Today we went to the L'Orangerie where the fantastic Les Nympheas by Monet live. These paintings are huge, there are eight of them, four to a room. In the first room is one of my favorites. It is not the water lilies you see on the postcards. No, my favorite is the one in browns and yellows and dark greens. This was painted towards the end of Monet's life, ironic as it may be he became nearly blind towards the end. How sad.
The building was originally a place where fruit trees were grown for the royals. In the 1930's it became a museum and rooms were specially designed for the Monet's. The walls are curved and the paintings are attached in such a way that they cannot be removed from the walls. There was originally a glass ceiling on the building and the paintings were bathed in natural light.
In the 70's some smart person redesigned the museum, they put a second floor in covering the room where the paintings were. You just gotta ask why?
In the late 90's another renovation was done, the second floor was removed. I was told that the rooms where the Monet's are was hydraulically lifted up a millimeter at a time, alarms would sound if it could out of square, work would be stopped and the room set back on the right course and again up it would go. Another floor was dug out below the original first floor and now the Les Nympheas were back on top with special light filtering stacks that allow natural light in without damaging them. Amazing!
The L'Orangerie is in the Tuileries Garden which is the location of a place started by Catherine de' Medici in 1564. In 1871 it was set on fire - on purpose! It was totally destroyed except for the exterior stone facade. It seems many other buildings in Paris also met this fate during this time, but were selected to be restored, including the Louvre which thankfully was selected to be restored. The Tuileries was considered too much of a symbol of the royals and was eventually torn down. I can only imagine what it must have looked like. I can imagine the Louvre and Tuileries museum - perhaps with all that room they could display their entire collection?
Then it was a walk down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. The Champs Elysees was crowed with people, it was a lovely day for a walk. I have never been to the top of the Arc and probably never will - 300 steps up I'm thinking not. But it is amazing to look at and watch the traffic go round and round.
A quick metro ride back to the hood and a little rest before dinner. As a vegetarian Paris is not the easiest city to get a good meal in. I found a book before we left called "Vegan in Paris" and it helped. We were able to find a good place right around the corner from us. Lebanese. Yum.
Tavern du Nil at 16 Rue le Regrattier right here on the little island. The best hummus I have ever had. Lots of little plates.
There were not very many people in the place and we got a table right away. Sitting at one table were two old men and two young women. It reminded me of the old white guys you see in Asia with the really young Asian girls. Creepy.
After we were there for a little while we heard a cat and the cat did not sound happy. We wondered where it was coming from, afraid that when we left we would walk out the door to a cat war by the sounds of things. But no, it was the cat of the house and it just wanted out of its cage. It is not unusual to see a cat in a restaurant here in Paris, you see them soaking up the sun in the windows during the day. At night they earn their keep by, well I will let you think about that.
Then back to our little apartment. In all a great day in Paris.