Day 30 — July 30, 1996 (Tuesday)
30.07.1996 - 31.07.1996
Showered, ate breakfast at our hotel and headed for the Metro. We wanted to get to the Musée d’Orsay before a long line formed. It was much easier to find than the Musée Picasso. Ed got a faculty discount — our first on the trip. If you’re not under 18 to 25 or over 60 to 65, it is difficult to get a discount. We’re at the “awkward” age. Seems like we always have been.
We spent over four hours at the Musée d’Orsay and could have spent four weeks. It is a wonderful building (former train station) and the collection is stunning. All the paintings I expected in the Louvre were at the Orsay — which was equally crowded. We did get right in, but you tripped over people everywhere you went. If you wanted to view a painting from a distance, it was made nearly impossible by all the people who wanted to examine each point of a pointillist. Nearly everyone seemed to want to rub their noses on the art — strange! Musée d'Orsay web site
When we left, loooong lines had formed for entrance. We started to look for a café for lunch and headed toward the Seine. Bad choice — no restaurants. We walked all the way back to the Latin Quarter — passing innumerable closed galleries (because of the sacrosanct dinner) and finally found a nice little restaurant with a fun waitress who decided to help us with our French (she was from the Loire and informed us they had the “purest” French there). [Again, live and learn. Now we walk away from the Seine and there are many excellent restaurants including two of our favorites within an easy walk. For an inexpensive lunch that is delicious, I'll recommend Café L'Empire at the corner of rue de Bac and rue de Verneuil. For something more expensive but absolutely delicious try La Bonne Excuse at 48 Rue de Verneuil.] La Bonne Excuse web site
Walked over to Pont Neuf looking for boats. As we walked back toward Notre Dame, we found the Batobus and got tickets. We rode the boat up to the end, back to the Eiffel Tower (huge from the water) and back to our starting point. What a fun way to explore Paris from the river. Batobus web site
Following my less-than-good directions we boarded a bus for the Luxembourg Gardens — headed the wrong way. We went to the end hoping he would repeat the route, but he was “terminé.” We got off and found another #27 bus and wound our way to the Luxembourg Gardens. Paris is a good place to get lost.
There was an ethnic-type concert/dance in the Musique at the garden. As we walked down into the lake section, we saw a huge cloud of black smoke in the distance. No one else seemed to notice! We walked through the lovely gardens — lots of people reading, resting, playing boules or tennis and sailing little boats on the lake. When we got to the far side of the gardens, smoke was definitely in the air. Two older men commented on it, but we never did find out what it was.
Walked up to the Pantheon and took the bus the short way back to the hotel.