Quite a few people have advised us not to do too much of the Louvre in one day and we’ve taken that to heart. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to resist going to as many museums as possible during daylight hours. Today we went to Musee d’Orsay, the Petit Palais, and Cathedral Saint Merri. I’d never heard of the Cathedral – it’s not even on our map – but Paris is the kind of place where the immense 500 year old building is so beautiful you have to walk right in.
The Petit Palais was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition and became a museum in 1902. It has an amazing facade, an exceptional collection (I love Bougeureau, so sue me), and the gardens are outstanding.
The gardens are described as “Persian” and have the ornate geometric pools, mosaic tile floors and potted palms you might associate with that geography. The plantings are designed to be very hardy while appearing exotic: euphorbia, bergenia, and yucca grow beneath crabapple and ornamental pears. Pampas grass is planted as a background, but it also provides a hedge divider – I’ve never thought of cutting it back like this. I can’t wait to try this out in my gardens.
The immense roof line adds scale and is lavishly decorated with, well, boats. I have no idea why – Paris hasn’t struck me as very nautical so far but we’re headed across the Seine tomorrow and perhaps we’ll find out?
A golden metal garland hangs between the portico pillars – I imagine it’s very festive when the vegetation is dormant. Something else to think about in the home garden, should you have a portico? I couldn’t get a good photo, but the ceiling of the portico is painted with a fresco of vines and medallions featuring the Months of the Year by Paul Baudouin, a student of Puvis de Chavannes.
When we get home I plan to go “full Persian” on the gardens. Meanwhile, I’m trying hard to resist replacing the dead geraniums in the window box of our apartment. Maybe tomorrow we’ll pass a Fleuriste and I’ll succumb to temptation.
Addendum of Things I Have Learned in Paris
- A forecast for rain here means that it will shower periodically and everyone will become attractively tousled. Then the sun will come out briefly, followed by clouds, and the cycle begins again. In addition, everyone here looks good in a wet t-shirt.
- The French are courteous, friendly, and enthusiastic about visitors to their city. I hate to spill the beans given how hard they must have worked on that haughty image throughout history, but none of it is true. They will patiently try to understand my lousy, halting French and they will praise my husband’s better version. They will apologize for switching to English. They will give us directions home when we’re lost (quite often) and tell us (slowly and clearly) where to get coffee. They may be trying to kill us with espresso and pastry, but I’m strangely fine with that.