It pays to be a friend!

(Friday afternoon) 

It's less than an hour until my father-in-law's train pulls into Gare de Lyon and I'm in a panic. It's not that the apartment is a mess or that we don't have any food, it's that the elevator is broken. Climbing the stairs to reach our fifth floor apartment is going to be a real challenge for Werner and his friend, especially after ...

Cue ringing sound of an incoming call on Skype followed by my son's voice as he excitedly reveals the news that his girlfriend has booked her plane ticket to come to Paris for the very first time in December. Put unfinished blog post aside for another day.

(Another day, aka Monday morning)

We made it! That's the first thought that came to mind as I watched the almost unrecognizable golden globe of the sun peeping over the horizon this morning. The elevator is still broken, which meant many slow treks up and down the spiral staircase interspersed with huffing, puffing and jokes about heart attacks, but the torrential downpour has finally stopped. Thank goodness because the rain proved to be as much, if not more, of a challenge for my 81 year old father-in-law and Mercedes than the stairs.

The good news is that we could bypass the long lines of people huddling under their umbrellas in front of the Musée d'Orsay on Saturday afternoon because I'm a friend, "une amie", of the museum. In fact, some of my best friends in Paris are museums, or at least that's what you would think if you opened my wallet because it's stuffed full of cards for the Louvre, Versailles, Musées des Arts Décoratifs and Vaux le Vicomte.

All that it took for the Musée d'Orsay to call me its friend was a completed application form and €58*. In return, an invitee of my choice and I have unlimited access through a reserved entrance for the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions for an entire year. Additionally, I receive reduced rates on guided tours and concerts and discounts in the gift shop and restaurants. If you're under 35, a solo card is €25 and a duo membership is €40. Since many museum memberships are tax deductible, there's a good chance that you'll actually end up saving money. Just be sure to keep your receipts!

Stephane and I will definitely return to the "Impressionism and Fashion" exhibition a couple of more times before it travels to the United States in 2013. Not only is there too much to absorb during one visit to this fascinating exhibition curated jointly by the Musée d'Orsay, Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Art Institute of Chicago, but it's also a unique opportunity to see Gustave Caillebotte's "A Rainy Day" and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s "Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children" while these paintings are exceptionally in Paris. As regular admission to the museum and the exhibition is €12, or €24 for two, we're almost halfway to recovering our initial costs.

*My "Carte Blanche Duo" was €58 rather than €70 because of a partner reduction since I'm also a friend of the Louvre.

Gustave Caillebotte's "A Rainy Day". The Art Institute of Chicago.


  1. Oh!!!!!! I understand the huffing and puffing!!! We were only on the 4 th not the 6th this year.....what a relief...
    We Just arrived home Saturday after a wonderful week staying near rue cler....on rue de grenelle....
    The absolute highlight of this trip was the "Impressionism and Fashion " at the musee d'Orsey ........It was just over the moon...I really don't think I have ever seen any exhibit I loved as much as this!!! I will never forget it!!
    I am so Paris sick already...I could just get right back on the plane!
    Thank you so much for doing this blog it allows me to feel a bit of my love of Paris through your posts!!!

  2. Great post, MK.
    The primary reason that I did not rent again on my last 2 visits to Paris was the elevator issue. I was on the 6th floor of a wonderfully historic building on the Ile St Louis. The elevator was out of service for more than 1/2 of my stay. I cannot imagine my parents, close in age to your visitors' managing to climb them.....
    Happy to hear that Paris (sunshine) is smiling again. Word must have gotten out that I am planning a return in the Spring!

  3. Mary Kay, the Caillebotte is one of my favorite paintings, and I didn't know that it had left Chicago--it's very prominently displayed in the museum here, so I'll have to hurry over to see what's replaced it. The painting is interesting on so many levels, the least of which is not the presence of umbrellas. Do you think these were rented umbrellas? Probably not, as Caillebotte was painting the new bourgeoisie and they would have owned umbrellas. I also love that he painted a street scene, Paris streets even in the rain are so evocative and the fashions of the day are almost back again. Yes, go see this show again.

    Also, I love the card for Versailles, so beautiful. It reminds me of one of my Hermes scarves from the early 90s, a great sun on a dark blue field.

  4. Now I know why I have so few friends in Paris. This explains so much. How much is an MK abonnement?

  5. I definitely agree. We had a pass for the Louvre one year and would "duck in" whenever we went past. We spent the whole year just looking at the architecture, I might add. We didn't even get to the paintings!
    My husband says that you only puff walking up four (or five) flights of steps if you don't no how to breathe properly! I've learnt to give guests time to recover when they get to the top of my four flights. But as you know, the view's worth it!
    When I'm back in Paris, I'd love to visit the Orsay museum with you. I haven't been there since the renovations, I am embarrased to admit.

  6. These passes really are convenient. Seb's step-grandmother worked at the Louvre for 40 years and part of her retirement was being a "friend" (+ guest) of every museum in Paris. It was great cutting the lines every time she flashed her fancy card! I felt like I was "with the band" !

    Congrats on your new membership. I look forward to reading many posts about your D'Orsay adventures!

  7. We could do with an art museum in Boussac ...

  8. Dearest; I'm absent on your blog because I'm enjoying (have enjoyed) a full week+ in Switzerland - on a choral week with mostly lovely weather (apart from some snow last Monday) - I couldn't read your othe posts but surely shall catch up soon.... Saw quickly your '!' post re deleted photos and wd be v interested to read about the details of 'your move to your own domain'.... just in case I ever start my own blog!!!!
    This is terrific news for someone living actually intra muros Paris :) I would LOVE to have a friend's pass but could never make proper use of it. BUT it's a wonderful post for all those who are interested in the Musee d'Orsay and who (like me) didn't know about this. The MdO is in mho the bestest ever and I surely wd love to visit this present show on Impressionism and Fashion - I was intruiged since the putting up of the posters.

    I also know a bit about huffing and puffing stairs; Hero Husband has here in Switzie a company flat with 56 stairs - one learns to thing twice before leaving the flat!!!

    Much love and talk soon


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