The last time I was in Paris, I got lucky with the weather — think sun-dappled cobblestones and a magic hour that lasted for five, rather than the gray drizzle that tends to predominate in the city. Maybe that’s why I managed to avoid stepping foot into a single museum during my entire stay. Instead of enduring the tourist crush at the Louvre or the d’Orsay, I chose to people watch from my sidewalk perch at Café de Flore, sight-see on a Vélib and amble around happily in the Luxembourg Gardens. It was, in short, a week very well spent.
Now that I’m planning a return trip, I’m hoping to stick with this winning itinerary – with one notable exception. This past May, the Louvre unveiled a permanent installation by Cy Twombly in its Salle des Bronzes gallery. The ceiling mural covers more than 3,700-square-feet, and, judging from the photos, bears little resemblance to the Twombly you studied in college art history. The sky-blue ceiling with its golden orbs and Hellenic lettering veer toward the classical, although its overall effect is much more streamlined than, say, the Renaissance frescoes that adorn the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel.
Twombly, the first American artist to leave a permanent mark on the famous museum, was also named a knight of the Legion of Honor by the French Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand this past spring, who said the ceiling reminded him of “the sea, allied with the sun.” Indeed. I’m looking forward to another week of basking under the blue skies and sunshine of Paris — even if it means venturing indoors this time around.