Sublime to Strange

Earlier this trip I visited Giverny, so I really wanted to see Monet’s water lily paintings.  The metro stopped at the Concorde Station, which has walls covered with the text of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, one letter per tile, no punctuation or spacing between words.  I knew about this see this, but wasn’t sure where it was located, so it was a nice surprise to find it completely by accident.

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I headed off to the Orangerie today and although there was a bit of a line it only took about half an hour before I was inside.  I was going to have a cup of tea and a bite to eat before taking a look at everything but was surprised to find that there were no facilities here for eating, or even getting a tea or coffee, so I was out of luck.

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There was a special exhibit of Emile Bernard’s work so I headed there first.  No photographs allowed in here, but there were eight rooms of his work and it was an excellent collection.

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The permanent collection also featured Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Modigliani, Derain,  Laurencin, Rousseau, Utrillo and Soutine.  Unfortunately most of the Modigliani’s were not available for viewing today.  There was  a hallway full of Renoirs!

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Some of Picasso,s earlier works.  The Orangerie isn’t a huge place but it still took a while to see everything, and then I went to view Les Nymphéas.  No photos in here either.  I tried a sketch to get a feel of the size of these paintings but it wasn’t very successful, so I sneaked a photo from the entry to one of the two galleries. I am going to have to practice some architectural drawings, not having much success with them at all.

imageMonet designed these galleries himself and I couldn’t imagine these paintings  displayed any other way.  I knew they were huge works and I have a beautiful book at home with great close up views of the paintings but I was certainly not prepared for the impact of actually being in their presence.  There are seats in the centre of each gallery to sit and contemplate, and I certainly did that.  This a monumental work.  I could picture Monet painting these canvases, and there are so many layers of paint that the surface of the paintings are actually quite heavily textured.  Looking into the layers of paint was much like looking into the dark reflective waters of lily pond at Monet’s Giverny.

I planned on going to the Louvre for of a couple of hours but on the way there were a lot of people milling about near some big white tents.  So I went to see what it was all about.

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This is Fashion week in Paris, a very big event, and a fashion show had just ended.   The attendees were leaving and posing for photos.  There are photographers with huge lenses everywhere, it was rather chaotic and surreal.

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I have no idea who the lady in the black coat is, but she generated a lot of attention and was pretty much mobbed by professional looking  photographers who seemed very pleased to have taken photos of her.

There were the certainly lots of very beautiful people and then there were some rather strangely dressed people as well.

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And, perhaps one of the strangest of all!  He posed for a lot of pictures and seemed very pleased with himself.

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By the time the crowd was thinning out it was too late for the Louvre, so I found a cafe in the Jardin des Tuileries and ordered a salad and a pot of tea.

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It was good, but it was also 21€, which is thirty dollars Canadian!  Having my own little kitchen and preparing meals has certainly saved me some money!

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Stopped for one last photo on the way home beside one of the dozens of big tents erected for Fashion Week.

Monet’s Giverny

Today was a long but very enjoyable.  My alarm was set for 7:00 and I was out of the apartment by 7:30, having organized everything last night.  It is two metro rides to the St. Lazare station, which looks much as it did in when Monet painted it in 1877.  It is the second busiest railway statin in Europe, after the Gare du Nord, and I found my way!

imageI just made it onto the train in time.  Turns out my watch was more than ten minutes slow!  Soon I was in Vernon, found the bus to Giverny and a short ride later, arrived at Givernry.

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It is a magical place, with a profusion of flowers, all shapes, colours and textures.  Monet didn’t like an organized or constrained garden.  He planted according to their colours, and let them grow as they wished.  As it is late in the season everything is mature and many of the plants towered several feet over my head!  It is quite the sight.  The paths have all but disappeared, even the big wide path under the arched rose arbours is almost completely covered in Nasturtiums.  The dahlias are numerous and exquisite, so many different colours and shapes of petals.

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imageimage imageI’m afraid my pictures don’t do it justice.  I am having computer problems tonight, very slow connection and then a couple times things just disappeared, rather frustrating.

The garden is very different in each of the seasons so it would be lovely to see it in the Spring…   If you go to Giverny.org there is lots of information about the garden and the types of flowers shrubs and trees planted there.

The water lilies were in bloom and they slowly opened as the sun climbed higher in the sky.

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imageHere is the view from the famous Japanese Bridge we see in so many of Monet’s paintings.

imageThe house is so much bigger than I expected, it is 40 meters long but only 5 meters wide!  There was no access to his two large studios on the property. Too bad, and I just realized when I was looking at the site that I mentioned that I somehow missed seeing the studio that was in the house!  I can’t believe I did that!  There was so much to look at. Oh well, I guess I will have to go back one day so I can check it out.  Although there were line ups most of the day, I managed to visit the house at a time I could just walk right in.

I tried a little watercolour sketch, but it wasn’t the most successful.  I usually work in pastels when using colour so this was a bit of a challenge.

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Made it home but witnessed a lot of yelling by a young woman on the escalator at the St. Lazare station. There were a lot of people around and she seemed to be arguing with at least one man.  I was going down as she was going up, but people looked upset, not sure what it was about.  In any case, I was glad to get home and into my apartment with no problems.

I just got an email that someone didn’t get the last two days posts.  No idea if this just happened to her or to anyone else?  You can check at trudymason.com.  I have been posting every day and hope to continue to do so.