Sunday morning we woke up early and refreshed, determined to go see some of the art in Paris’ deservedly renowned museums. I’d been to Paris before, but never to the Musée d’Orsay, which my French instructor in high school always spoke about admiringly. We were surprised to find it was free that day.
- The Plan
- Outbound SEA-IAD-CDG
- Day 1: Touring the Seine and Left Bank
- Day 2: Two Museums, Three Cafes, and Lots and Lots of Pastry!
- Day 3: Visiting the Louvre and Eiffel Tower
- Return CDG-IAD-SEA
Had we done our research in advance, we would have known that many museums in Paris are free on the first Sunday of the month, but we were just happy to have saved a few euros for a good meal later that day.
The d’Orsay is in a former train station, directly across from the Louvre, and in my opinion has much more beautiful exterior architecture. However, the inside looks pretty modern, and I didn’t care nearly as much for the art. It’s drawn from collections at several museums, with work from 1848 to 1914. I usually lean toward work between 1700 and 1850. However, Megan enjoyed it. I just liked looking at the giant model in the back of the Opera and its construction.
We left the Orsay around lunch and headed toward the Musée Rodin, another place I had missed on my earlier visit. It is one of the largest collections of Rodin’ sculpture, housed in the home and grounds of an estate originally built for a wealthy financier. The mansion was decrepit when we visited, with patches all over the original wood floors, but it is now closed for renovation, so hopefully that issue is being addressed.
In addition to great sculpture you may be familiar with, like Rodin’s “Thinker,” there is also an excellent café in the garden. I had a delicious quiche and salad that were superior to the limited options I saw at the Musée d’Orsay (essentially a cheap cafeteria with pre-made food or an expensive full-service restaurant).
From there we headed back to the Left Bank, where we came across Laduree. Yes, it was packed with tourists, but it also had the most delicious pastries and macaroons. We decided to stop for some hot chocolate and sweets upstairs in a very plush and intimate dining room. The hot chocolate could be better described as a melted chocolate bar with a drop of milk to keep it liquid, and it was more than enough for two of us. In addition to a half-dozen assorted macaroons, I ordered a Saint-Honoré, perhaps the most excessive, grandiose cream puff I’ve ever had the pleasure to devour.
Sadly I was too embarrassed to pull out my camera to take a picture of the food, but you can see some pictures on their website here. We stumbled out, high on sugar and 40 euros lighter. It was worth every cent.
At this point we needed a nap, so we headed back to the hotel for a few hours before deciding to venture out to Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur. I steered Megan away from the people pushing “free” friendship bracelets on all the tourists as we climbed to the top to see the basilica. Back outside I took a cute picture of Megan, looking very French.
We headed back down the hill, leaving just as the park closed, and walked east toward the Moulin Rouge. All the sex shops and scantily clad British teenagers (really, worse than Americans!) weren’t exactly what we were looking for, so we turned around and looked for dinner.
Eventually we stopped at a touristy restaurant, decent but nothing great. After too much wine, we toddled off back to the hotel for another well-deserved night’s rest.