I thought I covered three days in my last post, but the next day I realized I only got to two. This coming back is hard work! There are numbers and things one must get right.
October 2 – L’Orangerie & Jardin des Tuileries
Monday, I had reservations at L’Orangerie. For those who don’t know, the arrangement of art museums to a historic timeline is approximately:
- Pre-History to the Romantics (about 1850) – Louvre
- 1850 to about 1920 – Musee d’Orsay
- 1920-1960 – L’Orangerie
- 1960 to current – Pompidou
Inadvertently, I went through the museums in this order. L’Orangerie covers a period that is not my favorite period, as it showcases a lot of artists that really had a grim outlook on life (in my opinion). Dispite my vague distaste for Picasso, Modigiani, and Cezanne (on the grounds that I think all of them were demonstrably abusive to women), walking through the collection was simply amazing.
Upon leaving the museum, I decided to explore a big part adjacent to the museum. It was the Jardin des Tuileries, which connects to the Louvre. Essentially, it was a royal garden.
I was lucky enough to see beekeepers working the beehives. This is gonna be a painting!
After touring the museum, I ended up walking back to the hotel, hitting the Jardin du Luxembourg,
Parthenon Pantheon, Church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont and a few other highlights.
It was a good day, but quite a hike when all was said and done. I was glad to return to the hotel and get dinner! As I alluded to in my last post, I was also starting to feel the effects of a cold and the general jet lag. I was also having some difficulty with my blood sugar and stomach. I spent that evening plotting how to beat a cold and find some healthier food options for myself.
October 3 – Versailles
Taking French in high school, my teacher made the class promise that if we ever went to France we would visit Versailles. So, for me, not hitting this site was not an option, in spite of the various reports I had heard about overcrowding. I had purchased a museum pass which included Versailles and had booked an early entry time into the palace. The metro ride to the site was a pleasant 45 minutes or so, but upon stepping outside again, I discovered that southwestern Paris had decided to rain. Eastern Paris hadn’t breathed a word about this plan, so I hadn’t taken my coat. However, I am an Oregonian, so I trooped to the entry, ignore the dozens of umbrella vendors.
Once inside the courtyard, the French line system was in its full glory. I will spare you the details, but being out in the rain, crying, in the midst of a huge, uncaring crowd is NOT the experience I hoped to have. In the end, though I could have gone into the palace, I was so utterly miserable that I elected to just tour the gardens (for an additional fee). The rain had stopped, so I was able to sit down and figure out a game plan. I definitely had a cold. I gave myself permission to take care of myself, and in the end, I only spent a couple of hours at Versailles before returning to the hotel.
That evening I did laundry and simply got some bread and cheese for dinner.
October 4 – Cold
I barely left the hotel this day. I went to get a Covid test (negative) and some decongestant. But other than that, I stayed in my hotel room. I was so miserable that I actually called the airlines to find out the cost of getting a flight back home. It was… a lot.
October 5 – Bois de Boulogne
The next day I didn’t feel great, but I had basically decided to stick out the trip. So, I got a late start leaving the hotel and decided to go to the Bois de Boulogne, a large park on the western outskirts of Paris. I hoped to do some bird watching and sitting on benches. I took my big camera, and on exiting the Metro, learned the Longchamps and Auteuil racecourses used the same Metro stop. As I planned to go to the steeplechasing on Sunday, this was excellent information to have.
I wandered around the park well past lunch, trying to find the “lakes” that were mentioned as a hot spot for birds. Unfortunately, in the end, I did too much (on too little food) and ended up activating an “emergency plan” of calling an Uber to take me back to the hotel. It was a bit of a demoralizing day.
Also on this day, I had the most bizarre experience I would have in France. The park was full of various users, including lots of dog walkers. I was taking pictures of various dogs, thinking I might do a painting about how dogs were universal.
I had taken a photo of a particularly cute terrier when I caught a woman glaring at me. It was obvious that the terrier was her dog, so I said, “J’aime vous chein” (I like your dog). Anyway, I hope that’s what I said. She began to talk, obviously upset, using words like “interdit” (forbidden) and “police” (self explanatory). I sat there looking confused. She came over to me and began saying, in English, “It’s easy” and gesturing to my camera. I won’t swear to my translation, but she wanted me to delete the photos of her dog. I let her look at my camera while I did just that. She looked as though she wanted me to delete the photos of the other dogs, but instead just marched away grumbling the word “interdit” over and over. I sat there on the bench until she had left.
When I posted this little story on Facebook, a friend suggested that maybe she was worried about dog napping. Another friend looked up French laws and told me that the French actually do have pretty strict privacy laws around taking pictures of things without permission. Having just come from a variety of museums where people did nothing BUT take selfies with the paintings, this seemed pretty confusing to me.
October 6 – Antibiotics
Friday morning, I realized that “this” was not working. I no longer had a cold, I had a sinus infection. With close to a week to go, I couldn’t just ignore the situation until it went away (favorite coping mechanism). If I wanted to have the faintest chance of enjoying the rest of my trip, I needed to figure out a way to get antibiotics. This is another day that I will be light on the details. While it was a struggle, many people did help me. And one didn’t. No, the French are not rude. Certain people, however, are bitches. After acquiring my treasure, I spent the rest of the day napping in my hotel room or sunning myself on the hotel’s rooftop terrace.
October 7 – Bois de Vincennes
Antibiotics are a miracle. The next day I didn’t feel great, but I felt able to try an outing. Returning to the plan of staying outdoors and not infecting people, I decided to go to the Parc floral de Paris at the east side of the Bois de Vincennes. As it turned out, this was an excellent plan.
First, delightfully, I was able to see a great many birds.
The second bit of happiness was lunch, complete with a peacock.
Finally, I toured the permanent Bonsai display.
It was a lot, but I was able to do it by moving slowly and deliberately. I still returned to the hotel in midafternoon all tuckered out, but feeling like things were on an upswing.