By now, I will be over jet lag and possibly grappling with surviving a surfeit of beauty and inspiration. “Stendhal’s syndrome is a psychosomatic disorder that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, and confusion …when an individual is exposed to an experience of great personal significance, particularly viewing art.“ Appropriately named after the epnoymous French writer who fainted when overcome by his contemplation of sublime beauty in Florence. As long as I am not actually swooning, I’m good.
Monday, April 7: This is my day to buy a carnet of 10 tickets from the closest Tabac or metro station (usable on the métro and buses). It’s good for seven days, and the meter starts running on Monday. I liked using the bus in London for the views of the city, as it lumbered from point A to point B. The online site that helped you plan your trip was so clear and specific that I had no difficulty finding my way. Guided by the experts on Tripadviser, I downloaded the free Visit Paris by Metro app, the official application of the RATP. Online here – ratp.fr/itineraires/en/ratp/recherche-avancee.
I’ll figure out a go-to public transportation route from my door to the Louvre, unless it’s raining, in which case I’m calling Uber. Fortified with a café creme and a croissant, I’m off to the Louvre to explore the Salle des Caryatides, the reception rooms of Anne of Austria and bedrooms of Louis XIII in the Egyptian antiquities gallery. I’ve penciled in a walk through the Medieval section before I follow the Louvre trail for European Renaissance. It will be a full day. I have an interesting audiobook on the renaissance period on my iPod, which will make a good companion. Lunch in the museum, dinner picked up at the shops on the way back home, and feet up.
Tuesday, 8: The Louvre is closed. If the weather is fair, I’m heading to the Luxembourg garden to walk and sketch, soak in daylight and sticky little green leaves of spring. If not, I’ll visit Saint-Sulpice church. At the time of the Revolution Saint-Sulpice ditched the Judeo-Christian God for a Supreme Being. Look for a printed sign over the center door of the main entrance that reads ‘’Le Peuple Francais Reconnoit L’Etre Suprême Et L’Immortalité de L’Âme’’ (“The French people recognize the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul”). Both Baudelaire and the Marquis de Sade were baptized here, suggesting the Supreme Being is pretty laissez faire. I’ll find the two Delacroix murals and soak in their glory. Around lunch time, I’ll look for cafés or bistro on the Rue Bonaparte that leads off the square. I bought a necklace and ring on this very street in 1971 that I still wear today. I doubt the shop is in existence, but it will do no harm to look. On the way home, I’ll stop in the Village Voice bookshop on Rue Princesse for a browse.
Wednesday, 8: By now the spell has been cast and my ideas of what I thought I wanted to see in the Louvre may have become irrelevant. Nevertheless, it’s good to have a plan A. Mine is to follow the Louvre trail of The Great Goddess, and then pause for lunch and a L’Africain hot chocolate at the Le Café Richelieu. Afterwards, spend some quality time on the second floor of the Richelieu wing with the monumental works by Rubens commissioned by Marie de Medici and then resume flitting around, following the audio guide for the Louvre trail of The Lion Hunt. Alternatively, if the day is pretty, after lunch I’ll wander out into the Jardin de Tuilleries, take a look inside the Musée de l’Orangerie.
Thursday, 10: Today I am going to the Musée D’Orsay. I have my e-ticket, purchased online. It’s open until 9:45 today, and my strategy is to go in the late afternoon, when the crowds have thinned and stay until the moon is rising. To that end, I’ll sleep in as late as I can, then take care of a few domestic chores. By now, it’s time to do laundry. I’ll be hanging it up on folding racks in the studio apartment to dry. If the weather cooperates, I’ll do the Walk & Talk Paris tour of les Marais, an area known for its charm and little shops. After a bit of window shopping I’ll dine at Le Gorilla Blanc, 4, Impasse Guemenee or Ma Bourgogne,19, place des Vosges. Then back to my apartment for a big fat nap before I head over to the Musée D’Orsay around 4. Eat in the museum restaurant M‘O at 7-ish, and back out to feast on the art. See the Degas pastel room. View the Renoir on one side, the Monet on the other, and watch the the Eiffel tower light up straight through the window. Think how lucky I am to be in Paris. I’ll leave when guards herd me to the door at 9:30 or when my eyes give out, whichever comes first and call Uber for a swift and secure ride back to my apartment.
Friday, 11: Back to the Louvre. It’s open late today too, but doubt I will do back-to-back late nights. I am an earlybird by custom and inclination. Today’s Louvre trail is In Search of Ideal Beauty. My feminist sensibilities bristle, but my artist is curious. After lunch, this time in the Louvre’s Café Marly, I will do the Sculptures Louvre trail and sketch – something about marble pulls me to do that. I’ll leave by mid-afternoon and walk back, along the Seine. I’ll pick up a simple dinner from the shops.
Saturday, 12: Hoping for sunny weather because I want to explore the outdoor market Marché aux puces de la Porte de Vanves, open from 7am-2pm on Avenue Marc Sangnier. After browsing and dining nearby, I’ll pop into the Musée Delacroix, situated in a courtyard with a garden, 6 rue de Furstenburg, open 9:30-5. The artist’s memorabilia, sketches, drawings, are of interest but it’s his studio that I want to see. If the weather is not too frigid and my stamina holds up, I’ll walk to the nearest Pont at 8:30 and watch all the bridges and the Tour Eiffel light up in succession.
Sunday, 13: Good weather and I’m heading to Parc Monceau, 35 Boulevard de Courcelles. Cold or raining, and I have my choice of three small museums. Musée Nissim de Camondo 63 Rue de Monceau, 10 -5:30, would be new for me. collection of eighteenth-century French furniture and art, including portraits by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, landscapes by Guardi and Hubert Robert and hunting scenes by Jean-Baptiste Oudry. Musée Jacquemart-André 158, Blvd Haussmann I have seen before, but it is so exquisite it would be a pleasure to revisit. Musée National Gustave Moreau, 14 Rue de la Rochefoucauld, is another combination of an artist’s home, and his atelier.
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