Monday, October 14, 2013

September 4 Wednesday in Paris

Sept 4, 2013
We just got back in at 6:30pm and had my second shower of the day. Even my hair was dripping today. We left at 9 this morning to head to the Louvre but stopped at the Arc when we saw the streets were being blocked off and bands were arriving. Someone told us the President of Germany was visiting there, so we decided to stick around. 

We watched the French police and their Secret Service setting all the security up and even made friends with a local French policeman who we later gave shoulder patches to. Saw a lot of impressive brass, and we're assuming it was a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier there but since we were behind the barricades, we couldn't see everything. But it was a fun way to start the day and very impressive to watch. 
We hopped on the Metro & headed to the Louvre (we heard it pronounced in two distinctive syllables not one, by a French person no less), got lost but finally made it the giant glass pyramid. Very impressive. 

 That's me pointing up at the pyramid.

Its a lot smaller when you get up to it. I walked over to it all the time seeing Tom Hanks walking up to it and kneeling down when he realized what he'd found (in The DaVinci Code, if you didn't catch that). We had Jump The Line tickets purchased earlier and of course there was no guidance as to where to go in, which was different than the main entrance.  We went in that building to the left. After going around in circles a few times, being directed the opposite direction a few times, we finally made it into the main lobby. I looked up and saw this-
That's a staircase coming down from the top of the pyramid, and I'm looking up through it.
Once again we had a hard time navigating where to finally go inside the museum. It's not like a normal one that you walk in the front door. Seems there are branches all over the place, so we just wandered until we finally found ourselves in a big room. We saw signs and hubby pointed out the one for Mona Lisa. Ok, let's try and find that. Of course you have to walk through miles of galleries to get to it. Its like a maze.

And finally, there she was! Mona Lisa.
I couldn't get any closer than 20 feet with crowds of people between us but she's real. The painting I really liked, because of all its details and different stories contained in one painting was the Wedding Breakfast at Cana. It took up an entire wall and you had to keep stepping back to see more of it. The happy couple are in the lower left of the painting while Jesus and his Disciples are at the center table.

We walked around for about an hour but it was pretty hot inside with all the people, and wore us down quickly. 

We only lasted 1 1/2 hrs inside, and went out and found another sidewalk cafe for lunch. I found out two days later that Angelina's Cafe was just outside the Louvre but didn't see that sign until later. But we found this cafe just down the street from where our tour was leaving. 

This was our view from our outside seating to the street, and we enjoyed watching the traffic and people walking by.

We had hamburgers again but I was saving room for this, a pear tarte with Chantilly cream on top. OMG! It melted in my mouth, and wasn't overpoweringly sweet as you'd expect. I'm hoping the cooking teacher I've gone to can come up with a great recipe for one of these. 

While we were waiting for our tour to start we walked around a bit. There were some lovely door fronts on a hotel that I walked by too. 

I did a little shopping at a store that had this adorable purse in the window that caught my eye. Everything inside the store was "Made in France". I bought the purse and a couple gifts for friends from there. 
This was one of the beautifully ornate buildings also in the area. 

Then we hopped on the tour bus for the Paris City Tour. It was a full size bus, and we got a great overview of the city and how far everything was from where we were staying but WOW! Sadly our views were limited with a roof on the bus. 
We drove alongside and across the River Seine a few times, and past the tunnel where Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed crashed and died in. There's a large gold flame near the entrance that was there for something but has been turned into a memorial by the French people for them. 
Our bus drove up the Champs' Elysee towards the Arc de Triomphe and here you see how truly large and imposing it was. 
Take a look at the paving on the streets. This is how most of the paving was that we saw throughout the city. We weren't ever in the modern section so I can't comment on that. These are individual stone bricks and are individually replaced when needed. The roads were pretty smooth here but can't say the same for the side streets. I had a real hard time walking on them. They were bumpy and uneven most of the time.

We drove around the Eiffel Tower next for different views. 

This is the backside view with a huge water fountain out in front.
We continued driving around to all the large buildings and what amazed me was the huge areas around them with "nothing"; just large open spaces, parking lots and parks. And very wide streets. That street extends continuously to the Arc de Triomphe and beyond. Apparently Napolean Bonaparte was very obsessive and linear, and made everything very straight, making it point straight to Rome. 

 Then we did a little more souvenir shopping, and then TRIED to find the entrance to the Metro to go back. After being directed a couple times, we walked back and forth about 2 miles and finally ended up back at the Louvre where we started, and went down the stairs to their shopping center to get on the Metro. We were both dripping wet from the heat and exertion again but stopped at the pastasserie around the corner from the hotel first and bought 2 pans au chocolat, 2 raisin croissants, and a couple macarons to try a little bit of everything. At least there something to eat if we wake at 2am again after having no dinner.

                                                                  My macarons.

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