighting and the beautiful paintings surrounding, nearly engulfing you.
The Orangerie was considerably smaller than I had anticipated, so when I was done there I decided to walk to the Ile de la Cité, the bigger of the two islands in the Seine in the middle of Paris. It was here that the city of Paris was first started, and today it holds the number one tourist attraction in all of France (and I think all of Europe, although I am not sure) : Notre Dame de Paris.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Before I got to the Ile, I walked along the Seine past the Louvre. This time, my camera did not run out of batteries, thank goodness. The architecture, and more specifically, the myriad sculpted figures who inhabit the architecture, are really quite incredible. Here is just a very very small sample:
Figures like that are one of the main reasons why I am loving this city!!
After crossing over onto the island, I looked back across the river and saw the Hotel de Ville:
Wow. I think if you click on the picture, you get a bigger image. That is quite the facade!
Another reason I wanted to go to the Ile was to see Ste Chapelle, a gothic chapel built by some king (there were too many, I have no idea which one). Ste Chapelle was built as a reliquary church for the Crown of Thorns. Today it still holds the "crown" but everyone comes instead to see the incredible stained glass. (What's really incredible to me is that this is an incredibly sumptuous chapel, made for the private use of the king of France... and please realize when I say chapel, it is an entire church... And the reliquary built to hold the crown cost 5 times the price of building the church!!! Incroyable.) The line to get into the chapel was incredibly long, so I am planning on going back another day, early in the day, to visit the inside. I will tell you more about it when I actually have seen it.
Continuing on, I came to Notre Dame.
She's pretty spectacular.
I had studied portals like this one (and probably including this one, but they all kind of run together) in art history classes, but I have to say, it was (just like any good piece of art) way more moving in person, when all the figures really have mass and personality.
Heading inside the chapel... for as light as gothic churches are... they are pretty dark!
But the sun coming through the stained glass is pretty magnificent.
The detailing on each tiny piece of glass is pretty incredible... And there is glass everywhere!
I did not go up in the towers yet, because it was cloudy and if possible I would like to go on a clear day, and also because I had my first class in the evening and I didn't want to be late.
The class I am taking is called "France in Paris" and we are looking at literature between 1750 and 1950 that represents Paris and the way the world saw it as well as its perception of itself. What I am most excited for is the fact that we will be making a few visits to different places in the city (Montmartre, the Musée d'Orsay, and others) to really see first hand what different writers are talking about. It is taught entirely in French, and while that worried me a little the professors here are all very cognizant that we are Americans, and not fluent, and so while Lionel (my prof) does not exactly speak slowly, he does make an effort to use words we will know, which we all appreciate. There are 10 people in my class (there are 30 with the program all together) and I think I will really get to learn a lot... Not that I really want to think about papers and exams after just having finished a semester a couple of weeks ago!!
So that was monday...
I will try to get quickly caught up with the rest of the week. My internship started tuesday so I have worked every day since then so there has been less time to go and visit places and take hundreds of pictures so hopefully this will be a quicker task.