Paris - A Museum Tour

March 12 - 15, 2017

Paris boasts in having the best museums in the world and a fair amount of this trip was spent visiting some of them

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Sainte Chapelle (lower parts obscured by much later buildings)

The Sainte-Chapelle is a royal chapel in the Gothic style, within the medieval Palais de la Cité, the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century.

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Construction begun in 1242 and completed in 1248. Sainte-Chapelle is considered among the highest achievements of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture.

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Lower Chapel

It was commissioned by King Louis IX of France to house his collection of Passion relics, including Christ's Crown of Thorns—one of the most important relics in medieval Christendom.

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Ceiling of the Lower Chapel

The most famous features of the chapel, among the finest of their type in the world, are the great stained glass windows, for whose benefit the stone wall surface is reduced to little more than a delicate framework.

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Upper Level Interior

Fifteen huge mid-13th-century windows (each 15 metres high) fill the nave and apse, while a large rose window with Flamboyant tracery (added to the upper chapel c. 1490) dominates the western wall.

photoStained Glass Interior

The stained glass panes depict 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments recounting the history of the world until the arrival of the relics in Paris.

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The Sainte-Chapelle has been a national historic monument since 1862.

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2.5 kms away is the Musée Rodin which is dedicated to the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

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Musée Rodin

Rodin is generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture, although he was never accepted into Paris's foremost school of art.

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Sculpturally, Rodin possessed a unique ability to model a complex, turbulent, deeply pocketed surface in clay.

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The Thinker

Many of his most notable sculptures were roundly criticized during his lifetime.

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The Musée Rodin contains most of Rodin's significant creations, including The Thinker, The Kiss and The Gates of Hell.

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The Gates of Hell

Many of his sculptures are displayed in the museum's extensive garden.

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Some paintings by Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh which were in Rodin's personal collections are also presented.

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The Waltz

Twenty minutes away is the Musée de l'Orangerie, an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings located in the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens.

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Musée de l'Orangerie

The place is most famous for being the permanent home for eight Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet.

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The Water Lilies - Setting Sun, 1920-1926

The paintings depict Monet's flower garden at his home in Giverny. Many of the works were painted while Monet suffered from cataracts.

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The museum also contains works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Henri Rousseau, among others.

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Bater with Long Hair - Auguste Renoir - 1895 - Style: Impressionism

And only 600 metres away is the Musée d'Orsay.

It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world.

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The museum building was originally a railway station, Gare d'Orsay. It was the terminus for the railways of southwestern France until 1939.

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This museum was conceived to bridge the gap between the Louvre and the National Museum of Modern Art at the Georges Pompidou Centre.

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Musée d'Orsay Clock, Victor Laloux, Main Hall

In July 1986 the museum started to receive its exhibits. It took 6 months to install the 2000 or so paintings, 600 sculptures and other works.

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The museum officially opened in December 1986 by then-president, François Mitterrand.

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Many of these works were held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the museum's opening in 1986.

photoSelf-portrait (1889) by Vincent van Gogh - Style: Post-Impressionism

Vincent Willem van Gogh is one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. His suicide at 37 followed years of mental illness and poverty.

photoBal du moulin de la Galette (1876) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Style: Impressionism

Another 18 minutes of walk will take you to the world's largest museum, the Musée de Louvre.

photoArc de triomphe du Carrousel

I suggest you do your triumphal entrance through the arc.

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Where you will be welcomed by the Louvre Pyramid.

While I feel the pyramid is an insult to Renaissance architecture, others will argue is a beautiful marriage of the old and the new.

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The Louvre Pyramid

Either way, this is the entrance to the museum.

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Back to the Pyramid thing, the next picture shows how the place will look like without the hideous thing. This is the Old Louvre which occupies the site of the 12th-century fortress of King Philip Augustus and razed in 1546.

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The Cour Carrée inside the Louvre Palace

The Musée du Louvre contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art in eight curatorial departments.

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So, it will take days to visit the entire place. If you are on one of those "all-you-can-see" kind of tours, you will be herded like cattle.

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This time I set aside three hours, I started on top of Richeliu wing, going up and down and doing the same on Sully and Denon wings as there are a few things I like to see every time I visit this place.

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Everybody seems to go first to Denon because this is where Mona Lisa is located.

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Napoleon III Apartments

Richeliu wing is home to Napoleon III Apartments. They are an exceptional record of Second Empire decorative art. The state dining room features an imposing table and étagère sideboard in black-stained wood with gilt bronze decorations. The painted ceiling is a luminous sky traversed by exotic birds.

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The Seated Scribe - Egypt - Limestone (circa 2600 and 2350 BC)

One of my favorites sculptures, the Seated Scribe.

He sits in a cross-legged position that would have been his normal posture at work. His right hand is pointing towards the paper as if he has already started to write while watching others speak. He stares calmly at the viewer with his black outlined eyes.

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Suddenly more crowds at the Denon wing. One room is quite busy, everyone wants to get close to the Mona Lisa, that tiny painting hanging at the front of the room under bulletproof glass.

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Tourists looking at Mona Lisa are an easy target for pickpockets

The journey ended at the largest museum for modern art in Europe and the second largest in the world, the Musée National d'Art Moderne housed at the Pompidou Centre.

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Centre Georges Pompidou

The Centre has an exposed skeleton of brightly colored tubes for mechanical systems.

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Initially, all of the functional structural elements of the building were color-coded: green pipes are plumbing, blue ducts are for climate control, electrical wires are encased in yellow, and circulation elements and devices for safety.

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By the mid-1980s, the Centre Pompidou was becoming the victim of its huge and unexpected popularity, its many activities, and a complex administrative structure.

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Since re-opening in 2000 after a three-year renovation, the Centre Pompidou has improved accessibility for visitors. Now they can only access the escalators if they pay to enter the museum.

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The nearby Stravinsky Fountain (also called the Fontaine des automates), on Place Stravinsky, features 16 whimsical moving and water-spraying sculptures by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint-Phalle, which represent themes and works by composer Igor Stravinsky.

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Stravinsky Fountain

The works of iconic artists are displayed chronologically over two sections: the modern period, from 1905 to 1960 (Matisse, Picasso, Dubuffet, etc.), and the contemporary period, from 1960 to the present day (Andy Warhol, Niki de Saint Phalle, Anish Kapoor, etc.).

photoBuste de femme (1907) by Pablo Picasso

The works displayed in the museum often change in order to show to the public the variety and depth of the collection.

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These works include painting, sculpture, drawing, print, photography, cinema, new media, architecture and design.

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Ten Lizes (1963) by Andy Warhol - Style: Pop art

This time the temporal exhibition was for the Blue Noses group. The group is known for their satirical and oft-times provocative works, which encompass photographs, videos, and performances that parody and critique Russian society, art, politics, and religion.

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"Mask Show" featuring "Bin Laden", "Bush" and "Putin" (2001) by the Blue Noses

A few hints when visiting museums:

- Buy tickets in advance to avoid line-ups.

- The Museum Pass is very practical to avoid line ups but can rarely be a money saver specially if you have only a day or two in the city. I got the 4-day pass for 62 Euros, I visited 9 places for a total value of 95 Euros. Quite a bit of walking though.