Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Louvre, the Seine, and the Eiffel Tower

October 3, 2010 (Sunday)

We were up around 10am and went down to the breakfast buffet. The automated espresso machine involved a packet and a button; I mostly made it work. For hot food there were scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, and baked beans. There were also some pastries, a few fruit options, yogurt, cereal and water with or without gas. Breakfast was included in our rate.

From Gare de Lyon we took Metro line 1 to the Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre stop. It took some finding, but we wandered through the mall past long lines, up, and outside to catch our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and the famous Louvre Pyramid, in search of Passage Richelieu (PR). PR is where we could skip the long lines into the Louvre using our Museum Passes. I asked an official and he pointed us to it.

As a side note, during the previous month there had been at least two threats to French monuments, so all through the trip – and here was the first place we observed it – we saw uniformed military carrying large automatic weapons, pacing the open square, eyeing the crowds.

We found the correct entrance and joined a line of about 5 people. We put our bags through the scanner and entered the Louvre immediately. This benefit alone makes the Paris Museum Pass worth purchasing.

We spent about four hours wandering through the three wings of the Louvre. First, we went to see the Mona Lisa, just like everyone else. But we saw other things too: Winged Victory, a medieval moat, large Egyptian pieces, Michelangelo’s Dying Slave, Cupid and Psyche, beautifully carved marble statues where the flesh looked real, intricately applied ceilings, many busts and paintings...

At some point we shared a chicken sandwich, chips, and a bottle of water from the museum café. From the Louvre we walked to Musée d’Orsay. Our passes allowed us to go in the group entrance, which was a slightly shorter line. At this point jet lag was beginning to catch up with us. The museum is in an old train station that has been renovated, a huge, beautiful building. We saw a Rodin, a Van Gogh self-portrait, Manet and Monet… I was most touched by the Van Gogh, full of blue chaotic swirls. Also, a painting – I forget the artist – of a large dinner party where the lights seemed to sparkle out of the paint.

My art preference is towards thickly applied paint on a canvas full of energy and implied movement.

We left and ate at a café overlooking the Seine. We sat on the sidewalk next to a lot of traffic and marveled at the brazenness of drivers. Along with beers, I ordered salmon bellinis which came with crème fraiche, dill, onion, and a lemon wedge. Jer had a croque monsieur. For dessert we shared crème brulee. All of it tasted excellent.

Spirits refreshed, we took the Metro out to the Eiffel Tower to watch the sunset. Neither of us felt the urge to climb to the top, so we contented ourselves with walking around the park. I was asked to take photos of many tourists with their cameras in front of the monument. I must not have looked like a potential camera thief with the D700 around my neck.

As the sky darkened, the tower lit up beautifully. We walked back to the Metro and rode to Gare d’Austerlitz. From there we walked back across the river to our hotel room and sleep.

1 comment:

Maya said...

Ahhh, Paree! Sounds like a great day. We get asked a lot by tourists for photos as well. I guess they think if you are carrying around a big camera, you must know what you are doing (and don't need to steal their little point and shoots). HA