Having slept off our Thanksgiving dinner-style museum orgy, and packed our suitcases for departure, we were ready to indulge in another museum, this time the Musée d'Orsay. The Orsay begins where the Louvre leaves off, covering more recent (but not too recent) art. You know, Rodin, van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Monet, Manet, Matisse, Homer, Renoir, and the like. Being a converted train station, this museum is not as user-friendly as the Louvre; that is, it was much easier to get stuck in the middle of a hoard of other tourists. I didn't mind so much waiting my turn to get in front of a painting, but when most of the people both ahead and behind me seemed impatiently intent only on snapping a photo with their cell phone cameras, it got rather annoying. Besides, I'm not much better with crowds than I am with heights.
Still, it was a great visit (and free with our Museum Passes). Even this much smaller museum has 'way too much to take in on one visit. Paris would be a great place for a homeschool year abroad!
Porter and Janet graciously made allowance for my nervousness by planning to get to the train station much earlier than we really needed to. This was Gare Montparnasse, not the station we had come into from Basel (which was Gare de l'Est), and I wanted plenty of time to check it out and for things to go wrong. So we closed up the apartment, grabbed our bags, and walked to the bus stop. (To give some credit to my insecure need for checking and rechecking, we did benefit from having rehearsed this earlier, since it turned out we needed to get a different bus from the one we had been planning on.)
The bus came quickly, and took us to the station in good time. This one is much better organized than Gare de l'Est (which is under construction), and we were able to find our train on the schedule board (though it was too early for the track number to be up) and also the luggage storage area, which would be important on our return. Then we settled down at a café to eat and wait.
Our train to Laval was the high-speed line, the TGV. Porter, having seen what second class train accommodations were like his previous time in Europe, had pushed to get first class tickets. But the TGV is expensive, even for second class, and Janet and I talked him into it. Much has changed in 40 years, and second class was delightful. Two hours later we were in Laval. Our friend picked us up at the station, and soon we were here:
If it looks like a magical fairyland, it is. We would have been happy to visit our friends and their young daughter fairy princess in a small shack, but this was beyond our dreams. It's not everyone who can say that her birthday celebration included both a museum in Paris and a gourmet dinner at a château in the French countryside. Speaking as her unprejudiced mother, if anyone deserves such a treat, it's Janet, and we are so thankful to those who made it possible.
And so to bed, to rest, to dream….