Paris, Part Deux

On Friday we decided to head to a smaller museum, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs.  I’d become interested in this museum after reading that they had arranged much of their collection into rooms decorated in period styles, like the V & A Museum, one of my favorite museums in London. 

But before we even entered that part of the museum, we were sidetracked by the most absolutely charming exhibit: Droles de Petites Betes d’Antoon Krings.  This wonderful exhibit showcased the art of children’s author and illustrator Antoon Krings.  Penelope recognized his work at once as we were entering the museum, so we added the exhibition to our tickets and headed upstairs.  She’d brought home some of his charming books (Benjamin le Lutin, Mireille l’Abeille) from school, so I had some sense of his work—and the exhibition itself was wonderful.  Cleverly designed and charmingly presented, the exhibit was hands down one of the best we’ve seen in our travels.  Krings’ art was presented alongside other illustrations, paintings, and historical context—and, at the same time, the galleries were peppered with child-size wonders, like tiny doors that opened into miniature windows on imaginary gardens, small arches into the next rooms, perfectly sized for children, and best of all, a small house in one room, complete with all of Krings’ books.  Many families could be found there, reading the books to one another as they paused in their tour of the galleries.

Krings’ work was absolutely wonderful—it was hard to narrow my photos down to my favorites—but here are a few.

As you can see, completely charming.  My favorite was the Ant with the Pearl Earring, but there were many I simply adored. 

After finishing the Krings exhibition, we headed into the main galleries of the museum.  The collections there are wonderful, arranged both thematically and chronologically.  So in one room, a focus on chair styles of the 18th and 19th centuries (with all the chairs arranged in rows along the wall)—and nearby, a fully furnished drawing room from the Napoleonic Era.  Rooms of jewelry, pottery, and mirrors rounded out the collection.  I especially appreciated the Art Deco bathroom—complete with leopard spotted toilet covers.  Quite something!  And from many of the rooms, wonderful views over the Tuileries Gardens and even across to the Eiffel Tower.

Several hours later, we finished our tour of the museum and headed outside to the Tuileries Gardens and their large playground.  Penelope was delighted, and we all blithely ignored the massing storm clouds overhead.

But sure enough, an hour after we arrived, the heavens opened and we scurried under nearby trees for cover.  Alas, Penelope and I had left home without umbrellas or rain jackets… dismissing the 10% rain in the afternoon forecast.  Lesson learned.

We walked through the Gardens to the Metro, missed the entrance, crossed the Place de la Concorde with dozens of other hapless tourists, retraced our steps, and finally found the Metro stop.  

Then it was home to movie night.  Penelope had voiced a desire to see an “action” movie—but she’s still a bit nervous about real blood or violence, so Jeremy suggested Errol Flynn.  Perfect!  We settled in to watch The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), which she declared “super exciting” and “the best movie ever!”  I have many happy childhood memories of watching Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk with my father, so it was a lovely tradition to pass down to Penelope.  We’re saving The Sea Hawk to watch with Grandpa when he arrives in a few weeks.

Saturday the forecasted high was… 52.  And I finally caved and said we should buy a few items to supplement our wardrobes.  The cold and rain is really taking its toll on us—we just didn’t bring enough warm clothes!  Thinking of spring/summer, I packed shorts and dresses for both Penelope and me… and very few of those clothes have emerged from their packing cubes.  So Penelope and I headed off to the grand shopping avenues, to inspect the wares at Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, and Uniqlo.   A few hours later, we emerged with a new outfit for each of us—and that’ll help get us through the next few weeks!  Hopefully soon the spring will arrive in earnest, and we’ll have more sunshine as well. 

Unpurchased: this charming pencil bag at the Galeries Lafayette. Ha!

On Sunday we headed to the Arc de Triomphe to start our day, but elected not to visit the top, as the lines were already quite long. 

After roaming around the base for a bit, we headed down the Champs Elysee, following the walking tour in our guidebook.  On the first Sunday of each month, the Champs Elysee is closed to traffic, and after a literal pat-down and bag inspection by the Paris gendarmerie, we joined the hundreds of other Parisians and tourists strolling along the enormous boulevard. 

 For lunch we opted for a very American meal… Five Guys!  The food was just as delicious as at home in California, and we were all delighted to indulge in burgers and fries for a meal.   After lunch we headed over to the Grand Palais, a museum which hosts temporary exhibitions.  We’d read about the thematic exhibition there entitled La Lune, which showcased the variety of ways humanity has interacted with the moon.  And a very interesting exhibit it was!  The show began with artifacts from the first lunar landing, then offered snippets of early sci-fi films based on imagined aliens and moonscapes, then turned to Galileo and other early Western astronomers, then moved to art that contained the moon as an element (from many eras and cultures), then considered the varied depictions of the moon as a person or deity, and finally ended with gorgeous landscape paintings at night, with the moon as the light source. An utterly charming exhibit, and certainly unusual in its variety and approach.  We really enjoyed it! 

On Monday we had a very special lunch planned, with a Casti (and ISTP!) alum.  Penelope and I walked over to a restaurant near the Place de Vosges to meet Pauline, ate a delicious lunch, and caught up on all of her gap year adventures.  And I completely forgot to take a picture—will definitely grab one next time!  After lunch we all three strolled for a bit, found an Amorino shop, and shared some delicious ice cream.

Then Pauline and Penelope headed off to explore the Luxembourg Gardens, while I wandered around the Marais.  They soon discovered that the playground was under renovation, but they still had fun riding the carousel and browsing nearby patisseries.   A few hours later, we met up at Shakespeare & Co across the river.  Pauline headed off to her grandmother’s house and Penelope and I spent a happy hour browsing in the bookstore. 

We’re planning to see Pauline again soon—and hopefully some other Casti alums who will be visiting her in Paris!  🙂

On Tuesday we headed to another special exhibit, this one at the Atelier Lumieres right here in the 11th.  Billed as an immersive experience, the exhibit allows you to “walk inside” Van Gogh paintings.   Sounded interesting, so we booked tickets and walked over on a drizzly morning. 

The Van Gogh turned out to be three shows in one.  Imagine an enormous industrial warehouse with projections on every surface—walls, floors, ceiling, a pool in the middle, balconies.  Some walls curved, others straight—and people walking around or sitting down to enjoy the spectacle.  Music playing throughout, while the painting swirled around you—sometimes static, sometimes brought to life by animation. 

After Van Gogh, we saw two other pieces: Dreams of Japan and Verse.  Both were excellent as well!  Penelope’s favorite was the Japanese one—and I might have to agree, though seeing a few of my favorite Van Gogh pieces on such a grand scale was wonderful.

Afterwards, we headed to a nearby park to bask in the rarest of Parisian sights: sunshine!  The rain had ended, and a local school was having recess at the playground—and Penelope delightedly joined in.

Then it was off to stroll through some of central Paris on our guidebook’s Historic Paris Walk, which began at Notre Dame and ended near Sainte Chapelle.  Because of the terrible fire a few weeks ago, much of the island around Notre Dame is still closed—and the cathedral as well, of course. 

But we all enjoyed the walking tour… until hunger struck around 4pm.  The obvious solution: crepes!  We all ordered our favorites—jambon fromage for the ladies, while Jeremy tried the smoked salmon and Boursin.  All excellent.  But the piece de resistance was surely the sweet crepes that soon followed…

We finished our walk and headed home—another lovely day in Paris!

Wednesday was another national holiday in France, so we declared a PJ Day and spent the day (mostly) at home.  One downside to staying in a single place for more than a week: we actually need to clean!  So it was a day of reading, schoolwork, laundry, and cleaning—all of the usual mundane occupations. 

After a day at home, we decided we were ready to tackle… the Louvre.  So Thursday morning we set off to this positively enormous museum, and began our day with a first sighting of the pyramid.  Inside, Penelope showed a glimpse of the tween she will soon be, flashing a saucy pose for the camera.

We started with the ancient Greeks in the Denon wing.  Much of the early work (Greek, Roman) seemed quite familiar after a month of Italian museums… and Penelope was Not. Having. It.

Fortunately, we’d brought along her Kindle, so she read during much of the day… but the parental experience in dealing with her mood was well-captured by these two lovely ladies:

Nevertheless, we preserved, as Jeremy and I were definitely enjoying the art.

I didn’t snap too many pics of the sculptures or paintings, as I’ve been to the Louvre many times—but lots of old favorites were seen.  And I was positively charmed by this most recent addition:

After a day of Penelope dragging her heels through the Louvre, Friday was designated as a kids’ museum day.  We took the metro all the way up to the Parc de Villette, in the far north of Paris, to visit the Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie.  Similar to the Tech in San Jose, this wonderful science museum is full of hands-on, interactive exhibits.  And best of all, there are two spaces especially for kids: Cite des Enfants.  We booked a timed ticket for the one aged 7-12, and Penelope raced around and had a ball—especially since there were many other kids there.  And Jeremy and I sat and read our Kindles.  🙂

A much happier kiddo.

The best news of all: the forecast for next week includes much less rain and much more sun. Temperatures in the 60s! So we’ll be heading on some day trips soon.

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