Within the first ten minutes it was clear I’d rediscovered my favorite museum in this art-obsessed city.
We were queued up yesterday among the first batch (at 9 a.m.) in front of the Louvre along with what looked like half of Paris and it was mind-boggling. That it took so long to get in, freezing weather and in the middle of a pandemic – it’s been at least a couple of years easily since anything like that last happened. Strike one against the Louvre.
Subconsciously or not we avoided making a beeline for the Monalisa, going first to the Richelieu wing and scoping out completely abandoned rooms filled with some of the largest paintings in existence, this time shaking my head at the embarrassment of riches concentrated in such a place and having no one there to enjoy them save security personnel. It begged the question, is it a museum if no one is there. Strike two.
After a while it actually got tiresome looking at countless epic paintings that we thought it best to go see the over-hyped lady with the mystic smile, if only to witness the disappointment in people discovering how small and inaccessible she was. Strike three. Thankfully our experience at the Louvre that morning was a distant memory by the afternoon when, during a great lunch at Brasserie du Louvre, we made instant plans to go see the Musée D’Orsay, which turned out to be an inspired idea.
It’s been such a long time that I can no longer remember when I was last at D’Orsay, so much so I was even doubting whether I went at all. Fading memory aside I completely forgot about the escalators that could have brought us to the top floor where all the famous Impressionist paintings were, taking the stairs all the way up instead. When I saw the large, transparent clock windows though it slowly started coming back to me. I definitely wasn’t dreaming – I have been to D’Orsay. I found myself lingering a bit by the café area, recalling how small I felt, thinking back then how my limited budget couldn’t hack even a simple meal. Luckily some things changed after all these years, I can sit in that café now and not have to worry if it would all work out. Except the giddiness I felt standing in front of all those European masterpieces, that’s stayed the same even now. I was filled with awe just like the first time.
Lucky for me Teko was ever the patient one, disinterested in the art but determined I enjoyed every moment we were there. I not only got reacquainted with the entire 5th floor, there was time to go through the sculpture gallery on the ground floor and a look through even more paintings on the side galleries, where I was surprised to find Whistler’s Mother and more Impressionists lining the walls. D’Orsay is smaller than the Louvre which clearly works to its advantage – making it more accessible, less unapproachable, and leaves one with a feeling of accomplishment more than that of the Louvre where the fear of missing out is more a certainty. For a good time, avoid cold and lonely works of art and opt instead for vibrant Van Goghs and Renoirs. It’s safe to say my mental health is all the better for it.