Paris Day 2
The many moods of the Pyramid
Today was supposed to be Louvre and Eiffel Tower day, but it just turned out to be Louvre day.
I got up early, and walked around one part of the right bank looking for a patisserie, before giving up and crossing Pont Neuf back to the left bank. There was a nice little patisserie just up the road, and I bought some croissants for breakfast and brought them back to our flat.
By this time, everyone was awake. The croissants were delicious, and the coffee was strong.
After eating breakfast, we walked over to the Louvre. The Louvre is huge, plain and simple. Someone told us that if you were to look at each objet d'arte in the Louvre for 3 seconds, it would take you 3 months to see everything. Seeing the size of the place, I can believe it!
Lauren, Lori and Patti decided to do the audio tour, and Max and I did the Rick Steve's guided tour. So we just toured a fraction of some of the Greek sculptures (winged victory, Michaelangelo), the Italian Renaissance paintings (Bottacelli, Da Vinci, etc.), and a few of the French paintings (David, Delacroix, Ingres).
The Greek galleries had some of the same things that were in the British Museum (friezes from the Parthenon, that type of thing). Winged Victory was an impressive sculpture commemorating a naval victory.
Of course we had to see the Mona Lisa, by Da Vinci. The gallery leading up to the Mona Lisa was about a mile long... it was lined with paintings by Italian Renaissance painters. We decided to hightail it to the Mona Lisa and then look at the other paintings when we got back. It was difficult to make our way through the throngs of people though.
There was a huge crowd around it, much bigger than the crowd around the Rosetta Stone. It's much darker than in pictures, but still an impressive painting. Her eyes follow you everywhere.
One of my favorite paintings was the Coronation of Napoleon, by David. It's an enormous painting (way too big to fit even into Mike & Patti's house), covering almost an entire wall. It's so realistic, you think that if you touched the robes in the paintings you'd feel velvet. Napoleon is depicted crowning himself, with the Pope off in the background. (I think we may have seen a version of the same painting last year in the Napoleon exhibit in Monaco because it looked very familiar.) In the picture below, I've left the people in to give some perspective on its size.
In the same room, there were some paintings from the French revolution that were very interesting. There were several painters in the gallery painting copies of these paintings which were nearly identical. It was quite amazing!
We finished the tour with a look at Michaelangelo's Dying Slave sculpture. This sculpture was very similar to the slaves that are in the Accademia in Firenze. He was such a brilliant sculpture in the way he portrayed the human body in motion.
Max of course was having a great time...
... especially when he learned we were leaving!
Here's a view of the Pyramid as we were leaving:
After we left the Louvre, Max and I walked through the Jardin du Carrousel and the adjoining Jardin des Tuileries next to the Louvre which eventually join with the Place de la Concorde. People were milling about, lying in the sun and relaxing. There's also an amusement park at the side of the park closest to Rue de Rivoli. Max was very excited about going on some of the rides.
We walked back along Rue de Rivoli and I had fun looking at all the shops (soldes! everywhere). Finally, we returned to the Louvre, and after asking several people for directions, found Cafe Marly where we were to meet the rest of the gals.
The Cafe overlooks the pyramid and the courtyard of the Louvre. The service was as fast as we've had anywhere... we were able to get in and out in less than an hour and a half. The food was good, the prices really expensive. The kids had cheeseburgers at 17 € a piece. Ouch! Well, we've been saving on dinners by eating at home, so I guess it was okay.
After lunch, we went back to the amusement park. Lauren and Max went on this bungie-jumping trampoline thing, while Lori and I had the most expensive Oranginas I've ever had (3.50 € each), but it was worth it to get to sit in the shade. Max was quite the acrobat... he got up to two somersaults. He really wants to go back and see if he can do 3 flips in one jump.
After bungie bouncing, everyone but me went on the ferris wheel.
We then walked to the end of the park and saw Place de la Concorde. The Place de la Concorde has the craziest traffic circle (if you can call it that) I've ever seen. There are stop lights in strange places, and several lanes of traffic going every which way without lane markers. It's amazing we haven't seen any accidents yet.
In the figure below, you can see the fountain, and the obelisk in the background. Behind the obelisk are some barriers they are beginning to construct. Perhaps the barriers are for the Tour de France which will be finishing here at the end of July? They close off the Place on the last day, since the race goes right through here.
We were going to go visit l'Arc de Triomphe, but at that point everyone was hot and tired and ready to go back home for a rest.
We happened to be right at a metro stop, so we hopped on the metro and got off close to home and walked the rest of the way. I went to get some fresh bread for dinner, while the rest returned to our flat. I came back to find Lori & Patti asleep, and the kids reading. A nap sounded good to me, so I slept for a little while too.
We fixed ourselves sandwiches for dinner again, still somewhat intent on seeing the Tour Eiffel. But the time had gotten away from us, and it was already 8:30 by the time we finished. So we decided instead to take a stroll down to the Ile St. Louis for some Berthillon glace.
We saw dogs, a bike tour, and lots of Parisians and tourists alike strolling around the two islands. It stays light so late... it seems like the city never sleeps!
On our way back, we saw a guy juggling on a unicycle on the bridge connecting to two islands. One slip, and he was in the drink! He was from New Jersey and was doing his act in French and English. Quite funny!
We strolled back through the Ile de la Cite, passing by Notre Dame on our way home.
Point Zero is the center of the city, and is where all addresses from Paris eminate. It lies right in front of Notre Dame. It's very difficult to see when there are crowds, so tonight was the perfect time.
We returned home. It was 11 (again), so we all hit the sack to rest up for a big day tomorrow. Tomorrow, Versailles!