By the time we finished our brunch, the rain has slowed down. There were puddles of rainwater on the sidewalk and the wind was making it difficult for those with an umbrella. We made our way to Rue Lepic and walked downhill. If you are looking for some tarts, do check out Les Petits Mitron (26 Rue Lepic), by the looks of the tarts on display, they sure look tasty.
Don’t just look downhill or at your feet while walking. Across the road lies Café des Deux Moulins. “What?”, asked the wife. This is the café made famous by the movie Amelie. If you are a movie buff, make sure to check out the movie poster at the back wall inside the café. The rain was starting to fall again as we arrived at the junction of Rue Lepic and Boulevard de Clichy. On your right will be the infamous Moulin Rouge, nothing spectacular in the mornings, but I heard that it is different at night.
No sun could be seen and the whole sky was covered with dark clouds
By the time we reached the Blanche Métro station, the rain was coming down heavily. This is the worst weather that we have encountered over the last few days. No sun could be seen and the whole sky was covered with dark clouds. Very bad indeed.
Arc de Triomphe
20 minutes later we popped out at Champs-Elysées, it was still raining. No one wanted to venture out into the rain, everyone huddled at the base of the steps, waiting and praying for the rain to stop. We made our way through the tunnels and out underneath the grand structure of the Arc de Triomphe. It was not giving us the shelter that we were hoping. The flame for the Unknown Soldier was flickering in the rain as we made our way to the entrance. Yet again, the Paris Museum Pass came to our rescue.
There were no lifts and yet we were strangely delighted about that fact. “What a way to warm the body, let’s go!”, said the wife cheerfully. I couldn’t agree more, the rain and the wind made it really cold for us. About 300 steps later, we were at the exhibition area. You can catch your breath here or visit the WC if you want, or you could carry on right to the top like we did.
We thought we had managed to handle the rain and the cold properly, but the scenario at the top of the Arc de Triomphe was a different kettle of fish altogether. The rain was not that disturbing, but it was the bone-chilling wind, we couldn’t keep our eyes open and guess what? We were also being pelted by small little ice cubes. Running around the perimeter, we quickly took a few photos before descending back to the relatively comfortable exhibition area.
We were also being pelted by small little ice cubes
They said that this is the world’s grandest and most celebrated street, home to big business, high fashion shopping and glitzy clubs. To us, it was just one whole stretch of rain shelter. This was not how I imagined myself when I was planning the itinerary. At the end, we spent an hour or so, navigating along the avenue, going in and out of stores, at the same time, trying to prevent ourselves from getting wet.
We tried playing hide-and-seek with the rain, and in the end Mother Nature won. On hindsight, we should have just taken the Métro, which would have kept us dry but then we would be missing out on the sights of Champs-Elysées. Weirdest place that we took shelter? It is a toss-up between the public telephone booth and the automated public toilet.
Weirdest place that we took shelter? It is a toss-up between a public phone booth and the automated public toilet
At the end of the avenue lies the Grand and Petit Palais. Unfortunately, the Grand Palais is not covered by the Paris Museum Pass and the Petit Palais is closed for the day. No hope of shelter there. We still had to navigate the open space of the Place de la Concorde, in front of us, not to mention the traffic surrounding it.
Musée de l’Orangerie
We had to thank our lucky stars that the Musée de l’Orangerie was open for business. Looking at the queue, I think that most of them wanted an escape from the incessant rain but they had not bought any tickets in advance, we on the other hand had the Paris Museum Pass, skipped the queue and headed to the entrance. They were limiting the number of people coming through, which I think was necessary, most of them just wanted a rain shelter.
“The famous thing about this museum?”, asked the wife while trying to dry the raincoats that we brought along. Our shoes were soaking wet and were leaving wet marks on the floor. Everywhere that we looked were people drying themselves out and sitting aimlessly. What a way to spoil the day, non-stop rain.
To the untrained eye, it looked just like someone smudged their way through a few huge canvasses
I pointed out Claude Monet’s famous Water Lilies as we started to explore the museum. I think mammoth is the word that comes to mind when you see Monet’s work. We are surrounded by 8 curved panels, starting from the ceiling right to about a foot of the floor. I wonder how long did it took him to complete this artwork. The artwork shows off different parts of Monet’s pond at different hours of the day. To the untrained eye, it looked just like someone smudged their way through a few huge canvasses.
This museum is filled with a bunch of weird looking nudes
The rest of the museum was pretty straight forward. You could find works from Walter-Guillaume, Renoir, Cézanne, Rousseau and Utrillo of Montmartre. Being the art connoisseur that I am, this museum is filled with a bunch of weird looking nude paintings. No thanks to Renoir as I found out later.
Georges Pompidou Center
Escaping from the nudes of the Orangerie, we found ourselves enjoying the brief sunlight of the day at Hôtel de Ville. This is not a hotel despite its name, it is actually the office of the Mayor of Paris. It was already 3pm as we took off for the Georges Pompidou Center. Probably the last museum that we will visit in Paris and to justify the purchase of the Paris Museum Pass.
After being bombarded with ancient and old paintings, this is where it gets modern. Remember to check in your bags and coats at the cloakroom otherwise it would be a long walk plus queue in front of the cloakroom. Start by going to the top of the building first and work your way down. The view from the top is stunning for the price of the ticket, it is also devoid of any crowds, as most of them are focused on the exhibitions rather than the view. There is a café too, with both indoors and outdoors sitting. Unsurprisingly, the outdoor sitting is empty.
I have had enough of art, I just can’t seem to understand any of it
We spent an hour inside the Georges Pompidou Center and came out as bewildered as before we entered. Honestly speaking, I have had enough of art, be it from the Renaissance or from the modern era, I just can’t seem to understand any of it. Anyone out there with a similar problem? Put it down to being a touristy thing that we had to do, visiting the various museum and art galleries just because it is famous.
Café Les Halles
Located along the corner of Rue Rambuteau and Rue Saint-Denis lies this unpretentious crêpe stand — Café Les Halles. It was raining, again. We ducked underneath its cover and ordered, “Je voudrais une Nutella crêpe!” It felt like heaven when the gooey Nutella oozed out after the first bite. The crêpe was prepared fresh in front of our eyes, steaming on the pan. The price? €2.50 per crêpe but it depends on what you want for fillings.
(to be continued)