Sunday, March 26, 2017

Paris to Swiss Alps: Arrival in Paris (3/26/2017)

Saturday, March 25, 2017
Let's try again! This time Brynne drove us to the airport.  We had to make sure our luggage had been sent from Atlanta to meet us at JFK. At JFK we took a shuttle bus from one section of Terminal 2 to another, then walked over to Terminal 1 in drizzling rain. Went through security again... and waited for our 17:35 flight to Paris.
We left the gate on time, joined the line to taxi for the runway, and started to speed up to take off. All of a sudden, we screeched to a halt. OMG! We returned to the gate, but backed up into an open area. Apparently there was some instrument failure, and we sat in the plane to wait for repairs to be made (they turned on the media screens for us). Three hours later, after refueling, we finally took off, but there went our hopes for at least a full day in Paris!

Sunday, March 26, 2017
I apologize to anyone wanting to learn what is done and seen on the Viking Paris to the Swiss Alps trip. We missed the first day and a half, and since we had visited some of the destinations already, we did our own tours. For instance, we had done Viking's Paris City Tour in 2016.
We arrived in Paris at 11:00, where the Viking transfer driver had been waiting since 7:00!  At least our hotel room was ready at the Hotel Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel. A Viking staff person directed us to the nearest ATM, where HSBC "captured" Kent's debit card for security purposes. No chance to enter a PIN or anything; just swallowed it up in the machine!  Another Viking staff person sent us to another ATM, one partnered with our own bank, where I used my debit card to successfully get Euros. Whew!
This was our first time with a land portion of a Viking cruise, and although we have a Program Director with us from start to finish, the hotels have a Host at a Hospitality Desk in the lobby. At the time, the hotel had passengers from three Viking ships, so there were three hosts. We had help from two of them, neither one was ours!
Finally stopped for a late lunch on our own at the Brasserie le Beaujolais, having the plats du jour/daily specials of lasagna and chicken curry. Kent's draft beer was the French Kronenbourg 1664, a Euro Pale Lager style, which he judged as average.
After lunch, we took the RER C-train to the Musée d'Orsay to spend a couple hours before it closed for the day.
Avoid walking under pigeons in Paris!
Memorial to Aristide Briand (1937 by sculptor Henri Bouchard)
on Quai d'Orsay in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Aristide Briand was France's Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1915 to 1932, and in 1925 was instrumental in the Locarno Treaties, earning a Nobel Peace Prize in 1926. (It was the Locarno Pact that Hitler later tore up/denounced when he sent troops into the demilitarized Rhineland area of Germany.) Briand also initiated the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, where 15 nations called for peaceful settlements of international disputes and renounced the use of war. This pact has now been signed by 62 nations, and was the basis for the Nuremberg and Tokyo War Crimes Trials after World War II.
The Musée d'Orsay is located in the former Gare d'Orsay (train station built 1898-1900, designed by Victor Laloux for the Compagnie du chemin de fer de Paris à Orléans/Orléans Railroad Company). The station was built to bring visitors close to the Exposition Universelle de 1900, and the metal structure was clad in limestone in the Belle Epoque style.
Musée d'Orsay (7/9/2016)
After 1939 the station was used only for suburban trains, then all train traffic ended in 1958. After several re-incarnations, the building was restored and renovated (1979-1986 by A.C.T. Architecture with Pierre Colboc, Renaud Bardon and Jean-Paul Philippon) to serve as a museum for the art collection previously housed at places such as the Musée du Luxembourg and the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume. Italian architect and interior designer Gae Aulenti designed the interior museum spaces.
The Musée d'Orsay seems to pick up where the Louvre leaves off, covering art from 1848 to 1914, displaying Western artistic creation from when revolutions swept across Europe to World War I, and as we entered the industrial age.
The Great Hall where train tracks were once located,
with a ceiling designed by Maurice Denis
The lower level comprises of 19th century Classicism in sculpture and paintings.
La Source/The Source (1820-1856) by
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres; like a Greek
statue on canvas with balanced opposite
motions, idealized beauty
La Naissance de Venus/The Birth of Venus (1863) by
Alexandre Cabanel, was popular at the juried art Salon of 1863,
and was purchased by Napoléon III
La Danse/The Dance (1867-1868) by
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, based on the dance of Bacchus,
caused a scandal when it was placed on the façade
of the Opéra Garnier in 1869; this is the original
as a copy replaced it on the Opera in 1964
Célébrités du Juste Milieu/Celebrities of the Happy Medium (1832-1835)
by Honoré Daumier; 36 bustlets representing the centrist politicians
of the era, to be used as models for his lithograph caritcatures;
although trained as cartoonist, Daumier is considered a Realist
Back along the right side of the Great Hall to the Realists.
Baraque de la Goulue à la Foire du Trône (La Danse Mauresque
ou Les Almées)
/Booth of la Goulue at Foire du Trône (The
Moorish Dance) (1895) by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, a mural
on the booth of dancer la Goulue, showing her entertaining the likes
of Irish writer Oscar Wilde (his back to us 2nd from the left)
La Buveuse d'Absinthe/The Absinthe Drinker (1901)
by Pablo Picasso, apparently one of several
paintings on this subject (this one as he transitioned
from his pre-Fauvist to the Blue Period)
At the far end of the Great Hall is an exhibit on the Opera Garnier.
Cross section of the Opéra Garnier (1861-1875
in Second-Empire Beaux-Arts style)
In the back left corner of the Great Hall is the Pavillion Amont (or Courbet)/Amont Pavilion, a five-story exhibition space. On the ground floor, the artist Courbet is featured.
 L'Atelier du Peintre: Allégorie réelle déterminant une phase de
sept années de ma vie artistique et morale
/The Painter's Studio:
A real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic
and moral life (1855) by Gustave Courbet
The Salon of 1855 rejected the above dark painting by Courbet, so he built a shed (Pavilion of Realism) to show his work at the Exposition Universelle/Universal Exposition of 1855. Debate continues on the oxymoron in his title (real allegory). The painting contains symbols of death to signify the end of Romanticism. Figures on the right side depict the elite including his patrons and art lovers, and those on the left are of common men, while the artist, Courbet in the center, acts as a social mediator.
Next we climb (via several escalators) to the top exhibition floor.
A look back in the former train terminus with its clock
Through the musuem shop and right to see the inside of one of the two huge clocks seen on the building façade.
View through the façade clock
towards the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur/
Sacred Heart Basilica on Montmartre
Now to Pre-Impressionism and Impressionism.
La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans/The Little
Dancer Aged 14 (1881) by Edgar Degas
The above sculpture is a bronze copy of the original clay sculpture exhibited by Degas in 1881. It is considerd to be in the Verism, or Hyperrealism, style.
Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe/Lunch on the Grass (1863) by Édouard Manet
shocked the staid citizens although it had a classical pose
The above painting was rejected by the Salon of 1873, so Manet exhibited it under the title of Le Bain/The Bath at the Salon des Refusés/the Refused (initiated the same year by Napoléon III) where it became the principal attraction, generating both laughter and scandal. Although the foreground figures are painted in Realism, the background is a bit fuzzy, leading some to believe this was the beginning of Impressionism.
Coquelicots/Poppies (1873) by Claude Monet, was shown at what
became known as the first Impressionist exhibition in Pairis in 1874
Bal du Moulin de la Galette/Dance at the Galette Windmill (1876)
by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, of common Parisiens with filtered sunlight,
is a masterpiece of early Impressionism
Danse à la Ville/Dance in the City (1883) by
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, is paired with...
Danse à la Campagne/Dance in the countryside (1883)
Renoir was inspired by works by Raphael during a trip to Italy in 1881, and began to move away from Impressionism by concentrating more on the drawing of his subjects.
Le Berceau/The Cradle (1872) by Berthe Morisot,
was shown at the Impressionist Exhibition of 1874,
the first woman to exhibit with the group
Sur la Plage/On the Beach (1873) by Édouard Manet,
where he moves away from the light colorful palette of
Impressionism, is displayed in an unusual Art Deco frame
Femme Cousant/Young Woman Sewing (1880-1882)
by Mary Cassat, an American painter who
exhibited with the Impressionist group
Les Joueurs de Cartes/The Card Players (1892-1895)
by Paul Cézanne, is considered Caravaggio-inspired
because of the chiaroscuro/light and dark effect
La Cathédrale de Rouen: le portail et la tour Saint-Romain,
effet du matin
/The Cathedral of Rouen: the portal and the
Saint-Romain tower, morning effect (1893), one of
Claude Monet's many studies of the Rouen Cathedral
Café des Hauteurs or Café Campana, with décor by the
Brazilian design duo, Humberto and Fernando Campana,
behind the second clock in the building façade
Now down to the second level to Post-Impressionism.
La Belle Angèle/The Beautiful Angela (1889) by Paul
Gauguin, with the subject in traditional Breton attire,
shows many artistic influences from South
American culture, Japanese prints, to Impressionism
Portrait de l'Artiste/Self-portrait (1889) by Vincent
van Gogh, done a few months before his suicide
Vincent van Gogh was in Paris with the Impressionists, but used thick swirling brushstrokes. When he moved to the south of France, he used brighter complementary colors. His paintings remained connected to nature—their colors and rhythmic surfaces communicated the spiritual power he believed inhabited and shaped nature's forms.
Arearea (1892) by Paul Gauguin, is intentionally primitive
Paul Gauguin learned with Impressionists but went on his way to South Seas/Tahiti where he simplified his life and paintings. He was to influence the Fauvists and Cubists.
Ugolino (1882-1906) by Auguste Rodin;
Ugolino was a character in The Divine Comedy by Dante
Auguste Rodin was considered an Impressionist sculptor.
La Pensée/Thought (c. 1895) by Auguste Rodin,
who used Camille Claudel, his pupil and mistress,
as the model; the contrast between the smooth face
and roughly hewn block give the work a Symbolist look
L'Age Mûr/Maturity (1899-1903) by Camille Claudel, is auto-
biographical as she implores Rodin not to return to his wife
Pomone Drapée/Draped Pomona (c. 1921)
by Aristide Maillol (Pomona was the Roman
goddess of fruitful abundance)
Next, the second level of Pavillion Amont.
Pavillon Amont lighting fixture
And now down the other side of level 2.
La Guerre/War (c. 1894) by Henri Rousseau, was shown at the
Salon de Indépendants of 1894, where it seemed strange
because it did not evoke any idea of ​​a thing already seen,
which in itself made it a masterpiece
Henri Rousseau is considered a representative of l'art naïf/naive art.
We came to the rooms of Art Nouveau, from the opulent fin de siècle/end of the century, which in French is Style Nouille/noodle.
Choker necklace (c. 1899) and bonbonnière, designed by René Lalique
Banquette de fumoir/Smoking bench (1897), designed by Hector Guimard,
who is better known for designing entrances for the Paris Métro
Caën/Cain (1880) by Fernand Cormon, a Naturalist; this painting was
created at the time when the Neanderthal skull was recently discovered
L'Ecole de Platon/School of Plato (1898) by Jean Delville, who was part
of the Belgian center of European Symbolism; "The ambiguity
emanating from this fin de siècle Mannerism knowingly
blurs the borderline between purity and sensuality."
Gorille Enlevant une Femme/Gorilla Carrying off a
Woman (1887) by Emmanuel Frémiet,
a leading sculptor of animals in his day
Part of the former d'Orsay train station was a luxury hotel.
Salle des Fêtes de l' Hôtel du Palais d'Orsay/Ballroom of the
Orsay Palace Hotel (1900) designed by Victor Laloux
in the opulent styles of Louis XIV to Louis XVI
The former hotel dining room is now the
museum restaurant, with funky plastic chairs
Took the RER C-train back to the hotel.

Next: Evening in Paris.

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