Paris in a Museum

In France, Photo, Travel 2011 on April 28, 2011 at 10:51 pm

As predicted, Paris has once again won my favor as the crown jewel of destinations for museums. . . Specifically, art museums.

If you have kept up with my blog at all, you should already know that am a bit of an art museum freak. Here, I successfully hit my three favorites, with a little assistance from a fellow, though much more seasoned, traveller: Rick Steves.

I hit the Orangerie first, taking in some of my favorite impressionist works including Renoir’s girls with the piano, and more importantly for me, Monet’s massive water lily masterpieces. I stuck with the traditional audio tour here knowing I could enjoy the entire museum in less than a couple hours. If you are a fan of Impressionism, it’s worth paying for the set of headphones as the tour gives lots of interesting background details about works you have probably seen before and may already know a bit about.

The Louvre and the Orsay are a different story.

First lesson learned: Popular museums are just that, very popular. So, if you know when you want to go, take the time and make a reservation, or at least try to buy an advance ticket online. This will save you the nearly forty minutes I spent in line for each of these hot spots.

Rick would have certainly agreed with me, and had I read his bits before going, I would have heeded his advice.

Also with these two, the collections are massive and impressive. If you have the time, of course you can spend an entire day, or a couple days, taking it all in piece by piece. However, if you’d like to just hit some highlights knowing that you will be back to see more one day, or simply don’t care about the rest, I’d suggest doing what did and travel in the company of an iSomething – be it iPad, iPhone, iPod or whatever else maybe the new thing when you are traveling.

The reason for this is the free podcasts. There are so many free audio tours for the museums, there is no need to need to purchase the expensive one at the museum.

I use the Rick Steves audio tours which include directions through the galleries, stories and background information about the most important pieces in the museums, while also pointing out some of the lesser known pieces along the way.

For the Orsay and the Louvre his tours were perfect. They helped narrow down the massive collections to manageable chunks. I learned more information about some of the pieces I had seen before, and because the tours are a bit more relaxed, they even included some fun silly facts about some famous pieces.

Paris’s museums can be overwhelming, but I have to say that if you are in Paris, you need to go. At least see them once. Below are a couple pictures I was able to take. If you have never been before, hopefully one day you will get to see these masterpieces in person.

One panel of Monet’s masterpiece at the Orangerie

Mona Lisa and her paparazzi at the Louvre


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