Saturday, July 29, 2006 (DAY 4)
(8:00 a.m. Sunday)
Paris is dirty.
Paris is a walking city.
Parisians are rude.
Paris is the city of love.
Some things you hear about this city are true. Others are not. But when it comes down to it, Paris is just plain beautiful.
We started of the day with a drive into the city and a visit to the Louvre. Of course, I had to make a beeline with the hoards of other tourists to see the famous Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, but took some time to see some other beautiful works as well. Unfortunately, there was no way I could make it through the whole museum. It’s gigantic! If you were to spend a mere 30 seconds at each piece, it would take nine months to view the whole museum! Another random fact, the Louvre opened as a museum because Napoleon, France’s glorified thief, needed a place to store the things he snagged from other countries. Anyway, I enjoyed the time I spent in this museum, right down to the moment I slipped down the steps to the entrance. Yes, I’m clumsy even in Paris. Haha. How embarrassing!
While at the Louvre, Amanda and I got separated from the rest of the group, so we decided to take on the city by ourselves. We started off with a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral. Beautiful. (Yeah, you might hear me use that word a lot.) After touring the sanctuary, we climbed the winding staircase of about a million steps to the famous bell tower of Quasimodo the hunchback. We had to wait about an hour to actually get into the tower, which presented the perfect opportunity for a baguette break. (Lunch in Europe is fabulous.) Then we began the ascent. My legs were definitely tired after climbing the narrow winding staircase, but the view was completely worth it. The bell itself was big, but not exactly anything spectacular.
From Notre Dame, we stopped to do a bit of Parisian shopping. (But of course.) Then it was on to more museums. We actually were able to get a day pass for museums, which is a great deal if you’re even remotely interested in art. The pass costs 18€ and will let you hop the line at just about every museum in the city. When you think that it typically costs about 10€ admission to a museum and you could be waiting in line for an hour, the day pass is definitely the way to go. We only made it to three museums (because we got lost and wasted a lot of time in transit) but we still had good savings.
Our next stop was the Musée d’Orangerie, a tiny that museum that was once used to grow oranges, where we saw Monet’s water lilies, an exhibit call Les Nymphéas. These paintings were so much larger than I imagined them being. There were six paintings covering the walls in two large circular rooms. Then we finished off our city exploration with a little time in the Musée d’Orsay to see some of France’s renowned impressionists including Van Gogh and Degas.
Once we found our way to the Métro, after much walking and studying of maps (really, it shouldn’t have been that difficult), and Amanda almost getting picked up as a prostitute (honestly, we were just trying to cross the street), we stopped for a quick crepe at a little carnival in the Jardin de Tuileries and headed back to the hotel to prep for an amazing evening out.
The evening kicked off with a fantastic dinner of escargots, boeuf bourguignon, brie and flan at a restaurant near the Sacre Coeur called Auberge. The experience was complete with a crazy live musician (his hair could be compared to that of Albert Einstein), fantastic French wine and a festive ambiance. Then we took off for the MOULIN ROUGE! The show itself was actually quite cheesy - the topless girls couldn’t dance to save their lives - but the overall experience and entertainment was fantastic.
Well, that’s about all for this day. To dispel some of the myths:
Paris really isn’t that dirty and not all the people are rude (just the women). But do wear your walking shoes and prepare your lips for some French kissing (one on each cheek, of course). You’ll want to experience this city to the fullest!