Last Saturday we had a guided tour through Centre Pompidou, offered by the organisation who runs my French classes. There’s a separate entrance for groups at the Centre Pompidou, so while we waited because we arrived early, we didn’t wait in a queue – somehow this still feels way better than any actual queueing I have to do to see any sights.
We got a chance to go up the many escalators to the fifth level, where the modern paintings are. The view is pretty good from up there.
The tour was really interesting, the guide did a great job, I thought. She picked a few works and got us to talk about it. If you could be anywhere in this picture by Kandinsky, where would that be? It was quite an interesting approach. I also liked how she was never fazed when the four young African men who were part of the group wandered off to look at different things. She just asked them: why did you look at this picture, what do you like about it? I liked how she managed to include them without losing a beat or appearing annoyed. And for the group as a whole it didn’t matter if we talked about this Kandinsky or any other of the works in Pompidou.
The second part of the tour we looked at contemporary art, which is on the fourth floor. We could have stayed even longer, but we were so tired we decided to come back at another time. Instead we found a beer store and bought a few specialty beers, among them one brewed with basil and one with verveine. Gergö didn’t like them – he thought the taste was too subtle but I found them perfect.
In the evening we went back to Paris for the long night of the museums (only it’s called differently here, and it’s free). We managed to agree on a couple of small places, a strategy that always worked in Vienna. We started out with the musée Marie et Pierre Curie, then ended up drinking a cocktail, followed by a late dinner in a great Japanese restaurant. Somehow we never managed to visit the forgery museum, before we had to catch the last train home.
I didn’t take any photos except for this one:
Dire Lire, where I take my French classes, will have a end of semester celebration in June. My teacher who studied in Graz for a year encouraged us to dress in the clothes traditional for our country, because my Vietnamese colleague had written about the traditional dress. Then she tried to talk me into wearing a Dirndl, and when I said I didn’t have one, she offered me hers. She is much slimmer than me, but I didn’t even know how to say that. Thankfully I won’t be in Palaiseau on that weekend, so I could bow out, without having to explain why I don’t want to squeeze into a far too small Dirndl.
On Monday our next visitor arrived and although she said she wanted to keep it low key and not do any hard core sightseeing, we ended up breaking step counter records every day.
First we visited the Galeries Lafayette. I was aware of them, but somehow missed how spectacular they are. The Galeries are three department stores close to the Opera. The oldest one is the one with the fancy art deco architecture. They are full of tourists, of course, and even have a dedicated Japanese customer service department, advertised in Japanese and English.
Wednesday we dedicated to Musée d’Orsay. We went with a friend and spent about 5 hours inside and I finally got to see Starry Nights and the Henri Toulouse-Lautrec room. Last time I mostly looked at the architecture and the Impressionists. This time we saw a lot of sculptures and most rooms. We had very fancy cake and coffee in the fancy restaurant, and again didn’t eat behind the clockface on the 5th floor. I might have to go back a third time.
Shortly before we left, we just wanted to have a real quick look at the Olympia, but couldn’t find it anywhere. So I ended up asking a museum guide, who not just told us she was on loan, but also to where (Moscow) and when she’s be back (July). Another guide overheard me speak and asked if I were Swiss. When I said I’m Autrichienne, he started talking about how much he loves the country and somehow managed to seemlessly lead to a complete history of his family in Speyer and Worms, the Second World War, anti-semitism, Salzburg, the Sound of Music, the election results and so on.
I was paralysed, completely unable to to anything about it, while M and K looked at the remaining paintings and the photo exhibition. Maybe I couldn’t stop him because I was so happy I understood so much of what he was talking about. Maybe I was just too tired to put up a fight. He wound down after ten minutes or so, with M and K watching from a safe distance and grinning at me, not without schadenfreude.
I let our visitor explore Paris alone the next day, but we met up at National Libary of France in the evening. There’s a freemasonry exhibition at the moment that M wanted to see. The National Library are 4 large towers looking like open books around an inner courtyard that is a forest.
Gergö went to Versailles with M on Friday and took lots of photos, so I hope I can talk him into another guestpost soon. Today it’s raining, so we’ll stay at home and rest our feet. There’s more museums planned for tomorrow after all.