Thursday, April 10, 2008

Paree Is for You and Me--Day Four

We opt to climb back up on our art horse, or should I say art Orsay today, after we wake up late-ish only to find the weather forecast of sunny skies would be inaccurate--instead it even slails or is that heets (?) briefly as we go to eat breakfast sweets at the terrific Patiserrie Secco. So much for Versailles this day. But the Musee d'Orsay is a quick Metro/RER ride away, fitting as it once was a train station itself, hence its immensity, and fondness for the Psychedelic Furs.

More or less you get French art from 1840-1910 here, and quite a lesson it is. Just to start you're confronted with a room of Daumier and realize satire was alive and well in the 19th century and that Bill Plympton couldn't have existed without Daumier. The museum, since it was originally a train station, certainly tries to keep your art-watching on schedule...the shadow of time knows.

One thing time learns is folks tend to look at the name of the artist on the identifying tag first, then decide if looking at the actual painting is worth their while; George Sisley, therefore, doesn't get much eyeball time, while the Van Gogh room is packed. Manet gets his glimpses, too, mostly because no one has quite figured out why the woman is naked here...

I guess the French just have a different idea about picnics. It was too cold during the trip for us to picnic, so I can't be sure. Like so many of the spots in France with art, telling the art and setting apart wasn't always a given, especially when mirrors got involved.

You can even stare out from the d'Orsay to the Louvre, if you think the art is always greener on the other side of the Seine.

And while the place is so large I have to admit our attention flagged a bit, especially as we musuemed through lunchtime, we certainly perked up for the Art Nouveau. I'm not sure why I like it so much, but then again I like writing that's a bit over-wrought, too, so it might just be my aesthetic.

Oh, and these are pretty amazing, all dancing away inside their glass case. Oddly enough, they didn't draw much a crowd. Sorry, Degas.

After the Orsay we decided we'd take a little afternoon walking tour that Kathryn Graham of C'est Cheese had put together for customers Paris-bound and kindly provided to us. Fortunately the first stop was at the wonderful tea shop Laduree (actually, they are several in the city, but this was the one in St. Germain). We generally are coffee folks, but knew when in the tea shop, do as the tea drinkers do. Probably the best tea I've ever had, but then again, it might have been the over-the-top delicious pastries that made me think that. I had a St. Honore flavored with raspberry and rose and Amy had a violet religeuse, which could turn anyone to God.

Thus totally fortified with sugar and three-quarters of an hour sitting in the lovely Japonoise (is that a word?) setting, we head out to look at chocolate and cheese shops. This was an arduous task, as our hotel room had no fridge, so cheese seemed out, as it would be left out. The chocolate was tempting, but Debauve and Gallais is so precious, and the cost so much, we managed to walk out without buying (Parisian chocolate shops are so meticulously art directed you feel bad taking a single truffle out of the exquisite mise-en-scene). But, if we ever get back to Paris (oh please! oh please!) at a time of year when you can be outside for an hour and still feel your toes, we're definitely going, baguette in hand, to Barthelemy for cheese and then off to a park.

And then the rains came, and only I had an umbrella. So we huddle, work our way through the rush hour streets to the nearest Metro stop, get to our stop, and as we come up the stairs it's now blue. Very weird weather. For dinner we walk past Les Invalides to Domaine de Lintillac, and although arriving at what we hope is a more Frenchified dinner hour of 8 pm, no one else is in the small, homey dining room but the husband and wife proprietors. the place does totally fill up over the next hour, including a table of 6 burly Frenchmen clearly giving the male proprietor a bit of a hard time about something, but it just might have been an argument over soccer fandom. We share a foie gras pate that is creamy deliciousness (they specialize in the stuff--go see the website and order some if you'd like) and then Amy has a rustic and mouth-watering cassoulet and I have another out of the iron pot meal consisting of lentils, sausage, and duck necks. Turns out there's more meat on those than you'd think, and long-braised it just falls off the bone. This is the kind of real cooking that makes us want to come to dinner here every night. We drink a 2005 Bergerac from Chateau Haute-Fonrousse that is also rustic and warm--perfect for the hearty food. Then we have goat cheese for dessert, again from the Domaine itself, a delicate and delicious Cabecou. the total bill comes to about $60. Yes, $ not €. We've found our first Paris bargain!



Blogger Ben Varkentine said...

The woman is naked so that in the eighties the painting could inspire a Bow Wow Wow cover, of course.

All things return to and flow from the '80s...

1:29 PM  
Blogger George said...

Good one, Ben.

C-30, C-60, C-90, Go!

1:54 PM  

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