Sunday, 24 February 2008

Not so Modern Art in Paris

On Sunday I found a hidden gem in Paris, I thought I had been to all the best places and that the rest of the things in the Lonely Planet guide would be second-rate, still good, but not as good as what had gone before. Man was I proved wrong today! I went out to the Musee Marmottan-Monet, which is in the west of Paris, right near the Bois de Boulogne, a massive park I haven't been to yet, I'm waiting for the leaves to return to the trees. This museum is in the Duke of Valmy's former hunting lodge, so there are massive chandeliers in each room and little statues and tables and stuff. You feel like you are walking through someone's house rather than an art gallery, and yet the paintings are outstanding, a bit of a mixture, but most of the stuff is really good. Unfortunately you couldn't take any photos so you'll just have to take my word for it that it was good. It has the world's largest collection of Monet's works, including the one titled Impression: Sunrise, which apparently gave rise to the term Impressionism. This painting was the only one behind plate glass.

As Monet is one of my favourite painters I really enjoyed this gallery, though they did have a lot of his very impressionist work, just a whole stack of colours rather than any forms at all. They also had a few modern pieces which were also outstanding and then a whole room of illuminated manuscripts, so overall a bit of an eclectic collection, but great none the less.

What was also nice about this gallery was that it was set in a lovely, seemingly nameless, park. I'm not sure who this statue is meant to be of, I thought it was a bit weird what with the crow and the fox, maybe there is some French fairytale/legend I'm not aware of, that wouldn't be surprising.

Here we see that spring is here!! YAH, and before the official start date too, though I think that is only fair seeing as how we had winter temperatures before autumn had officially started. Though now that I say that we are probably going to have 2 weeks of unbelievably bad weather.

After the Musee Marmottan I headed off to the Memorial de la Shoah, which is the Memorial to the Holocaust, in Hebrew Shoah means catastrophe. Again I couldn't take any photos of this place, so I'll just have to try and describe it instead. This place had the most serious security I have ever seen anywhere I have visited. I'm talking 2 doors with only one able to be opened at a time, with electronic locking, two security guards X-raying handbags and a metal detector. I'm not sure why there was so much security, the items on display weren't valuable, they were just historic stuff, and I thought we were meant to all hate the muslims now, not the Jews? But once you are through the completely insane security the memorial is good, it details the Vichy government's part in deporting and exterminating the French Jews. I guess it is just more of the same as the Jewish museum in Berlin, but focusing more on the French actions. At the entrance to the museum there is a wall which has the names of all 76 000 people deported from France inscribed on the stone. It is pretty bi-lingual too, French and English for most of the stuff, so that's always a bonus for me.

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