|Luxembourg Gardens, Paris|
When we finally entered the building, we had to remove our sweaters and jackets and place our belongings through a security screen. Everything backpack-size had to remain in lockers in the lobby.
We circumvented the mobs heading down the stairwell to ground floor exhibits of statues by 19th-century sculptors Rude, Barye, Carrier-Belleuse. The statues sat where train tracks lay in the old Belle Epoch train station built for a 1900 exposition. A large, ornate gilt clock dominated the light-filled expanse.
Off to our left we found a counter renting headsets for self-guided audio tours. We could stop or start our tour at numbered paintings anywhere or anytime we chose. We were interested to see the French Impressionists on the top floor.
|Class of students learning about Impressionism|
The crowds were still manageable at 10:30 a.m. and moved aside politely after studying each masterpiece to allow other spectators to take their places - unlike the crowds in Amsterdam at the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. In room after room Monets, Sisleys, Manets, Van Goghs were just inches in front of us, while Degas' tiny ballerinas twirled for the crowds in another. The twenty-four paintings highlighted on the audio tour took us 2 1/2 hours.
|A budding Monet copying a Monet|
On the facade of the last room on the top floor was a gigantic see-through clock that allowed views across the Seine (mimicking the one in the cafe on the other end of the floor).
|View from of Tuileries Gardens across Seine from inside Musee D'Orsay|
We presumed wrong! One level up the escalator had no platform. Instead there was a sign that read, "Impressionists, Floor 5," with an arrow which the mechanical caterpillar pursued up...and up...and up. We were finally able to get off on Floor 5, where we'd started, and retraced our steps back over the catwalk. It reminded me of Charlie on the MTA ("he never returned and his fate is still unlearned") in the song by the Kingston Trio.
We turned back through the crowds now viewing the masterpieces we'd just left and retraced our steps the length of the fifth floor to the cafe, where we'd entered the Impressionist exhibit. Twenty minutes after we'd finished our audio tour and glistening with perspiration, we joined a dozen others in an elevator to the lobby.
|Sculptures on pedestrian bridge to Louvre|
|Fondation Louis Vitton|