Saturday, July 07, 2012

A panorama of paintings!

Apart from going up the wrong street and trying to imagine how a restaurant could have been converted into a fairly sleazy looking nightclub before noticing that our destination was on another corner – we had a good night.  The food as before was excellent and the atmosphere was good too.

Irene had almost exactly the same meal as she ate the night before, on the grounds that it had tasted good and she had enjoyed it.  This is an excellent reason for repeating a repast but it is not something I could do on successive nights!  Not with a menu which offers many and varied delights to tempt the pallet.

I had lobster bisque (and no there were no bits of the beast in sight, but still tasty) followed by pork with string beans and sauté potatoes.  Irene liked the look of my dish and vowed to eat it the next time we were there.  I fancied the cheese but was disappointed that one had to choose one of the cheeses on offer with the possibility of having a slice of each firmly rejected – so I settled for the lemon sorbet.

The red wine, served in a jug, added substantially to the price of the meal but what the hell, I’m on holiday!

We return to the art galleries, firmly resolved to resist the cunning wiles of passing Rumanian thieves, determined to indulge ourselves with a feat of Impressionists!

For the larger care of our souls we intend to make a pilgrimage to Notre Dame so that Irene can see in reality what she has read about in literature.  I must admit from my reading of The Hunchback of Notre Dame I was expecting a much more Gothic (in every sense of the word) building full of dark corners and mysterious stone staircases.  It is difficult to sustain Romantic images when surrounded by camera-obsessed tourists who seem unable to validate their experiences without the necessary number of clicks.

In the Louvre, especially in front of the Mona Lisa, the jostling sea of camera waving visitors was joined by almost equal numbers of people trying to get a photograph of themselves on their mobile phones with the Mona Lisa in the background.  One guy was taking pictures with his IPad while others were wandering around with their Nintendo 3D guides to the museum: perhaps it was the Nintendos that drove the German woman into the Luddite conversation with us yesterday!

There is some form of pallid sunshine worming its way through the net curtains on my window but even as I type it has gone.  We are looking forward to another July (sic.) Paris day of climatic gloom.  Even Irene, who is not keen on too much sunshine, admitted that she was looking forward to returning to the warmth of Spain!  Shame on Paris for selling tourists the lie of a great city basking in the warmth of sunshine; far better look at the artists of the city who constantly delight in painting the myriad reflections in the glassily reflective surfaces which are only available to a city bathed in rain!

Just off to the meagre breakfast that this cut price joint “serves” to its visitors.  Yesterday there was no egg – if that continues today there will be Complaints.  When one is as culturally determined as we are, the necessity of a filling breakfast to fuel the campaign is essential.

Irene has now become a member of an exclusive club that of FMG – Frustrated Museum Goers.  She wanted to go to the d’Orsay gallery specifically to see her favourite Renoir painting of a couple dancing in the town, a companion piece to another painting of a couple dancing in the country.  At first we were told it was “in store” but then a much more helpful attendant told us that it was being exhibited in the USA.  Irene was not happy.

I too am a member of the FMG club having built up the power and presence of Van Gough’s last painting of Blackbirds over a Cornfield when visiting the Van Gough Museum in Amsterdam and finding it in an exhibition abroad when I finally got there.

I am determined that when I finally get round to going to Munich to see “Boy picking fleas from a dog” by Ter Borsch, I will previously have phoned the gallery to ensure that it is in place at the time of my visit and I will then be able to tick off a “must do” item from a list that has been in existence for over 40 years!

The paintings were wonderful and it was overwhelming to see such a profusion of Impressionist and Post Impressionist paintings in one building.  While the National Museum of Wales has an example of The Façade of Rouen Cathedral by Monet, the d’Orsay has a wall with five of them hung together.  The gallery has riches in depth and I was very tempted to buy yet another book to add to my collection, but amazingly I managed to resist the pull!  Though tomorrow really is another day.

I am still not convinced by the internal architectural arrangement of internal walls within the cavernous interior of this former railway station.  The formation of the display rooms have stone partitions which look vaguely Egyptian to my eyes and are satisfying neither at floor level nor when viewed from one of the many vantage points that one gets from the journey up to the cream of the collection – the Impressionists on the fifth floor.  But the paintings themselves outweigh any cavils that I might have about their display.

Our attempt to see Notre Dame was frustrated by queues and torrential rain.  Our daily dose of heavenly refreshment continues unabated – though it was only today that Irene remembered that she had a coat of some sort in the car in the subterranean garage.  Ah well, better late than never – and it will be used because I have looked at the weather forecast for Paris and the weather continues in its unrelentingly liquid way.

Notre Dame looks disturbingly clean, but our further explorations were cut short by the necessity of finding some sort of shelter from the storms.  We cut our losses eventually and marched back to the Metro, but not before we had found a Chemist for me to get a razor to scrape away the burgeoning grey growth that has sprung up on my cheeks.

To celebrate finding a razor and to escape from the downpour we went into a bar and ordered a large beer each.  To my utter horror when the bill came is was for €19!  Almost €10 a beggared pint!  This still does not reach the record level of €11 a pint for daring to drink in the arcades off the Cathedral plaza in Milan, but still!  A pint of Carlsberg for €9.90!  Sheer unadulterated robbery.

Tomorrow a possible visit to the Richard Rogers’ gallery masterpiece and another opportunity to try and tempt Irene to give modern art a chance!

Before that dinner in our favourite restaurant in Malakoff (an area of Paris of which I have never previously heard) and a well deserved rest.

Culture does not stop for Sunday and we must be prepared to travel and travail!
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