Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Paris - Les Halles, Marmotten Monet Museum

We returned to the Les Halles area to revisit one of my favourite sites from our last trip, which was what I called the "Big Head" sculpture. It is actually called "L'Ecoute" or "Listen" by Henri de Miller and sits in front of the pretty St. Eustache church. Inside the church is an usual cartoonish sculpture marking, or perhaps mourning is a better term, the destruction of the fruits and vegetable stalls that formed a charming market on the grounds of Les Halles. These were torn down and replaced with a huge underground shopping mall called Le Forum des Halles, which many Parisans still don't like today.

Had lunch at a restaurant called L'Escargot and ate the signature dish which contained escargots in their conch shells, coated with three types of flavours - Fois Gras, Spinach with garlic and herbs, and Blue Cheese. Eating escargots involves a bit of a skill, as was seen in the movie "Pretty Woman" where Julia Roberts sent one of the slippery devils flying. You get a pincher utensil for grasping the shell and a tiny two pronged fork for prying out the meat and sauce. It felt a bit like dental surgery. Also provided was toast cut up into little strips, apparently so that you could poke it into the the shell to soak up the sauce. We decided it was just easier to pour the sauce out onto the plate and dip it from there.

After lunch, we went to the Marmotten museum which was one of two main museums (other than D'Orsay) which featured paintings by Claude Monet. It was a bit disappointing because I wanted to see his famous water lilies, but I guess that was in the other museum, L'Orangerie. They did have on display one of his most famous paintings and one of the first ones to be described as the "Impressionist" style. This was "Impression Soleil Levant" which from far away depicts some boats on the water as the sun rises. However when you step closer, you see that the entire painting is just a series of quick dabs of paint.

The other interesting display in the museum was a set of black and white photographs plus an old movie showing Monet in his beloved Giverny home which was the inspiration for all the water lily paintings.

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