Our first activity of the morning was heading to the Musée de l’Orangerie. I had seen pictures of it before but nothing ever really compares to when you’re standing before it in real life. The top floor is dedicated to two HUGE rooms taken up by 8 panels of waterlily paintings done by Monet. It was honestly incredible. Monet worked with the architect to make sure the space worked the best for his paintings, and the effect they have produced is magical. The rooms are both oval shaped with a huge window in the ceiling to let in natural light, however netting has been placed at the entrance of the window so the light is not strong and harsh. The paintings are vivid hues of blue, purple and green, expertly placed to mimic the effect of water and flowers. The sheer size of them is incredible. I could happily have spent ages here. On the lower floors the Orangerie also houses many works by other members of the impressionist movement, and some later modern pieces that have been influenced by Monet. For me it is the perfect gallery. Just the right size for you to feel you have seen a lot, but not so much that you get bored.
After a brief stroll through the Tuilleries Gardens, we headed up the Champs Elysees towards the Arc du Triomphe. I’m not going to lie, this walk felt very long, and it seemed that the Arc just carried on getting further away the longer we walked. When we finally arrived it was a little underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong the actual Arc itself is huge and really cool, but it is literally in the middle of a roundabout so they general atmosphere is ruined by the honking of horns and cars trying to get round. And just like everywhere else in Paris, there are tonnes of people. If you happen to drive past it then it’s cool to see but I don’t think I would bother going out of my way just to see it again.
We headed to lunch in a little creperie just of the Champs Elysees which was amazing. It was called La Creperie des Champs Elysees les Ecuries and was like a quaint, old Normandie creperie in the heart of Paris. The interior felt somewhat like a stable with wood paneling and tables made out of old cart wheels. The crepes were cooked in the centre of the room under a huge chimney type thing. The food itself was amazing. We split a bottle of Bretton cider alongside our crepes. I went for a Savoyarde crepe which has potato, onion, cheese and bacon and is pretty incredible.
In the afternoon we headed south of the river to go and explore the catacombes. The catacombs had been closed for a few days due to strikes so the queue was absolutely HUGE (are you sensing a theme here?). Despite our protests we stuck it out and finally made it down there. The catacombs are pretty amazing. They are tunnels that stretch under the whole of Paris that were filled with bones when the graveyards became too crowded. It was so surreal seeing thousands and thousands of bones stacked on top of each other, with patterns built in out of skulls and different shaped bones. I didn’t take any pictures because they asked that you respect that these are remains of the dead. Our visit was somewhat ruined by a group in front of us who laughed and talked loudly the whole way round, took countless photos, and even went as far as to pick up bones and pose for photos with them like they were sword-fighting. I whispered to my sister ‘if they did that to my bones I’d come back and haunt them’.
Despite the fact we were in France, we actually had Thai food for dinner. There was such amazing variety by where we were staying it seemed rude not to!