Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Eiffel Tower, Monet, and Shopping

Before arriving, we check the exhibitions currently running in Paris museums and spot several that we want to visit.  Our second day in Paris, we start with the Musée Marmottan Monet, a former hunting lodge that was purchased by Jules Marmottan in 1882 and bequeathed to the French Academy of Fine Arts, along with all his collections, on his death in 1934.  The museum contains the largest Claude Monet collection in the world, including the collections from Doctor Georges de Bellio, whose patients included Manet, Monet, Pissaro, Sisley, and Renoir, and from Michel Monet, the painter's second son.

In addition to the permanent collection, Musée Marmottan Monet is featuring an exhibition of L'Art et L'Enfant (Art and Children), showing the evolving depiction of children in art over time, including works by Cézanne, Chardin, Corot, Manet, Matisse, Monet, Renoir, and Picasso.  We enjoy the exhibition, but then head downstairs to (once again) view the Monet collection.  One of our favorite exhibits is a room with many panels of Monet's water lilies.

 Musée Marmottan Monet and the line to enter

 Panels of Water Lilies

The walk from the Arc de Triumph to Musée Marmottan Monet is about 3.5 km (2.2 miles) and takes 45 minutes or so.  We make a quick stop at the Trocadéro, about half-way to the museum and across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.  The buildings of the Trocadéro were built for the International Exposition dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Life in1937 and now house a number of small museums, with a garden stretching to the Seine and framing the Eiffel Tower.  These buildings also, at one time, served as the original headquarters of NATO.

 Buildings of the Trocadéro

Eiffel Tower viewed from Trocadéro, across the Seine

After our museum visit, it's time for lunch and shopping and we head over to Galeries Lafayette's flagship store on Boulevard Haussman, behind the Opera, which we walked by yesterday, about 5.4 km (3.4 miles)  from Musée Marmottan Monet.  We first eat lunch in the cafeteria on the 6th floor of the store, a roast beef plate for me, a salad and cheeses for Laura, and, of course, 1/2 bottle of wine.

Lunch at Galleries Lafayette

From our table, we can see the back of the opera and, as I'm taking a picture, one of the staff tells me that I should go up one floor to the terrace on the roof for a better view.  We finish our lunch and take that advice.

View of the Opera from our table at lunch

Panoramic views of Paris from the rooftop terrace at Galleries Lafayette

After lunch, we wander through the store, seeing the bright colors of the spring fashions and admiring the grand glass and steel dome in the center.  Galleries Lafayette started as a small 70 sq. meter (750 sq. ft.) fashion shop in 1893 and acquired the Haussman location in 1903, unveiling the flagship store in that location in 1912.  Galleries Lafayette now has 57 stores in France and also stores in Germany, China, Indonesia, and Dubai.

 Spring fashions

Glass and steel dome in the center of the store

Across the street is the Galleries Lafayette food hall, with a fabulous produce and goods market in the basement and meat, fish, and spice market on the first floor, selling for immediate consumption and to go.

 Fresh produce

Spice bar

Next to Galeries Lafayette is Printemps, the other large French department store, founded in 1865 and focused on fashion and beauty (no grocery or furniture shopping here).

 Entrance to Printemps, across from Galeries Lafayette

Window displays have always been important to both Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, to highlight their goods and to encourage people to enter the store.  The displays are particularly great during the holiday seasons and now welcome us to spring.

 Windows at Galeries Lafayette

Windows at Printemps

Because of the recent bombings in Paris and Brussels, there is much added security.  Soldiers armed with serious weapons patrol the sidewalk outside the stores and security guards check everyone who enters with metal detectors and bag inspections.  This doesn't seem to phase people, but is a sign of the changed times.

But, there is also time for fun.  Inside Galeries Lafayette, swimsuit/lingerie manufacturer Princesse Tam Tam set aside space and toys for adults to anticipate summer fun.

 Think summer!

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