One of the most noticeable perks of studying abroad is that I have been able to use my Sorbonne student ID to access museums for free. Since our UNC course is on the history and culture of Paris, we have visited a couple museums and chateaux as class excursions.
I have attempted to go to the Louvre once so far and it wasn’t super successful. I got in for free, so I decided to get an audio tour. The audio tour was helpful… when I could get it to recognize what room I was in. I think my device might have been a little buggy because it kept automatically speaking about works of art that I was definitely not standing in front of. Anyways, I made it through the sculptures, ancient civilization artifacts, and the history of the Louvre in an hour and a half. So basically about a third of the museum. This was partly because I was already exhausted from the rest of the day, and after an hour and a half everything started blending together and I couldn’t focus enough on each individual piece of art. I look forward to going back to see the rest, maybe on a rainy day.
The Musée d’Orsay has been my favorite museum so far. I think that I really enjoy paintings from impressionism and realism, and most of the artists that I’ve studied in school (either in an art history class in high school or in a couple history classes at UNC) are French, so this museum had a lot of familiar names for me. Because the museum used to be a train station, you can climb up to the top floor and take a photo of the entire museum (see below). It was beautiful! I loved how the museum was split up into smaller rooms because it allowed me to focus more on what I was looking at. I find that some museums can be overwhelming because there are too many works of ark in one space, and at that point I don’t end up really looking at any of the paintings because I don’t know where to look first. There was one room that had photographs of people who were dead/dying, and it was a really shocking/bizarre thing that I had never seen before. The top floor had many famous paintings that were so cool to see in person. Sisley, Renoir, and Degas were some of my favorite artists whose work was featured at the Musée d’Orsay.
In our UNC class, we have been studying Les Années Folles (aka the Roaring 20’s in Paris) and La Belle Epoque (1870’s-WW1). Perfect timing, because at Le Petit Palais, there was an exposition called Paris 1900! There were posters from the World Fair 1900, many works of art depicting women and how their image/role in society changed during this time, and more. We also were assigned the movie Midnight in Paris, which helped us to see how these two time periods have become romanticized and seen as a really beautiful time of celebrating life between wartimes.
One weekend, we visited Chateau Vaux le Vicomte and Chateau Fontainebleau. It was a rainy/cloudy kind of day, but they were still beautiful! I preferred the interior of Chateau Fontainebleau, but the gardens at Chateau Vaux le Vicomte won without contest (although I forgot to get a photo). The first two photos are of Chateau Fontainebleau and the third is of Vaux le Vicomte.