ARTS AND CRAFTINESS (PARIS, DAY FOUR)

Day four was on the itinerary as Museum Day. However, due to a little over-imbibing, we cut ourselves a break and did not set the alarm for quite as early as we’d originally intended. Sore from walking on cobblestones and up and down spiral staircases, tired and hungry, we grabbed a croissant each from the “courtesy lounge” and slowly made our way to the metro so we could be rejected by the turnstile once again.

I am making an effort today to SPEAK UP, as I have been informed that I have been whispering since we arrived in Paris. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t want to be instantly recognized as a tourist, because I feel as though I’m in a museum even though I’m outside walking around city streets, or because the rhythm of the voices around me is so beautiful I feel as though I’d instantly ruin everything. Like a banjo suddenly taking part in a symphony.

First stop for today, the Louvre.

We stood in the plaza admiring the fountains and the glass pyramid; the building itself was enough to make me giddy. I had somehow forgotten that the Louvre was originally the palace until Louis XIV moved the royal residence to Versailles.

Amazingly, thanks in part to the museum passes, entrance was a breeze. So much so that we found ourselves in the Richelieu section (the French collections) without so much as a map. Retracing our steps, a map was acquired and we began again. 

I had very definite plans for the works I wanted to see. The Richelieu wing was not a priority. However, every time we turned a corner there was something else I couldn’t resist examining. I suddenly understood why people can spend DAYS here. Robert was in heaven.

I was on a mission to see the Denon and Sully wings containing Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities. We found Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, and the Mona Lisa. Winged Victory was particularly poignant because (don’t laugh) I LOVE the scene in Funny Face when Audrey Hepburn is modeling a gown and comes floating down the steps with the statue in the background. As I stood at the bottom of the steps looking upward at Winged Victory, all I could hear was Audrey saying, “Take the picture! Take the picture!”

It was even more interesting to me because I had recently learned the statue had been missing part of one wing and ALL of the other. They made a cast of the existing wing and added it. You could see this clearly from the back of the statue, which I studied in detail, partially because it’s interesting, and partially to mess with people trying to photograph the statue by being the one weird person standing BEHIND it. A lot of people went home that day with me behind Winged Victory. Score. However, I was too distracted by my mischievous intentions to actually photograph the “patch job.” Sorry!

After four hours of wandering about – and getting somehow trapped in the medieval portion of the Louvre in the basement, we made our way to the Musee d’Orsay.

The d’Orsay is housed in a former railway station, the Gare d’Orsay. I LOVED this building. Who wouldn’t love being surrounded by some of the greatest examples of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings? It was virtually every work I had studied in Art History, only much more interesting without the constant droning of the professor as he clicked through each slide. DaVinci? Check. Lautrec? Check. Monet? Manet? Renoir? Check, check and check. 

Basically what I call a successful outing. Afterwards, we crossed the Seine hoping to locate the ever elusive, yet highly desirable metro station that simply HAD to exist somewhere at the Plaza de la Concorde. Crossing the bridge, we noted padlocks all up and down the railings. A couple sat huddled together on a bench, writing something on a newly purchased lock. Apparently, couples are encouraged (not by the Parisians, who are highly annoyed by this practice, but by the padlock vendors who line the bridge) to write their initials on the padlock, attach it to the bridge, then throw the key into the Seine to “lock up their love forever.”  How romantic. What says “I love you” more than a padlock without a key?

Anyway, we found the super secret entry to the metro at Concorde, returned to the hotel, took a hot bath and went out for pizza. Yes, pizza. I can’t really exist without it for more than a week. What I don’t understand is how someone can consider egg an appropriate topping.

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