In need of a brief escape from the grey skies of London, I jumped on the Eurostar to Paris with a few friends. The wonderful part of returning to a city for the fourth or fifth time is having a distinct lack of pressure to fit in as many cultural hotspots as one can. Instead, we delighted in leisurely walks through St Germain and along the Seine. There’s a difference between that and the hustle to get from point A to point B in order to tick off the historic checkpoints of Paris. Instead, we remained in a croissant/café crème/wine haze (depending on the time of day) and got to experience the place at our own pace.
First stop was a return to the Musée d’Orsay – newly revamped after a 2 year renovation project. The iconic former train station is home to some of my favourite artists including Monet, Degas and Renoir – all of whom enjoy a new space made to feel more intimate for the viewer. Think waxed wooden floors, controlled light and painted walls – a departure from its former design.
“Little by little, we’ve abandoned the spirit of the train station,”* said Guy Cogeval, president of the Musée d’Orsay and the l’Orangerie museum.
My thoughts? While abandoning the spirit of the train station may have been the goal, I think the iconic clocks anchoring each wing of the building are imposing reminders of a history we shouldn’t soon forget. I took as much away from the architectural setting as I did from some of my favourite pieces of art. Plus, a woman wearing a beret overlooking Sacré-Cœur from the inside of the Musee d’Orsay? Methinks I couldn’t find a more perfect sight.
As an aside – it was good to see the Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer back in Paris after it’s loan to London.
*Quotation taken from the LA Times (click here)