One of the nicest moments I have had in Paris was the time I decided to take the kids to Rodin’s Garden. It’s part of Auguste Rodin’s Museum, which is in the 7th arrondissement and very close to Les Invalides, so it was barely a 10 minute walk. (And a beautiful one at that,” to go for a walk” or “se promener” en francais, because that’s what you do in a beautiful country.) I wore my black cap to hide my white hairs (which upon retrospect, projected me as a foreigner, because Parisians do not wear hats) and at the entrance, told the security guards that we only wanted to visit the Garden. Well, the next thing I know, we are in a new line and let into the Garden, FOR FREE!! Now, kids are free for a lot of attractions in Paris (I love Paris for that) and I should have paid 1 measly Euro to get into the Garden but you only get in for free if you are under 26 years old. So you can’t believe how much that mistake made my day…!!
I visited the Garden 8 years ago when I first visited Paris. It is an underrated attraction that is great for many reasons: 1] your kids can run around in the 3 hectare space; 2] you can still see Rodin’s sculptures (including ‘The Thinker’) in the lovely landscape of the Garden; 3] it’s dirt cheap. So you can get your culture with your kids for almost nothing. It is a great escape from the “busyness” of Paris.
When you first enter The Garden, on your right in the midst of rose gardens and topiary is ‘The Thinker,‘ atop a marble pedestal with the Eglise du Dome (the church housing Napoleon’s tomb) gleaming behind him against the sky. It is a remarkable sight and one I couldn’t capture with my simple camera. Because the bronze sculpture is elevated, my kids could not appreciate the detail of The Thinker. He is larger-than-life, and from below, you look up to see his pained expression which is exemplified through his taut, sinewy body. It was originally named ‘The Poet.’ It should have been called ‘The Parent.’ I can totally identify with that feeling after a long day with the kiddos…
Many of Rodin’s works are scattered throughout The Garden, with a grove of trees, ornamental pools and a quaint cafe. There are also contemporary exhibitions; this is how I learned the term, “zizi” which turns out to be French slang for the male anatomy. (I have yet to incorporate it into my daily vocab.) The sculpture looked like a giant wave of twisted metal. [Go to http://www.musee-rodin.fr/welcome.htm and click on ‘calender’ on the left, then ‘juillet 2011’ on the timeline. Then click on the photo labeled ‘Lecture Tour’ to see it.] Woefully, I missed the Star Trek video installation in the Museum. [Go back to the website, to the timeline to read about it.] I think one is trying to draw parallels between Rodin’s works involving love (‘The Kiss,’ for example) and the seduction of the ladies by Captain James T. Kirk. I don’t know who’s in charge of the exhibitions (it’s part of ‘Rodin and the Ambassadors’ in which other art work is introduced for comparison and influence) but that person is either getting an extra something on the side, or he/she is a Trekkie fan.
“…PARIS–THE FINAL FRONTIER…”
(Insert here, crazy theme song from TV Star Trek: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdjL8WXjlGI&feature=related