Sunday, June 7, 2009
Free things to do in Paris (once a month)
On the first Sunday of every month, many of the museums of Paris are open to the public for free ... what a great way to get a quick (or slow, if that's your fancy) hit of culture on the weekend.
So today we bundled ourselves out of doors beneath grey skies and wandered around The Marais for a bite of lunch followed by a taste of art and science.
As would be expected, we started with a L'as Du Fallafel ... bizarrely enough there wasn't a huge queue today, and they were as hot and yummy as always.
As we ate our vegetarian delicacy, we wandered slowly through the cordonned-off streets of The Marais up towards the Picasso Museum.
Every Sunday some of the central streets of many of the areas in Paris, such as The Marais, are blocked off to traffic so that pedestrians can freely wander the streets without fear of being run down. So we could eat our food and walk along the winding streets of the Marais only having to dodge the other people also walking around.
Musée Picasso houses a very interesting selection of the works created by Pablo Picasso, representing the projection of his career very well with many of the styles and mediums he worked with, including some of his more well known surrealist and cubist creations.
The building in which the Musée Picasso collection resides is a seventeenth-century hotel, the Hôtel Salé, built in 1656 and contains 203 paintings, 191 sculptures, 85 ceramics, and over 3000 drawings, engravings, and manuscripts in the museum. Even the building itself contained it's own majestic beauty.
We spent an hour or more wandering through these amazing creations. It is interesting to see just how many mediums Picasso worked in, including some pieces containing hessian cloth, or found objects, or sand sculptures, and just how many different ideas he had.
After that small taste of art culture we decided to wander up the road to the Musée des Arts et Métiers for a taste of science history.
I have been to this museum twice before, on previous visits to Paris, so the prospect of a free hour or two wandering through the museum with Elizabeth on a gently raining Sunday afternoon was a nice thought.
The Musée des Arts et Métiers resides in the old priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs on rue Réaumur in the 3rd arrondissement only a short walk north of The Marais.
The museum contains over 40,000 objects including an original version of Foucault's Pendulum.
But it also contains the earliest scientific tools such as astrolabes; numerous weights and measures; the evolution of computers (from the abacus to Cray supercomputers and on to the first IBM and Apple desktop computers and smaller models), the evolution of the science of transport (from bikes to cars to satellites and mars landers); a history of communications and construction and much, much more ... all very interesting.
Perhaps the science nerdiness got too much for Elizabeth towards the end, plus she had some work waiting for her back at the apartment, but we both (well, maybe especially me) had an enjoyable afternoon. It was a fun, and virtually free, way to spend an overcast day.