Paris Museums and Lots and Lots of Rain!


We had one day to visit museums before the tennis started. Several people had warned us about how terrible the weather in Paris had been this year, but how bad could it be, really? After all, we had two or three museums to see and we would be inside the entire time. Right? The Musee d'Orsay was actually quite close to our hotel. It looked like only a few blocks of walking. It started to sprinkle just a few minutes after we left the hotel. By the time we reached the line to get into the museum, we had a fairly solid rain, and by the time time we figured out that the line that seemed so long was actually many times longer because people where looped back and forth across the front, something we were too far back along the street to even see, we had a slow soaking rain going.

As in all major cities, the umbrella salesmen came out in force. About the time I figured out that we might be waiting several hours to get in, I quit sending them away and paid my four euros to buy a new crummy umbrella and get out of the rain for a bit.


Dana got tired of standing in the rain with nothing but waiting ahead of us, so she decided we should drop out of line, even though we had already spent close to an hour there, and head for the Rodin Museum. After a fifteen minute trudge through the rain, we found the museum... and another line... with about ten people in it!!! And it moved very quickly! Score! Even better, Dana had her eye on a combination d'Orsay and Rodin ticket that would mean no waiting when we went back to the first place. What could be better?

The Rodin Museum is absolutely beautiful. Many of the pieces we had seen in Philadelphia where they have other versions of his most famous pieces. But they also have an absolutely beautiful garden there. Reiner Marie Rilke, a German literary figure who served as Rodin's secretary at the time, commented on how wonderful the garden was. Despite the rain, roaming the garden to see the statuary was very nice.

The gardens are somewhat formally structured, and this time of year the roses are in bloom. Around every corner they have works by Rodin and several other sculptors. Again, we have seen most of the better known works at the Rodan Museum in Philadelphia, but the setting here is quite nice. The rain kept the crowds down and make it even more pleasant to look at everything in bright natural light instead of a stuffy museum room.

We returned to the Musee d'Orsay where we, in fact, did not have to wait. With our ticket we jumped the line and entered immediately. The museum building used to serve as a train station. It was scheduled to be demolished when someone had the idea to turn it into an art museum. It was truly an inspired idea. The building is absolutely beautiful. They do not allow photography inside, so I sneaked one on the way in before we officially got to the exhibits.

Dana had her heart set on eating at a cafe inside the museum that received very good reviews. We went directly to the second floor where we found - who knew? - a huge line. We stuck it out and the line moved pretty quickly. And the review was not wrong. The food was very good and the service quick and efficient. Waiters in France do not take time to chit-chat with you. They say hello and take your order. I suppose that some Americans would consider them rude, but I find it much preferable to the service people who continually try to chat you up in the U.S. to ask whether, "everything is amazing?" Gratuities are included in the purchase price of the meal, so they spend their time serving instead of sucking up. The result is a very pleasant and undisturbed experience.

We returned to the Hotel Seine to pick up our bags and move to our "tennis" hotel, Prince De Galles. I pulled our bags out of storage while Dana went to find a cab. She had to look around awhile, then convince the cab driver that we really wanted to go to the hotel Prince De Galles. It has been under renovation for the past two years and only reopened two weeks ago. The driver did not know it had opened and insisted we did not want to go there. Dana got him sorted out, and we arrived to find that the hotel really was open and that everything looked and smelled very new.

By the time we had checked in and arrived in our room, we were both too tired to think about going out and looking for dinner. Instead we stayed in to eat in the hotel restaurant. We only did that once! Their hamburger was $40. We paid a similar price for a glass of wine. The food was fine, but not great, and that was simply too expensive to feel okay about.

Roland Garros - Day One

Touring Paris and Arras