Since I last wrote, it’s been difficult to find a solid twenty minutes to myself to sit down and write a post.
Well, it’s 5.30am, and I’m settled comfortably between my hand luggage and a slim girl with a disproportionately large sunhat on my way to Paris Beauvais Airport. What better time to write a blog post, than while I listen self-consciously to my musicals playlist and observe with Attenborough-like fascination the Ryanair passengers of Paris…
Thankfully, I’ve been run off my feet lately with things to do and people to see. But, not least of all, I also hosted my first guest – Imy! In spite of my teeny tiny bed, it was an absolute pleasure to have Imy to stay. Except for the weather.
I have NEVER seen Paris weather like that. The whole weekend effectively was a washout; I don’t think my feet were dry from leaving the house in the morning to returning late at night. Fortunately, Imy and I share a love of art galleries, so we took the weather as a hint that we should spend our time exploring the offerings of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Pompidou.
It’s slightly surreal to wander through the affluent suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine – my home last summer – with its immense sandstone buildings dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries, then venture a couple of minutes into the lush Bois de Boulogne and see Gehry’s contemporary armadillo beetle museum. Five storeys tall, it towers above its neighbouring oaks, which would be a shame, were it not for the spectacular views from the multi-level roof terrace.
Londoners will catch my drift if I say that some of the art was a little “Saatchi” for my tastes, featuring mutilated dolls and bizarre expletive-filled performance pieces. It was a treat, though, to gain an insight into the work of Alberto Giacometti, whose recognisable walking men have been a favourite of mine since seeing one in the UNESCO building during PaMUN.
We were on our way out, stomachs growling after a long time spent queuing and wandering between the levels of the museum, when, After heading out to the reflection pool that surrounds the Fondation, Imy spotted that hidden away, below ground, was the principal exhibition, featuring artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, Mondrian and – my absolute favourite – Mark Rothko. Inevitably, lunch was postponed a little longer.
We tucked into a late lunch of delicious open sandwiches and adventurous drinks at Le Pain Quotidien, before we invited Imy’s friend Dan to join us at the tourist haunt of Angelina for a hot chocolate and a catch up. Then, after getting soaked during a stroll around the Tuileries, we headed home for a restorative warm shower before dinner. Well, I guess it was a good thing we had an enormous lunch – kicking our dripping wet shoes off, we collapsed in bed and that was that. Brunch the next morning we returned to Claus, where I had been only the week previously and fallen in love: not just with the mouth-watering menu, but perhaps also with the handsome all-male front of house team… I promise I’ll take anyone who comes to visit. The breakfast is that good.
But, before sitting down to eat, Imy and I made a beeline for the Musée d’Orsay. Unfortunately, it being the first Sunday of the month, entry was free for everyone, resulting in a two-hour queue in the pissing rain. No, thank you.
Instead, with some talented queue-barging, Imy and I snuck into the ticketed queue and were inside in twenty minutes or so – the museum is undoubtedly worth paying for entry. Not only is the former train station a pretty cool space, but the collections within are spectacular too. As fans of the Impressionists, the Musée d’Orsay was perfect for me and Imy – they have an extensive collection including some masterpieces by Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir (who sucks at painting) and Pissarro. Looooooook…
Revived by poached eggs, Bircher muesli, bottomless bread baskets and matcha cake at Claus, we stepped back outside to discover the ominous grey clouds had been blown away and spring sunshine had returned. With renewed energy, Imy and I walked to the Pompidou, where I pointed out the significant landmarks of the Parisian skyline from the rooftop terrace.
The exhibition on Le Corbusier was more about his art and design than his architecture, but still worth a visit. We finished with a cocktail in the Place des Vosges, where from our advantageous perch at Carrette we enjoyed watching the Parisians picnic on the grass as the sun set.
Our perfect weekend didn’t end until I managed to leave my passport at home and miss my Eurostar back to London on Tuesday night. Classic Siena, well done me.
P.S. I’m purposely not addressing what some people might see as ‘the elephant in the room’. I’ve thought about it long and hard but this isn’t the forum for it. If you know already, thank you. If you don’t, then we’re all good because you have no idea what I’m talking about.