Cezanne used many layers in his still life paintings to create amazing realism
As we cruised the Seine last year, my niece pointed to the clock at the Musee D’Orsay and I explained it was once a train station and now is an art museum. After our Louvre treasure hunt, my niece, eleven at the time, had enough of art (and crowds) so we would only see the museum from the outside on this trip. When Context tours invited me to be a guest on their Musee D’Orsay and Paris in the 19th Century tour during my travel sabbatical, I happily said yes. My first visit, in 1993, for the Barnes Collection exhibition left little time to explore, so I was excited to actually learn about the museum, its collections and the history of Impressionism.
Waiting on the corner across from the café and the D’Orsay, our small group materialized. The guide, Isabelle, explained that we had four women on the tour today. With three of us on time, we waited as we chatted. Both were fans of Context having done many tours with them in Paris and elsewhere, I was new to Context. Isabelle checked her messages before proceeding with our tour of the Musee D’Orsay when it seemed the other guest was a no-show. When was the last time you had a tour with just three people? I already loved the small size and the fact that I didn’t have to wear a headset to listen to the guide.
Musee D’Orsay Paris, a former train station reimagined as an art museum
The View from the Bridge
We walked toward the museum and then passed it, crossing the street to walk along the Seine to the nearby bridge. Here as we saw a happy young couple going through their own love lock ceremony (now that the Pont de Arts locks are being removed) as we sat on the bench listening to the history of the building. Isabelle showed us historic photos of Paris and the railway station on her iPad. The railway station is one of a few buildings still standing from the 1900 Exposition (World’s Fair) and it happily survived a demolition request in 1970 to be added to the Historic register. We are lucky it didn’t become that hotel in the 70’s or a Madison Square Garden (the original NYC Pennsylvania Station was demolished and if you read the story, what a shame that was).
Isabelle starting our tour with the history of the railway building
The Pont de Arts bridge may be off limits but this couple found a new bridge for their love lock
From the outside, I’ve always admired the building from the street and from the water. It’s impressive, it’s detailed, it’s gorgeous architecture. The design, by architect Victor Laloux, using steel at the time was surprising as were the stone flowers and high ceilings (all during the Industrial Revolution). And that’s just the outside, let’s go inside for even more impressive views of both the former railway station and the revolution that occurred by a group of painters who would be known as the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.
The railway station clock now a work of art itself from inside and outside of Musee D’Orsay
The steel, stone, statues, glass and design all work in stunning detail in Paris at Musee D’Orsay