The plan looked like this, pop into BHV department store, blinkers on, no fashion shopping, buy a new memory card, escape unscathed and take the metro directly to Musée de l’Orangerie, hopefully avoiding queues to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition that is currently on display there.
Nothing ever seems to go to plan in Paris and I like it that way.
I did manage to get in and out of BHV without being tempted to snap up some sales on the way through and although the temperature has dropped a little and it was yet another dull cloudy day, I arrived at the metro and kept walking. I knew it would be a risk, walking the approximate 3kms instead of getting there quickly. The exhibition has only a few more days until closing and it will bring out the last minute punters.
Once I reached the river and could see the Notre Dame, The Concergerie and the Eiffel Tower in the distance, I knew this wasn’t going to be a sprint but a leisurely stroll, camera in hand.
Passing busy cafés, observing talkative Parisians, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes bringing their friends up to date with their latest news, I wonder if they notice all the glorious iconic landmarks or whether it is so familiar they barely acknowledge their surroundings.
They of course have grown up with the architecture, the history and the café culture that Francophiles are so envious of. For me, the flaneur, occasional visitor and casual observer, I never tire of the sights of Paris.
Gazing at each monument or splendid piece of architecture, breaths life into me and excitement when the Eiffel Tower pops up somewhere unexpectedly.
For these reasons, I chose to walk. The Frida Kahlo exhibition will not be there forever and the city of Paris will, but I didn’t care, I wanted to once again, stroll and breath in the city that I love.
The Christmas holiday crowds have thinned out and by the time I reached the Louvre, I was relieved that it wasn’t heaving with tourists, the way it has, over the past couple of weeks. I have so many images of Pi’s Pyramid that graces the forecourt of the Louvre, did I really need a gloomy, dull shot as well.
Of course, there is always another angle to explore and patience is required if I don’t want to have backpack bearing tourists in my shot.
Some days, I wonder what it would be like to set myself up in an inconspicuous position with a zoom lens and capture the many weird and wonderful poses people perform. Pretending to hold up the Pyramid, appearing to be pinching the Eiffel Tower between their thumb and finger, peace signs and legs in the air, pretending to jump in the Seine.
Today I wanted some shots, people free, if possible, which is difficult in a city that receives over 27 million visitors per year.
A cup of hot chocolate that I purchased at the cafe in the Tuileries was a good idea, the line at l’Orangerie snaked around the building, it was going to be a long cold wait but it was worth it.
Monet’s Water Lilies could wait, making a bee-line for the temporary exhibition, incase I ran out of time, I have seen them before in the wonderful oval shaped, purpose built room.
If time permitted I would re-visit the permanent exhibition.
L’Orangerie, built in 1852 to initially house and protect the Tuileries Gardens orange trees.
In 1922 Claude Monet donated his largest canvases of water lilies to the city of Paris, whereby a specially designed, light filled sparse oval room was designed especially to display Monet’s magnificent creations.
The works of art that line the entire room, floor to ceiling allowing a panoramic view of his lily filled pond in Giverney, is quite breathtaking.
After the renovation in 2006, the Orangerie is now also home to works from Modigliani, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso and Renoir to name but a few.
I am still kicking myself for forgetting my hot shoe to enable me to take tripod shots, standing on the steps of l’Orangerie at dusk, admiring the Eiffel Tower, golden and glorious, Place de la Concorde lit up like a Christmas tree from the all imposing large ferris wheel. I still attempted some leaning on walls, holding my breath, hoping for a reasonable in focus shot.
Finding my favourite spot at my favourite bar Petit fer a Cheval was a blessing, it was chilly, perhaps the coldest night we have had and after the walk along the river in the cold night air, a nice steaming hot plat du jour was just the thing I needed.
Sometimes it is just the simple things a stroll, some art and a nice dinner in warm, friendly surroundings.
l’Orangerie Jardin des Tuileries Petit fer a Cheval