Museum + Cheese = Our Final Day In Paris

Once again wanting to get the most out of our time in Paris (can you sense a reoccurring theme here?), we were up bright at early. Not quite as bright and early as the previous day (since we were aware nothing would be open), we arrived at Le Pain Quotidien at 8 am for breakfast. Why this place doesn’t have rave reviews baffles me, it’s the best breakfast place I’ve seen in Paris!

Then we were off to the Louvre. I know I said in my last post that I prefer the Musée d’Orsay, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still blown away by the Louvre.

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I can stare at statures for days (in fact I have a couple on my list to check out in Rome next week at Villa Borghese). My favorite Louvre statue is Amor and Psyche by Antonio Canova. I can’t get over how tenderly the lovers hold each other. I think about seven minutes into my stare-a-thon, Chandler pulled me away so we could look at other things. Don’t worry, I returned numerous times throughout the day!

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We also made our way to another favorite of mine (and everyone else’s) the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Despite having seen this statue before, I didn’t quite realize how old it was. Constructed around the 2nd century BC it’s not surprising that she’s headless and armless. However, there’s still so much beauty in what’s left.

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Not nearly done with my statue quota for the day we meandered over to the French galleries. Many of the pieces are more modern recreations of Italian styles and they don’t quite impress me as much, but the lighting and design of the space is spectacular.

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At this point, however, Chandler needed a break from my statues. And luckily, the Islamic Art gallery had opened. This addition didn’t exist during my last visit in 2010, and it is an incredible inclusion to the museum. Plus, for whatever reason, the gallery was nearly empty of visitors.

Dimly lit to preserve many of the pieces, there weren’t a lot of great photo ops, but the pieces themselves were stunning. Everything from the tiling to the metalwork to the paintings were shockingly intricate in ways I just haven’t seen from other cultures. I was equally blown away by the Islamic Art Museum in Doha a few years ago. This collection (opened in 2012) displays 3,000 objects, spanning 1,300 years of history and three continents. Needless to say, we spent a good while there.

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Wandering through the paintings on our way to the Arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Americas we stumbled across Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s Four Seasons paintings. This was a fun surprise for us because the summer of 2015 we roadtripped from Texas to Minnesota and back to visit my family for a few weeks.

On the way we stopped in Kansas City to experience the city and check out the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which had recently installed their own interpretation of the Four Seasons, 15-foot-tall metal and fiberglass heads created by artist Philip Haas. So for us, it was lovely to look at the originals for the first time:

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Chandler also made sure we found ourselves at Liberty Leading the People, a painting by Eugène Delacroix commemorating the July Revolution of 1830, which toppled King Charles X of France. On a whole, it’s not exactly my kind of painting. I’m not wild about works based on war, but even I had to stop and be impressed by Marianne.

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The only truly disappointing moment at the Louvre (aside from the crowds, which are a given), was the final gallery we made our way to. Now, I won’t lie, there are some absolutely incredible pieces in this gallery. However, for the amount of geographic space taken up by these continents, it shouldn’t be possible to walk through the entire collection in about seven minutes flat (and that’s with some stops and stares):

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I understand that this is the Louvre and that the focus is French art, and beyond that, European art. But I would love to see the Louvre grow this section the way they did their Islamic Art.

After that, there was just some general admiring of the architecture and then it was time to find some lunch!

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We arrived at Fromagerie Danard just as its lunchtime was finishing, and made plans to come back for dinner. When you see the photos of our cheese plate, you’ll understand why this worked out perfectly and made a better dinner than lunch.

I think we ended up eating pizza instead. All I can say is that pizza made with French cheeses is absolutely incredible. Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Brie, and goat cheese, oh my!

It’s entirely likely that we went back to our Airbnb after this for some R&R and to escape the shocking heat-wave Paris was experiencing at the time. That evening, before heading out for dinner, we made our way to the Notre Dame. Not interested in heading inside the structure this time around, I did want to sit in its presence.

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Always a popular location, I think the only time I’ve been alone with this cathedral was at 7am 7 years ago. But, as always, it’s just as breathtaking as ever.

Finally, it was time for dinner. We made our way back to Fromagerie Danard and learned that they essentially have three dinner options that simply determine the number of meats and cheeses you order. Ever the cheese lover, I wanted as much as they would give me.

Since we’re vegetarians, we asked if it would be possible to switch out the three meat options for additional cheeses instead and the staff was more than accommodating. So instead of the typical six cheeses, we got nine. And damn, is that a lot of cheese.

We told them to avoid blue cheeses and that we enjoyed goat cheese (hence the two in the center of the plate) and they did the rest of the work! Even pairing it with a lovely Sancerre.

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Some favorites were the orange cheese, which had been aged three years and the cheese to its left that was made with truffles. We walked away with leftovers from all (a fantastic snack on the train the next day) and additional purchases of our favorites – vacuum sealed so as not to overwhelm others with the smell!

I have to be honest, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Even Chandler enjoyed it and it’s taken years of me slowly forcing cheese on him for him to come around to the concept of eating dairy (he doesn’t like milk or ice cream and only recently started eating Greek yogurt).

It was a lovely way to end our short time in Paris. Far from my favorite city, going back the second time gave me more things to enjoy about it!

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