Today was a Museum Pass day--our pre-paid free-entry card for Paris. We set out to hit at least three museums.
We started at the Musée Cluny, which was closed yesterday. The collection in the Cluny focuses on the Middle Ages. It has four famous Medieval tapestries of a maiden and her unicorn. The Cluny is housed in and named after Hôtel Cluny, a grand mansion on the Left Bank. It also happens to sit on the same site as a Roman bath complex...these unearthed structures are also visible as part of the museum.
We strolled down the noisy Boulevard Saint Germain, and quickly ducked into the (free) Abbey Saint Germain des Prés. The highlight was the silence. This Abbey was similar to most...cross-shaped, huge arched ceilings, somber mood. This one had very few 'attractions', which explained the small number of visitors.
Back out to the Boulevard and on to the Musée d'Orsay...specializing in impressionist paintings. The collection of Monet, Manet, Degas, Cezannne, Van Gogh and a zillion others was..well...impressive. (Five points for an impressionist pun.) The paintings are both familliar and approachable, and if you don't like impressionist painting, then the building is amazing as well...a converted Industrial Age train station on the Seine. (And...yes...there is a huge green metal Rhino out front, which Jeff and his buddy Matt enjoy photographing...with their heads up the behind--a tradition dating back to their trip in 1996. Jeff and I both recreated this scene for Matt. It is Matt's turn next.)
With the setting sun, we crossed the Seine via the Pont Solferino. The low sun was dramatic as it lit up landmarks up and down the Seine. One such landmark: the newly renovated Musée de L'Orangerie, which is the former greenhouse for the Jardin des Tuileries. This stylish renovation primarily showcases several waterlily murals by Monet in large oval galleries, but there is also an entire impressionist collection on the lower level...an excellent collection in its own right just steps from the Musée Louvre and Musée d'Orsay. Well worth a visit.
We closed our day walking down through the Jardin des Tuileries, past the Louvre, and along the Seine to our little Íle. Our evening was finished out with a comfortable dinner, yummy desert, and a cappuccino. We are off to bed early tonight. Tomorrow, Jeff's sister Julie and nephew Keegan are visiting from Germany, where Julie is stationed in the Army.