Today we went to see this:
But first we had coffee in the apartment. Here is Scott in the morning, in Paris (I still find it exciting):
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:
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:
And examine The Cheat:
And find out the de La Tour wasn’t such a nice guy:
We finished walking around that wing taking note of all the dogs in paintings:
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:
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 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:
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.
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:
We made a few “Look kids, it’s Big Ben” jokes watching the traffic below.
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.
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:
I loved the stairs so darn much I took a picture of them on the way down too:
The weather was behaving itself for the most part so we headed to the Eiffel Tower. 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!)
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:
There were some areas closed for construction and graffiti in all languages was scrawled onto it.
I suspect Jimmy McLucas was… caught by his parents writing on the wall.
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).
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