Contemporary Art Museum in the Shadow of the Louvre
Flanked by three Rodin statues, the glass and stone Musee de l'Orangerie is home to paintings by the greatest modernists - Picasso, Monet, Cezanne...
There are only two floors in this white-walled museum. The second floor consists of two oval rooms where the walls are covered by Monet's Water Lilies - Clouds. Fans of Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris may remember the scene from the movie in front of these meditative masterpieces. Downstairs, one can see the evolution of modern art from Renoir to Modigliani.
This museum also houses temporary exhibits. This fall the museum hosts paintings by Frida Kahlo - the only female artist in the museum.
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Overcoming French Jet Lag
I arrived in Paris at 6:00 a.m. after a restless, overnight flight from Washington DC with the knowledge that it was still too early to check-in to my hotel room. Weary and fatigued, I left my baggage with the concierge and headed to the l'Orangerie to peacefully ease my way into the day among Monet's giant water lilies.
The small museum is an urban oasis located in the Tuileries Gardens across from the Louvre. Its two oval-shaped rooms offer panoramic views of Monet's serene Nymphéas series.The paintings are a part of the structure since the artist had the panels built into the walls.
The best time to visit is at opening on weekday mornings. Not only will you avoid noisy school groups, but it's a great time of day to admire the nuances of the abstract paintings changing under natural light.
The Musée d’Orsay on the River Seine in Paris houses the world’s greatest collection of Impressionist paintings, and the Degas ballerinas are alone worth a visit. But I was curious where Parisians go to look at art so I visited a friend of mine, Heike Ströhmann, senior sales manager at The Westin Paris Vendôme.
Ströhmann’s favorite museum in Paris is the Orangerie Museum located across the Seine from d'Orsay next to The Louvre. Eight huge Monet paintings wrap around the walls inside two contemporary oval spaces illuminated with diffused light coming through large ceiling windows.
If you’ve seen Woody Allen’s "Midnight in Paris" (above), the Orangerie is the setting where Gil, Inex, John and Carol bicker among Monet’s mesmerizing Les Nymphéas. I visited the boutique museum and the overall effect of being surrounded by the vast landscapes makes you feel like you’re actually floating in the waterlily pond at Giverny. You have to go here if you love Impressionist art, without exception.
“Aaah, it’s incredible,” says Ströhmann. “You stand in the middle of the room and you’re swimming in Monet.”