Musee d’Orsay, Jardin des Tuileries, Arc de Triomphe

21. February 2006 Paris, France 1

It was raining when we woke up this morning. While eating my fresh croissant with a glass of cold milk, I poured over our Paris map to see where we can go when it’s gloomy outside.

The boy suggested we visit Musée d’Orsay before we left. I was willing to skip it, but he told us that we should go anyway just to see the space. It’s open on Tuesdays while the Louvre isn’t, so naturally, every tourist in the city had the same idea. We stood in line for about an hour with our new umbrellas. It felt so good to finally get in and warm our feet. Seeing this as soon as we walked in was just incredible:

What used to be a train station until the modern trains proved that the platforms were too short, Musée d’Orsay is now the home of Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Gauguin. There’s also a nice collection of Art Nouveau furniture in several of the floors.

After the museum, it was defeat: we ate at a Chinese deli for lunch. I wanted to walk to Boulevard Raspail to find a place to eat lunch, but Dynasty King called my father’s name on the way there. He ate like he had never eaten before, the rice making him happier than a pig in mud. Maybe it was the beef with onions or the sautéed vegetables, but I sat and ate with them; maybe it was my dad looking like he’s finally full. Or maybe I’m just a good daughter.

From Musée d’Orsay, we crossed Pont Solferino to the Jardin des Tuileries which was bare and quiet because of the rain.

We walked to the carousel and crossed the street to the Obélisque, a gift from the viceroy of Egypt on the Place de la Concorde. I made a stop at a creperie and bought one filled with strawberries and ordered a cup of hot chocolate with it.

We walked and walked until we reached the Arc de Triomphe, something I’ve always wanted to see ever since I moved to New York City and saw Washington Square Park’s tinier version. I remember reading somewhere that when you finally see it, you’d feel like you’re in another place; that beyond the arc is a different world, sort of like an opening to something new.

The walk on Champs Élysées was long, so we made a few stops along the way, specifically at Lacoste, my dad’s favorite store. It took €8 each, around 284 steps and some heavy breathing to finally get up the arc, but the view was as rewarding as I expected. It was a bit cloudy from up there but to see the city’s traffic moving away from the arc and Georges Haussmann’s twelve avenues forming like the sun’s rays were pretty cool. Talk about city planning and practical architecture.

The arc was built as a monument to the triumph of Napoleon’s armies but today, it’s just known as a symbol of the sheer triomphe of being French. Parisians gathered here when they were liberated from German occupation and they partied here when they won the ’98 World Cup. Every year, they still use it as the point of celebrating Bastille Day, the end of the monarchy in France. From the gift shop, my mom and I bought each other tiny silver pendants of the Eiffel and the Arc as remembrance from this trip.

We picked up a few items from a grocery store on rue Saint-Antoine on our way home. My feet were so cold I decided to cook dinner and stay in for the night. To find our way back, I remembered Arabella’s tip: stay close to the river and you’ll never get lost. I peeked from one corner and another to look for the water and then we walked to St-Louis-en-l’Ile. I stopped by La Ferme Saint-Aubin to buy a bottle of Bordeaux. I also bought several jars of jam from L’Epicerie for tomorrow’s breakfast before going upstairs.

Dinner was fennel-flavored chicken soup with rice and spinach. I started with a can of Leffe while cooking and finished with a glass of the red wine. We ended the night by doing laundry and figuring out what the French on the washing machine meant. Thanks to Babel Fish, we learned that marche means go and arret is to stop.

It’s not so bad when it rains in Paris.

Related post/s:
Day 3: Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower
Day 2: The Pantheon, Jardin du Lexembourg, Saint-Sulpice
Day 1: Arriving in Paris
Planning a trip to Paris

1 thought on “Musee d’Orsay, Jardin des Tuileries, Arc de Triomphe”

  • 1
    Mike on April 20, 2009

    Great article. I will be travelling to Paris soon and was glad to get views on the area. Hopefully our experience will be as good!

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