Day 4: Musee d’Orsay, L’Epi Dupin and a Long Walk Home

As we crossed the Seine on our way to the Musee d’Orsay, the water was as beautiful as it had been the evening before, although in a much different way; the light was much brighter and cooler.

On our short walk, we saw Thomas Jefferson:

and just outside the museum, a rhino:

and after a short wait in the security line, were finally inside, and very grateful for the warmth.

Sadly, the first thing we were greeted by was this sign.

As you can see, my attempt at taking a covert photo was not completely successful.  I got the photo – and was discreet enough that no one caught me – but it sure isn’t in focus.

Apart from the photography ban, the museum was awesome.  It’s full of impressionists – according to wikipedia, the museum’s theme is French paintings from 1848-1915.  We saw all sorts of famous and awesome paintings.  My personal favorites were:

– all of the Monet, especially the haystacks (although you can get more haystacks at the Art Institute, in Chicago) and water lilies (although you can get more lilies across the river in the Orangerie) and landscapes and waterscapes;

– all of the many Degas dancers;

– the Millet Gleaners;

African Elephants by Charles Emile de Tournemine, an artist I’ve never heard of before;

– and lastly, the Excommunication of Robert le Pieux, by Jean-Paul Laurens, which we both (inappropriately) found hilarious because the burning excommunication scroll looks like a giant cigarette in the middle of the painting.

On the top floor, I broke the photography ban because you can actually stand inside the clock area and look out.  (This museum is housed in an old train station, and there are clocks in both towers; you can sort of see them in this photo.)  This opportunity would probably have been too great a temptation to resist in any case, but since there was no artwork around and everyone else was taking photos too, it seemed like it was probably acceptable.

Here’s one looking through the clock at the Seine, the corner of the Louvre on the right and the hill of Montmartre in the middle.  If you look closely, you can see Sacre Coeur at the top of the hill.

Here, you can still see Montmartre and Sacre Coeur, but I got more of the Louvre in.

I could have stood there happily taking photos through the clock for quite a while, but of course that’s not what we were there for, so that’s all I’ve got.

We spent the entire afternoon in the museum, and since it’s small, were able to see almost all of it; we certainly saw enough to be satisfied.  I’d enjoy going back again, and maybe lingering longer at some of the paintings, but it was fine as a half-day experience.

As the speakers announced the museum’s closing, and we were making our way out, I decided to try risking a self-portrait.  We actually had seen many other people taking photos of the artwork with all sorts of cameras, from phones to dSLRs, and none of the guards seemed to mind – furthermore, my previous excursions into illicit photography had gone un-reprimanded – so I set the shot up and just as I snapped it, we heard the shout.  It was in French, so this is a rough translation, but I definitely got the gist: “HEY!  NO PHOTOS in the museum!!!”

The photo turned out terribly, anyway – totally not worth getting yelled at – but since I went through all that trouble, I may as well share it.

We left the museum with about an hour and a half left until our dinner reservation, which was a short distance from the museum, so we decided to stroll down slowly.  We found our restaurant, L’Epi Dupin, and browsed a nearby department store, Le Bon Marche, which was just at the end of the restaurant’s street, Rue Dupin.  I discovered that the Longchamp handbags which I love for their bright colors, casual style, and light weight are much less expensive in Paris than here in the U.S., and was very tempted to buy one (or several), but resisted.  We hadn’t really planned for souvenirs, either financially or space-wise (I was traveling with carry-on luggage only) and more purses are really not something I need, even if might enjoy them.

Dinner was very nice; but I was a little intimidated by the setup – there were other diners lined up close to us on both sides – so I didn’t take any photos of the food.  I had a sort of dumpling filled with duck and topped by a lemon-herb sauce for my appetizer, then a piece of cod with scallop risotto (risotto flavored with scallops, that is) and something that I can’t remember for dessert.  It was very good food, although nothing from the meal made it onto my top-Paris-food list.

After dinner, we were feeling kind of full, and not very tired, so we decided to head for home on foot.  We weren’t sure we’d make it, but with so many closely spaced Metro stops, it’d be easy to go as far as we could and then hop on the subway for the rest of the trip.  I’m very glad we decided to walk, because we got to see some things we didn’t have on the schedule at any other time – it was a nice extra treat.

Once we’d passed over the tip of Ile de la Cite and were back on the north side right bank of the Seine, we headed east on the Rue de Rivoli and passed the Saint-Jacques Tower:

and the Hotel de Ville:

and all in all, I was quite impressed with the low-light capability of my camera.  These photos are both taken at 1600 ISO, and there’s not much graininess at all; furthermore, it picked up some things (like the clouds in the first photo) that we didn’t even know were there until I looked at the preview on the back of my camera.  The main downside was that I didn’t have a tripod, so while the 1/20th of a second shutter speed in the first photo turned out fine, I’m not sure I held quite still enough for the 1/16th of a second in the second.  (More temptation to get a wider-maximum-aperture lens!)

We actually ended up walking all the way back to the hotel that night, making that day’s trek another over-7 miler, not counting the back-and-forths in the museum, and not counting the morning’s first walk through the Place des Vosges, to breakfast, and to the non-Bastille.  (Click here if you would like to see a map of our route!)  With that long day’s walk, on top of the previous day’s, we were tired out by the time we did finally arrive home, and collapsed in bed for a sound night’s sleep.

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