Since the Louvre was closed today, we surveyed the
Tuilleries gardens in the morning sunshine from the Louvre shops to Cleopatra's
needle (and incidentally the site of the beheading of the French royalty during
the bloodiest days of the French Revolution), and wound up at the Orsay museum,
where some of the less well-known works of the Flemish painter Vincent Van Gogh
reside in the permanent collection. Other examples of the Impressionist
and post-Impressionist painting schools are on display; residents of New England may recall last summer's
(2007) exhibit at the Clark Museum of Monet's early work and an example from his
series on the cathedral at Rouen: four pieces from that series are housed
here. Fans of the film Bean will be pleased and perhaps relieved
to know that "Arrangement in Gray and Black #1"-- popularly known as "Whistler's
Mother" is intact and is not after all merely a poster affixed to canvas.
I did check!
We lunched at the cafe on the penultimate floor of the museum, where the
food was almost as much art as the inedibles below. Sitting next
to us on my right was a duo of ladies from the United States, young
grandmothers by the looks of them. At one point their conversation
grew so loud I could not help overhearing the trouble one of them was
having calculating European currency. "I can't figure this out!"
spilled from her lips as coins and bills tumbled from her clutch onto
the table. Her friend tried to help her while at our table we did
our best to mind our own business. Later, when it seemed more
appropriate, we struck up a little conversation, and it seemed to help
when I suggested she treat euros like Canadian money, having coins for
denominations of a dollar or more, or a euro or more, as the case may
Having had our fill of the museum for the day, we walked out to the
street, where we found a couple of seats at a café. Our waiter was
very accommodating, bringing me not only tea and ice, but a leak-proof
vessel for mixing the two, so I could have my iced tea without sugar in
it. He also had a sense of humor, pretending to want to run away
with me and leave James there to wait on customers. I thanked him
and declined the offer for "my own reasons".
From the café we walked down to the Seine and tried to make reservations
for dinner on the river, at which we were finally successful. More
walking to the Metro station and a ride southeast brought us to the
vicinity of where we had to make a choice about what to do for supper
tonight. We popped into a Portuguese restaurant on the Rue de
Paris and met the family who ran the place. Grandma did the
cooking, Mom did the serving, and Pop, I don't know what he did more
than watch the T.V., change the channels, and yell at the dog.
Just like home. We were the only diners in the place, so we had
the luxury of their whole attention and company.