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Mars in pictures

Paris

As March {Mars in French} is coming to an end, here is a little roundup of the month that was in Instagram pictures. (You can find me over at @Ritournelleblog )

The main event in Paris, the one had everyone abuzz, was the arrival of spring. The city had been through a tough time at the beginning of the year, and this new season felt like a fresh start with a newfound optimism. Capturing Paris basked in sunshine from one of my favorite viewpoints, the terrace of the Printemps, was particularly uplifting.

Paris March 2

Going to work with the Vélib was almost therapeutic in a way. I forced myself to get up extra early in the morning so I could finish my day when it was still light outside, seeing how this affected my mood so positively. Every day I feel lucky to come across these beautiful monuments: the Eiffel Tower, the Alexandre III bridge, place de la Concorde, the Louvre, the banks of the Seine… It never gets old.

Speaking of the Eiffel Tower, our Iron Lady celebrated her 126th birthday today! Joyeux anniversaire to her.

Paris March 3

Culture-wise, I witnessed the magic of Swan Lake for the first time (twice). The Paris Opera Ballet production, choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev, is a masterpiece and particularly moving. I was lucky to see two stunning ballerinas in the dual role of Odette / Odile, Ludmila Pagliero and Héloïse Bourdon, and one of my favorite dancers in the company, Laura Hecquet, was promoted to the top rank of Etoile in this part last week.

I also visited the exhibition on Roman art in the XVIIth century at the Petit Palais. Not the most mind-blowing show but it’s always a pleasure to chill in the delightful garden of the museum. In a completely other genre, I saw the exhibition on David Bowie at the Philharmonie over the weekend: quite cleverly done and you’ll love it if you’re a fan.

Lastly, I wrote my first blog post in months and explained why Versailles is so dear to my heart as a tribute to my late father.

Now fingers crossed spring is here to stay, and wishing you a great April!

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A morning at Musée d’Orsay

Musée d'Orsay clock

Yesterday was Victory Day in France. Instead of remaining buried in bed on this bank holiday, I met Solli at Musée d’Orsay. This is probably my favorite museum in Paris. As you may know, it is housed in an old train station, and the place succeeds in making us travel in time indeed. The art is old enough to bring up a lost world with now foreign fashion and social conventions. Yet, it was created close enough in time that we can relate to it. It recalls the Maupassant novels we read in high school. Degas’s ballerinas delight me as much as my regular nights at Palais Garnier. The Impressionists’ depictions of nature take me back to the Normandy I grew up in. Paris was already the bustling and fashionable capital it is now.

Musée d'Orsay Salle des fêtes

Walking through the museum, it is at times easy to imagine women in corseted gowns eyeing men in evening dress to the sound of an orchestra playing a feisty waltz. Such is the case in the ballroom (Salle des Fêtes). It used to be part of a hotel housed in the train station.

Musée d'Orsay Salle des fêtes détail

Let us not forget the amazing views of Paris from the top floor. The skyline reminded me of the impression I had of the capital being an old village compared to other cities I’ve lived in, like New York City and Tokyo. Its apparent stillness in time is probably what makes its charm and an object of wonder and reassurance to so many people.

Paris skyline

French flag Eiffel Tower

Louvre Seine

We then headed to the Van Gogh exhibition. With about 40 paintings and other works of art, it focuses on the painter’s mental illness and his relationship to his surroundings. What moved me is how an artist could create such beauty amid the torments he endured in his mind. Though we are quick to disparage people suffering of a disease we fail to understand, we ought to acknowledge what strength some have to still see and pass on the grace they observe in the world.

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 1

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 2

The paintings struck me by their use of color. Mostly though it was the brushstrokes that brought them to life. In one case you could literally imagine yourself standing amid high grass with the wind blowing in your back and shaping the field ahead of you.

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 3

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 4

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 5

This painting was probably my favorite: it reminded me of when I walk home at night and wonder at the city lights reflecting on the Seine.

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 6

Van Gogh Musée d'Orsay 7

We ended our visit at the restaurant, which used to be the dining room of the hotel. I had often peeked through the windows when it was closed and I was delighted this time to sit down in such a grand setting, my back to a view of the Seine. A morning well spent.

Musée d'Orsay Restaurant

Musée d'Orsay Restaurant room

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