Not Martha

My Vacation Slides: Paris Day 4, dogs in paintings, startlingly large arches and towers

Today we went to see this:

the Eiffel Tower, lit in front of a not dark yet sky

But first we had coffee in the apartment. Here is Scott in the morning, in Paris (I still find it exciting):

Scott with a coffee cup, Paris apartments seen through the window behind him

Then we were off with our handy museum passes to the Louvre. We came up through the Metro stop to find ourselves in an underground shopping mall. Turns out, one of the ways into the main lobby of the Louvre is through the mall. The downward facing pyramid is just outside the Apple store:

the downward pyramid at the Louvre entrance, Apple store just behind

At the museum I headed straight to the section for Georges de La Tour. In college one of my art history assignments was to go stare at The Fortune Teller for at least twenty minutes and then report on what was going on in the painting. It was fun to discover all the eye lines and triangular arrangements on my own. When I see that painting now it’s pretty obvious that the guy is having his pocket picked, but at that time I wouldn’t have known to look at a painting that closely, or even that (what I still considered boring old) artwork would have such exciting stories inside them.

We got to see the candlelight through the fingers effect up close:

candlelight peeking through the fingers of a child, detail of the painting

And examine The Cheat:

de La Tour's The Cheat

And find out the de La Tour wasn’t such a nice guy:

The life of Georges de La Tour is still a mystery but what has been discovered exposes a grasping, violent, unlikeable character, scarcely resembling the deep and moving humanity of his paintings.

We finished walking around that wing taking note of all the dogs in paintings:

dosg in paintings amuse us

Nicole of Immortal Dog (whom we bumped into two days previous to this one) will be doing some reports of dogs in the paintings there, I’m looking forward to learning more about them.

Afterward we did the basics. The Venus de Milo:

the Venus di Milo, from the back

People were crowded around so we went around to the back. Scott wanted me to get a picture of her plumber’s butt, I complied.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace is huge and impressive

The Winged Victory of Samothrace statue was huge (much larger than it looks here), and really lovely. Nearby they have a sketch of what it would look like with a head and arms. I think I like the broken version far better.

Then up and down and around a few staircases and down a long hallway to see th Mona Lisa. This is as good a shot as I got:

a blurry Mona Lisa as seen over the heads of the crowd surrounding it

It was both smaller and larger than we expected after hearing the reports from lots of people. And of course the effect of getting to see it in person was ruined a bit by the crush of people and the poor museum employee whose job it was to sternly tell people to turn off the flash on their cameras.

After this we were suddenly hangry and headed back to the lobby to get the nearest cookie into me. Later we were told there is a little cafe just on the other side of the wall from the Mona Lisa. Good to know, it was a long way back to the lobby.

As one might expect eating in the museums was less than inspiring, but we fell into the trap of letting ourselves get over tired and hungry. It was very easy to do this and I encourage you to stop and eat every, oh say, two hours no matter if you’re in a museum or wandering through the streets. By the time we were a little bit past a mealtime we were often far from the apartment and at that sugar-low point that mean one of us was cranky, one was hyper, one was apathetic, one had blisters and none of us could make a decision on what to do next. The answer, every single time, is: find the nearest cafe and order the nearest wine. Or preferably preempt the situation altogether with frequent preemptive wine and snacks.

stading beneath the arc, looking straight up

After eating our emergency museum lobby lunch we headed to see the Arc de Triomphe. There is a walkway that takes you down below the street level and back up to the outside of the arc. Even if you have no intention of tackling the stairs it is worth going out to see it up close. It wasn’t too expensive to head up inside, but it was a lot of stairs:

spiral stairs heading up into the arc

We made a few “Look kids, it’s Big Ben” jokes watching the traffic below.

a traffic jam in the circle around the arc

The interior of the arc has a few floors with displays, restrooms, a small gift shop, and some benches where you can sit and whine about the stairs.

There is also this screen showing the live feed of the people standing just below you. That medallion in the ground is where I’d been standing to take the picture upwards that is above. Little did I know I was taking a picture of a camera that was taking a picture of me.

screen showing a live feed of the people on the ground below the spot we were standing

From on top you can walk around and see in all directions. We tried to get a picture of ourselves with the Eiffel Tower in the background and failed to do so several times:

windy pictures of us not capturing the Eiffel Tower just behind us

I loved the stairs so darn much I took a picture of them on the way down too:

sprial stairs headed down

The weather was behaving itself for the most part so we headed to the Eiffel Tower. Eiffel Tower!

look up at the Eiffel Tower

You wait in line to get tickets, it wasn’t too bad on the day we were there but the uppermost floors were closed. Which was ok because the Eiffel Tower? So much larger than we thought. Huge. No pictures do it justice. The upper floor must be terrifying. (I desperately want to go up to it!)

the sky as seen from standing underneath the massive Eiffel Tower

I think you can walk up stairs to the first floor for free. Or you can buy tickets that will take you to the second floor, where there are the usual restrooms, gift shops and benches. We saw a rainbow:

standing on the second floor of the tower, looking out towards the city, a rainbow in the distance

There were some areas closed for construction and graffiti in all languages was scrawled onto it.

graffiti on a temporary wall saying 'Jimmy McLucas was h'

I suspect Jimmy McLucas was… caught by his parents writing on the wall.

view from a moving sidewalk in the Metro

We wandered around in the dark/wind/rain looking for a Metro stop (this is one of those moments when we turned on the Data Roaming, for some reason the Lonely Planet app was only giving us a vague idea of where we were).

yummy falafel

Then we were tired so got falafel from the places near the apartment for dinner. It was yummy. The most well known of the falafel places is L’As du Falafel, but in Clotilde’s book she mentions that the other places nearby (all within a block, one just across the narrow street) are equally good. At L’As du Falafel you can sit inside or get food from the window. From our apartment we often saw people eating falafel or crepes while walking past.

The stuff I learned the hard way

Avoiding fatigue: Eat often! Drink lots! Sit down for a while! There are cafes everywhere, stop in them and get a coffee or glass of wine. We spent far too much time hungry, cranky and indecisive. As I said above the answer, every single time, is: find the nearest cafe and order the nearest wine.

Avoiding blisters: Somehow I didn’t end up with blisters on this trip. I wore my boots every day except for one (the one you’re looking at, in fact). I did notice my toes were the part that seemed the most tender and each day covered them with the sticky part of a cloth band aid to ease the friction there. Strange maybe, but it worked. Maggi did get blisters (poor Maggi!) and found special blister pads at a pharmacy that she reports worked well. (The boots were excellent and I never got cold or wet feet. They felt very lightweight worn just after the other pair of walking shoes I brought.)

The nearest Metro stop to the Eiffel Tower is towards the river and on your left. It’s the Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel stop. It’s actually for the RER C, yellow line. If you head the other direction while leaving the Eiffel Tower and walk out to the park then sort of follow a Metro sign and it starts raining and gets dark and windy and you’re hungry and didn’t take your own “wine often” advice to heart you will end up walking blocks that seem endlessly long to find the next stop.

Previously: Day One arrival and beating jet lag; Day Two big impressive monuments, unexpected meetings, needing to pee; Day Three The Metro, a museum, and French onion soup

Next up: Day Five pastries and scoldings

· comments [27] · 03-5-2010 · categories:travel ·

27 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gwen // Mar 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Your blister solution doesn’t seem strange to me — ballet dancers wrap their toes with cloth first aid tape to avoid blisters. Sometimes I’ll also tape the back of my heel when breaking in shoes.

  • 2 Jessica // Mar 5, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    I’ve done the band-aid blister avoidance thing! Me and my cousin go through packs of it on trips where we wear uncomfortable shoes, or where we do lots of walking (or, as usual, both!).

    I love the photos of the spiral staircase (downwards) but I think I love the falafel photo the best! It’s yummy yet personal. :)

  • 3 mari // Mar 5, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    so enjoying your travel posts! totally brings back memories of our trip to Paris 7 years ago. i have a 2 week old newborn and I love reading your posts while nursing in the middle of the night on my ipod touch. thank you!

  • 4 Sara L. // Mar 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    God, I loved the Louvre so much. You are right about that Winged Victory, so gorgeous and dramatic. I just hated how it seemed like every other person there was making a bee line for the Mona Lisa, and totally missing all of the other amazing artwork on the way. There is another Davinci I couldn’t stop looking at, a portrait of a young man, all in golds. Beautiful!

    Aww, poor Jimmy McLucas. Hope he didn’t get in too much trouble.

  • 5 carol // Mar 5, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    a rainbow from the eiffel tower!! wowie! love your eiffel tower shots…i want to go to paris too….

  • 6 Diana // Mar 5, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    i managed to get a terrible blister on the second day of a two week trip to ireland. my uncle knew just the thing to take care of my feet, he pulled a flattened roll of duct tape out of his bag and i put a piece on my heel. the duct tape doesn’t move once it’s on your skin and gives your shoe a place to happily rub away. the rest of the trip was awesome. so there you have it, duct tape saves the day again!

  • 7 kate // Mar 5, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    This is taking me back to my visits to Paris as well and really making me want to go again, this time with a French-speaking husband (tres helpful!) and my two little girls.

    I LOVE the way you’re reliving your days for us. I can smell the sidewalks and taste the wine! Thank you!!

  • 8 Sarah // Mar 5, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    I had to laugh at your comment about stopping to eat, and how everyone has their own mood about being hungry. Sometimes I am so crabby around dinner time my boyfriend is like “GET THIS WOMAN A CHEESEBURGER, STAT.”

    Thanks for all the trip notes…I want to travel internationally so badly! :)

  • 9 Maggie // Mar 6, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Your rainbow photo is so beautiful !!

    Glad you’re enjoying Paris. I’ve been here 5 weeks and am in love myself. :)

    Haven in Paris

  • 10 Jessica // Mar 6, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Isn’t it amazing how much wandering around museums takes the spunk out of you?! My boyfriend and I went to St. Louis last summer and spent hours in their art museum and I was so hungry and cranky midway through!

    Thank you for sharing your photos and experiences. I love reading about your adventure!

  • 11 Anna // Mar 6, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Oh, I have been LOVING your Paris updates – they are brilliant and have me scouring the internet for cheap tickets to Paris right now.

  • 12 tracy // Mar 6, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I’ve been enjoying this series SOOOO much. It’s like I went on the trip with you….god i wish! Thanks for sharing :)

  • 13 Susan // Mar 6, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Love that you talk about the dogs in the paintings. We always look for dogs. It’s always surprising how many ‘fine art’ paintings have dogs tucked in here and there.

  • 14 Steph // Mar 6, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    You should have asked me about blister avoidance before you guys left! I learned a lot about this on the trail. The trick to blisters is making sure you don’t get them in the first place. Afterwards they’re impossible.

    There are two schools of thought on this, but I found it helpful to wear two pairs of socks, a liner and a normal sock (others will tell you that this causes more blisters or hotspots, but not so with me). For me, the outer sock tended to stick to the shoe, while the liner stuck to my foot. Causing the natural friction that occurs during walking to be buffered by cloth and not your foot. Basically, you know those twenty dollar socks at REI? And those white silk liner socks? Buy them. They make life so much less miserable when walking a lot. I don’t buy any other sock anymore unless it’s for work.

    Anytime you start to feel a spot on your foot become warm (hotspots), put moleskin on that spot immediately (I don’t care where you are, do it right away) to avoid friction from your shoe or sock, which is what causes the blisters.

    Aaand I’m sure all of this would have been much more helpful to know beforehand, but what can you do?

  • 15 jennifer in sf // Mar 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I am a huge fan of frequent cafe stops, because I turn into a cranky lunatic when my blood sugar drops. When I was in Berlin last year, I basically spent the whole time wondering around the city/museums alternating cafe stops between coffee and beer/wine. It was awesome.

  • 16 Hope // Mar 6, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    I love this series! I went to Paris with a tour after college and I am dying to go back. I love your pictures and helpful tips!

  • 17 Sue // Mar 6, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Love the Eiffel tower photos and the graffiti comment:)

  • 18 Jon Pape // Mar 7, 2010 at 8:57 am

    That picture of the rainbow is just amazing.

    I never know you could go into the Arc. Really cool pics.

  • 19 ellen // Mar 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Lovely pictures, and a sweet reminder of my visits to Paris (too long ago).

  • 20 Megan // Mar 7, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Oh, the Winged Victory was my absolute favorite! I’m loving all the memories your photos are bringing back and hoping I’ll be able to use all your helpful tips when I go back someday…..

  • 21 Janna // Mar 7, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Rad photos! The rainbow stuck in the clouds is particularly fetching. Glad you and Scott had a good time away.

  • 22 maggie // Mar 8, 2010 at 12:59 am

    i wish i would have given you this address BEFORE your trip … as i would have become your new BFF. in the Latin Quarter, my favorite spot in Paris, you will find a Gyro place that serves the BEST Gyros ever. NO KIDDING here, and to top it off … there covered in FRIES!
    please promise to return to Paris and try one of these fantastic sandwiches! thank you for sharing your photos and experience. i went a few years ago over the new year, so i can relate to cold, rainy weather. curious if you made it to Versailes?

    3, rue de la Harpe – (Latin Quarter) Metro: Saint-Michel Cluny

  • 23 Janie La Pierre // Mar 9, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Yes, same here in Italy we spent way too much time cranky, tired and indecisive.
    My big toes turned black and blue and one toe nail is getting ready to fall off (our trip was late Oct.)- lol! My hubby thought I was winey but in reality I did have a problem and when I took off my polish when I got home, he felt bad.

  • 24 katy // Mar 10, 2010 at 11:57 am

    your Mona Lisa pictures look just like the ones I took on our trip after Christmas. I’m really surprised it was so crowded while you were there. I’ve heard that there is no longer an “off” season in Paris. Guess it’s true.

  • 25 day five…museums!! « // Mar 10, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    […] usually a bit of a line at the Mona Lisa, so we saw it and then moved on. Nothing special enough to us that we felt the need to shove people […]

  • 26 Christina // Mar 11, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I’ve been up to the upper floors of the Eiffel Tower. The view’s great, but as someone afraid of heights, I was absolutely terrified!

  • 27 Aria Foodie Sullivan // Oct 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Wow, as a serious foodie, I am totally jealous of your trip to Paris. And the falafel in your picture looks totally delicious. I’m going to have to make some and post it on my blog now. Thanks for sharing!

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