Sunday, July 3, 2016

Arrival in Paris (7/3/2016)

Sunday, July 3, 2016
Salutations de France!
Yesterday we flew west from Cleveland to Detroit to spend three hours...
Hey, Dylan's Candy Bar! (in the Detroit airport)
The ExpressTram runs the length (nearly 1 mile) of Concourse A,
the 2nd longest airport concourse in the world!
After a 7.5 hour flight, we arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris at about 11:30 local time. We had Swiss Francs to exchange for Euros and had leftover Euros from other trips.
It has been over 30 years since I have been to Paris, and this is Kent's first time.
We were met by Viking River Cruise staff, and asked if they would be able to take our luggage to the ship and let us go on our own into Paris, thus saving the 1.5-2 hours it would take to be taken to the Viking ship, then shuttled into the city of Paris. They kindly agreed!
Next we had to find the Réseau Express Régional (RER) commuter train station, tucked away in the corner of the main train station at the airport. There were long lines at some of the ticket vending machines, but shorter ones at others. We tried a couple, but were not having luck with our credit cards. A young woman employee helped us obtain the 10-Euro/$11.50 ticket for each of us.
It took us about 90 minutes to get across Paris and out the other side to the Boulainvilliers station, but mostly because we took a train that was taking the wrong branch at a Y-split! (We took RER B to St-Michel - Notre-Dame, then transferred to RER C to Gare d'Issy, backtracked to Champ de Mars - Tour Eiffel and transferred to a train to Boulainvilliers.)
Boulainvilliers RER station
A short walk took us through Jardin du Ranelagh/Ranelagh Park, created in 1860.
Meditation (1878) by Tony Noël,
with a children's party in the background
Old-fashioned carousel
Water fountain
Monument à La Fontaine (1983) by Charles Corréia
to replace the 1891 Achille Dumilâtre statue
that was melted down during WWII;
Jean de la Fontaine was a poet known for his fables,
thus the fox and the cheese-bearing crow
Donkey and pony rides
Our goal was the Musée Marmottan Monet, which is said to hold the best collection of works by Claude Monet. The museum is housed in the mansion of Paul Marmottan, who bequeathed it to the Institut de France with his collection of 19th century furniture and painting in 1932. Michel Monet's bequest in 1966 of 65 paintings by his father changed the focus of the museum.
Musée Marmottan Monet
The ground floor had the furnished rooms with the collections of Marmottan, plus a special exhibition on l'Art et l'Enfant/Art and the Child, which included two paintings by Monet. Up on the first floor was a room of amazing illuminated manuscripts, and rooms of paintings by other Impressionists, including a "world-class" collection of Berthe Morisot, in proto-Impressionist style. She was mentored by Camille Corot, and married the brother of Edouard Manet. The Monet paintings were in the "basement" along with a timeline to give us an introduction to his life. His painting Impression, soleil levant/Impression, Sunrise is what gave the name to this era of art. (No photos allowed. Admission was 11 Euros/$12.25 each)
We stopped in a boulangerie-pâtisserie/bakery-confectionary and bought a small spinach quiche and a bottle of water to share. Then headed for the Métro station La Muette.
Recycling bins have changed their shape,
and some scooters have added an extra wheel
Historic newsstand commissioned in the 1850s
by urban planner Baron Haussmann
1920s Val d'Osne-style Métro signpost
(named for the iron foundry)
We purchased a book of 10 Métro tickets for 14.10 Euros, making them about $1.65 each.
MF-2000 Paris Métro rolling stock
(Took Line 9 to the Franklin D Roosevelt station and changed to Line 1.) Popped out from underground at Place de la Concorde and hurried across to the Musée de l'Orangerie. Being the first Sunday of the month, this museum had free admission. There was a long line nearly around the perimeter of the building.
So we walked along the River Seine to check out the Musée d'Orsay. Ha! Same situation. It would be closing time before we could enter.
Musée d'Orsay, a former train station
Houseboats on the Seine
Mobile Crêperie
Viking River Cruises conveniently offered a shuttle bus into the city of Paris and back to where the ship was docked in Le Pecq. They would leave to return to the ship at 17:00 and 21:00. We had enough time to catch the 17:00 shuttle.
View of the Tour Eiffel/Eiffel Tower
Monument to King Albert I of Belgium (1918),
with equestrian statue (1938) by Armand  Martial,
as thanks for not allowing the Germans to enter
his country on their way to France prior to WWI
Pont/Bridge Alexandre III (1896-1900), designed by
architects Joseph Cassien-Bernard and Gaston Cousin
in Beaux-Arts style for the 1900 Exposition Universelle/World's Fair
Statue of Simón Bolívar (1930 copy) by
sculptor Emmanuel Frémiet; a gift from the five "Bolivarian republics"
of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia
Grand Palais (1897-1900) by architects Henri Deglane, Albert Louvet,
Albert Thomas, and Charles Girault in Beaux-Arts style, as an
exhibition hall for the 1900 Exposition Universelle/World's Fair
Petit Palais (1897-1900) by Charles Girault in Beaux-Arets style,
as an exhibition hall for the 1900 Exposition Universelle/World's Fair 
Winston Churchill (1988) by Jean Cardot,
based on a photo of Churchill walking down
the Avenue des Champs-Élysées; inscribed
with the quote: "We shall never surrender."
The statue  of Winston Churchill was the meeting point to catch the shuttle to the Viking ship. The light drizzle we encountered during the day turned into a steady rain as we headed to Le Pecq. After about 45 minutes, we arrived to check in on the Viking Rolf, and were just in time for the Safety Drill.
Safety Drill on the Viking Rolf
A couple sapeurs pompiers/firefighters
Next the Welcome Briefing, and finally dîner/dinner!
Dining room table setting
Coq au Vin
We started with the Entrée Viking Soufflé au Fromage de Chèvre/goat cheese soufflé with roasted sweet garlic velouté, and the Plat/main dish was Coq au Vin. Dessert was Pots de Crème au Chocolat Amer/little bowls of a dark chocolate cream dessert.
The evening entertainment was titled "The Spirit of France" and featured a soprano and a tenor singing French songs and English songs about France, starting with opera (Jacques Offenbach, Maurice Ravel), moving on to Edith Piaf, and then movie songs (An American in Paris?). Whether opera or not, most songs were sung operatically!
Since the entertainment started at 21:30, most people were in bed after a long day of traveling.
Singing La Vie en Rose?
Next: Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

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