We’re huge fans of Impressionism, so we knew we were going to fall in love with this at first sight. But even if you’re not that much into art, you’re bound to love this. The building itself, formerly used as a railway station, will take your breath away from the moment you walk in. Think vast bright spaces with plenty of natural light and a highly ornate domed glass ceiling. Clever renovations introduced some stark stone surfaces, which provide the perfect contrast for the opulence of the many original features that have been beautifully preserved and restored to the height of their glamour.
The museum is currently undergoing further renovations, which means that many of the paintings are currently on loan to other exhibitions/galleries, however the remaining collection is more than sufficient to impress even the most discerning art lover. Expect to find an imposing sculpture collection, as well as various paintings by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Pissaro, Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, Degas, Matisse and many others. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the museum, so you will just have to visit this yourself to experience it.
If you need to replenish your energy levels amidst all the art browsing, you’re well catered for. Cafe du lion is located on the ground floor and perfect for those who only want a quick casual snack/lunch. We didn’t sample any of their food because we wanted to try the restaurant instead, but we noticed that it offers an excellent selection of salads, sandwiches, baguettes, pastries and cakes, accompanied by the usual cafe style drinks (coffee, tea, juices and soft drinks), as well as wine.
For a wonderful dining experience within the museum itself, make sure you allow some time for lunch at the restaurant, located on the 2nd floor. The decor is truly exquisite, service is polite and quick, and the food an excellent sample of French cuisine. In a previous life, this restaurant opened in 1900 and catered for the guests of Hotel d’Orsay. Today it still maintains its breathtaking decor, with wonderful chandeliers and beautifully painted and gilded ceilings.
For lunch, Mummy had the plat du jour, which today was grilled perch. The fish came accompanied by bulgur, which had been steamed and mixed with tiny flecks of grated carrot and tomato, a wedge of carrot pain d’epices and a light pumpkin emulsion. The individual flavours were very delicate, but they combined beautifully into a wonderful dish that managed to be very light and flavoursome at the same time.
Daddy opted for a composed salad with mesclun, warmed goats cheese, Prosciutto and hazelnuts. Says Daddy: “It was a perfect light salad, well presented, not smothered in cheese or dressing”.
We didn’t really need dessert, but we couldn’t stay away from the creme brûlée 🙂 Jill Dupleix once quoted a reference to the first 500 creme brûlée’s being rather exquisite, after which they become rather boring. We still haven’t hit that 500 mark yet, so we’re still in love with this wonderful dessert and willing to try it anywhere that promises to do a worthwhile rendition. Today’s version certainly didn’t disappoint: it was perfectly smooth and creamy, with the slightly bitter caramel crust offering the perfect contrast to the rich custard. The Armagnac prunes hidden under the custard added a whole new dimension to the dish and complemented the custard and caramel flavours very well – unfortunately, Daddy found the whole combination too rich though.
Daddy’s dessert consisted of a fruit salad: small chunks of fresh pineapple, honeydew, watermelon and a few grapes, in a light vanilla-flavoured syrup. This was light and perfectly refreshing.
And now for the most important question: would Chef Gerald approve of this? We certainly hope he would, and Mummy is sure he would have gladly shared our lunch today.
Unfortunately, portable technology limitations mean that we cannot share the photos with you today, but please stay tuned for these when we return home next week.