Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Outskirts of Paris: Versailles and Giverny

My first stop after saying goodbye to Salamanca was Paris. I went during my spring break, but was unable to visit Versailles, Giverny (where Monet lived and painted his water lilies and other paintings), as well as the key art museums: The Louvre, Museé D'Orsay, and L'Orangerie. I spent just two full days in Paris (though I love the city and could still spend more time there!).


I elected to take a tour bus trip to see both Versailles and Giverny in one day. It was a bit pricey, but I think it was worth the money and the peace of mind. We spent the morning at Giverny, a small town about an hour from Paris. Monet was traveling elsewhere by train, passed in front of the property, and decided to move his family there. He spent the second half of his life there, creating the amazing gardens surrounding his house. After losing myself in the tranquility of the gardens (in spite of the many tourists, we drove a short way to another small village to eat lunch in a building that was once an old mill. So simple and beautiful.


And then we drove to Versailles, about an hour and a half from where we were. It was a hot, hot day, and the palace was incredibly crowded, two factors that detracted a bit from enjoying the palace, but I was still able to soak up the luxury of the rooms...but I still cannot imagine living there! The French have an intense history, and if only they could have found a bit of a balance, rather than going from one extreme to another. But, I am no expert; I always say there is a reason I am not in charge. And one thing I have learned from my travels is how relative history is; yes, there are facts, but the facts effect each person differently, and therefore many different "histories" emerge. More on that later.

The next day, Sunday, I spent in the art museums, and finished with a picnic under the Eiffel Tower: wonderful, and surreal.

I realized, while submerging (and maybe overwhelming) myself in art, why I love these museums so. Art, like history, is very subjective. A single event, or moment, or person, or object can be represented in so many ways, depending on the artists opinions, societal status, time period, religion, and other factors. Also, art has the ability to inspire so many feelings. Fear, joy, sadness, reflection, peace, laughter...it is an amazing thing. And art transmits life; though it is literally the capturing of a person or moment, a painting or sculpture gives life to the most ordinary, the most plain person or object.

I love art. And therefore my weekend in Paris was (expensive) but well spent!

I learned a few phrases in French, and this one sums up the city well: Paris est magique!

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