Musée de l’Orangerie

Reminiscing on this time last year, when all that I had of Paris was my imagination. Before I had made all the wonderful memories and met all the wonderful people. This time last year, I was preparing to get my visa, starting to pack, and growing more and more excited with each passing day.

I still have a trove of photos to sort through and to write about .. and I want to get through them all – I do ! I had this sort of rule I had set myself to, that I couldn’t post about anything in the present before I finish the Paris content. But a dear friend who reads this blog recently told me that she thought I should share some thoughts on the past few months anyway – regardless of how far I’ve gotten with the Paris photos. I absolutely have had a lot going on this summer (and last semester too) that I would like to share about. So maybe bear with me as I swap back and forth; I think this will be a more sustainable way to write, and I’d like to get my motivation and inspiration back in service !!

Still going chronologically through my Parisian experience, today I’ll share what I remember to be a very enjoyable day :

These photos were taken from my classroom in Saint-Germain des Prés. For whatever reason, my grammar class was held in that location on Tuesdays instead of on rue d’Assas. And since I was the only one from my program in that language level, I was the only one to go over there ! I liked that location though, not only because I got to see a different part of the city on those days, but also because the classroom was typically up high – which meant for a nice view ! On Mondays and Thursdays I was in the basement on a building, so it doesn’t even compare.

Two days before, I was able to cross off a few different things from my ever-growing list of things to do + see. With my friends, we passed by the Grand Palais (more on that later), walked through Place de la Concorde, and entered les Jardins des Tuileries. I remember it being a bitterly cold + windy day, despite the sun – and I was not dressed to be outside for hours 🙂 But we found ourselves in line for the Musée de l’Orangerie, and I can honestly say it was worth the wait – and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a contradictory opinion on that.

The highlight of the Orangerie is the famous series of water lilies by Impressionist painter Monet. They are made of immense curved panels that wrap all around the main oval-shaped room; if I’m not mistaken they were created specifically for that space. You can read more about them here on the official museum website. Even though it was late in the day + despite the weather, the place was packed, which made it difficult to take whole photos, but I didn’t really mind.

We explored different rooms of the museum (it’s small enough that it can be done in an hour or so easily) and found some works by my personal Impressionist, Renoir. If you haven’t seen the film Renoir, I highly recommend it – it’s just as visually stunning as one of his pieces, and the music by Alexandre Desplat is phenomenal.

Upon exiting the museum, we were in need of a good vin chaud to warm us up. Nothing like a bit of spiced warm wine on a winter’s day, in Le Jardin des Tuileries, evaluating passersby just like any true Parisian.

After that, we took a stroll through Les Grands Boulevards and especially the old gallery passages like this one. We were recommended Le Bouillon Chartier by my host mother, which is found around the corner from Passage Jouffroy. Historically, a «bouillon» was a restaurant that served authentic, hearty, traditional comfort food at reasonable prices. The everyman’s dinner, if you will. Le Bouillon Chartier has been preserved in the same style as its heyday, and is a wonderful dining experience. It was so packed, we barely got a table ! And everyone is seated practically on top of each other, parties of 2 or 3 sharing tables with other small parties. We were seated next to a German family (if I remember correctly) with a very cute baby. It was cozy, familial, and the best way to wind down after a long day ! I had a classic steak-frites, and it was one of the best I’ve had (I’m not just saying that).

With full hearts and even fuller bellies, we parted ways and headed home for the night.

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