Rejuvenated after a nice evening together, we played the Museum game once again. We mentioned this earlier, but there was in fact a die roll involved. See, this all goes back to us redefining what exactly our travels are. They aren’t vacations, because what exactly are we vacating from? These trips are the point of this whole endeavor, so we are thinking about them differently. For one thing, we’re not even pretending that we’re going to do all of a place, certainly not a place like Paris, all in one visit. Rather than being a concern if this is probably our only visit, it’s actually a relief. Since we know we’re not going to get it all done in one go, the order we do things in doesn’t really matter (much). And so – Lisa put together a list of 12 locations we want to visit at some point, and then we roll a d12 in the morning to discover where we’re going. And so, we rolled the die and came up with the Musée de l’Orangerie.
This particular museum is kind of funky. First of all, it’s located in a corner of the Tuileries Gardens which is what people in the real estate biz call a “prime location.” Which is to say, it’s in a world famous garden, at the other end of which is the Louvre, with the Seine on one side and a row of some of the hoitiest of the toity hotels and shops in Paris. Secondly, for all of this prime location it is a remarkably compact and focused museum. It essentially houses three things: one, a modest space for temporary exhibitions, more or less one long hallway. When we were there it was a single piece by David Hockney entitled “A Year in Normandy.” (I think it’s safe to say that we both belong to the category of people who view Hockney with a shrug. This could easily be our philistine tastes, but there ya go.) Two, it houses the collections of two deceased art collectors, Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume. Both men left the same woman behind as a widow (probably not simultaneously). She arranged a gift to the state of their collections provided that they were displayed “appropriately.” Apparently, one of the most exquisite locations in all of France was deemed appropriate by both herself and France. So that’s nice. And third (and most excitingly), the top of the museum houses eight monumental paintings by Claude Monet, the Water Lilies.
You’ve probably heard of Monet’s water lilies, gods know he painted a ton of them. These are different, however. There are eight panels, each of which is 2 meters tall. Four are displayed in each of two oval rooms in a way meant to be reminiscent of an infinity symbol. All told they are roughly 91 meters long. It’s … shocking. They’re beautiful, but that doesn’t really explain their effect. We didn’t get a great picture of the rooms (you’d be in people’s way if you tried to get the right angle) so I’m pulling this from wikipedia:
They’re magnificent. They’re absurd. I wish we could spend longer with them. We will spend longer with them. Sadly, despite admonitions and signage to observe silence while in the rooms, people were quite chatty, and it made it difficult to really lose yourself in them. Strangely, that day at least it seemed to be a hangout spot for young women; like college age or maybe young professionals. Despite their chatter, we spent a good amount of time just looking at the paintings, and then went home. Dinner that night was at Salento, a teeeeny little Italian spot just around the corner from our flat. Unsurprisingly, Lisa has a lovely review that captures the evening quite well over on our Facebook page.
The next day was purposefully quiet. We had to make sure that our laundry was caught up so that we could get packed up and have a good night’s sleep, because the next morning we were picking up our car rental and heading out for a a week or so in the Loire Valley. The castles! The scenery! It would be a grand adventure.
At about 4 PM, Lisa looks up from her laptop where she was finalizing a couple things and says, wide eyed, “do you have your driver’s license?” This is not as strange a question as you might think. We don’t have a car over here. We have our passports with our D7 visas with us at all times (some day hopefully we can carry our residence cards, but for now it’s passports). We both had long since tucked our licenses away for safe keeping. Had I brought mine with me?
You know that thing you do (or maybe you don’t) where you’re certain of the answer but you still go through the motions of a thorough search, partly “just in case” and partly to give your brain a chance to recover from shock? So that happened. “No, I don’t. Do you?” I replied eventually. Lisa went through a similar drill, and once that was over we began a several-hour journey of discovery and disappointment. We confirmed that we couldn’t rent a car with facsimiles of our licenses. We briefly toyed with the idea of one of us flying to Portugal, getting our licenses, and flying back. This seemed like the least bad idea until we remembered that our visas had very strict rules about how many times they would get us across the Portuguese border, and we’d basically screw up all of our long term plans if we did this. We pondered a variety of options (trains, buses, hired cars, quitting the whole trip and going back to Portugal) before finally, finally deciding that making the best of the situation would mean staying in Paris for another week or so. “Oh no, trapped in Paris” you might say, and we definitely saw the silver lining here, but there’s still a difference between planning to be in a place and having to be in a place. And so, with some fast communication to our AirBnB host we managed to secure the exact same flat for another week. More or less. We’ll talk a little about the fallout of our shenanigans and finish up our trip next time.