Tired from our travels from the previous day, we slept in for a a little bit, which meant that breakfast was on the run. It is one of my favourite things to do in Paris, actually. ‘Un croissant et un café’ from a boulangerie and I’m ready to go. We stopped by at Eric Kayser on rue de l’Ancienne Comedie along the way. I thought the croissant wasn’t bad but hubby said he prefers the ones from Paul’s. The ones from Eric Kayser were a little on the pricey side too.
Thankfully, dad had gotten over his bad experience the day before and we took the RER to Musée d’Orsay without any trouble. The queue for this museum is always very long. This is where the Paris Museum Pass really comes in handy. When we arrived, the museum had just opened and there was a crowd of people waiting to go in. The entrance for holders of the Paris Museum Pass was not very clearly signed but a quick enquiry with a friendly security guard (in French – that’s always the best way to get a good response) had us inside the museum in under 2 minutes.
We made a bee-line for the Niveau médian. Van Gogh’s works are displayed in Salle 71. We got there early ahead of the crowds and it was great to be able to enjoy his works without having to jostle with other tourists. It was great to be able to come full circle in seeing the countryside that inspired his paintings, walk in his footsteps in Arles and St-Rémy and to come face to face with the actual paintings. It was such an interesting perspective in comparison to just viewing the paintings without seeing the history and inspiration behind it. This is a list of his works on display in Salle 71 & 72:-
- L’église d’Auvers-sur-Oise
- Chaumes de Cordeville à Auvers-sur-Oise
- Le docteur Paul Gachet
- Mademoiselle Gachet dans son jardin à Auvers-sur-Oise
- Portrait de l’artiste
- Dans le jardin du docteur Paul Gachet
- La nuit étoilée
- Roses et anémones
- La chambre de Van Gogh à Arles
- Deux fillettes
- Eugène Boch
- La méridienne
A painting of Hôpital Saint-Paul in Saint-Rémy (the very same place we visited earlier on in our trip) hangs in Salle 57. By the time we made our way to Niveau supérieur, the crowds had started pouring into the museum and it was very crowded. This museum boasts the best Impressionist collection in Paris, and it is easy to see why. Artwork by artists such as Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne and Van Gogh line the walls of the museum. Unfortunately, unlike at Musée du Louvre, photography is strictly prohibited.
The museum building itself is impressive. Originally built as a train station at the turn of the 19th century, it was abandoned from 1961 and saved from demolition by Pompidou. Pompidou’s successor decided to establish a museum in the disused train station. The museum was inaugurated by French president François Mitterrand in 1986. Today, it is one of the most visited museums in Paris.
I personally think we didn’t do the museum enough justice as we had to move along to our lunch reservation at 35 Degrées Ouest at 35 rue de Verneuil. I had read both good French and English reviews of this restaurant. We were originally tempted to head back to Guy Savoy but thought we’d try something different instead. I’m so glad we did.
I called the restaurant from Australia to make a reservation about a month before our trip (they were closed in August). The man who answered my call was very friendly and patient with my French. I strongly recommend making a reservation. The restaurant is small and there are limited number of tables. So glad we made a reservation as we were a party of four and when we got there, almost all the tables were filled so we would no doubt have been turned away if we didn’t have a reservation.
Menu was in French but the maître d’ was very helpful in helping to explain a couple of words that I didn’t understand. The emphasis is on seafood and boy was it delicious and fresh!!! Hubby and mum had the langoustine, dad being a meat person ordered the duck, which was well cooked and I had the poached lobster with beurre blanc which was cooked to perfection!! Just remembering the taste of that dish makes my mouth water.
We found the service very friendly, relaxed and professional. The ambience was cozy and less formal compared to some of the other 3 starred restaurants. We really enjoyed our lunch, which lasted for over 3 hours. For the quality of the food, I would consider the price reasonable. But then I am comparing it to the price of dinner at Guy Savoy. Personally, I wouldn’t hesitate to return for another meal. It was a meal that I thoroughly enjoyed.
When we finally rolled out of the restaurant, we decided we needed to walk to our next destination – Musée Rodin. Unfortunately, the interior of the Hôtel Biron was under renovation, but we got to enjoy the garden and many of Rodin’s famous works which were on display.
The garden was serene and seeing the sculptures in such natural surroundings made them seem even more life-like. It was like they had movement and form of their own.
Leaving the Musée Rodin, we headed to Église du Dôme. This church is a a very fine example of French Baroque architecture. It was inspired by the dome of the St. Peters Basilica in Rome. The gilded dome can be seen from many vantage points in Paris. During the regilding process in 1989, the total weight of thin gold leaves used equaled around 10 kilos of pure gold. The building was certainly an impressive sight in the afternoon sun.
The interior of the church is beautiful. The high ceilings boast frescoes representing Saint Louis and Christ. Today the church is used mainly as a military mausoleum, housing the remains of France’s great military leaders such as Foch, Turenne, and the most famous of all – Napoléon Bonaparte.
After his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, Napoléon spent the last six years of his life in confinement by the British on the island of Saint Helena. Under the rule of King Louis-Philippe, Napoléon’s remains were brought back to France after seven years of negotiation with the British Government. His remains were placed here at Église du Dôme in 1861. While he is no doubt regarded as one of the greatest military commanders of all time, his thirst for war and conquest cost many French lives. His words are etched above the doorway that leads to his tomb – ‘Je désire que mes cendres reposent sur les bords de la Seine, au milieu de ce peuple français que j’ai tant aimé.’ But one cannot help but wonder – was Napoléon Bonaparte a revolutionary or a dictator?
With some time left to kill, mum decided she wanted to visit some dépôt-ventes stores. We headed down to Chercheminippes on rue du Cherche-Midi. Sadly, I didn’t find their stock to be that great. Our next stop was Fan Fan on rue Mayet. It was a small store with some goodies. There were some good quality Chanel and Vuitton. However, nothing caught mum’s fancy.
I had booked mum and dad tickets for a concert at Sainte-Chapelle so we headed down to Île de la Cité. Hubby and I wandered off to get some dinner on our own. By the time we went to pick them up after the concert, it was rather late and we decided to turn in for the night.