Museum Hopping in Paris: Last Weekend

paris-catacombs-sphere

I’m still way behind on my actual life (as exemplified by the fact that I’m writing about Paris museums while sitting in my grandparents’ breakfast nook in Spain…). I have yet to write  post about what I did during my class trip to Grasse, but I truly and sincerely believe that it will someday be written and public.

In the meantime, I’ve really enjoyed my ‘new tradition’ of checking out the lesser known Paris museums on the weekends- and finding some real hidden gems.

Here’s what happened this most recent weekend- because my flight to Spain was only yesterday.

  • Musee Marmottan Monet: Absolutely adored this museum. It’s a bit out of the way but chock full of beautiful pieces by Monet and Morisot. I’m a bit biased because I’m already a huge impressionism fan, but standing and absorbing some of the basement rooms with the hugest Monet waterlily paintings actually gave me tingles.
  • Maison de Balzac: I visited Balzac’s house too! It’s out of the way in the same out of the way that Marmottan Monet is, so they made the perfect joint Saturday excursion.  I haven’t read a ton of Balzac (Eugenie Grandet, Pere Goriot, and Cousin Bette) but what I have read I really enjoyed.  The garden is lovely and has a great view of the Eiffel tower.  Inside there are some busts of Balzac done by Rodin, but my favorite room would have to be the one with all of the character sketches. There are tons of etchings done that were used to print illustrations and I looked at them for maybe an hour. It was fun to recognize characters I had read about (Vautrin was a standout), but even the unknowns were so full of character and individuality. Bonus: the museum is free.
  • On Sunday I went to the Catacombs. Dad and I had tried to go when we visited Paris two summers ago and bailed out because of the long line. Thankfully Sunday was pretty blue-skied and sunny, so I went with the intention and understanding that I would have a long line wait to reflect and meditate on my life. I even packed some study materials. That worked for about an hour and a half of queued up equanimity and then I started getting cold and lost feeling in my feet.  The last hour was a bit of a doozy (for a total of about 2.5 hours in line). The upside: the catacombs are pretty cool and the report I did on the Paris underground junior year of college gave me some fun insight.  I wouldn’t go again because there are only so many bones you can look at, and I’m not sure if it was worth the long wait, even i hindsight. But I do think satisfying my curiosity and checking it off my list was worthwhile.  It’s a very French thing, there are stone placards with meaningful and poetic bits of Latin and French text which I had fun reading and translating to myself. There are a whole lot of femurs and skulls take second place. Frequently they’re artfully arranged (there was a heart and a cross and a pillar in there, I remember).  Still, with the exception of a few sacra, I do wonder where the other bones went. Also, has it ever occurred to anyone that old femurs look rather like cinnamon bark?

So that was my weekend, briefly summarized as art, literature, and bones.

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