an afternoon at the museum // touring musée d’orsay with @parismusetours

theromanticWhile lazy baby seemingly hits a new milestone every day, last month, I hit a few of my own — and fittingly, they happened in Paris! Margot and I survived our first solo travel day together AND our first night away just the two of us… which also happened to be our first solo night ever. I feel like I need this on a t-shirt.

To be totally fair, it wasn’t as adventurous as it sounds. Jeff took us to St. Pancras on his quick lunch break, where we caught the Eurostar, and my sister met us at a sweet little apartment in St. Germain first thing the next morning, fresh off her flight from DC. The hubs then joined us all on the third day, and he traveled back to London with us just a few days later. BUT STILL. Baby steps, and that pun is most definitely intended.

paris muse - sisters in parisbecause all aunties & nieces should meet for the first time in paris.

Our time together was mostly spent revisiting old haunts and showing my sister around — doing a lot of things you can read about in our previous Paris coverage, because apparently I’m becoming a creature of habit. It wasn’t all repeats, though! This time, we added a museum tour of Musée d’Orsay with Paris Muse, and spoiler alert: it ended up being one of our favorite parts of the trip.

Though I’d previously visited Orsay on our very first visit to Paris (in 2009! 7 years ago! WHAT!?),  I had approached this former train station-turned-museum with my usual museum-going style:

  1. Stroll into a room and walk around the perimeter
  2. Linger on any paintings that catch my eye or have attracted a crowd
  3. NEXT.

When people say they could spend a day in the Louvre, I do not understand this. I can see any museum in under an hour.

I kid, I kid. Mostly. I am just not a dawdler when it comes to museums, and I am most certainly not a sign reader. I like to find the wing, exhibit or piece I want to see, and if I happen to find myself somewhere interesting on the way, then fancy! If not, then let’s move it or lose it, people. If I catch the hubs reading the signage then I let him impart the wisdom, but by the time he relays it, it’s usually just made up anyway because his short term memory is… not so great.

This is why, when I talked to Kristen, the founder of Paris Muse, I was immediately excited to approach Orsay in a whole new way… with a knowledgeable guide! After some back and forth, it was confirmed that on our second night in Paris, we would meet Alexandra at 6:30 PM on the steps of the museum for a private, two-hour tour called The Age of The Impressionists.

paris muse - musee d'orsay - inside

Along with being an art student and history buff, our guide was also well-prepared for showing us around with a pram. She would take us on a route that allowed for easy access to all the floors — something that we learned the next day at the Louvre, where we were guideless, is KEY. Paris is not particularly friendly to those on wheels, let me tell you what.

Because we were meeting at 6:30 PM, we had to have a little bit more foresight than we’re used to here at LTHQ. Officially gone are the days of leaving the hotel in the morning and returning well into the night. By our third trip with Margot, I had confirmed what everyone says to be true — babies love routine. This meant that we had to budget in time to pop back to the apartment and do her full bedtime hurrah, with the end goal to have her snoozing in her pram for the rest of our low-key evening.

This worked perfectly, and by the time we got to the museum, she was sound asleep. I am enjoying that right now, traveling with our little lazy baby is more about figuring out what we can still get away with while she snoozes, because it means that the change in our travel style is gradual. I know there will come a day when a 9 PM dinner reservation is 100% off the table, or happy hour is definitely inappropriate… but for now, as long as we can navigate a space with a pram, we’re golden. Plus, knowing that we were about to meet a private guide who would make our path through the museum seamless only added another layer of ease to our evening!

Naturally, I was feeling so well-prepared… until Margot’s “bedtime” lasted until about 20 minutes into the tour. It wasn’t long before she was wide awake, hanging on every word our guide said. I think this is just a testament to how engaging and fun Alexandra was. In her own words — she’s like a cartoon!

Or else Margot is just shockingly highbrow for a 4 month old…

paris muse - lazy baby

Hmmm yes, I do find Gauguin’s Polynesian period to be rather garish.

Now a highly attentive and engaged party of three, Alexandra was up to the task of showing us the nitty gritty of some of Orsay’s most famous and interesting pieces. Rather than taking us work by work, she breezed through the galleries at a pace that was comfortable (though more comprehensive than my usual glance and dash). She followed a fairly linear history, and she focused heavily on the importance of the Salon de Paris — the official exhibition for the students of Paris’s Académie des Beaux-Arts.

Because the Salon started in the mid-1600s and lasted through the 1900s, there is obviously plenty of material adorning the walls of the museum, but Alexandra did the perfect job of selecting pieces that built a visual survey of the school.

paris muse - musee dorsayTaking in the view from the top — because there are lifts! Hidden lifts, everywhere!
(And you need an Alexandra to show you about half of them, I mean it.)

Alexandra proudly told us halfway through the tour that her history focuses on the darker and twistier aspects of impressionism, and this was true. You’re better off joining her than having me relay all the info here, because it will just lose its impact. BUT. I’ll at least tell you the one I found to be the most shocking…

DID YOU KNOW: the subjects of Degas’ famous ballet sculptures and paintings aren’t just sweet little ballerinas? In reality, these girls came from poor families who hoped their children would earn them a living. They were nicknamed “les petites rats,” and many of them were forced to also double as prostitutes, entertaining clients after the performances.

Naturally, my mind went right to the prints hanging in every dressing room of every dance studio I grew up in. Alexandra shared a bit about the bronze copy of his Petite Danseuse de 14 Ans, who was based off one “little rat” named Marie, and both my and my sister’s hearts shattered just a bit. You can read more about the real inspiration of his works here, in an archived Vanity Fair article I found when I fell down a Degas wormhole post-visit.

paris muse - inside the clock

OR, better yet, book Alexandra (or any of their guides!) directly with Paris Muse on your next visit to Paris. I’m already eyeballing options for us as Margot gets older, because they have some amazing family-friendly tours that are truly geared toward kids, rather than just being ok if a kid tags along. Tell me you don’t want to book the Louvre scavenger hunt ASAP?

After our tour wrapped with Alexandra, we walked back outside to find an orange sky and a smiling Margot — who didn’t seem to mind one bit that she was out and about at 8:30 PM. A quick stop at Le Bon Marché for dinner supplies, and it was one very successful day en Paris.

xo!

the romantic

– Thank you to Paris Muse for welcoming us as your guests! All opinions are our own, because I’m pretty sure it’s impossible not to have fun with Alexandra. The price for the Musée d’Orsay: The Age of the Impressionists tour is €100 per person, and bookings can be made here.

Follow:
Share:

2 Comments

  1. Louise Peters
    June 8, 2016 / 20:05

    Loved your journey thru the Musee d’ Orsay. Visiting museums with a personal guide enhances your visit many times over. Now you MUST visit one of my Very Favorites…. Musee de Cluny-
    Musee National du Moyen Age. It was a 15th Century Abby and houses the incredible Lady and
    The Unicorn Tapestries circa 15th Century. The abbey was built over Gallo-Roman thermal baths from the 1st-3rd centuries & you can visit parts of the bath area. The museum is small, about an hour and half to visit but well worth the time. Will tell you the little known story of the decapitated statues at another time. Put the Musee de Cluny in your bucket list .
    Grandmere Peters

  2. Val
    July 15, 2016 / 08:23

    Love, love, love reliving the time through your post ❤️❤️❤️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge