|Paris Day 3
||[Jun. 13th, 2006|03:44 pm]
Travels of a Dynamic Duo
Up early(ish) again on a quick Metro/walk to Notre Dame. Poor Kate is getting ill again and is getting down and out for the rest of the trip. We stop a few blocks from the historic medieval cathedral, also point zero in Paris:
This is the place where all streets begin to be measured. We take turns stepping on the zero mark in an old tradition to increase our chance of returning to Paris. Truthfully, I have mixed feelings about Paris. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more at the beginning of the tour or if I spoke a bit more (or any) French. I would like to come back with Michael, spend a whole day at the Louvre or walking along the Seine. We didn’t have much time to wander, the Paris leg of the trip was much more scheduled, for obvious reasons.
Notre Dame – one of the few places in Paris not given justice in pictures or postcards. The history, the years of weather stained into the flying buttresses, the awe-inspiring rose window. Truly beautiful. I find myself increasingly annoyed at other tourists for using flash camera inside while chattering in this place of worship. Despite my often cynical perspective, I do hold respect for holy places where people go to pray for stillness, for peace. I pass through the church quickly, getting a shot of the rose window (no flash!). Jenny stopped to buy a rosary and I wandered outside while she paid, luckily capturing the tail end of a parade in honor of VE Day, the end of World War II.
After the trail of horses left, I wandered to the side of Notre Dame looking for the Quasimodo gargoyle Kate told us about. I wandered alone to the back of church into a small, lovely garden with free restrooms and a glorious view of the rear architecture:
I meander down the series of small gift shops where I buy a pack of Paris postcards and more batteries for my camera. I stop at the Seine, give a sigh and head back down where I run into more of our group, including Michael who looked at me as though I had really been lost. Completely adorable – it’s nice to be missed.
We leave from Notre Dame and head out for the Louvre, only a short walk. We buy our tickets early but spend at least an hour grabbing some good, checking out the basement pyramid (see below) and browsing some shops.
We begin our search of the greats by looking for the Venus de Milo in one of the many halls of statues. Along the way, Annica gets her first glimpse of all the amazing sculpture – her reason for coming here. Michael and I both spend time adjusting our cameras to catch the best (and hopefully sharp) pictures of the statues. One in particular catches our attention – a torso with no other appendages. The body is turned so gracefully towards the light, simply stunning. We wander the halls until we see velvet roping, an obvious indication we were now in the presence of the Venus de Milo along with all the other push foreign tourists who simply must have their picture in front of the statue. The lighting…
Lovely. We move along quickly to the Winged Victory, bypassing rooms of metallic Roman sculpture, ancient Egyptian artifacts, and delicate metal workings. The staircases surrounding the Victory are filled with waves of people merging from separate parts of the museum. We notice a refurbishment and restoration room on our way back up the stairs, with the door cracked on one of the lower levels. Annica is asked if she knows what type of work is being done there. She looks very confused and politely says she is completely unaware – realizing later it was a prime opportunity to feign authority.
Onto the Italian painters from here and the Mona Lisa. I was told to expect something small, true. The smirk was still entirely captivating behind the glass walls and throngs of tourists. I feel much the same about all the “big stuff” in the museums we’ve visited – good to know it’s real but otherwise not entirely moved by the whole process. We all end up taking a break on the circular sofas in the hall of Jesus paintings, giving our feet a much needed rest. I forgot to mention our quick dash into see Napoleon’s crown jewels in a highly ornate room of portraits – artists and architects of the Louvre. No pictures in here either.
After our break, my final goal is to see the Rubens rooms – a journey that takes us through more rooms of religious art including beautiful stained glass in light boxes and tiny metal sculptures of Roman gods and goddesses like the one below:
Along the hallways, I snap a picture of the courtyard. I like the view from the windows.
I get separated and wander alone through the French and Dutch paintings until I find the Rubens room, a large hall consisting mainly of portraits of Catherine de Medici. What lovely bellies and full hips. Love Rubens!
I find Michael again in a room of French paintings and he looks relieved to have found me again. I’d almost like to pretend we’ve met here after a long break (longer than 20 minutes) and I find joy in strolling down to the sculpture garden hand in hand. Absolutely adore him. The sculpture gardens ends our adventures at the Louvre but not before Annica picks up her desired posters and I get and I get postcard envelopes in the basement post office. Not quite as fun as regular postage, but they’ll do.
Here are some pictures I took in the sculpture garden:
I’m watching you, watch over me…
We head to St. Michel to eat at a lovely café. I have a ___ madame sandwich (a glorified fried egg sandwich) with some very dry rose wine. The mousse de chocolate inside joke is born here as well all get our delectable ice cream and Annica is left out of the dessert adventure. The waiter tells her not to cry and we giggle.
Here’s Michael and Annica in the café:
That night was our cruise along the Seine (which was freezing) and the “Illuminations Tour” of Paris on the bus. Presumably, the night lights of Paris are to be enjoyed from the bus seats – it was enjoyable. Warm…most importantly warm. My planned adorable outfit for the boat didn’t help the weather situation but we got quite a few lovely pictures out of the ordeal.
I was amused by having an “N” bridge (I know, I know…it’s for Napoleon)
The crew – I loved the lighting on this shot.
Classic Eiffel Tower picture.
Attempted kissing picture 1 – I love Michael’s face.
Successful kissing picture!