Apparently I've been otherwise engaged because just checking the last entry now, I see it was on Tuesday! Time flies!
I managed to get myself back to the Musee d'Orsay on Wednesday morning when my classes were canceled (one of the nice things about our scheduled classes is if they find us a lecture or other event to attend in place of class, we're off the hook for meeting at 8am!) and had my advanced ticket in hand, so I entered swiftly - although, at 10am when the museum opened, there wasn't really a line to speak of....
The Musee d'Orsay is generally known as the Impressionist museum, although there are other paintings from before Impressionism through to the post-Impressionists. It's a fabulous museum that is housed in a former train station. One of the exhibits explains the process of how the space was restored - kind of neat.
I really enjoyed my visit and took lots of photos - you can see the whole album here. The nice thing about going in the morning was that it wasn't very crowded, and even better was that I was by myself so I could go at my own pace!
On Thursday afternoon, I met up with two of my pals from the group and we headed to Musee l'Orangerie where Monet's famous paintings - referred to as Les Nymphes - are housed. At first I thought that I had not been to the museum - I remembered it being closed for renovations for quite some time - but as I walked in to the first room, I had recollections of having been in that room as a little girl (and seeing things from a much lower point of view!). I'm almost sure that my family did visit the museum - my memory is that it was very hot and very crowded and that I didn't see very much due to all the people and my being so little!
Nevertheless, the paintings are incredible. The space has been very nicely (and almost starkly) re-done and the Nymphes are housed in two large oval rooms connected to each other on the top floor. For someone who loves Monet and Impressionism, this museum is not to be missed - it's breathtaking. I just cannot imagine how Monet managed to paint such huge canvases and have it all look so fantastic and beautiful. It reminds me that artists, at least the masters, have such vision - truly worth admiring.
My pals who went with me, Ingrid and Kaitlin, were good sports about having their photos taken and seeing the rest of the museum. Downstairs from Les Nymphes are some other Impressionist paintings, as well as pieces by Picasso, Matisse and other famous artists. After our visit, we got a much needed cafe...
In the evening, I went with a different group of folks on a Seine River cruise! We had a great time together - about 10 of us. We traveled to the Eiffel Tower and purchased our tickets for the cruise at about 8pm (it was still light!). A few photos of the Effiel Tower can be found if you click the link above ("photos taken").
So, our last night in Paris (for a bit - we have two nights there once we leave Lyon) we cruised the Seine and I broke down and got a nutella crepe... For those of you unfamiliar with nutella, it is simultaneously the most divine and most evil food there is on the planet - hazelnut and chocolate spread! One of the most common things you can purchase at a food stand in Paris seems to be nutella crepes, which I had resisted to this point. But walking back to the Metro station after our cruise, we stopped to watch the famous Eiffle Tower light show (which apparently some Parisians absolutely hate) which started a few years ago and makes the tower sparkle for about 10 minutes at the beginning of every hour. Of course right there where we stopped is a crepe stand, so I gave in. My delicious creation also had glorious whipped cream on the top! I'm glad it was the last night in Paris or else I could see myself eating nothing else for the next few meals!
Friday was spent driving from Paris (au revior Paris!) to Bordeaux. The five hour ride was split up into segments, and we first stopped in Tours at the end of the Loire Valley for lunch. It seemed that most of the people on each of the coaches managed to sleep their way through at least the first half of the journey (we've got quite a few late night birds in our group), but there was plenty of gorgeous French countryside to appreciate the whole ride.
Upon arriving in Bordeaux, we checked in to our hotel where we'll stay for the next few days (until Thursday when we head for Lyon) and were taken into town by our wonderful Ged and Sophie. Some of the gals I was with were interested in having McDonald's for dinner, so I caved in and went with the crowd! Interestingly, having McDonalds, while still an American phenomenon, is a bit more of an upscale experience here in France. The restaurants (and they are more restaurants than fast food joints here) are all very nicely designed and decorated, and are FULL of French people!!
This morning found us on a walking tour of Bordeaux where we learned more about French history and culture than I can hope to remember! Despite the rain, we managed to stay dry and then the sun peeked through just a little. Can't wait to take more photos and explore more of Bordeaux...and oh yes, drink some wine, too!