On Sunday morning, David and I arose bright and early determined to fit in a full day’s worth of Parisian activities. Our hotel provided a delicious breakfast buffet which provided us with ample sustenance as we tackled our first challenge of the day – the entrance line at the Louvre on free admission Sunday. There were so many tourists in the tunnel connecting the Metro to the Louvre entrance, that I almost decided I would wait and see the Louvre while viewing the movie The Da Vinci Code (there were signs plastered all over Paris for the movie since it takes place in France and is opening at Cannes). After we finally entered the Louvre we followed the teeming masses to the Italian Paintings portion of the Louvre to catch a glimpse of the famous, seemingly eyebrowless Florentine woman, otherwise known as the “Mona Lisa.” It was not the highlight of the day (maybe because I am not Tom Hanks and I couldn’t decipher any codes hidden in its paint). So we caught the other “highlights” of the Louvre in typical tourist fashion. Hey is that the Venus de Milo? Let me take a picture like all of those Japanese tourists:
Sidenote: Visiting the Louvre and looking at all of those naked lady paintings made me feel so much more self-confidence concerning my own body issues. It seems that painters through the ages have preferred their models plumper and pale. I’ll take their asthetic eye any day over our twenty-first century penchant for anorexic, sun-baked eighteen year olds…
Walking through the Louvre, it became apparent that David and I did have some Protestant American sensibilities – all of that excess decor! Those French kings really took their excessively gaudy decorating schemes seriously.
Finally though, we made our way to the basement of the Louvre (unlike the Alamo, the Louvre has a basement) which was away from the tourist crowds and the guilded rooms of the rest of the palace. And in the basement was my favorite part of the Louvre – the Medieval Moats that surrounded the base of the twin towers and the drawbridge support of Philippe-Auguste’s fortress that have been excavated. It was dark and brilliant. Here is David in the excavated area (it looks like a dungeon and brings to mind heretics wasting away and medieval rats carrying the Plague and I love it!):
Here is a picture of the base supports for the fortress and the medieval moats:
Ahh the Louvre. . . coming soon to a theater near you!
After visiting the Louvre, we were in morbid moods and decided to visit the museum at the Conciergerie, which was the place where most prisoners were held during the French Revolution, including the aforementioned Marie Antoinette. Here is a picture of Marie Antoinette’s chapel, which was added to the Conciergerie after the restoration of the monarchy in her beloved memory:
I think what I love most about the French Revolution is how they just killed everyone, and when they ran out of people to execute, they just decided to start executing the people that originally did the executing. Robespierre -if he wasn’t so bloodthirsty, he might have almost been likeable or it might have been a tad sympathetic when he got his death sentence too.
We wandered over to the Rive Gauche and St.-Germain-Des-Pres and snapped a picture of ourselves in front of this lovely fountain, whose name I have already forgotten:
We were on our way to visit the Hotel des Invalides and Napoleon’s Tomb. Now there is another French story I can’t understand – Napoleon. He was exiled from his country in shame and then his remains in 1840 were interred in one of the most opulent and extravagent fashion’s I have ever seen, inside the crypt at the Dome Church.
His body was finally placed in the crypt in 1861, inside of six coffins. I guess the French were still afraid of Napoleon coming back to order them back into more pointless warefare. It lies directly below the amazing Dome ceiling:
What next? Well, since we were in the neighborhood, we figured that we would stop by the place where Tom Cruise proposed to Katie Holmes (before announcing it to the world in a press conference), formerly known as the Eiffel Tower.
I have to say up front, the Eiffel Tower experience was my least favorite event in Paris. We had to wait in a tremendous line of tourists forever just to get to the first elevator which took us to the second floor before waiting in another line of people to take the second elevator up to the top. My feet were killing me and my patience was wearing thin. Here is our first line experience – a group of loud, what I assumed to be American men, were standing behind us discussing loudly various disgusting topics about French women’s bodies and I wanted to turn around and give them all really swift kicks in the pants. David surmised that they were roadies for some lame band that was on tour in Paris. It turns out, they actually were members of the lame band, Hoobastank. Thankfully, it turns out after the collaborated with another group of loud English speaking tourists they were CANADIAN! Whoa, what a relief. In the second line up too the top we were in line behind a French mother, her friend and four of the most poorly behaved children I have ever seen. As they continued to fight in line, run into other people, and generally show a lack of self-control, the mother just ignored them and talked to her friend. Under normal circumstances I might not have been so annoyed, but my feet hurt and I just wanted to get to the top of that damn tower so I could snap a picture and then leave.
After the Eiffel Tower experience, it was time to do something that would make me love Paris again, so we went to Montmartre. Years later, I still adore the movie Amelie and everything about Montmartre made me smile and feel giddy with joy. Here we are in front of Le Sacre Coeur:
We took a hike up the Montmartre hill and peeked inside of Sacre Coeur. Since it was Sunday, there was a worship service going on. We sat and watched the old people and immigrants worship Christ as the tourists circled around the basilica, while being followed by ushers stopping them from taking pictures during the worship service. I love this place!
Outside the basilica, you barely thought it was Sunday at all with the crowds of people and the vendors hawking cheap souvenirs. We wandered around the narrow streets of Montmartre for awhile. The windmills, the hills, I loved it:
I completely understood why this place inspired so many great artists. I wanted to give up my practical lawyerly existence and recall my artistic sensitivites of youth.
We ate dinner at a restaurant in Montmartre before heading back to the hotel to take a break for the sake of our feet for a little while. Actually, this is the evening that I changed into the flip flops because my feet were in so much pain. The flip flops helped tremendously and we decided to fo the Ile St. Louis for some more icre cream (I had a delicious ice cream sundae) and take a walk along the Seine. It was beautiful, as was to be expected.
It was a delightful end to Sunday in Paris.