I spent a few days on my own in Paris this month, when V was on a business trip in South America. Again I got to explore like a local, which was wonderful.
It was the first day of the post-Christmas sales (signs for “SOLDES” were everywhere you turned). I made my pilgrimage to the Galeries Lafayette, which seems to be the Bloomingdale’s of Paris. The store was packed and there were lines for the luxury boutiques within: Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo. I was quite pleased with my purchase of a store-brand scarf, thank you very much. The roof of the store has wonderful 360º views of the city.
I went to the Louvre for the first time in 5 years.
I skipped the Mona Lisa, but saw galleries I had never seen before, partially inspired by my recent travels. Ancient Greek sculpture, Islamic mosaics, Dutch portraiture. The Louvre has a new section dedicated to Islamic Art. While limited compared to their other holdings, it does a nice job of showing the range of art and design throughout the Islamic world.
My ticket to the Louvre gave me free admission the following day to Musée National Eugène Delacroix. The museum houses a limited selection of his paintings and also some of the artifacts he collected on his travels. Since my sole art history class in college, I have enjoyed the work of Delacroix particularly as it relates to orientalism and as a precursor to the Impressionists. That said, I am glad I didn’t go too far out of my way to see this museum. I got to the end and wondered if I had missed something. No, it’s just a tiny museum.
On the other hand, I’m quite glad I went rather far out of my way to go to Musée Marmottan Monet, in the outer reaches of Paris in the 16th arrondissement. The museum’s neighborhood is lovely, with broad boulevards and stately buildings, and surrounded by parks. The museum itself resides in a 19th century townhouse mansion and houses numerous Monet paintings as well as a selection of other Impressionist artists, such as Morisot, Renoir, and Degas. It’s a lovely little museum and I recommend a visit if you’re in Paris and you like Monet (and you’ve already been to the more conveniently located l’Orangerie). But try to coordinate your visit so that it doesn’t coincide with the visit of multiple buses of Parisian senior citizens. I speak from experience.
While in Paris I also had the chance to catch up with friends over delicious meals. I spent some quality time with a few of V’s friends, who all very kindly accommodate my inability to carry on a conversation in French. I spent the most time with Matt and Robin, my two favorite people in the whole country (after V of course). Matt took me to an outstanding Italian restaurant for lunch and we had a leisurely three course meal.
He and Robin also brought me to their baller gym (where I crushed it in a spinning class), located in a 19th century factory and with a vaulted-ceiling pool in the basement. Then we had an amazing, creative, seafood dinner at a neighborhood restaurant, Sur Mer, that should be in the running for a Michelin star.
I got a great deal on a hotel in Paris – totally recommend Priceline for inexpensive hotels and car rentals – and had this nice view down a Haussmannian block from my 4th floor window!
Paris is now having epic rains, and apparently the rats are getting pushed from their hiding spots into the streets. While I was there the Seine was high but not overflowing, and while it was cloudy pretty much the entire time it did not rain at all. I can also count myself fortunate that I had no rat sightings. All told it was a great trip to the City of Lights.