Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Monday, 27 April 2009


I left a visit to the Orangerie till my last morning, since I knew it not only opened on Monday mornings, but also opened early. Cycling there (I've done all my trips on Vélib this weekend), I noticed an elderly man whose morning exercise appeared to be to trot slowly clockwise round the gilded statue of Joan of Arc in the middle of the rue des Pyramides opposite the Louvre.

The Orangerie has been closed for rebuilding throughout my most recent visits to Paris; it now contains a collection of late 19th and 20th century art (some gloopily sentimental Renoir portraits, but I like the Derains), but above all Monet's gigantic Nymphéas, two elliptical rooms, with massive panels based on the reflections of clouds, sky, light and nature in the pool at his home in Giverny, to create a sense of infinity. These he offered to the French nation as a celebration of peace at the end of World War I:

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