rain, art, history and skipping queues
26.08.2014 - 26.08.2014 19 °C
Madison I headed out onto our street, rue Saint Dominque at 7.30 am to buy quarte croissant. Madison did all the talking and at the end, the mademoiselle who served us said bon journee, meaning have a good day…. cool
After breakfast we walked 20 minutes in the rain along la Seinne to the Musee d’Orsay. A museum of modern impressionist artists. I had been there before in 1987 (just after the All Blacks won the 1st world cup… that’s how I know the year!) I loved it then, so was keen to get the girls there on this trip.
We had booked a “skip the queue guided tour”. We turned up in the rain, at at 9.30 am. Found our guide, Caroline, an art history graduate and now lecturer in art history. As she said she knows the history and theory but no good in practice. An English speaking French woman.
Anyway, the tour lived up to its name. “Skip the Queue”. The staff at the Museum had decided to hold a strike meeting, and the museum was late opening by 30 minutes. The queues to get in were unbelievable, with such a fine array of umbrellas.
Anyway the doors finally opened, and Caroline took us through the queue to a reserved ticket door and in we went. One of the first in. There was us and an American couple in our group. We were supplied with head phones and Caroline spoke to us all the way round.
Caroline was great. Passionate about art and she explained the history as we went round. Prior to the revolution artists were told what to paint. Mostly either to please the monarchy or the nobles, or to be used as almost propaganda to spread the good word. Both of religion or the nobility.
Anyway the revolution changed that, and artists started painting what they wanted, and this slowly evolved into painting what they saw, or what they wanted to paint. This evolution took 100 years to unfold. She showed us paintings that were important in the change, and explained the meaning behind each one. Slowly the story of the birth of French Impressionists unravelled, and then we saw more of their work. So we went from Thomas Couture through to his student Manet. Manet is considered the father of Impressionism. From there, he inspired others. Artists such as Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and Gauguin among many others and they shaped the impressionist art world. In my humble view this is so much better than what came before and after. That is why I love the Musee d’Orsay. It was great being shown around by someone who knew their subject.
We couldn’t take photos, so have stolen a few images of the web.
After that we found a dry spot for lunch and then meet up with our next guided tour of the Palace of Versailles. Again, skip the queue, straight to the front, and into the Palace with our tour guide, Katherine. Again head phones, and another family of 5. Catherine spoke to us all the way round, explained the history etc. The palace was built by Louis the 14th.
The sun king who modelled himself on the sun. Like the sun the thought everything revolved around him. He was almost a sun worshipper. The order of things was God, him and then everyone else. The Pope was tolerated because he was God’s representative (actually I think God was only just tolerated as well!!). Louis became king at the age of 5 and reigned to his death at the age of 72. Louis the 15th and 16th succeeded him. Sadly for Louis the 16th, the peasants got sick of being the only ones taxed to fund the nobility lifestyle, and they revolted. Can’t blame them really. Anyway, they were marched off to prison and eventually lost their heads. The Palace was not destroyed, although a lot of the furniture etc was sold off.
The palace is now an art gallery and museum. It has 700 rooms and also 2,000 ac of garden and woodland.
The palace itself was stunning, but equally impressive was the gardens, with their many fountains.
Katherine guided us all the way, and shed so much light into the history and art works. Thankfully by the time we reached the garden, the rain had stopped and the sun started to exert its dominance. After all it is the palace of the Sun King!!
We finally finished around 5.30. By the time we wandered back through the gardens to the exit, through the local shops, on the train back to Paris, we arrived back home around 7.00 pm. Shattered, exhausted with sore feet but once again a great day.