Day 2 in Paris

Learned a very valuable lesson this morning. Turns out I didn’t cancel all of my Paris hotel reservations and woke to a very friendly email informing me of my one night cancellation charge. Normally if affordable rooms are scarce, I book several hotels then cancel the ones I won’t need. Turns out I forgot to do that very important last step – cancel!  Very expensive lesson learned.

Today is museum day. Not the Louvre, but several of Paris’ other great museums, particularly those for Impressionism. We decided to purchase a two-day museum pass which allows us to enter numerous attractions and most importantly, skip the long ticket lines and often use a special entrance. Definitely the way to go with only a few days in Paris. To avoid waiting in the long ticket lines at our first museum, we purchased ours from a ticket retailer close to our hotel, paid a small ticket fee but also worth it once we saw the long lines at the Orsay . . .long lines waiting in the rain.

Since it was raining Musee d’Orsay was very crowded but we were still able to admire the beautiful works by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, van Gogh, Cezanne and Gauguin. For me, this artwork is much more appealing than many of the classics housed in the Louvre, and not nearly as exhausting!

After visiting the Orsay, we meandered over to the Musee de l’Orangerie on the other side of the river for more Impressionist painting. Being Paris with its fickle weather it had cleared up so our walk was rather enjoyable. One thing I love about Paris is its gorgeous architecture. Nearly every moment is worth a photograph.

Orangerie is particularly known for the Monet’s massive Water Lilies which are housed in two rooms dedicated to these huge canvases.  Orangerie was very enjoyable especially as it wasn’t nearly as crowded as Orsay.

We also got to experience an attempted scam in the park just outside. A man walking towards us suddenly scooped up a “gold” ring he “found” on the ground. Exclaiming his surprise and delight he shows us the ring while pointing at what I imagine is some mark proclaiming the authenticity of the gold. I simply told him congratulations, it must be his lucky day and we kept on walking. He cursed us in fluent English as he went on to find his next mark. Come on . . . Amy and I spent enough time in the French Quarter to recognize a scam. And, this one is specifically noted in the Rick Steves’ Paris guide-book.

From Orangerie it’s nearly a straight shot back over the river to the Rodin Museum. This small but beautiful little museum is worth a visit and features a wonderful little garden where The Thinker is located.  Me, I was thinking about those approaching dark clouds.

As we left the Rodin Museum the rain returned so we ducked into a little corner cafe for lunch. The cafes seem to have pretty consistent menus and we split a croque monsieur (huge grilled ham & cheese sandwich), cheese plate and a pichet of white wine. The pichet is a great size, just shy of a full bottle. The French are simply brilliant.

After lunch we headed over to the Rue Cler (a lively little street market) and Eiffel Tower. Along the way we found the massive Napoleon’s Tomb and Army Museum. While not originally on our “to do” list with the Museum Pass we decided to pay a visit. Napoleon’s Tomb is the gold dome we had been admiring from a distance (below as seen from the Rodin museum gardens).

To fully visit the museum requires several hours, with only an hour before closing, we wandered through the West Wing which featured medieval weapons and armor.

The other sections of the museum cover more recent military history up to WWII. We decided we’d return tomorrow to explore.

As we reached the Eiffel Tower we discovered the Triathalon de Paris was in progress (July 7-8) so the park leading to the Eiffel Tower was blocked off and full of bicycles. The area was also a muddy mess.

The base and immediate surrounding area of the Tower was crammed full of tourists with their busses lining the streets. We skirted this madness and found the delightful gardens along the sides of the Tower. Quiet little paths meander along small ponds and park benches are tucked away allowing couples to quietly enjoy monument away from the crowds.

Leaving the Tower, we headed toward the river. Strolling along the quay we enjoyed watching dinner cruises prepare for their evening tours. After realizing how much farther we had to walk we popped down into the metro and within minutes were whisked to the St. Germain/Notre Dame stop to emerge smack in the middle of the touristy Latin Quarter at the Place St. Michel.

Place St. Michel is always a lively little square with streets of the Latin Quarter winding off one side and the Boulevard St. Michel and it’s cafes leading to the Cluny Museum (and our hotel) down the other. The fountain has always been one of my favorites.

Our day, and stamina, were quickly dwindling. It was well after 8pm and not being overly hungry we simply picked up some sandwiches and pasta salad from a market along the walk to the hotel. A wine tasting bar and shop around the corner from our hotel provided an interesting bottle of wine and we returned to our room to relive the day and plan tomorrows continuing adventure.

Ah . . . . French wines. Delicious and medicinal after spending all day walking through Paris.


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