Our Paris Museum Pass allowed access to dozens of Parisian sights over the course of two days. And boy, did we see museums. We gazed at the Louvre’s Mona Lisa,, gawked at celebrated Van Goghs in the Orsay, followed rose-fringed paths in the Rodin gardens and discovered the serenity of Claude Monet’s waterlilly murals at the Musée de l’Orangerie.
They. Were. Stunning.
The rooms are literally a mecca for lovers of Impressionism. Like me.
The little Musée l’Orangerie near the Tuileries Gardens houses these lily masterpieces. Meaning “orange grove” in English, the Orangerie boasts art from beloved Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters, including Cézanne, Renoir, Picasso, Rousseau and Matisse. However, Monet’s murals are no doubt the monumental centerpiece, or the “Sistine Chapel of Impressionism” as they are often called.
Monet painted these panoramic Nymphéas, or Water Lilies, in his Japanese-style garden in Giverny. During the last 30 years of Monet’s life, the French Impressionist created almost 250 canvases of his lilies, and these eight panels, which reflect the glory found in nature, represent the pinnacle of his life’s work. Monet said the murals were meant to create “the refuge of a peaceful meditation in the center of a flowering aquarium.” And that they do.
Monet wanted the paintings to be displayed in a quiet space, a meditative shelter where Parisians could step away from the hubbub of bustling Paris. It’s the perfect space to sit for a moment to pause and reflect.
The lily murals are displayed in twin oval rooms with curved walls. Designed exactly to Monet’s specifications, the room’s features create a feeling of absolute immersion into the vibrant colors and subtle plays of light of the paintings. Viewers feel as if they too are floating amid the purples and blues of the pond, watching as violet shadows drift by and observing the fading sunlight create a show of crimson, orange and pinks.
It’s an ethereal experience and one not to miss during a visit to Paris.