Musee d’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower

I have been a bit behind on my blogging and that’s due to some combination of being busy, laziness, and writer’s block.  With a busy schedule and inconsistent Wi-Fi, it’s hard to write everyday and also to write about everything that happens–I realized I still haven’t written about amazing stores I went to in Rome, how annoying the pick-pocketing gypsies are, or how I had French fondue last weekend.

Maybe I’ll have time when I get home to think back over this amazing and jam-packed four weeks and post about some things I forgot to write about, but for now I’m going to cover as much as I can whenever I can.

Which brings us to the end of week three–notably the Musee d’Orsay and going to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

While I love art from all periods and cultures, Impressionism is probably overall my favorite movement, so I was very excited to visit the Musee d’Orsay, which was built in an old train station and has works from the 19th century.  I saw works from Cezanne, Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir, but I didn’t have quite as incredible an experience as I had at the Louvre because we had to follow a tour guide rather than move through the galleries at our own pace while doing a scavenger hunt.  I wasn’t able to stand in front of some of my favorite works or see some of them close-up, so I may try to go back to the museum if I have time.

The Musee d’Orsay also has a strict no cameras or phones rule, which helped quell would-be obnoxious crowds but also was a little frustrating because I like being able to remember the size and scale of paintings.  I did buy myself the museum guide so I would have a list of the works that are in the museum.

The one picture I was able to snag in Musee d'Orsay.  This is the clock and iron and glass ceiling of the train station-turned-museum.
The one picture I was able to snag in Musee d’Orsay. This is the clock and iron and glass ceiling of the train station-turned-museum.

After Musee d’Orsay we went to Montmartre and climbed Sacre Couer (some reactions from which you can read here) and explored the neighborhood a bit.  It’s very different from the rest of the city–it was essentially untouched by Haussman-ization, so the the streets are winding and it has an artsy feel.  It was once the stomping grounds of Renoir, Picasso, and (briefly) Van Gogh.

We also went to a French restaurant for a group dinner that was a bit fancier than our usual.  While I have loved trying French food, I felt a little out of my element with things like duck and escargot on the menu.  I wimped out and ordered an appetizer (entree in French)  that I wasn’t really sure what it was–pâté–and beef stew for my main course.

Turns out that pâté may contain liver depending on what type it is (when I received it I couldn’t remember what the menu said) and even though I had already eaten half of it, I couldn’t finish it.  I was slightly ashamed at my American palette that I couldn’t branch out more, but c’est la vie I suppose.

We then saw “How to be a Parisian in One Hour,” which was very funny and lots of jokes about American mannerisms versus Parisian mannerisms.  According to the show, we are more friendly but also more in a rush than Parisians.

On Thursday we had a behind the scenes tour of the Eiffel Tower and went to the top.  I had no idea that there were service tunnels under the Champs du Mars that have storage for the restaurants on the tower and a safe area for the president in case of national emergency.  We were able to walk into the tunnels a little bit and then we went up into the tower.  While we have many aerial views of Paris during this trip, the view was absolutely incredible.  It was also a lot windier as you got to the 2nd level and the top, which was a nice relief on the 90 degree day.

It was so peaceful watching the city from 1,000 feet that I could have stood there all day and looked out over Paris (if the champagne was less than 12 euro a glass, I may have).

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Liz, Becca and I on top of the Eiffel Tower
Liz, Becca and I on top of the Eiffel Tower

We went to 58 Tour Eiffel, which is on the first level, for lunch after going up.  It may be my favorite meal in Paris so far.  The food was delicous and served in mason jars.  The main course came in a pyrex dish with lid, but was still amazing. The entree was fresh mozzerella in a glass with vegetables in a red sauce underneath.  I had roasted chicken with mashed potatoes for my main course and fromage blanc avec fruits rouges for dessert (white cheese with red berries).  I was so hungry that I didn’t have a chance to take pictures of the food, and I wish I did because the presentation was so cool.

We were then free for the weekend, and a few of us went shopping in the area across the Seine and a bit to the South.  I bought myself a white tunic shirt (which I am actually wearing today) and navy sweater for 70% off.  I really am enjoying these government-issued sales, or soldes.

On the agenda for the weekend is very little–hopefully some exploring and then the Tour de France comes in Sunday evening.

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