Now, I’m not a religious person, but I have gained an appreciation for the churches and chapels we’ve seen. I enjoy sitting in the back looking at the architecture, paintings, and detailing. I like the idea of this very quiet and personal space. And I have always liked way stained glass looks, but when it was the right time of day and the sun shone perfectly through the windows, it just became so much more special. The colors reflected on the painting and the floor were so vibrant in the dim space that I had to capture it. It almost felt out of place, but only in the completely right way. I had to stand there a minute to appreciate it.
When visiting places like The Palace of Versailles and the different châteaus it’s hard not to picture the individuals that once lived there simply just walking around. As you go from room to room you see all of the empty furniture and scuff marks on the walls and entry ways, indicating the presence of those who actually lived there lives in this space and among these objects. You get a feeling that you might not necessarily get from simply looking at a picture. A feeling of life and relevance and appreciation, and little bit of awe or, at Versailles especially, a lot of awe.
Looking at a picture of a marble staircase in a pamphlet or book probably won’t result in any sort of life altering experience, but walking down one is a completely different story. Walking down steps at Versailles and placing your feet where the marble has sunken in over years of wear, introduces the incredible possibilities of who could have stepped exactly where you have. It all seems so far away until something triggers the presence of something as simple as walking around. It makes you think about how much has happened and, as beautiful as it is, how little is actually left behind.
When we went to Giverny to see Claude Monet’s house and garden it only really hit me how cool it was when we saw the famous bridge over the water lilies. I kept hearing people around me talk about how walking over the bridge was ‘like being in one of his paintings.’ It brought me back to all of the paintings I saw at the Musée d’Orsay. I still couldn’t make sense of the fact that it was the same place. He managed to create so many different feelings and almost different worlds in all of the different paintings of the same place. It really is hard to wrap your head around the idea that he felt he needed to, as the guide told us, obsessively paint the water lilies over and over. He saw something different each time and I think that shows how he had an entirely different mind set than most.
Walking around his house, you could see all of the different paintings he had hanging up, representing all of these different perceptions of different artists. From people to colors to angles and expressions, it was like walking around with a special set of lenses. It reminded me why I value art so much, not that I forgot, but it just reinforced the feeling, I suppose. It made it all that much harder to accept the fact that some people just might not value art as much as it is actually worth. It reminds me of the quote from the movie Dead Poet’s Society in which Robin Williams’ character tells his class: “The human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” I think about that quote a lot.
Today we went to Le MAN and, for me, the highlights were the Piette room and our trip to the roof. After a slightly winding trek up to the private Piette room, we were all excited to finally go inside. It was a small room, but completely filled with glass cases of artifacts. The cases were tightly packed with artifacts such as La Dame de Brassempouy, bone and ivory spear heads and needles, and animal carvings. It wasn’t until walking around a little that I found the three separate cases of the painted pebbles lining the walls of the room. It was cool to know that the pebble we had at the Peabody at P.A. for so long would be going in one of these cases, back with the rest of the collection. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the room, but I took a picture of the cast of the La Dame de Brassempouy from earlier in the museum.
Later, we were taken to the roof of Le MAN, and it was absolutely beautiful. The view from the roof was incredible and French garden was stunning. The lines of perfectly shaped trees shading pathways next to the forest area looked calm, quiet and peaceful. I wish we had the opportunity to walk around it a little bit, but we had already seen so much and were on a tight schedule. The sight alone was amazing. The castle itself was beautiful as well. Through the intricate carvings and small details such as the locks on some of the doors, you could feel how special it was.