Sur la Terre Battue

Sundays in France are frustrating – nothing is open!  I already knew that the French take their day of rest very seriously, but I didn’t expect even the supermarché to be fermé.  Nonetheless, it also happened to be the first Sunday of the month which means free admission to museums in Paris!  The only downside is the long lines that form outside the museums, so I limited myself to just the Musée d’Orsay and l’Orangerie.  To be honest though, I think my Wimbledon queue takes the cake…

After grabbing a couple croissants from a nearby boulangerie (god, I love how there are quality boulangeries everywhere), I hopped on the Metro to Tuileries and crossed the gardens and the Seine to reach the former railway station.  The museum didn’t open until 10 am, but by 9:30 the line had already snaked back and forth and spilled out onto the streets.

The delectable corner bakery.  Corner Bakery of Chicago - take note.

The delectable corner bakery. Corner Bakery of Chicago – take note.

Les Jardins Tuileries.

Le Jardin des Tuileries.

Le Musée d'Orsay.

Le Musée d’Orsay.

Locks on the bridge.

Locks on the bridge.

The line outside under the entrance canopy.

The line outside under the entrance canopy.  I just realized that guy in the lower left corner is wearing a Michigan shirt.  I also spotted a guy with a Blackhawks cap.

While the queue was long, it actually moved pretty quickly once the museum opened its doors.  By 10:30 I was inside.

Train station architecture.

Train station architecture.

A lion standing guard.

A lion standing guard.

Nice truss support...

Nice truss support…

As I mentioned before, the Musée d’Orsay was originally a train station that was to be demolished in the 1970s.  Thankfully some politicians had the bright idea of turning it into a museum that bridges the period between the collections housed at the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou.

The grand interior of the re-purposed train station.

The grand interior of the re-purposed train station.

A section model of the Palais Garnier.

A section model of the Palais Garnier.

I wonder where the supposed lake is underneath the concert hall...

I wonder where the supposed lake is underneath the concert hall…

There were a lot of interesting pieces of art by van Gogh, Monet, Seurat, Renoir, and others, but one exhibit I really liked featured furniture designed by Hector Guimard.  He designed the iconic entrances to the Paris Metro stations of which only two originals remain.  Such a pity that much of his work was actually destroyed and we’re left with just a shadow of his accomplishments.

A gigantic transparent clock.

A gigantic transparent clock.

Out on the roof terrace looking towards the Louvre.

Out on the roof terrace looking towards the Louvre.

As I didn’t want to deal with trying to find a restaurant that was open for lunch on a Sunday, I just ended up at the Café Campana in the museum and enjoyed a nice smoked salmon platter.

My smoked salmon platter.  Very light and refreshing.

My smoked salmon platter. Very light and refreshing.

Afterwards, it was off to the Musée de l’Orangerie just across the river.  It’s not a terribly big museum – it’s main purpose after all is to display eight of Monet’s Water Lilies – but they still had some good pieces in their basement exhibits.  Seeing Monet’s lilies under diffused light as he had intended was actually quite relaxing, especially after the hustle and bustle of the Musée d’Orsay.

With the two museums out of the way, I was faced with two possibilities: either go pick up my bag and check-in at the Park Hyatt before continuing exploring the city; or pay a visit to the hallowed ground of la terre battue, Roland Garros.  It was still early in the afternoon, so Roland Garros it was.

Paris should also be called the City of Bridges.

Paris should also be called the City of Bridges.

The obelisk at the Place de la Concorde.

The obelisk at the Place de la Concorde.

Looking down the world-famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

Looking down the world-famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

After a couple Metro transfers, I finally got off at the Porte d’Auteuil stop and started walking through the leafy neighborhood.  Without the streams of spectators normally seen when the French Open is held, it was hard to tell if I was going in the right direction.  But not to worry!  I finally came upon the unassuming entrance to the Stade Roland Garros.

Hmm...

Hmm…I was just at Wimbledon and I’ve been to Flushing Meadows.  Guess that leaves Melbourne!

One of the unassuming entrances to the Stade Roland Garros.

One of the unassuming entrances to the Stade Roland Garros.  Yes, I hopped over the metal barriers.

It was sort of odd being at a Grand Slam when the tournament is done.  The throngs of people you normally see on the TV screen are not present.  The entire site is eerily quiet and peaceful.  Perfect for me to explore the grounds.

The characteristic stairs

The characteristic stairs

Court no. 1 with the Place des Mousquetaires in the forefront.

Court no. 1 with the Place des Mousquetaires in the forefront.

One side of Court Phillippe-Chatrier, aka Court Centrale.

South side of Court Phillippe-Chatrier, aka Court Centrale.

Unfortunately Court Philippe-Chatrier was locked up, so I couldn't get into the stands.

Unfortunately Court Philippe-Chatrier was locked up, so I couldn’t get into the stands.

Looking down Allée Marcel Bernard towards Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Looking down Allée Marcel Bernard towards Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Court Suzanne-Lenglen was actually open, and I soon discovered that some people were playing doubles on the court!  How cool is that – you just bring a couple rackets and voila – you too can play on a Grand Slam stage.  After watching for a couple minutes, I noticed that the hallways beneath the stands were open, so I started wandering through them until I stumbled upon a little lounge that I imagine serves as the players lounge when play is in session.  I would have expected for it to be empty…except it was packed today with people!  As I entered the lounge and turned towards the TV screens, I suddenly realized that today was the Wimbledon men’s singles final, so it seemed particularly apropos for tennis fans to gather here (with their Perrier waters in hand) to watch Andy Murray become the first British winner of Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

Court Suzanne-Lenglen.  One day I'll come back to see the pros play.

Court Suzanne-Lenglen. One day I’ll come back to see the pros play.

My two loves in one illustration!

My two loves in one illustration!

I really like the orange and green color palette of the Roland Garros branding.

I really like the orange and green color palette of the Roland Garros branding.

Composition of la terre battue.

Composition of la terre battue.

I of course made a stop by the gift shop and got a nice clay-colored shirt – on sale too!  I really wanted to get a towel as well, but alas, I had absolutely no more room in my suitcase to stuff one more item.  Besides, I feel that I should get towels only when I’ve actually seen match play on the courts, effectively validating that I’ve been there during the tournament.

And so with Roland Garros goodies in hand, I headed back to the hotel to grab my stuff and prepare for my most opulent and luxurious digs for the next two nights – the Park Hyatt Place Vendome.

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