Tuesday, 17 April 2012

We need to talk about Paris

The problem with using Eurostar is to get the cheap tickets you have to book months in advance. What on paper looks like the best time to go, in fact often turns out to be the very worst time to go. I was up bright and early and made it to the station in plenty of time, I even had my ticket and passport, the first warning that all was not well was that I slept the whole way there, a deep drugged sleep.
The weather was not too pleasant and once off the train I could not decide what I wanted to do first, I prevaricated for way too long, bumped and jostled by a sea of tourists, if most of Paris is in London this Easter all of England seemed to be in Paris.

I decided to do the galleries first and wander the streets later, marching down the hill past delicious cake shops I to this day marvel that Parisians stay so slim, and they do, but the statistics say that 50% of France is obese.

I decided to save myself for lunch, the biggest mistake of the day, I was so thirsty I queued for 20 min's in a Carre Fore whilst one dazed and confused shop assistant slept walked processing the shopping of others, making sure that each and every customer waited an eternity whilst she called for a key to rectify her mistakes, all the while checking for texts on her phone.

I finally made it to the Musee de l'Orangerie where my mood elevated a little, the park was glorious and the sun came out and the very nice lady on the till explained that my duel ticket would get me past the queues at the D'Orsay

It was almost impossible to stay so glum when you are standing here, looking over there.

The trip was booked so I could see some of Manet late flower paintings, but a fringe benefit was the newly revamped Musee de l'Orangerie and the added bonus was an amazing exhibition of paintings from the collection of Paul Guillaume, there was even a little doll's house facsimile of what his display must have looked like, it was adorable.

It was only when I went to the toilet that all became clear, my period had started it suddenly explained the intense lethargy and why since returning from Norfolk I felt so bleak and miserable.

Worst of all my hands were swollen to the point that I could barley make a fist and this of course meant my whole body felt bloated and tired.

The first time I made it to the Musee de l'Orangerie I was still in college laid up in a hotel bedroom with students I struggled to get on with, I was suffering from a deep burning cystitis, I drank a gazillion litres of water and then bored witless got up and walked down to the gallery, only to be caught short half way. My French is poor at the best of times but miraculously I managed to order a coffee before fleeing to the cafe's toilet. The gallery was a joy after that pain and it was the start of my recovery.

The second time was 10 years later, hamstrung by a particular virulent hangover I was in Paris as the token female teacher on a trip, I was very kindly excused supervisory duties, not least because the students were sixth former's and a great deal more sensible than the staff. Again bored of gazing at a hotel ceiling listening to the traffic I once again limped down to the gallery to nurse my hangover, it again managed to lift my spirits and so it did this time too

This Matisse is so beautiful, I only really know him by his much brighter paintings, but this was just gorgeous.

I often crop paintings with my camera, I find that they can often look better! Rude I know when we are dealing with Gauguin!

I rarely get to see the work of Utrillo so this was a treat, as was being allowed to take photographs. Sadly having saved my money and my appetite for something special, I went to a cafe just around the corner from where this was painted only to be served cold mashed potato and some dried up chicken, truly the worst meal I ever ate anywhere, and the wine was so expensive. I hate wasting money on poor food and this came to 20 euros! I had been so spoilt in Norfolk and Madrid that the shock of being taken for a fool ruined the day, and so tired and bruised I returned home vowing that this time was the last time I come here.

I did make it to the d'Orsay, I waltzed passed the crowds as directed and it was joyously re hung and curated, I saw not one but two of my favourite Manet flower paintings and realised I have a very long was to go before I understand a tenth of what he did about paint.

You could argue that I achieved what I set out to, but there was something very unpleasant about this visit that had I not felt so miserable I would barley have noticed, even the journey home was grim, sat next to a squirming young girl unable to sit still she all but sat on my lap at one point, it was a joy to get home.


lin said...

I can relate to this feeling of feeling disoriented and just plain uncomfortable while travelling - a pity but your trip to Norfolk looks amazing. I love the calm that came across in your pictures.

materfamilias said...

Oh, those charming surprises of womanhood! Sorry your day in Paris was so rudely intruded upon. Sounds as if you have a history of being oddly jinxed in your art jaunts to the city -- but that it's also taught you something about the power of art to lift us out of a miserable present.
Can you believe we haven't got to the l'Orangerie? We've been up to Giverny many, many years ago and I do have a vague recollection of viewing the water-lilies in a room like that described by so many, but if we ever did go, it was with the kids, 20+ years ago. I'm determined to get there this time. . . . Always loving viewing galleries with you here, thanks. . .

Mardel said...

ii've had day trips to NY like that but it does sound like the art was inspiring. I've not been to l'Orangerie either and would love to go. MY last trip to Paris, G was in one of his "if you've seen one painting you've seen them all " moods which was maddening and inexplicable. It was before I had full mental grasp of the dementia that was taking hold of him.