Sunday, May 19, 2013

Paris - Musée d'Orsay, Rodin Museum, and Les Invalides

On Saturday December 29, 2012, we woke up to another gorgeous day in Paris.

Beautiful Saturday Morning in Paris

We started our day off, as we had most days so far, with a trip to the Cafe Montparnasse nestled under the Hotel Edouard VI which is where we stayed. The coffee is excellent and we kept getting the same waiter, who was very friendly and even spoke English. He, of course, claimed he didn't speak English very well, but it was MUCH better than any French we spoke!  We had our "usual" of coffee and a pain au chocolat or plain croissant if they were out of the chocolate ones. What an awful life!

As we sat there Frankie saw a sign saying "huîtres crues" and asked our waiter what it meant.  The waiter told us it meant raw oysters to which Frankie said he had never had.  I hadn't either.  The waiter looked at us in shock.  Seriously, I think he had never met anyone who hadn't eaten raw oysters.

He told us to hold on and he went to the back and brought out two raw oysters for us to try.  How sweet!

raw oysters at Montparnasse Cafe Paris

It really must be a strange thing in France because even the other waiter came over to watch us try them! They even gave us a lemon wedge to squeeze over the top. Frankie went first and gave a thumbs up, so I took mine, dug it out and ate it. It was good! Probably not something I would eat on a regular basis but would eat again.

We went to three museums today.  The first one was the Musée d'Orsay.  It is housed in a converted train station and has mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915. It has works by MonetDegas, Renoir, Van Gogh and many others but I listed the ones I had heard of.  (Keep in mind, I am a self-proclaimed art idiot.)

I wasn't able to take pictures inside the museum but did get a few before going into the actual museum part.  Here is the overall museum showing that it really was an old train station.

d'Orsay Museum Paris

One of the first things that you are greeted with is one version of the Statue of Liberty (which was given to us by the French, in case you didn't know.)

Statue of Liberty in d'Orsay Museum

I loved the huge clock that is in the museum.

Clock in d'Orsay Museum

I loved the one that is near the gift shop on the top floor even more. You can look through it and see Saint Suplice Church in the distance. It was an amazing sight!

St Suplice Church Seen Through the Clock at d'Orsay Museum

After visiting the Musée d'Orsay it was time for lunch!  Do I talk about food a lot in my blogs??  I am pretty sure I do.  I think it is something we can all relate to!  Even if you can't travel you can eat food from different places and cultures right in your own home.  I can give you that experience too, right? Of course!  So let me proceed.

We usually never had a specific place in mind, we just wonder until we find something that either:

1.) we can agree on
2.) I can get over the prices on the menu or
3.) one or both of give up and go into the "next place we see"

I think Le Drop Cafe ended up being a number 3.) because it was one of the more expensive meals we had, but it was good.  That helped quell the number munchers that constantly calculate cost in my head.  Plus they had a formula (they call it a menu, we would call it a combo meal) which allowed us to get more for a little less.

For our appetizers Frankie went with the smoked herring and potatoes.

Smoked Herring Appetizer at Le Drop Cafe Paris

We also ordered a plate of French cheeses. The guy told us what type they were but it was French words and they didn't stick in my head. It looks pretty though!

Cheese Plate Appetizer at Le Drop Cafe Paris

For our main plates Frankie chose fried squid which was the plat du jour and I went with a typical steak and fries.

Plat du jour - Fried Squid at Le Drop Cafe Paris

Steak and fries at Le Drop Cafe Paris

For dessert I ordered a crème caramel. I was thinking it was going to be warm but it wasn't. It was served cold with a caramel sauce served over the top. I liked it but Frankie didn't care for the texture.

Creme caramel at Le Drop Cafe Paris

After stuffing our faces with good French food we made our way to the Rodin Museum.  Auguste Rodin was the artist who created The Thinker and other works, but I think most people would recognize this one.

The Thinker Close Rodin Museum

I have a photo I think is cool of The Thinker with Les Invalides dome in the background.

The Thinker at Rodin Museum and Les Invalides Paris

Also by Rodin is this one called the "Gates of Hell".

The Gates of Hell Rodin Museum

Maybe you didn't notice this little detail, but you really should take a closer look. It is rather disturbing...

Small detail The Gates of Hell Rodin Museum

There is one more work by Rodin I would like to share. I am sure there is some deep meaning behind it but it made me grin.

Pallas with the Parthenon by Rodin at Rodin Museum

I love to see artist's signatures. Here is Rodin's signature.

Auguste Rodin signature in sculpture Rodin Museum

Also at the Rodin Museum there were pieces by other artist as part of an exhibition. There were several sculptures by Ivan Meštrović. This one was my favorite and it his best know work. It is a depiction of Job from the Bible and it captures the extreme suffering that Job went through when everything was taken away from him by Satan.

Job by Meštrović at Rodin Museum

We left the Rodin Museum and the first thing we saw was this.

Pole filled with stickers Paris

Upon closer inspection.

Rodin Musee Stickers on Pole Paris

I guess they have a free day every once in awhile?

We continued on our way to Les Invalides which use to be a hospital for those injured in war. It also had a chapel installed but now houses several museums and tombs: The Army Museum, The Museum of Relief Maps, The Museum of Liberation from the Second World War, the tomb of Napoleon, and other military people's tombs.

We made a quick stop at Napoleon's tomb. Here is a crazy piece of trivia. The remains of Napoleon are protected by six coffins, built from different materials, including mahogany, ebony, and oak, all one inside the other.  No wonder it is so large!

Napoleon's Tomb at Les Invalides Paris

His tomb sits under the huge dome of Les Invalides and from the inside it is lovely.

Inside Dome of Les Invalides Paris

Frankie wanted to go to the Army Museum and we were cutting it close to closing time. I think we had about 30 minutes to see what we could see. I don't think we saw that much of all that Les Invalides contains!

We did see something that had nothing to do with the museum but it made a lovely picture.

Wedding Photo Shoot at Les Invalides Paris

I am not sure if they were actually getting married, just taking pictures, or what. These are the only three people we saw.

Since we didn't have a lot of time, Frankie opted to see just the World War II exhibit. I am not much into war related things so me and my camera wondered and found our own entertainment. Let me share.

Army Museum at Les Invalides Soliders and horse

Army Museum at Les Invalides Middle East Soliders

Britain War Poster at Army Museum at Les Invalides

American War Poster at Army Museum at Les Invalides

Photo of Hitler in Paris at Army Museum at Les Invalides

Photo of Bombings in WWII at Army Museum at Les Invalides

Photo of Nagasaki bombing at Army Museum at Les Invalides

Photo of Japan Surrendering at Army Museum at Les Invalides

And we are through with war! We left the museum and wandered a bit through the gardens trying to find our way out.

Garden Maze at Les Invalides

We found our way out and started our walk to find supper. After about 15 minutes Frankie suddenly says that he can't find his Paris Museum Pass. We are talking a $100 loss plus the cost of any thing that we went to in the future that takes the pass. He starts to retrace his steps and he thought that he might have dropped it out of his pocket when he took his phone out to take some pictures back in the garden maze at Les Invalides.

We think are now closed and its dark outside.  Not good conditions to search for small objects.

We hurriedly walk back to it just hoping we can get into the garden to look for it.

We get back and sure enough the gates are closed and locked. They had police security at the gate and a guy comes out to see what we need. He speaks very little English, but somehow we managed to get across that we needed to get in there to look for this Museum Pass. He calls someone on the radio and they come over. We explained again and luckily this guy speaks more English.

They let us in and escort us to where we thought the pass was. Frankie frantically looks in one area and I frantically look in another.

Then I see it! YES!

We thank the police a thousand times (in French even) and leave.

By this time the adrenaline had worn off and Frankie was just mad at himself. I tried to help calm him but it wasn't until we found some raw oysters on Rue Cler that he calmed down somewhat.

Raw Oysters on Rue Cler Paris

We made it back to the hotel without further incident only to realize how hungry we were. Times like these call for fast food. McDonald's down the street it is!

Thank goodness they had the electronic kiosk that allow you to look at a menu in English and then that automatically gives that order to the staff so you don't have to fumble with a foreign language and feel stupid.

We got our food to go and took it back to the hotel. Emotions were still a little ruffed (I think I just made that  word up) and we were done with crowds and just being out.

It was interesting to see what is available at a place that you are familiar with from your own country. Let me tell you, our McDonald's at home is so unimpressive compared with what you can get in France!

Bagel Cheeseburger!!

Bagel Burger McDonalds Paris

Hazelnut Vinaigrette!!

Hazelnut Vinaigrette McDonalds Paris

Side Salads with weird things in them!!

Side Salad McDonalds Paris

But despite the difference...

I'm Lovin' It Cup McDonalds Paris

I'm lovin' it!

Next post will be about Victor Hugo and I will throw in some modern art for fun. Stay tuned!