ARRRGH!!! Once again I finished typing out what I am sure was a sparkling, witty entry, only to find that I did not save it (although I am quite sure that I did). This is SO irritating, trying to reconstruct my thoughts. Well, here goes...
I spent the morning touring the Marais district; named for the swampy ground over which it was originally constructed. There is a great deal of history here, literary (Victor Hugo lived here) beautiful architecture, but this was traditionally the Jewish section; and there is a sobering monument to the thousands of non-Jews who were killed by the Germans and the Vichy government for trying to save and protect Jewish men, women and children during that horrible time. There is also a large (at least 10 feet across) weathered bronze urn containing ashes from the ovens at all of the concentration camps that French people were sent to.
In the afternoon, I finally got to see the Orangerie; a wonderful museum filled with art from the Impressionists, through Picasso's Cubism, on through Jackson Pollack and Mondrian. The collection was originally compiled by Paul Guillaume, a French art dealer who befriended and initially helped to support the young Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, etc. as they were struggling to gain recognition and acceptance. The collection was originally not only much larger, but housed in the Guillaume apartment. There are some mock-ups of their home, and it seems a bit bizarre to see these now incredibly famous painting hanging rather higgledy-piggledy throughout the house.
The first two rooms of the museum are mammoth canvasses of Monet's water lilies, completed at the end of his life. These are I think each 6.6x15 feet canvasses, curving around each room; filling the eye with impressions of the reflections on the pond as morning gradually shifts through to sunset. Lovely.
It has been rainy today, and I have sadly discovered that my raincoat is only "water resistant" which is not waterproof, which seems a bit ridiculous for something sold as a raincoat to be. What this means is that it just gradually soaks through onto my clothes throughout the day.
But now I am here in my room with a glass of nice red wine, some fabulous cheese and bread from the local fromagerie and boulanngerie, and a lemon tart awaiting; life is good.