May 12th, 2019: A visit to the Rodin Museum, the Eiffel Tower, the Musée du Quai Branly, the Cité de l’architecture & du Patrimoine and the Champs Élysées!!!

The Rodin Museum is in a fantastic old villa, the Hôtel Biron, that was owned by Auguste Rodin during his lifetime. The grounds surrounding the old home are also quite large and serve as a huge outdoor sculpture gallery, adding to the museum’s appeal. The museum exhibits much of Rodin’s own work, but also his amazing personal collection of antiquities and his personal collection of impressionist paintings, most notably Vincent van Gogh.

From Rodin’s personal collection – Vincent van Gogh “The Harvesters” (1888)
The Rodin Museum in the Hôtel Biron
Rodin in his workshop

The grounds were quite impressive, with allees of trees, ponds and fountains surrounding the residence. While we were there, there was a brass band playing near the largest circular pond and there was apparently some kind of foot race going on, with runners breezing through the grounds in spurts.

The museum is practically in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, as well as the gold spire and dome of the Hôtel des Invalides, where Napoleon I is entombed under the dome. This dome looms over “The Thinker” in the garden, a personal favorite of mine.

Rodin’s “The Thinker” with the gold dome of the Hôtel des Invalides
“The Thinker”

Artists in Rodin’s personal collection include the American painter John Singer Sargent, Edvard Munch, Monet, Charles Cottet and Ménard, as well many Egyptian, Greek and Roman statues and fragments.

From Rodin’s personal collection of Greek and Roman sculpture
An Egyptian head from Rodin’s personal collection

The home and grounds exhibit many fantastic works of Rodin such as “Eternal Spring,” “The Kiss,” “The Prodigal Son,” “The Three Shades,” “Perseus and Medusa,” “I am beautiful,” “The Tempest,” “Sleep,” “Hands of Lovers,” “L’Adieu,” “The Convalescent,” “The Minotaur,” “The Fall of Icarus,” “Iris Awakening,” “A Nymph,” “The Centuress,” “The Secret,” “Dawn,” “Hand from the Tomb,” “The Death of Adonis,” “Adam and Eve,” “Monument to Victor Hugo,” “The Gates of Hell” and the “The Burghers of Calais.” This museum is my new happy place!

Rodin – “Eternal Springtime”
Detail – “Eternal Springtime”
Rodin – “Hands of Lovers”
Rodin – “Monument to Victor Hugo” – model
Rodin – “The Burghers of Calais”
Rodin – “The Convalescent”
Rodin – “The Gates of Hell” – detail
Rodin – “The Kiss”
Rodin – “The Three Shades”
Rodin – “The Three Shades” – detail

Separate from Mandy, who had left earlier, I walked away from the Musée Rodin to the west past the Place Vauban, directly across from the front of Hôtel des Invalides Eglise du Dôme, where Napoleon I is entombed. There was an interesting collection of classic cars and their collectors assembled outside. There were classic Porches, BMW’s, Citroen’s, Alpha Romeo’s and Mercedes. I walked past the Êcole Militarie and turned north on the Parc du Champ de Mars, towards the Eiffel Tower.

The front of Hôtel des Invalides Eglise du Dôme, where Napoleon I is entombed

Many people were strolling, lounging and playing on the grand lawn, in groups, as individuals and in couples on the grass, in the knolls and under the allées of trees. It was a picture-perfect day, with scattered clouds, temperature in the 60’s and the Eiffel Tower looked resplendent.

In the Parc du Champ de Mars, looking towards the Eiffel Tower.

I then walked across the Quai Branly toward the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Charac. The exterior wall of the museum facing out to the Seine features a “living wall,” home to 376 species of plants from around the world and embodying the museum’s universalist message. The designer of the museum is the renowned French architect, Jean Nouvel. The museum is home to masterpieces of the arts and civilizations of Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Americas. I ran into Mandy again outside, below the main museum, in the gardens. We stopped at the lovely cafe and had an afternoon treat – layer cake and coffee.

The Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Charac

From this museum I crossed the Seine on the huge Pont D’Lena toward the Jardin du Trocadéro, in front of the symmetrical buildings folding around the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The garden features fountains, water cannons, plazas and big theatrical steps.

At the top of the steps I entered the Cité de l’architecture & du Patrimoine . Mandy was here earlier and highly recommended it. The museum had fantastic views of the Eiffel Tower from the northwest with its strong axis on the Parc du Champ de Mars and ending at the École Militarie.

The museum had fantastic views of the Eiffel Tower from the northwest with its strong axis on the Parc du Champ de Mars and ending at the École Militarie

First I encountered some preserved carvings from the portals of some medieval cathedrals, a model of the Crystal Palace in London, a model of the Musée d’Orsay, a light-sensitive “lens” from the Institute du Monde Arabe in Paris and some fantastic early Renzo Piano models and renderings.

After this museum, I took off along the right bank of the Seine, along Avenue du President Wilson as far as Place de L’Alma and then headed north-northwest on Avenue George V., bound for the Avenue du Champs Élysées. I then headed north towards the avenue’s terminus at the Arc de Triomphe. I looked in vain for an agency that would validate my Italian Police Lost Property Report and Insurance Receipt but found none. I spent some time strolling along the great avenue, but there were too many tourists and sidewalk cafe hawkers to make it enjoyable.

On the Avenue du Champs Élysées. looking towards the avenue’s terminus at the Arc de Triomphe

I wandered into the big, 2 story Apple Store to buy a replacement iPad for the one I lost in Rome. As I had found in Florence, the Apple Store staff were fantastically helpful, attentive and courteous and spoke great English. I was lead upstairs to the iPad section to a young salesman who was able to help me out. I also bought a red leather Apple iPad case and an extended Apple Care Plus warranty.

Upon our rendezvous at our hotel, we called Grandma, Veronica and Levar.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. bardharv says:

    The first time Lauren and I traveled to Europe in the mid-1990s, we likewise visited the Rodin Museum, and I am still in love w Auguste Rodin’s amazing sculpts and the way he conveys such emotion and meaning through the human form. Funny story: while wandering outside, I came across who else but tennis star Pete Sampras. This may have been 1996, the year he won the French Open. All through the 90s he won Wimbledon, the US Open for multiple years–he was a king of men’s tennis at the time. And here he was, sitting on the back steps of the Rodin Museum, with nobody else around. I made the rookie mistake of walking up and talking to him with familiarity, like I knew him, trying to be casual and friendly. He ignored me, stiffly, and I quickly got the message and moved off. Oh well. Later that same day we hit the famous https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacombs_of_Paris and also Jim Morrison’s grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery — both are typical add-ons near Rodin. The catacombs were stunning, creepy, unforgettable.

    Like

    1. Fantastic story, Tom. Too bad about Pete Sampras, but yahoo to the Rodin Museum, the Catacombs and Jim Morrison’s grave (neither of which we visited this time in Paris!)

      Like

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