It’s always lovely waking up in Paris. We arrived on the Eurostar last night, checking in to the lovely Maison Athenee just after 10:30.
We’re here because Mirinda has a work thing on Monday so she suggested we make a weekend of it. Who was I to argue.
Our hotel is an absolute delight. We’re just up from Place Vendome (steps away according to the literature) in an area we haven’t visited for many years.
After a lovely breakfast, spoiled only by a quite disgusting oriental chap who seemed to be under the impression he was eating on the streets of Beijing, we headed down to the Tuileries.
Mirinda has a thing for Monet. She’s always wanted to go to the Orangerie and check out the water lily paintings. She thought she was sneakily getting me there because I’m not that keen on Monet…or much Impressionist stuff if truth be told. So we went.
While Mirinda absolutely loved the Monet stuff, I was intrigued by the number of people taking panaramic photos of the big pictures. I especially loved the woman in the photo below. She quickly walked around the two rooms, pointing her phone at the walls.
I’d love to see what kind of photo she managed to get.
While I didn’t get a lot from the paintings, I admit that the space could be quite special…if you had it to yourself. I didn’t really appreciate anything till we headed downstairs to the Walter-Guilliame collection. And this I relished.
The collection was due to the art dealer Paul Guilliame who, during his lifetime, accumulated an incredible amount of art. He particularly liked French artists from Paris so the collection reflects this. While my favourite was (possibly) Utrillo and his Expressionism, I was rather taken by paintings by Derain (who I didn’t know I knew of) and Rousseau (who was decidedly weird).
I was also rather taken by the young girl paintings of Marie Laurencin, in particular her striking portrait of Miss Chanel painted in 1923.
However, my favourite bit of the collection is the story about Guilluiame’s wife Domenica. On his deathbed, Guilluiame wrote her a letter saying she could sell whatever she wanted but then would have to give the rest of his collection to the Louvre. She then remarried (a mining magnet called Jean Walter). At some stage between the two marriages she adopted a young lad called Jean Pierre.
At the beginning of 1958, she became a suspect in an alleged attempt to murder her adopted son. She was found not guilty by the courts, however it was widely believed, without the slightest proof, that she had transferred the collection to the State in exchange for her impunity. Orangerie Guide Book.
Another highlight of the Orangerie is the fact that they have a small cafe next to their gift/book shop (take note Louis Vuitton Fondation). We sat with our coffee and discussed the paintings (Mirinda concentrated on the water lilies just a bit longer than was strictly necessary) we’d seen and what we did and didn’t like. It was a great way to finish off a bit of intense art peering.
But we weren’t finished yet. Mirinda said that the Museum of Decorative Arts was beckoning so off we went.
There’s a street in Paris that runs, more or less, parallel with the Seine called the Rue de Rivoli. It has to have the greatest concentration of tourist shops ever assembled anywhere outside Pisa (next to the leaning tower). We figured, if mum was with us, we’d have lost her. It was tourist shop after tourist shop after tourist shop. And never mind that a cross street may appear. The tourists shops started again on the other side of the junction. Perhaps ‘Rivoli’ means ‘tourist’ in French…
Anyway, we ignored them all and went into a delightful little French brasserie for a lovely lunch before setting off for some (did I say ‘some’?) decorative arts.
It has to be said that there is some extraordinary pieces in the Museum of Decorative Arts. Extraordinary. There is also rather a lot. We were there for what felt like six hours and only managed to get to about 1840 with the whole of the 20th century left for another time. I’d had enough but, because it was Mirinda’s choice, I waited for her to have had enough.
Eventually she’d had enough and we left and went to Starbucks.
It was then back to the hotel for the briefest of rests before heading out for dinner.
Ignoring the recommendations of the hotel staff, we opted for the Cafe Capucine and had a delicious dinner before heading off for a short walk back to our hotel. A perfect Paris Saturday.