Friday, April 08, 2022

Art, Napoleon, and Disneyland Paris

For breakfast I had some of the candied oranges we bought at that fun school themed store yesterday.

Our first move of the day was a visit to the artsy Musée d'Orsay, which sits just on the other side of the Seine from the fun times we had at the Louvre yesterday.

Upon entering we were greeted by a baby Statue of Liberty.

Liberty by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi

A gift from the Third French Republic for the 100th anniversary of American Independence in 1876, Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi's statue of Liberty has become one of the iconic figures of the 19th century French sculpture. This colossal sculpture, a republican memorial celebrating Franco-American friendship, was the result of the commitment and tenacity of Edouard Lefebvre de Laboulaye, a former opponent of the Second Empire, and Bartholdi, the ambitious and talented official sculptor. The sculptor chose a classical iconography, drawn from Graeco-Roman Antiquity and from European Neo-Classicism. Bartholdi therefore put forward a serene yet powerful image of the shared values of the two republics on either side of the Atlantic, in a western world that was almost entirely ruled by monarchs. The inauguration of this colossus, whose metal structure was designed by Gustave Eiffel, was held in New York Harbour on 28 October 1886. This smaller copy was acquired by the French State during the artist's lifetime, in September 1900, for the Musee du Luxembourg.

I recognized this little lady as there is another cast of her in the prestigious Saint Louis Art Museum.

Little Dancer Aged Fourteen also known as Great dressed dancer
1818-1881 (first wax copy); between 1921 and 1931 (casting of bronze)

Patinated bronze, tutu in tulle, satin ribbon, wooden base

The Little Dancer was the only sculpture by Degas exhibited during his lifetime. The earliest wax version caused a furore at the Impressionist Exhibition in 1881. Degas pushed the illusion of realism to new heights by incorporating textiles in his work (a bodice, tutu, ballet shoes and ribbons) as well as real hair. Critics also condemned the sickly features of this teenager who is not depicted executing a graceful dance step, but stretching to relieve her aching back and shoulders. Because the Opera tolerated liaisons between ballerinas and their "protectors" on the premises, attempts were made to discern animal traits in her features suggesting an inclination towards prostitution.

Claude Monet
La Rue Montorgueil, fête du 30 juin 1878

Impressionism is so much fun, and I also have a fascination with this time period in French history, so this was a really fun exhibit for me.

In a Cafe also known as Absinthe
Between 1875 and 1876
Oil on canvas

For this cafe scene, Degas asked his friends the actress Ellen Andree and the engraver Marcellin Desboutin to pose for him. He depicts them as two individuals lost in their own private worlds and destroyed by absinthe, the fashionable 19th century "green fairy" spirit whose devastating effects are described by Emile Zola in his novel L'Assommoir. The enigmatic nature of the scene is accentuated by the fact that the tables appear to be floating above the floor.

Entrance to the Port of La Rochelle

Dance at the Moulin de la Galette

We stopped for a bite at the Café Campana inside the museum.

It was an unscheduled stop but my attention was grabbed by the giant clock.

We had our Disney gear on in preparation for our next adventure.

The hot chocolates were looking good with a massive amount of whip cream on top.

I like quiche! I went for the Quiche Lorraine which had big chunks of bacon in it.

Having just been to the Moulin Rouge last night, any reference to it in these fun impressionist pieces was like excitement overload.

Jane Avril Dancing
Thinned oil paint on cardboard

Jane Avril, a friend of the painter, was a cancan dancer who made her name in the Moulin Rouge cabaret. Toulouse-Lautrec was drawn to her unusual appearance: a frail but energetic silhouette, and an air of distinction which was visible even in the wild and unrestrained dance in which she lifted her skirts to reveal the contortions of her legs. With great economy of style, he paints the dancer's movements with broad brushstrokes and sketches in a few elements of the performance space. The fluidity of thinned oil paint accentuates the dynamism of the figure, who stands out against a background through which the cardboard support is visible.

The Chat Noir cabaret

In Montmartre in 1881, Rodolphe Salis opened a cabaret "dedicated to the Muses and to joy, under the auspices of the Chat Noir", where artists, musicians and singers gathered. The painter Henri Riviere created a shadow theatre there, thus adding the role of a performance space to the various activities of the venue which included a cabaret, an exhibition area, and the offices of the magazine of the same name.

The basic technique of projecting shadows behind a screen quickly became a full show with scripts, music, and sophisticated visual effects which could require up to ten stagehands. The illusion of perspective was achieved using staggered zinc silhouettes and coloured skies composed of layered painted glass sheets.

The eclectic shows inspired cabaret songs such as Les Oies de Javotte (Javotte's Geese), by Henri Pille, and religious, magical, literary and historical subjects such as L'Epopee (The Epic) by illustrator Caran d,Ache, which recounts the victories of Napoleon.

The Chat Noir shadow theatre was so successful that it went on tour in 1896. It became the quintessential image of late 19th century Montmartre life.

I never got tired of seeing the Eiffel Tower. I'm still a little salty that we weren't able to check out the observation deck, though.

The Hôtel des Invalides was ordered built in 1670 as a home and hospital for elderly and disabled soldiers. Now it's a military museum along with some tombs of notable soldiers.

I thought the addition of Japanese armor was fun. I don't like to brag but I'm something of a samurai myself.

Napoleon's tomb was something to behold.

Really the whole Napoleon family seemed to get in on the fun. It's like a Napoleon slumber party in this place. This is Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte.

"Sébastien le Prestre, Marquis de Vauban was a French military engineer who worked under Louis XIV. He is generally considered the greatest engineer of his time, and one of the most important in European military history."

This guy's tomb was so baller I assumed he'd 
"When Napoleon I tried to abdicate on 4 April 1814, he said that his son would rule as emperor. However, the coalition victors refused to acknowledge his son as successor, and Napoleon I was forced to abdicate unconditionally some days later. Although Napoleon II never actually ruled France, he was briefly the titular Emperor of the French after the second fall of his father. He lived most of his life in Vienna and died of tuberculosis at the age of 21."

We went back to the hotel to pick up our bags and bounce. They had fantastic complimentary candy in the lobby.

Disneyland Paris

I never got to stay in Disney hotels when I was a kid, so I think I may be making up for past trauma by staying in the official hotels any chance I get. In the Paris version they were definitely different. At Hotel Cheyenne for example it seemed to be a former just generic cowboy hotel that they slapped some Woody decorations on after the fact. The other hotels I saw seemed to be the same.

Today we started at Walt Disney Studios Park, one of two parks on the Disneyland Paris campus. They used to call the overarching campus Euro Disney Resort which I think is kind of cool.

This was a fun little tidbit:

Michael Eisner noted, "As Americans, the word 'Euro' is believed to mean glamorous or exciting. For Europeans it turned out to be a term they associated with business, currency, and commerce. Renaming the park 'Disneyland Paris' was a way of identifying it with one of the most romantic and exciting cities in the world."

It... started raining.

We had very slow start. The first ride we tried was Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop in Toy Story Playland. I know this ride might not seem to be super exciting but I remembered this one only exists in Paris. It did not go well. Some idiot left their book bag behind after riding, and staff called it in to security I assume as like a bomb threat at an airport. It was extra stupid though because they didn't evacuate us away from the threat. We just stood there looking at the bag, unable to ride the ride. If it had been a bomb we would still have been dead. It was all very very stupid.

We got to ride it eventually, but then the issue was there was water in the seats. I had a cold wet butt that wouldn't dry the rest of the day.

I was extra excited about the Ratatouille area because it's French and I figured they'd do something special with it. I guess this was the first Rat zone and it was so popular that they also added it to the French zone of Epcot, which I suppose is acceptable.

Remy's Ratatouille Adventure also known as Ratatouille: L'Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy was a trackless dark ride that had a 3D glasses element as well.

It was very fun.

The ride's cars were these giant rats.

There was also a Ratatouille-themed restaurant called Bistrot Chez Rémy. I haven't seen a reference to this place being at other parks so it might be a Frenchy exclusive.

Obviously we had a reservation for said restaurant.

The host explained that when we crossed this line that we were being shrunk and our surroundings would now be huge. I thought that was a nice little touch.

It is the park's 30th anniversary so there were special menus at various food establishments.

The food at most of the park has a reputation for not being good. This place was an exception.

Trying to find alcohol at the American Disney parks can be an illicit feeling hunt for speakeasies. Here there was a giant booze menu.

I splurged on a bottle of Bordeaux.

Cuvee Bistrot Chez Remy
Fleur de Roc
Saint-Emilion AOC
Imagined and elaborated by Cheval Quancard for Disneyland Paris.

For food I had the herby roast chicken, potatoes with onion. The little dish with the tomato in it is actual ratatouille.

The giant stuff theming was so fun at this restaurant.

I was obsessed with the champagne cork furniture everywhere.

We next experienced the horror of the Tower of Terror. I believe I liked this ride so much that I had a tshirt back in the day. So I've been distraught to learn that some of them are being turned into poopy Avengers rides. Yuck. 

I believe the place has a different story than the American versions... though it was in French so I had no idea what was going on. The terror definitely translated, though.

At one point the rain turned into legit snow. While this definitely sucked, it had the added bonus of chasing like every human out of the park so we now had the run of the place.

We then switched over to Disneyland Park.

I was on the lookout for a Disney Paris exclusive shirt of some kind but I never did find one I liked.

The castle was another unique part of the Paris park.

"Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland was inspired by the Neuschwanstein Castle in Southern Germany. This European influence was fine for building a castle in Anaheim, but the fact that castles exist just down the road from Disneyland Paris challenged us to think twice about our design." —Tony Baxter, executive designer Walt Disney Imagineering

Snow White sounded so sophisticated as Blanche Neige et les Sept Nains: L'Attraction.

Did a lil Pinocchio.

Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

Much like my thoughts about the hotels here, the park just slapped a Star Wars theme on the old Space Mountain ride.

It looked especially bad because their ride was built to be very steampunk, based on Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon.

A very odd choice.

The outside of the ride is super cool because it's like a cannon that shoots you to the moon.

Star Tours – The Adventures Continue

Oh! The Haunted Mansion?

No! Here it's the Phantom Manor and it's western themed. The Wikipedia entry on this one is so well done that I went down into the nerd rabbit hole for a while. One fun fact is that some of the narration for the ride was recorded by St. Louis native spooky man Vincent Price.

The weather actually calmed down a bit but everyone had already gone home.

We got a private tour of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Apparently there's a champagne cart that appears somewhere around here when it's light show time. That would have been amusing.

"The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893

From 1st May to 31st October 1893, Chicago and its splendid Columbian Exposition - celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America - played host to over 27 million visitors, nearly one quarter of the country's population. The Fair was immensely popular and was touted as being the greatest cultural and entertainment event in the history of the world. The star attraction of the event was The Ferris Wheel, built to rival the star attraction of the 1889 Paris exhibition, the Eiffel Tower.

The Ferris Wheel was designed and built by George W. G. Ferris, a civil engineer and bridge builder whose company tested steel for use in bridges and railroads. Inspired by the challenge to produce an engineering feat to rival the Eiffel Tower, he designed a giant wheel that would carry people 264 feet into the air. Nicknamed "The Man With Wheels in his Head", he raised $355,000 needed to build his marvel and installed it on the Midway at the Chicago World's Fair. It had 36 wooden carriages each holding 60 people and a ride cost 50 cents. It made over $750,000."

It was closing but I couldn't resist poking my head into Planet Hollywood on our walk back to the hotel for nostalgia's sake.

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