Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jour du Musee

On this day we see how truly art-stupid we are, but how it is possible to still appreciate the beauty and take too many pictures without documenting what they are pictures of.

Our first stop of the morning was at Musee du Louvre. Of course, we came in from the nearest metro stop and so did not enter from the outside world, but rather through a tunnel. This picture was taken in the entry way under the large pyramid.

The ceiling in one of the halls. I just like it.
And more wall detail.

La Venus de Milo. I really cannot take pictures.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace. It is really awe inspiring in real life. Again, a photo just will not do.

My first glimpse of outside the Louvre.

I really like this sculpture, but apparently I didn't like it enough to capture who created it or what it was...

Viewing Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss

And really, I do not mind looking like a dork in front of other tourists. See above Psyche picture if you need more proof. It was cool to see the Monna Lisa, though.

More sculpture/carvings/architecture that we enjoyed without care as to the who and what.

In Musee de l'Orangerie with one of Monet's water-lily paintings. I was surprised they allowed photographs in here, but did not object.

Mom outside Musee d'Orsay

And me outside with a an exhibit ad to date our time at the attraction. The artwork of Bastien-Lepage was really not my style, but we enjoyed the sculptures in the museum.

From rail-way station to museum; more architecture to love.

How could this not make you happy?

And obviously I liked him enough to document the who and what! Thank you Duret for putting a smile on my face at the end of a long, but wonderful day.
Tomorrow: A day of review--revisiting our favorites and taking in a few new sites.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

From Hill to Island

On our third morning in the Paris, we boarded the metro and took off for the sacred hill. With clear skies we were allowed to truly be in awe of how beautiful la Basilique du Sacre Couer de Montmartre. Pictures cannot capture how breath-taking the basilica and the view are.

From atop the hill after leaving the metro station.

After climbing the first set of stairs, which in comparison to the second set are nothing. Had we done this on day one it would not have been bad at all; after two full days of walking and climbing and walking some more, the stairs were a bit more daunting.
Sorry! No cameras allowed in the basilica!

Place du Tertre. I regret not buying anything here. I found so many wonderful things, but the thought of carrying them around with me for the rest of the day did not sound appealing. Had we stayed in Paris and not at DLP (in the city next time, definitely) I would have most likely purchased something and then only had to lug it around Montmartre.

More sandwiches! This time Mom enjoyed brie and tomato, I believe I had yet another ham and provolone.

If we were truly cool, we would have bought the bottle of Absinthe on display in the window. Since I am not a drinker, and Mom enjoys only a handful of girly drinks a year, we opted not to spend the money; but we needed a picture! Also, seeing Absinthe reminded me of the Green Fairy from Moulin Rouge-the movie, and I became even more excited as we headed down to check it out for ourselves.

And here we are! It was completely different than I had imagined; but since I only had a cinema-level education, that should come as no surprise.

We did not see a show, but next time I would be interested in checking it out.

We did enjoy the paintings in the entry, though.

And to tell you that Yes! this is an official tourist stop, a helpful sign!

View from across the street. I'm next to the sign. Moulin Rouge is in D's Top Ten for movies, so I thought I should let his see the real life place in pictures.

And again, this is nothing like what I imagined, but I really knew nothing about this tourist attraction before we got there. I didn't expect that it would be on such a busy street.
I must also note that as you look down the street, at the next intersection on the left, there is a bakery that makes the most wonderful almond pastries. I regret that I did not take note of the name or snap a photo to help future travellers, but seriously, awesome pastries. Every once in awhile I get a hankering for an almond pastry and after much trial and error of local shoppes, I discovered that Bread & Chocolate makes a decent representation of the real deal. It's a jaunt across town, but when the craving strikes at least it satisfies.

After a bit of a train ride back into the city and some more walking around as the metro did not stop at Cite as it said it would, we finally reached our (supposed) final destination of the day: Notre Dame de Paris.

Mom stood on Point Zero (the center of Paris) to ensure that she would return, and although there is not photographic evidence--I did the same. There will be a next time.

On the side of Notre Dame, a great photo-op minus the crowds.

Ahhh, French Gothic architecture.

As we walked around Ile de la Cite a bit more, we came upon a highly recommended ice cream shoppe. Berthillon is one of the best ice creams in Paris, or so I've been told by previous visitors and travel guides. It is sold in many restaurants, but I believe this is the original store (I could be completely wrong on this, though). I had a caramel ice cream cone, it was OK. I'm not much of an ice cream person and it was too rich for me. My mom enjoyed praline, chocolate and some-kind-of-nut ice cream very much.

After our late afternoon sugar pick-me-up, we continued walking around aimlessly. We eventually saw tourist signs pointing us toward the Pantheon. The grounds were closed when we arrived in preparation for...

A Garden for Life, A Daffodil for Curie
My quick internet search did not return results, but it was an event happening the next few days after our evening visit.

And many pools of daffodils lined the grounds.
Tomorrow: Museum Day!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Into the City

And then we took the metro into Paris. Forty-five minutes of wondering if my on-a-whim trip was really worth it. Forty-five minutes of telling myself that "Paris will indeed be great." Forty-five minutes of doubting that Paris could live up to my expectations--I had gotten my hopes too high; surely it will be great but not amazing...and then we stepped off the metro at le Trocadero. I was apprehensive. We walked out into daylight, tourists all around us, and I still doubted. We walked up the steps and there, there it was:

la Tour Eiffel

looking back at our metro stop and the landing of Place de Trocadero

On our way...

We're there! But first a quick phone call to D. (We had scheduled phone times so that we could talk each day even with the time change...and it could not have been more appropriate that my first call of the day came from underneath the Eiffel Tower.)

On the 2nd level. We walked the stairs all the way until the 3rd level which requires an elevator ride. It was great exercise, especially after our complimentary breakfast and whole milk lattes.

Ah, beautiful.

I'm not a good photographer, and the professional photography of the Eiffel Tower is amazing, but I do like a few of the snap shots I got.

About 6 blocks away from the Eiffel Tower, we found this bakery--it was great, but we soon learned that really, they all are great in Paris. We enjoyed our first of many ham and cheese sandwiches with BUTTER on fresh baked bread. Fantastic.

The bakery is on the left...a view of the street. It was vastly different from the area directly surrounding the Eiffel Tower and it was fun to attempt communicating with my high school French language skills. I was mostly successful, although I forgot how to conjugate and spoke only in the present tense.

A picture to convince Dad that Paris is a worthwhile destination. Produce stands like this were everywhere and that's all he needs (in addition to a comfortable bed) to enjoy a vacation.

After enjoying our sandwiches and wandering a Parisian neighborhood, we hopped back on the metro and stepped off at Charles de Gaulle - Etoile to find ourselves staring at l'Arc de Triomphe. In fact, we had arrived just before 6pm and the procession to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Across the way, also on the Champs-Elysees, we window-shopped at Cartier. Had Dad been there, he could have participated in yet another of his favorite vacation activities: shopping. Mom will just have to bring him there next time.

After stopping at another cafe/bakery for yet another ham and cheese sandwich (seriously, I had never had one until Paris and on my first day I ate two!) we headed back to the metro and passed by the Arc one more time.

And I was able to convince Mom to stop yet again at the Trocadero for a photo of the Tower all lit up. My love of the Eiffel Tower is now stronger than ever. I am such a tourist.
Tomorrow: Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame and Pantheon