For this day, I didn’t have much planned, because I had taken in mind the previous ones were already intensive enough. The only change in my original planning was the Musée d’Orsay in the afternoon instead of the Cité, because the previous day d’Orsay had proven to be overcrowded at the ticket line.
So after breakfast, packing, checking out and dropping our luggage in the car, we took the metro towards our first of (only) three destinations of the day.
For those who might not know it (though I hope most will): Père Lachaise cemetery is pretty much Western Europe’s most popular burial ground for the rich and famous of the past (and present to some level, there’s not much room left). It’s got Balzac, J.-L. David, Max Ernst, Ingres, Lalique, Modigliani, Molière, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and many, many more.
Of course, those last 3 names are with ease the most popular of the place: Wilde’s monument has lipstick kisses all over it, Piaf’s simple tombstone always has flowers (expensive ones > roses and I also spotted some orchids) and Morrison’s stone is even fenced off!
If you want to visit it, please keep the following in mind:
- the cemetery is on sloping terrain and has plenty of different height levels + it’s almost completely paved with old-fashioned cobble stones, meaning they’re large, uneven and over the years have developed large gaps between them (sloping terrain + rain = soil erosion) > so ditch the heels / formal shoes and pack decent walking shoes!
- metro station “Père Lachaise” is located across a small side entrance, once there all you get is a large sign board with the names of the “important” graves and their position; only the cabin at the actual main entrance hands out small maps (but it’s not a very practical map one if you ask me, back home I Googled this map, it looks a million times better, so download and print either the PDF or JPEG file)
- go off the main roads, it’s so worth it for the views (however that day it had rained during the morning and sometimes the narrow paths and stairs were still slippery > good walking shoes will help here!)
- keep on going all the way to the back, the monuments at the far eastern end of the cemetery (close to where Piaf lies) are from various countries to remember their war heroes, and some are real works of art!
- it’s a big place, you’ll easily spend 2 or 3 hours there even if you’re focused on checking a selection of graves, but if you only want to check out Morrison’s stone it’s roughly 30 minutes (still a long time because his stone is at the other side of the cemetery if you take the side entrance across the metro station)
Taking the metro back towards Montmartre was easy: Metro 2 is a direct line! We got off at the famous Blanche station, and first took a moment to gaze at the Moulin Rouge! Well beyond our budget, we only checked out the exterior, and not too long after that went to search the Café des Deux Moulins. It’s quite close to the Moulin Rouge, just keep walking uphill in the Rue Lepic and you’ll spot it soon enough.
Sadly, it’s popularity made it quite expensive for this neighbourhood, and the interior has been changed a bit (no “Tabac” stand, more and different tables). We decided to do our wallets a favour and with a bit of sadness kept on looking for a more budget friendly place to have lunch. We found one, but we all left the place with still unsatisfied stomachs.
Since we were close to it, we went to check out the notorious Place Pigalle, and after a while gave in to our urges and dove into one of the many sex toy shops (urges created by almost being bullied into checking out strip clubs by promoters).
Time was making fools of us again and we had to rush towards the metro if we wanted to enjoy our visit to the Musée d’Orsay, which I really wanted to do because it was something I still hadn’t done on my previous trips. One of my friends wasn’t all too keen on coming along to another museum and decided to chill in the Tuileries Gardens before his 3 hour drive back home after the museum visit.
All I’m going to say about the Musée d’Orsay is that it’s absolutely fabulous!!! It holds plenty of masterpieces it’ll leave you wondering what’s left to display at the Louvre, and it’s situated in an architectural gem.
We arrived at 4 PM, and for the next 2 hours it was one visual orgasm feast after an other.
The Impressionists section on the top floor is divine! The small halls devoted to decorative pieces like glass work, curvy Art Nouveau furniture and alike are gorgeous. There are also many sculptures, Chat Noir cutouts, architectural concept art, stage design maquettes for the Opéra de Garnier (and this way we still got to see some sort of its interior without visiting it) and so much more, all scattered over smaller halls as you make your way up to the Impressionists section on the top floor.
Also the reception foyer and the old 1st class restaurant of this former railway station will take your breath away.
… As a teaser, I’ll give in and spill 3 of the permanent pieces of this museum, three you all know (or should have heard of at least) and might not forgive yourselves if you didn’t go see them:
- Coquelicots (“Poppies Blooming” by Monet)
- Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (“Luncheon on the Grass” by Manet)
- Porte de l’Enfer (“The Gates of Hell” by Rodin).
We reluctantly had to rush trough and even skip some halls as at 5.30 PM they start closing the halls one by one… so if you plan to visit this museum, please make sure you’re there around 3 or 3:30 PM as you’ll need all the time from that point till the place closes (at 6 PM all halls actually were empty, gift shop stays open a bit longer though).