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One of the new experiences on my to-do list for 2012 was go right to the top of the Eiffel Tower, I’ve stood at the bottom looking up on several occasions but have always wimped out.  I was in Paris last week and still have not been to the top of the Eiffel Tower, though I did stand underneath it.

This failure isn’t entirely my fault.  On Wednesday the top was closed and as they’d also closed three out of four of the lifts as well we’d have had to queue for an hour or so just to get the second floor (I damn well wasn’t using the stairs).  So we went to the Musée Marmottan instead which, all things considered, was a much, much more rewarding thing to do.

The Musée Marmottan is now one of my favourite museums in the world.  It’s a former hunting lodge and it’s full of Impressionist paintings, including the Monet of Le Havre which was called ‘Impression’ and gave its name to the movement.  The original part of the house is furnished and you wander through elegant rooms gawping at what’s hung on the walls, next to mirrors, above tables, in corners – wonderful things by Monet, Caillebotte, Pissaro, Renoir…  One or two of the rooms literally took my breath away.  And there’s an extension with the pictures that are too big to hang in a normal house, I have a feeling that as Monet got better known and could afford more paint and bigger canvases his horizons expanded, several of his waterlilies, the Japanese bridge at Giverny, landscapes.

Last, but not least, the Marmottan also has a great gift shop, (the Louvre didn’t even have an adequate range of postcards), full of inexpensive fun things to take back as small presents.  For instance I bought my husband a Monet pencil and Monet himself to rub out any mistakes.

We knew the top of the Eiffel Tower would be open on Thursday, our last day, so we headed back there.  I doubt we’d have had any problems with the queues on account of this:

The Tower is there,  behind the building on the right…

We decided to go to the Musée Rodin instead which turned out not to be a particularly good move.  We knew that most of the garden was closed as there was a big sign outside but didn’t realise until I’d bought our quite expensive entrance tickets that the Hotel Biron which has the majority of Rodin’s sculptures in it was also shut for renovation.  The temporary exhibition of Rodin’s drawings was not an adequate consolation prize.

Rodin’s sculptures thrill me to the core and I’d really wanted my daughter to see them and understand what I get so excited about.  I was in danger of becoming seriously grumpy until she bought me a present,saying that perhaps we could use it in book group meetings to aid intelligent discussion.  Le Penseur was one of the few things we actually managed to see.  In fact she’d seen enough to put going back to the Musée Rodin on the top of her list when she goes back to Paris (in equal place with going back to the Monet’s at the Muséé Marmottan).

And I didn’t get to see the Berthe Morrisot’s at the Musée Marmottan either, which we also on my to-see list, as they’d been closed off to prepare for an exhibition.  Three failures in a three day trip is quite some strike rate…but that’s what you get for going when (most) of the tourists aren’t there.  It was a fabulous stay though, full of super things, and the three misses have given us an excellent excuse to go back again.