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3 Museums in a Day

September 29, 2006

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We resolved to hit three museums in a day, starting with  the lesser known Marmottan for the Monets
& Impressionists, basking leisurely at the Orangerie in the Tuileries  Gardens absorbing the Monet masterpieces encircling the rooms and finishing with the pilgrimage to see Mona Lisa & Michaelangelo
in a quick run thru the Denon wing of the Louvre.

It is a lot, but we paced it well and were running out of time on our museum pass because on our other days we saw less museums than what we planned. So it was kind of today or never if we did not want to miss them (we saved one day for Versaille) and we really wanted Mozart to experience more Monet’s before Giverny and of course the Louvre and Mona Lisa were absolutely “musts”. We will see Paris again during this European leg,but wanted to give her a first great taste and will do another big stop like this before we leave Europe and it will be interesting comparing how she perceives it at nearly nine compared to today at just turned 6. Paris has made a very big impression and is her favorite place so far. Makes me tempted to spend a winter in France at some point to perfect her French as it would be nice to have a French speaker in the family and something we would all probably enjoy.

We followed Linnea’s steps from Bjork’s book as well as the itinerary from “Storybook Travels” based on it (and added our own touches) by heading to Marmottan first. It was worth the trip of two metros, a bus and short walk. We were focused on Monet and the impressionists since we plan to go to his home in Girveny and we like that style, so pretty much ignored the rest of the museum. We saw it’s most famous painting called “Impression-Sunrise” by Monet which was the one that coined the phrase “Impressionist” by the critics of the day. We had a contest to see who could find the boat painting and the painting with two water lillies first and of course Mozart won. We took great pleasure in immersing ourselves in the Giverny Collection and found different ways to engage her in the art in a deeper way.

But it was really the smaller things that impressed me. I loved the “La palette de Claude Monet”. It was
just entertaining to see an actual palette that he used. I enjoyed seeing some of the lesser known works
too or small studies done by the impressionists in this one tiny room tucked away upstairs.I loved seeing the caricatures by Monet that he started with as a teen. (Not that I liked them for great art, just interesting to see this early start before he began painting).

Mozart and I liked Monet’s “Sur la plage a Trouville which is a little  different than his usual style. We all loved Manet’s “Portrait de Berthe Morisot etendue” a stunning portrait of a captivating woman who was the only female artists amongst the impressionists. Pictures were not allowed and they were quite strict and dour there, but I will post a few postcard pics to share some of our favorites.

Ms. Mozart managed to explore a playground going and coming as one must walk past the verdant Jardin
du Ranelagh between the metro and the museum and its filled with playgrounds. She liked the latter one better because there were lots of kids and a colorful train to play on and a swirly thing like we have never seen before that she had a blast with.

We stopped and had a very French lunch at Le Parc de la Muette which has a menus enfants (kids menu). It was appealing to be the only English speakers having lunch, surrounded by a sea of locals having their Friday lunch. We were clueless about the menu tho, luckily the waiter was a big help (up to a point, as he could point out what was beef, pork, fish etc). We were not sure what steak hashe was on the kids  menu, but picked it anyway, since the other kids entree choice was ham which we do not eat.

DaVinci went for some kind of fish salad that he enjoyed ...even the capers which is not something he would normally eat and I had salade Nicoise (mainly because it was something I recognized) with anchovies which I also do not normally eat.

It was all pretty yummy ,but Mozart’s dessert was made in Heaven so we all ate a few bites. It looked like a plain brown cupcake in a plate of yellow pudding. It was filled with a liquid chocolate that oozed out into the cream ...need I say more?

After lunch is was off to the Musee de Orangerie and the Les Nympheas de Claude Monet. This was my favorite museum and I could have sat there all day lost in this theatre in the round of majestic Monet. I fell in love in the first room and low and behold there was a second round room that was even more glorious. We all loved it!

But the clock was ticking and we had just enough time left to get over to the Louvre nearby and do the kids quick tour (of our own making) that starts with the Mona Lisa. So we did a  one stop metro jump and took the quick way in thru the underground shopping mall that connects with the Louvre and popped in with our museum pass. On the way we passed a talented classical guitarist playing for donations in the metro and Mozart loves to reward them with some coins and I caught a fuzzy shot of it.

I have read the Louvre is the most crowded in the morning (as I suppose everyone wants a well rested start). Let me tell you, there are big advantages to going in late as it was the least crowded that I have ever seen it. There was the smallest crowd that I have even seen around the Mona Lisa. So much so that I was stunned to see the area so open and we had a very clear view of her from quite a distance. There was a small group, but it was wonderful that a guard saw Ms Mozart and escorted her right to the front where there is a children’s area ahead of everyone else.

Before we went in, Ms. Mozart insisted on “having” to buy a little tiny notebook with Mona Lisa’s picture
on it. Since it had been a long day, we gave in as we usually get her something after a tour any way . If Mozart wants something, she has an uncanny way of getting it as she has always had an  amazing ability
to manifest even as a baby and sometimes it seems almost out of thin air. We have many stories of these incidents and just added another one here in Paris as she pressed on a vending machine as we walked out of a metro late one night and sure enough out dropped the package of Madelines that she has been wanting! She did not put any money in, mind you, she was just pushing random buttons as she walked by as kids do sometimes. What a kick.

Then I got a kick out of what she did with the notebook as she really did have an intense purpose as to why she HAD to have it. There she was smack dab in front of the Mona Lisa, writing in her little book. And writing and writing and writing between looking at Mona very seriously. First there was a group of kids
(many from one family) and then for quite some time she was alone.....and still looking and writing and turning those little pages. DaVinci and I grinned at each other from across the room. She is such a little character that even we don’t know what she is going to do next some times and this one surprised us.

Even a little Japanese girl who later joined her, asked her what she was doing. “Writing” she answered. “About what?” asked the little girl. “The Mona Lisa” she answered in a matter of fact way. I had missed that exchange because I had given up and found a comfy chair to rest my aching, blister filled feet because she was taking so long. (There were even plenty of seats around the Mona Lisa which is unheard of and I could have even taken a picture from there as I saw someone else do, but I decided against it as it is forbidden in that room).

Later, I asked her what she wrote in her book as I really could not imagine what

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Sandra Foyt

Ah, the memories... It's been a few years since we followed in Linnea's footsteps, but it's a treasured family memory.

In fact, I was looking at our scrapbook from the trip just last week,seeking inspiration for a "storybook" travel book that I'm writing about our American road trip.

As I looked at the album, I remembered our delightful picnic in Monet's Garden. We had picked up bread & cheese and pastries at the nearby town. And Kayla brought her watercolors for a bit of plein aire painting.

What I had forgotten was that we HAD to leave Monet's house in a rush because Alex, 4yos at the time, threw his candy out Monet's bedroom window!

soultravelers3

@Sandra How sweet! One more thing we have in common, eh? Family travel makes some of the best family memories!

I just noticed that the end of this post seems to be missing, perhaps from when we moved our site. Thankfully, the gist is here.

maria fredgaard

What did she write in the notebook? I am so curious now...:)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

It was primarily lots of description about the Mona Lisa...like the one I show...hair..brown wrinkely.

Quite funny. Alas, somehow part of this post got lost it seems when we transferred our blog to Typepad years ago.

Somewhere we have that little book in storage. ;)

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