Musée D’Orsay

The Musee D’Orsay is one of my favorite museums. It is in a beautiful building- a former train station built around 1900 with a wonderful soaring vaulted ceiling. There was a large renovation in 2011 and I’m looking forward to seeing the new space. This is the home of a large collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist art and the museum director felt that the natural light on the upper floors made it difficult to see the depth of color in the paintings themselves.

I’ve talked about some of the smaller museums that I like in Paris and though the D’Orsay is not as small as those, one of the reasons I like it is that it is very manageable to visit. The Louvre is magnificent, but it’s also overwhelming. My feeling is that the Louvre should be visited one section at a time. The D’Orsay can be visited in an afternoon and you don’t leave exhausted.

One of my favorite paintings there is actually not in the Impressionist collection, but is by Leon Frederic, a Belgian painter. It’s called “The Age of the Worker”. It was painted in around 1895/1897 so it is of the same time as the Impressionists. And like the Impressionist paintings, it tells a story and the longer you look at it, the more things you see.

Go and visit the D’Orsay on your next visit. However, be sure, if you will be there between May and October, to buy your tickets ahead of time, so you can skip the long line (though you may very well still have a short line to stand in). Enjoy!

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Traveling Around Paris

I just read David Lebovitz’s post on taxi service http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2013/08/paris-taxi-news/ in Paris and it reminded me what an anti-taxi snob I am (ask my mother-in-law- she’ll tell you!). The public transportation service in Paris, metro and bus, is so good that I honestly see very little reason to ever take a taxi in Paris itself. The one exception to that, I will also admit, is for trips to the airport if I’ve overindulged and bought too much “stuff” to carry up and down the stairs into the metro. Speaking of that, I just signed up for an app called “Uber” and it is a car service that is like a taxi, but with a nicer car and driver and apparently they now have service in Paris as well, so if you use it in Paris, please let me know if it works well. In the DC area, it’s great. You register your credit card ahead of time and so all you do is request a car when you are ready to go somewhere and within 10-15 minutes, you will have a car arrive. No payment or tip is necessary because it’s paid directly from your credit card that you’ve registered with them.

So back to the public transportation system in Paris.

The ticket is the same for a bus ride or a metro ride- one ticket per trip, within the city center area (if you want to go to the airport, you need a more expensive ticket). There are passes that you can buy at the metro stations or online  http://www.parismetro.com/

that can be for just metro and bus rides, or include museum passes. These can be great if you see yourself hopping on and off the metro and bus a lot and it is a GREAT idea for the museums because you bypass the long lines of people buying their tickets that day. For me, because I love walking in Paris, I’d rather just buy “carnets” of tickets (pronounced “carnay”) which is a set of 10 tickets. It’s cheaper than the metro passes and it suits me because much of the time, I’d rather take my time and walk from place to place, but I always have some in my pocket if I decide to hop onto a bus or metro at the end of the day when my feet can’t take any more.

The metro system is incredibly easy to figure out. Each line is both color coded and numbered, and you can look on the map for the name of the station at the END of the line to determine which direction you should take. Of course, there is also a list of the stations for the particular line, on the wall just before you descend to that particular line’s platform which will tell you that as well. The trains come every two to four minutes and I strongly recommend it at rush hour, when the streets above get very clogged.

The bus is a little more complicated because, unlike the metro, it does not automatically stop at every one of its stops, but generally, even if you miss the stop you wanted, the next one is only a block or two further along and you can easily walk back to find where you wanted to go.  There are good map books of Paris that have both the metro lines and bus lines listed so try the bus sometime. When you get on the bus, you will see a small machine next to the driver and you need to “composter” your ticket- that is, you need to put your ticket in to get it “stamped” to show you actually used a ticket and aren’t freeloading.  IMPORTANT NOTE HERE- you need to then stick that ticket in a pocket where you can find it, because there are metro personnel who will randomly hop on the bus to check tickets. It is rare, but it does happen, so be sure you know where your ticket is or you can be fined.

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One of my personal favorites is the 96 that runs from the Marais area down through the Latin Quarter so you get a great view of some fun shopping streets en route. ENJOY!