Whenever I thought of Paris I always imagined it to be a city of romance, a place where lovers go, but my idea was radically transformed after my very first visit to this beautiful city in November 2010. It is definitely a city filled with passion, a passion for the arts, a passion for food and wine, a passion for architecture, a passion for style. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, it truly is an artist’s paradise. It’s also the place where I rediscovered my passion for painting thanks to Claude Monet and all the other great impressionists.
Thomas and I arrived in Paris in the evening so for me it looked like any other large city, the only noticeable difference was the size of the buildings, they were huge. I had to wait until the following day to truly discover the grand scale of everything in this amazing city.
My first impression when I saw Paris in daylight was wow. Everything in Paris is done on such a grand scale and there is so much of it. There’s no subtlety there. I was amazed by the number of museums and art galleries, their great architecture, the number of gorgeous restaurants, every meal we had and every bottle of red wine we drank was just delectable. The wonderful thing about Paris is despite being so large, it doesn't overwhelm you. You can relax, take a leisurely stroll and take everything in.
We visited many museums and art galleries and no trip to Paris would be complete without visiting the Louvre. I wasn't expecting to it to be so big, big isn't the word for it, it is ginormous! There was too much to take in in one go. They had everything there, but what was really disappointing was their British art collection. It was tiny, they only had a handful of pieces tucked away at the back of the museum. At least they had a piece by J.M.W Turner.
The Louvre is great but my highlights have to be the Musée d’Orsay and the major Monet Retrospective exhibition at the Grand Palais. They took my breath away.
The Musée d’Orsay itself is a stunning building. It was formally a railway station and a hotel. With its beautiful curved glass roof there’s a great sense of light and airiness. The Musée d’Orsay has the largest collection of impressionist paintings I have ever seen. I walked around wide eyed and filled with excitement. There were gorgeous pieces by Monet, Renoir, Van Gough and Toulouse-Lautrec amongst many.
Unfortunately when we visited the museum, it was undergoing major renovation, which meant not all of their collection could be shown. The renovation should be complete by Autumn 2011, so they’ll be able to display all their magnificent pieces in their full glory.
The most inspiring exhibition I went to was Monet’s Retrospective exhibition at the Grand Palais. This was the largest collection of his work ever shown in one place, with almost 200 paintings. I feel so privileged to have been able to see it. We spent hours taking in his magnificent pieces and I had to go back and forth to see and experience my favourite ones. Amongst them were The Rue Montorgueil, The Magpie, and Sunset on the Seine – Winter Effect. For me Monet’s exhibition was life changing because it rekindled my own passion for painting. When I returned to Birmingham all I wanted to do is paint.
I have to say I was sad to leave. One week was not enough to see and experience everything Paris has to offer. I guess it just means I have to go there again, hopefully after the Musée d’Orsay has been renovated so that I can see all the great Impressionist paintings in their full glory.