Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Musee D'Orsay and Belgian Frites

On Thursday after our usual breakfast of quiche, baguettes, croissants and pain au chocolat accompanied by strong French coffee, we were off to the Musee D'Orsay to gaze upon the Impressionists masterpieces of Renoir, Monet, Degas, Manet, and all the other great artists.  The museum is actually an old beautiful train station constructed for the 1900 World's Fair, and we spent some time taking in the majesty of the building.  Unlike Le Louvre, photography was not allowed in the exhibit areas.

View through the clock

We were able to take pictures in the common areas and we were able to access an outdoor viewing area which provided very nice panoramic views of Paris.

Decorative building details
Nice view of Sacre Coeur from the top of the Musee D'Orsay

We enjoyed lunch in the cafe, which had some fascinating light fixtures.

Edible art to end our lunch!  There was a whole display case of these,
and we all decided that this giant eclair tasted as good as it looked.
After lunch we went back to see more of magnificent artwork, then Christine and I decided that we might be "museum'd out" so we went down to the gift shop on our way out of the building.  And we encountered a lovely little musical performance so we stopped to listen and enjoy. (Tried to insert the video but it was taking forever so I abandoned the upload).

At this point I was ready to sit knees were hurting and my brain was on art overload.  We exited the museum and made our way to the bridge off to the left where we found a bench for me to rest and an artist selling his creations.  Christine bought a nice canvas painting as a souvenir and I took a picture of her with the artist for posterity. Who knows, maybe some day this guy will be recognized as a master and his paintings will hang in a gallery in Paris.

There is lots of advice about "how" to enjoy Paris.  One really good tidbit is to be sure you take time to just sit outside and take it all in, soak in your surroundings, enjoy people watching.  So after a while, we wandered over to the bank of the Seine, sat down and watched the boats full of tourists pass us by.  At the same time, a musician located under the bridge overpass was playing songs from the American Songbook.  It was so nice to just sit there, relax and absorb our surroundings.  After a while, we noticed that there was an "under the road" passway over to The Tuileries gardens, so we walked over, found a table in an outdoor cafe near a little pond, and ordered a carafe of wine.  Meanwhile, Rick and Allison finished up the museum then joined us in the gardens.

Even the pigeons were attractive!

It was late in the afternoon and we had nothing else planned so Rick decided it was time to go find some Belgian frites.  For years, the man has waxed eloquently about when he was stationed in Brussels (around 1970) and how he enjoyed the frites from stands all around the city.  He had even talked about driving or taking the train to Brussels so he could get us those frites that were twice fried in horse fat, crispy and served with mayonnaise.  We had seen a couple places in Paris, so it was time to indulge him, we caught a taxi and were off to Léon de Bruxelles, a true "stand" not unlike a McDonald's with the requisite burgers and other sandwiches one would eat with frites.  Meanwhile, Christine was dying to go to the bathroom and this place didn't have a toilette.  So she ran into the bar next door and promised to eat/drink in the establishment if she could just use the facilities.  The bartender was extremely accommodating and spoke English.  So Rick got two orders of frites, we all went into the bar, drank beer and ate the famous frites.  Of course, they were not cooked in horse fat so they tasted different than what he expected, but they were pretty good.  And we enjoyed the beer, the friendliness of the pub and a few beers. By the way, I think this was the only food/drink establishment we found that had a toilet on the main level.  That meant that Allison could enjoy her favorite adult beverages, for a change.  It turns out that the pub is the local Greenbay Packers bar, and the bartender actually owns two shares of the Packers.  We had a nice time talking with the patrons and it turned into a fun evening. 

Rick pouring a glass of locally crafted Belgian-style beer to accompany his frites.

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