Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 2040: Paris au Ralenti (Paris in Slow Motion)
By Doru from Canada, Fall 2012
Page 16 of 19: Friday, 28 September - The Impressionists of the Le Havre Circle of Modern Art; Jardin du Luxembourg
In the Jardin du Luxembourg
What a pleasure to wake up to a clear sky! This is when this apartment shows at its best: the tall double windows, the high white walls and ceilings, let in a flood of light, a golden light this morning; the huge Venetian mirrors augment the light.
I think with some anticipation of the views of Jardin du Luxembourg, where we plan to be later today.
First, the bus takes us from Boulevard Henri IV to Boulevard Saint-Michel via rue des Ecoles. On Saint-Michel time has changed little, although the sidewalks seem cleaner than I remember. There seems to be more space, or are there less people? In the recent past we have avoided this part of the city because of its agglomeration and grunginess. Something to think about, maybe reconsider, evidently.
The first of our objectives this morning is Musée du Luxembourg, where a new exhibition presents a selection from the Le Havre collection of Impressionists, which is considered second only to that of the Musée d’Orsay.
Why Le Havre? In the middle of the 19th century, the then highly prosperous city developed a taste for art and art collecting. A museum was opened by that time and the affluent citizens started a mostly friendly competition in the collecting of impressionist and modern art. At the beginning of the 20th century the friendly competition turned into collaboration through the creation of “Le Cercle de l’Art Moderne” (The Circle of Modern Art), presenting painters such as Corot, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, followed by Dufy, Braque and other Fauvists.
Not a large exhibition, but a very interesting one. Much like the now permanent collection at the Orangerie, which is based on the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume private collections, the Le Havre Circle of Modern Art focused on collections of works beginning with the end of the 19th century and over the following two decades.
The presentation is very visitor-friendly: an abundance of benches that allow rest and contemplation, and a rich museum store.
The visitors also have access to a pavilion that hosts an Angelina satellite coffee shop, serving excellent coffee and great desserts. On the other hand, one wonders about values when a “BABA Savarine” costs almost as much as the entrance ticket to the museum...
After the Savarine and coffees, we continue with a visit of the Jardin du Luxemburg, whose flowers are splendidly presented this early afternoon by the alternating sun and cloud. A place of calm, space, colour. An abundance of chairs. Most of the people in the garden are very young, probably students from the nearby Sorbonne, or clerks from the neighbouring Sénat de France.
Every time I am here I think of Adam Gopnik and his “Paris to the moon”, and in particular I remember his description of the Jardin’s Théâtre des Marionnettes, and the children’s enchantment watching the puppet theatre.
We sit in the garden for a while, take some pictures, and turn towards Boulevard Saint-Michel.
The return bus station is not so easy to find. With the one-way public transportation so typical of Paris, we arrived via rue des Ecoles, but the return bus station turns out to be on Boulevard Saint-Germain. We find the station, sit for a short wait, and a few minutes later are dropped off at Sully-Morland, less than 100 meters from our apartment.
I stop at our local café-restaurant “Le Temps des Cerises” to make a reservation for lunch tomorrow, with AP and A. I confirm that the restaurant’s risotto will be on the menu, and thus reassured we repair to our apartment.
The evening finds us strolling along the Seine quays, watching on one side the bateaux-mouches floating one after another down the river, and on other side stopping and reading the interesting commemorative marble plaques naming the illustrious historical personages who lived in these houses 500 years ago, in the times of Louis XIII. How much has all changed and yet, remained the same: water, cobblestones, trees, sky.
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