no matter where you go, there you are

Monday, January 25, 2010

everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love. - claude monet

I think I've mentioned in other posts before this, but if you ever go to Paris and want to see a lot of famous museums, I highly recommend getting the Paris Museum pass. Not only did it save me a lot of money, it allowed me to skip lines and visit and see artwork I wouldn't have otherwise. The 5 attractions that were on the top of my sightseeing list and included in the pass were the Lourve, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle and the Concierge. The total admission for all these places was more than a 48-hr museum pass so I decided the pass was certainly worth it in regards to these places only. However, because I had the pass I then went to the Hotel des Invalides, Rodin Museum and Musee l'Orangerie without spending any extra money. It was really awesome. tips aside, this entry will be about my visit to the Musee l'Orangerie as well as my nice long walk up the Champs-Elysees and my visit to the Arc de Triomphe. From the Metro stop at Hotel deVille, I got off at the Place de la Concorde. It is the eastward end of the Champs-Elysees, home to the obelisk and between the Jardin du Tuileries and another garden I don't know the name of. It offers a great view of the Eglise de Madeline and is right next to the Musee l'Orangerie. The Place de la Concorde is also the home of a GIANT ferris wheel that may or may not be permanent but is indeed a huge eye-sore. I truly believe it should be removed as soon as possible, never to return.

Upon arriving at the Place de la Concorde I take a look towards the Madeline and admire the large fountain in the middle of the oblong rotary. A huge rotary by the way that has no lanes painted where you really would want some. After the fountain I wait awhile for the lights to change so that I can cross the rotary to look more closely at the obelisk which is very pretty and intricately carved with symbols I have no translation/meaning for. Although the obelisk is a very nice sight to look at, the island it's on is small and overcrowded so I head back to the sidewalk the next time the lights change.

I make my way into the museum (through another metal detector) and head to the main exhibit, Monet's Nympheas. The Nympheas is a collection of Monet's water-lily paintings that encompass two very long, narrow, circular rooms. Each room has 4 paintings that are each a unique panorama of color and design. Very beautiful and I sat and stared at them for awhile before heading downstairs to see the other impressionist work.

I don't remember any of the names of the artists but I do remember enjoying quite a number of paintings in the gallery. Overall, the museum was nice and I'm glad I went for free. If I had to pay I might have thought it as overpriced at 7.50Euro. The place isn't very big so compared to the 9Euro fee at the Lourve you can see where I feel the overpriced-ness.

After finishing the museum and feeling a huge wave of fatigue, I decided to try and find an internet cafe that might be cheaper than the hostel before going up the Arc de Triomphe and then the Lourve for the evening. A worker at the museum told me there was internet in the Grand Palais, a 10-15 minute walk northwest of the museum along the Seine. Turns out, he was mistaken and there is no internet. Or the people at the Grand Palais didn't understand me and told me there was no internet. I did get to see the outside of the Grand Palais and Petit Palais up close, so the walk wasn't a complete failure.

The Grand Palais workers said to look along the Champs-Elysees so I decide that the walk from there to the Arc de Triomphe isn't that long so I start up the famous avenue.

The Champs-Elysees is pretty much the equivalent to 5th Ave, Park Ave or Madison Ave in New York City. At least thats the impression I got. It's a place for shoppers who have money. The beginning of where I started was actually set up as a Christmas Market. There was even a Santa with sleigh and reindeer set up on a zipline. After walking up the avenue a third of the way and seeing nothing in the form of an internet cafe, I turn down a side street and ask people in a restaurant. They tell me that there is nothing like that near hear...grrr. This was my first experience with trusting foreigner's English when I shouldn't but that is a discussion to be saved for another post.

Since finding internet was not going to happen and I was starving I consented to buying a real dinner at QuickBurger as the bread and cheese I had was not sustaining me well. The chicken and fries I got with a soda were absolutely delcious. So satisfying for someone who hadn't had a real meal in 3 days. I make it to the Arc de Triomphe as the sun is almost completely set but there is still enough daylight to provide a beautiful background for my pictures. The Arc is in the middle of an EXTREMELY busy rotary and I was confused as how to cross as there were no crosswalks or lights or anything. I glance over to the Arc nad see a stairwell go into the ground and I then discover a similar one on my side of the road. An underground tunnel...very smart.

Finally under the arch I spend a bit of time observing all the detailed carvings in the two smaller side arches as well as the main one. It's all the same, plain flower pattern over and over but I find it very pretty.

I enter the arch and begin the ascent to the top. It was up a, you guessed it, narrow spiral stairwell that made me very dizzy and by this point my legs were REALLY tired so I just wanted it to end.

It does and I enter a museum kind of place with models and a gift shop and see that there is still another stairwell to ascend, though this one isn't spiral! The view from the top is wonderful. There are 12 different avenues that end at Charles de Gaulle-Etoile (the rotary around the Arc) and so just looking down each avenue individually gives me a different view of the city than the Eiffel Tower or the Notre Dame did.

One aspect of the Arc's view I was looking forward to was the ability to see straight down the Champs Elysees to the Place de la Concorde and the Obelisk and then all the way down to the Arc du Carousel next to the Lourve. However the eyesore of a Ferris wheel was lit up and blocking the whole second half of the view. Grrrr. I was not that happy. I spent quite awhile staring out into the Paris night since this was my only evening city view and I wanted to enjoy it. But after awhile I knew I had to go if I wanted to see as much as the Lourve as I could in the next 4 hours.

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