Wow. So many people out this Christmas season. The tourists have certainly picked up. I met several Americans while in various lines. Here in Paris from our Embassy in Niger to meet Sacramento parents, from Canada to California, New York. They are all here.
But I had my quiet time at the Musee d’Orsay. As a member of the museum and holder of the Carte Blanche, I can go in at 9. The public enters at 9:30. And what an experience that is. To walk in and behold, it is empty. Oh, occasionally I see a docent/guard, but usually not. In fact, I scared two of them once who walked in to find me alone in a room of china. I guess that was not a popular destination for the early hours visitors. I waved my carte blanche and they smiled.
Immediately I went to the Van Gogh room to see all my old favorites. Starry Night was there in its usual place. Sometimes it goes traveling. Earlier this year it moved across to the special exhibit area for an interesting Under the Star expo theme. Other times it goes far away. Once to Russia this year. I recall years ago I went to London and the National Portrait Gallery to see Richard the Third. He was GONE! I found out he was on tour to Washington DC. I learned to always call ahead if I plan a trip for a certain painting…
There were some Van Gogh that seemed new to me. But the d’Orsay owns so many paintings it can do that – just walk through the attic and pick this one or that one. Wouldn’t that be a spectacular tour? Les Greniers d’Orsay.
Notre Dame has had long lines again. But I went to an evening of Gregorian Chants there and it was wonderful. First, though the line was long to get in, in fact the church was not totally full. It can accommodate so many people. And unlike the concert at St Germain des Pres, this concert was awesome. The acoustics amazing. There were maybe 9 singers total and several musicians playing instruments from the time period including a bagpipe. At one point four of the singers walked up the center aisle. Only one man was singing and his voice filled the entire cathedral. Goose bumps.
Speaking of lines… that will be a culture shock for me next week. (OMG NEXT WEEK!) The British are excellent at queuing. The Americans too. We stand in line pretty politely. The French – not so much. And I must admit that on the Metro, I am as French as you can get, slithering past people – turn your shoulders to slide between if you must – to get to the coveted seat in a crowded car.
On Sunday December 31 the town was a zoo. I needed more duct tape (Scotch American) so I headed off to Leroy Merlin again. It’s open on Sunday! And apparently it is ALWAYS open on Sunday. Sounds like any of our home improvement stores. They realized people need hardware stuff on the weekends.
But all the boulangeries were open and open late! Usually those that open on Sunday close by 2. Nope. 7 on NYE.
And other small stores were open. I discovered Flying Tiger, a Danish store much like the Dutch Hema. Ah but it’s so sad. Even if I wanted to, I can’t buy anything – duty or weight holds me back. It’s a good thing. I don’t need anything more at this point.
Today, Monday New Year’s Day may be the opposite of yesterday. I think everyone is staying home recovering. Besides, it’s raining. I have more packing to do. (Just realized I didn’t put my Tile tracker in the suitcase that will be shipped so I have to find a way to open it. Did I say I repacked it yesterday? Much better arranged and it looks thinner too which helps meet the required dimensions and saves me additional charges. I am starting to pack all the things on the shelves… this is a dreary task. I try to visualize opening it in Sacramento. Of course, I then try to ignore the time in between at the airport, changing flights, etc.