Monday, September 20th, was our last full day in Paris. On our way to the Louvre, we stopped at one place I'll tell you about in my next post and then at Yves Rocher so I could buy some face cream. They were having a big sale – 50% off the whole store! I behaved myself and just picked up one little jar though.
On to the Louvre, which was fabulous, of course! I'm not going to waste space here writing about its history - all that stuff's easily found on the Web. Instead, here's a visual tour with some comments and impressions thrown in.
That, of course, is I.M. Pei's famous pyramid in the Napoleon Court. The pyramid opened in 1989 to become the main entrance to the museum. Apparently, the original entrance was being destroyed by all the foot traffic, so a new entrance was needed. Voila! The pyramid is very cool!
Because we had our handy dandy museum passes, however, we totally bypassed the line to enter through the pyramid entrance – for which I was kind of sad - and entered through the Richelieu Wing.
Before I go on, here's a note for future visitors - if you need to potty before setting out to see the exhibits, bypass the ladies room on the entrance floor and look for one on the upper floors. The line downstairs is S-L-O-W.
Back to more important stuff. One of the first pieces we saw was the Code of Hammurabi. The writing in this shot says, "If you like art, you've come to the right place!"
Next is a comparison of my photo-taking technique and Kathie's. The first photo of the Venus de Milo is mine. Looks like any tourist's snapshot, right? Why did that guy have to be behind the sculpture? I mean really - what was he looking at? Was her butt showing? Cropping him out would make this a very narrow pic.
Then we have Kathie's photo of the same sculpture. She's hilarious to watch as she waits and waits and waits for the perfect shot - but look at her results! You might see that photo in a guidebook or art text. I just hate her.
Then we have the Winged Victory of Samothrace. I took this photo but it was nearly impossible to get a stray tourist in the background from this angle - I was up on a landing.
Kathleen and I stood back a ways out of the crowd pressing forward to get close enough to snap a photo of Mona Lisa, while Kathie weaseled her way toward the front of the pack to get her shot. Nice job, Kath.
I remember the first time I saw the Mona Lisa in 1970 – what a disappointment! The painting was much smaller than I expected and it was on a wall with all the other paintings, just roped off so she couldn’t be touched by unauthorized hands. Now, she’s on a wall all by herself and behind glass, looking much more impressive than back then. And impressive she is – it took da Vinci four years to complete the painting of La Joconde – probably most of that time was spent letting each of the thirty layers of paint and glaze dry. The technique is called sfumato, the results of which are hazy illusion of depth and shadow. (I didn’t make that up – it’s from the Web but I can’t remember where.) Anyway, the total thickness of all that paint is only forty micrometers, half the thickness of a human hair. Pretty amazing.
We finished up the morning checking out the Lacemaker and several other priority pieces, then headed for the museum cafe for lunch. Yum! We split salmon and eggplant “cake” (gateau), and washed it down with Coke. Double yum!
After lunch, we were walking toward the main lobby (under the pyramid in the pic below), getting ready to split up to go see the stuff we each wanted to see, when we were stopped by a security guard. Looking past him, we could see that the main lobby had been cleared and there was a lone backpack sitting in the middle of the vast floor. Human nature being what it is, we spent a moment mesmerized by the situation, then realized that if there really was a bomb in that backpack, we needed to be skedaddling on outta there. We took off down a hallway of shops, trying to figure out what to do, then headed back the way we came. Lo and behold, the backpack was gone and the lobby was crowded again, as if nothing had ever happened. Weird.
Kathie took off for the antiquities...
...while Kathleen and I lounged around in one of the courts (not the one below but a similar one).
When it was time to meet up again, Kathleen and I waited and waited, wondering where Kathie was. Of course, she'd gotten lost. I knew she would so why hadn't I gone with her? One can only wonder.
We exited through the pyramid and went out through the Tuileries to find l’Orangerie, where Monet's lilypad paintings are on display. Alas, the museum had closed early – consequently we saw no Impressionism. WAH!
So we took the metro to Luxembourg Gardens – a very nice, large park which is well used by the Parisians…joggers to babies (in strollers, of course). The palace is now the seat of the French senate. Hey look - there's Kathleen!
Somehow we figured out how to take the metro to the Ecole Militaire stop to see the Eiffel Tower. We made a stop at Carmine's for pizza. Watch out – parma is ham! Then we caught the last bit of the twinkle lights on the tower but weren't quick enough to catch 'em in a photo.
We stood under the tower and looked up – not a huge thrill – maybe it’s a daylight thing. It's a cool place though – we enjoyed it!
Finally, we hopped on the metro one last time, getting off at St. Michel to enjoy the sight of Notre Dame one last time. Sigh.