Museums of Paris

The rain caught up with us today, so it was mostly an indoor day.  But if beauty is important to you, Paris isn’t a bad place to be indoors.  The only thing is, many of the indoor exhibitions are “no photos allowed” experiences.  So we’ll dance around that as much as possible.

I started my day with jet lag.  Having learned “reframing” from my life coach wife, I can tell you that jet lag has one very strong benefit–when you want to get up before dawn to take a sunrise picture, it’s no big deal because you’ve already been up for three hours anyway.  I wanted a photo of the Louvre with a glorious sunrise coming up behind it, but taking outdoor photos, one is always at the mercy of the elements.  One thing I did notice: there’s not a big crowd and precious little vehicular traffic at dawn.


Being here before spring really breaks out gives one a chance to see details not otherwise visible.  For example, if you’ve seen many photos from Paris, you may have noticed the local penchant for trimming trees in a very rectangular shape.  It’s not my intent to open a big debate over whether that’s good or bad, but I did notice the interesting multi-level structure visible when there are no leaves to get in the way.  When I turned my back on the Louvre itself, I found this:


We waited for the rest of the civilized world to wake up and went to The Petit Palais for two exhibits-The Dutch in Paris and Pastels: from Degas to Redon.  We specifically wanted to see the story of the Dutch masters in Paris because from here we go to Arles, where Vincent Van Gogh lived out his days after leaving Paris.  Alas, no photos of the exhibit, but the grounds of the Petit Palais are lovely.


The entry door to the palace is crowned by a rendering of a ship tossed on a stormy sea, with the motto of the City of Paris.  In Latin, it says Fluctuat nec Mergitur; the English translation is generally given as “Tossed by the waves but doesn’t sink.”  Remember that the next time you read about terrorist attacks or transportation strikes or populist demonstrations here.


And from the Little Palace we go to the Royal Palace (Le Palais Royal), which for some time was the official residence of the kings of France.  The original court of honor had been used as a parking lot until 1985, when a no-holds-barred artist named Daniel Buren converted it into “Les Deux Plateaux“, a multi-purpose installation that has, like much challenging art, generated more heat than light.  The palace itself now serves as the home of the State Council, established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799 to advise the government, roughly equivalent to the National Security Council in the U.S.


According to the weather forecast, the rain has moved out for a while.  Tomorrow we intend to spend the day in our original stomping grounds, the Montmartre district.


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