Our last evening in London with Michelle was at the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, a community urban garden on an old railway site, to listen to some live music and eat pizzas. It was an opportunity to hear about Michelle’s work at her NGO, as a specialist in abused and sex trafficked women. She is passionate about her work in this field and apart from support to these women, she liaises with the Metropolitan Police task force on trafficked persons and spends time in court with lawyers to support the victim’s cases. On this subject, she is doing additional work on her master’s dissertation to have it published. She will be interviewed by the BBC on this work next week. We are very proud of her.
The Eurostar is a quick and comfortable train under the English Channel from London to Paris, travelling at a top speed of 335km/h and taking about 2 hours. We got on the Metro at Gare du Nord and found our way to our modest Hotel le Manhattan near Garibaldi station. After a Nanna nap we caught the Metro to Montmartre, the artist quarter and did the steep walk up to the Sacre Coeur Cathedral.
A walk down past the Moulin de la Galette with a few beers at a street bar to quench our thirst, brought us to the Moulin Rouge to take the obligatory photo. Annie did not pass the audition for the chorus line-up as she was too voluptuous.
Friday was a busy day starting with the Metro train from Garibaldi to Champs-Elysees station. From here we launched the big walk (in hindsight we should have utilised the rental bikes available all over Paris – with the first 30 minutes free!). First, the Grand and Petit Palais’, then the Invalides bridge, past the Place de la Concorde to the Musee de l’Orangerie.
Monet donated his 8 panels of “Grandes Decorations”, Water Lilies, to France and designed this beautiful vestibule to house the culmination of a lifetime’s work. Breathtaking! The lower level houses the Paul Guillaume collection of works by Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, Modigliani, Derain, Renoir, Utrillo and Soutine. This small gallery has a quality collection, worth visiting.
From here, a relaxing stroll through the Tuileries gardens to the Louvre. The queues of people waiting to enter, stretched around I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid. Having visited the Louvre before, we continued along the Seine and turned into the Marais district to visit the Pompidou Centre.
This Piano and Rogers designed building was quite revolutionary in the 70’s, expressing its structure and services on the facades. Sadly, as with other similar Rogers designed buildings in London, it hasn’t aged well. The pigeons have a field day with all the perches it provides, and the pollution settling on the ducting and services, makes it look tatty. High maintenance!
Not far from here is the National Picasso Museum, where we spent some time after lunch viewing the extensive Picasso collection, curated in sequence from his early days in Spain to his final years in Paris, as well as the works of other artist’s he had collected.
After crossing the bridge onto the Ile de la Cite, we visited Notre-Dame cathedral, my favourite French Gothic cathedral.
Getting foot sore, we caught the Metro to the Museum d’Orsay. Michelle our daughter, recommended this museum and I must agree, this former railway station has the best collection of western world art from 1848 to 1914. It has the most extensive collections of Impressionists like Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Pissarro, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh; Neo-Impressionists like Seurat, Signac, Cross, Bonnard, Vuillard and Denis; Art Nouveau like Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. This is a breathtaking museum and we spent the whole afternoon there, until they closed at 6pm.
We arrived back at Garibaldi metro station at 6:30pm and bought cheese, wine and salads to have in our room, as we were too knackered to go out for dinner. A good night’s sleep and we were ready to take the fast train to Bordeaux on Saturday.