Palais de la découverte

Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. August Rodin
Tuesday October, 11/16
In the nine years we have been travelling to Paris we have never visited Le Grand Palais and le Petit Palais de Champs Élysées.  This was the year to visit, as the science center that was located at Parc de la Villette has a new home in the west wing at Le GrandPalais (Palais de la découverte).

I found myself humming L’âme des poètes promenading with my family along Champs  Élysée to reach our destination.  Wow, the building is massive and it is beautiful.  Set in the beaux arts style where ornate detail is featured heavily.  The palais started construction in 1897 and was opened to the public May 1, 1900 in time for the Universal Exhibition.  It is a historic site and designed to be an exhibition hall, it fulfills its function more than adequately.  We may return to the Grand Palais on Thursday as a Hergé exhibit is featured and our family are huge Hergé fans.

 “Billions of billious blue blistering barnacles in a thundering typhoon!” as Captain Haddock would say, the children had a marvelous time visiting this world class science and math venue, especially Matthew.  It was perfect for a little boy who lives to be noisy, touch things and push buttons.  Truth be told I preferred the museum at Parc de la Villette.  I like places that are open and airy.

  After a light lunch we meandered our way down to Place de la Madeleine for honey at Maison du Miel located at 24 rue Vignon.  Founded in 1898 this specialist boutique is a dream for those who love bees and their honey.  The boutique stocks honey from all corners of the globe and was of particular interest to me as I want to try different honeys in ganache preparations for Christmas.  I purchased two jars one from Ardèche a region known for their chestnuts and a second from le sapin (fir trees) in France.  Both have very unique tastes that would translate beautifully with chocolate,  butter and cream.  I also want to mention that the saleslady was very helpful and kind in letting me taste the different varieties available for purchase.

We found found our way to Opera to and Gare Saint-Lazare.  A short train ride later we arrived at our ultimate destination Musée Rodin and its’ gardens.

I like Musee Rodin best, it is intimate.  It is a museum full of rosy soft light like the light a candle casts on a faces of lovers engaged in a pas de deux over a romantic meal, the rest of the world fuzzy and in the background.  Musée Rodin and especially its gardens asks the visitor to slow down, take a stroll through its’ rose lined paths and just be. The Louvre is garrulous with its never-ending tours and selfie sticks, pushing and pushing, pushing and pushing.   M’O seems well heeled tending toward snooty but is poorly designed and difficult to get around.  I have to wonder if the throngs of people who visit ever truly stop to take in what they are looking at.  What I mean is you can’t possibly appreciate  the brush strokes of a Van Gogh from the view finder of a camera.

Some may find Rodin’ harsh, lines and angles of face and body grotesque. I don’t, we are not all Madame Recamier.  I am moved by artists like Rodin and Delacroix, I find the human presented by Rodin real.  Rodin understood the sensual side of human nature…one only has to look at the Kiss or my personal favourite The Eternal Idol to feel, it is charged with desire.  The placement of hands on thigh, lips on neck, spine and solar plexus… Just as sure as he understood the beautiful,  sensual side of humanity he also understood its ugliness in fear, remorse and anger.

We enjoyed coffee and pastry in the garden before we headed home to a wonderful fish dinner sourced at our local butcher Verot.  A bottle of red wine rounded out the day and it was off to bed…tomorrow is a big day.

A quick note on the state of emergency in France.  All of the attractions and most of the high end boutiques we have visited require a security check…all bags, purses must be opened for security or police upon entry.  Queues are standard and a few people at a time are permitted to advance to the cash to pay admission for whatever the venue.  We have been very lucky because Matt is a noisy lad and no one wants to hear a noisy lad impatiently waiting with everyone else who is impatient.  At each venue we have been invited to the front of the line.  Also, we have not seen the face of homeless refugees in Paris…we have seen very, very little of the homeless beggar this trip.  Tourism is way down, there aren’t the crowds there have been in the past. Police and military police are visibly present just about everywhere we have gone.

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