The Eiffel Tower & Musee d’Orsay…

February 25, 2009 in Europe, France, Travelogue

Family Travel France

“Are we going today?”

Ezra’s question met me at the door of the kids’ hotel room this morning. No need to ask “Where?” we all know what Ez means when he asks that question. The Eiffel Tower. “Yes, we’re going today!” You’ve never seen a happier boy than the one who headed out into the cool grey morning, leading the way to the train station yesterday.

He spent his morning working up what he wanted to say for his “narration” for the podcast Tony is helping him make about the tower. “Dad, I thought of something else I want to say….” and then he’d launch into another fact about the tower that he thought the other kids at home would be interested in knowing. The first words out of his mouth when the camera turned his way at the base of the tower: “We are at the Eiffel Tower. I’ve been waiting for this my WHOLE life.” And so he has.

We managed to convince him that he did NOT really want to climb the stairs all the way to the top but to take the elevators instead. The view from the top was nothing less than spectacular. We watched a soccer game and some jumping horses practicing from the same vantage point as the eagles as we huddled together in the cold and marveled at the engineering feat: a tower 300m high made entirely of cast iron that was built in sections elsewhere and then assembled on site. Each and every rivet took four men to place and when the arches met in the center the math worked out perfectly and the holes lined up, like giant erector set. It was supposed to be disassembled after five years. I’m so glad it wasn’t. We retrieved our jars of garlic cloves and olives from behind the bushes at the base of the eastern leg of the tower (no glass allowed up top) and took a few last pictures before heading for the Musee d’Orsay.

Family Travel France

The Orsay is famous for its collections of impressionist art and sculptures. Immediately Gabe noticed, “Mom, this is the same guy we saw at the Albertina in Vienna!” “Van Gogh, that’s right, it is.” “This picture looks just like the one with the straw hat we saw at the other museum… only without the straw hat!” I was captivated by a soft painting of Renoir’s wife and baby, sitting on a stone bench next to a little cottage, she was nursing the round boy. Tony photographed it for me. An hour later, in the sculpture room, he poked me and said, “Look, there’s Mrs. Renoir!” and sure enough, in the same blouse as in the painting, was the exact same face staring at us from the top of a pedestal. “Just goes to show that Renoir was pretty good, we recognized his wife!” said my artsy husband.

We looked forever at the paintings, “How do they make those little dots all together make up a picture?” Elisha marveled. And we walked slowly among the statuary. Rodin is my favorite. A small white statue of an old woman with a sprig of holly growing at her knee was particularly captivating: “Winter.” Where we’re all headed.

Family Travel France

Two days down in Paris and we’ve already overloaded our brains with amazing things. I’m so glad to be here with kids big enough to remember and ask interesting questions about everything around them. I’m also glad to be here toward the end of our trip, when they are less awed by “PARIS” as the end all, be all, of art and culture and instead see it as one more interesting place, with interesting people and some new things to explore that they haven’t seen yet. They’ve all noticed that we’re hearing English again for the first time in a long time; we’re back on the tourist route!