A Rainy day in Paris is the perfect day for a museum adventure; even if you have been to the same museum before, there is always something new to discover. If you are visiting Paris for the first time, its a good idea to purchase a museum pass for a minimum of 2 days, as you will be admitted ahead of the crowds.
Today, I planned a visit to the Musee D’Orsay, the jewel of the Left Bank. In addition the RODIN MUSEUM and the Impressionist works at Musee Marmottan make for a great Left Bank Adventure. Here, quiet corners of these museums yield lovely treasures and inspirations for you to see to brighten the rainy day. Artists you cannot miss are Manet and his other paintings are still spectacular and many are in this museum for you to see. Wandering through the Musee d’Orsay, I like to go to the rear of the first floor, and gaze into the glass cases and see the model of the Paris Opera. Its a huge diorama (look down, there is a glass floor below you) where you can imagine you are a diva about to go on stage. The petite models of the various settings for the operas are carefully rendered in paper and paint, inside the glass boxes of the exhibit. The magic worlds of the Opera in Paris still inspire you even today almost 200 years later. There are so many famous impressionist and post impressionist works here, it is a crash course in the “Best of thet 19th and early 20th Century painting and sculpture. HOT TIP: if you time for just have one museum visit, this is the one. Across from the Museum, there are a few cafes in case you are in need of a quick coffee, and a very chic and modern cafe in the museum itself. I prefer to walk a bit to the better cafes closer to the area on the LEFT BANK near the Rue de Bac.
The Rodin Museum is the museum and garden that was created and dedicated by the artist himself and later given to the state. It recently went through a modernization and from what I can see, the unique spirit and architecture of the original mansion has been well preserved for history. The gardens, famous for the display of his large exterior pieces is one of several in the world that are worth seeing. It may surprise you to know that Stanford University, and also the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA has another group of copies of these unique works as well. I found the part of the story of RODIN in his lover and art student, Camille Claudel, perhaps the most arresting. If you do not know her story, suffice to say she was a pupil of Rodin, showed great promise, and herself created many works influenced by (and even some say) were often more passionate and well developed than his work in some ways. Her end, sadly, alone and obscure has been rightly remembered in this museum. It is touching and moving to say to see her finally recognized and honored in an entire room where her preparatory works and final sculptures are displayed.
At the Musee Marmottan, you will see works that hung in the home of Monet, as well as the tight knit group of artists who knew him. You are able to imagine the sitting room or dining room of the homes of the artists who both lived and painted the works. A lovely series of rooms that are furnished with objects and hung much like a private home make this visit unique. If you want to know where to eat lunch in the areas around the museum, I can tell you I have walked the streets diligently around each location in search of the perfect cafe and lunch. Nearby this museum, you can walk nearby to a cafe that is right near the Metro stop, and in the heart of the 16th district at LA MUET.
Near the area of the MUSEE D’ORSAY, on the Left Bank, I am partial to the Rue de Bac area, its about 10 minutes from the Museum by foot. There you will find the Restaurant “L’antiquaire” a solid French Bistro style eatery ($35.00 per person plus wine) Also, if you simply go up the street, from there towards the SEINE RIVER and turn right, you will discover the cafe that was once the location for the famous Muskateer D’Artignan, on the corner on the Quai Voltaire. Delicious, and historic as well that is an major stop on the tour. Quiet corner cafes in this neighborhood that are not as well mentioned, are those on the corner of Rue de Bac and the Rue de Verneuille. Not all cafes do a great lunch, but those I have mentioned really do it up right and you will notice plenty of French people also lunching there as well. (*Always a good sign!)
For an elegant Lunch near the Musee Rodin, (reservations required) ARPEGE on Rue de Varenne a 3 Michelin Start Restaurant. Famous as the Chef is featured on NETFLIX series, this lunch will be a once in a lifetime experience. ($150-200+ per person) Tasting menu is the most reasonable opportunity to experience his genius.
For the 16th district in the area around the Musee Marmottan, head to the Port de La MUET area, there once as a great train station there, and The GAR restaurant is there, quite fun for a group. A few doors down, the street cafes are all pretty good. I love the local TABAC, right across from the Metro EXIT at LA MUETTE. The steak and Pomme Frites are delicious and lunch very reasonable, about $18.00 all inclusive. There, you will eat like a lunching Frenchman and not a tourist.