Friday, May 6, 2011
France - 1988/entries 2&3
"Afoot and light-hearted I take to
the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me
leading wherever I choose."
(Typed-written at the beginning of Kay's journal)
August 19 – Friday
Breakfast of croissant and Café-Dau-lait was on the house in a pretty little lobby and we were on our way to the metro and Musée d’Orsay. This has to be a high point of the trip! The building was originally a train station and the arched ceiling of glass rises three stories, The most outstanding collections for us were the Impressionists Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas, Van Gogh, Cezanne – Pastels by Degas. The neo-impressionists Seurat, Cross, Luce, Redon, pastel Joulouse-Latrie. There was also Millet Roresseau, Renoir, Fantin-Latour; one only by Whistler: “Whistlers Mother” and many, many more not as familiar to us. Then the sculpture is beautifully displayed in the large three-story rotunda. It was fabulous!!!
We had lunch at a brasserie – superb onion pie (quiche) then on to the shops. The department stores are OK and similar to ours, but the specialty shops are superb and offer merchandise of quality and style and price I have not seen in the US – much higher!! Costs were shocking – $60 little pillow, $700-800 leather pocketbooks – shoes $200 and up. Scarves $30 to $200. Saw the Sorbonne – kind of worn looking in an area rather run down. Back to our rooms to refresh for dinner. We found a wonderful restaurant called La Croque Sel in a little alley – about six tables inside and a dozen out on the street. The food was wonderful and very reasonable. The place was packed at 9 o’clock. Parisiennes seem to dine late – some restaurants don’t open until 8 p.m.
We had a cool start but it turned out to be a 75-degree day with lots of sunshine. After dinner we walked to the Eiffel Tower to see it illuminated – that is really something. It takes your breath away. I’m still getting up my courage to ride to the top.
Saturday, August 20
Cool morning – about 65 degrees. After breakfast we left for Versailles – about one hour from Paris on public transport. It is a magnificent palace and is being restored. There were hundreds of people visiting from everywhere in the world. As English speaking people, we were in the minority, and had an English tour guide. He was a French professor of art and literature – gives a course at UCLA every two years. He was much more into art than history and his tour showed that interest. We saw the private apartments of Louis XIV, XV, XVI, and Marie Antoinette.
On our own we visited the hall of mirrors and the Battle Hall and gardens. The size is very impressive and there is gold gilt everywhere. Also, the panel carving is fantastic. Furniture is sparse but some of the fabrics and rugs are magnificent – some reproductions and some original. The gardens are called the clever gardens and cover over 100 acres. The statuary is unbelievable in the gardens. We had a downpour while in the gardens and hundreds of people looked for cover in every nook. We were in a window nook with about 16-20 people – no one speaking English except us.
John’s French is getting us around and I can understand and ask simple questions. It is fun. We are very tired so stopped for a picnic supper – terrine, wine, baguette, spinach tart, and pear and apple tarts. Not so very good for dinner but it will hold us until morning. We want to call it a day. The wine is fabulous!!! Goodnight.