Paris: Louvre it or leave it

Before departing on this European adventure, we purchased a Paris two-day museum pass, which allows you quick and easy access to a gajillion of the museums and attractions in the city. The Mother of All Museums is of course the Louvre, so that was first up.

After walking the first couple of blocks from our apartment to find the Metro Station, we came around a corner and saw this:

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We’re not sure if they have a name for it, but it sure is one big-ass cell phone tower.

So we got lost four or ten times finding the Metro Station; I think our first mistake was  that we first got on at a different station than we intended. We were trying to get to the Tourist Bureau to pick up our Museum Pass, but by the end of the ride we were the only ones left in the station and the train just sat there as if to say, “only dumb-ass Americans should be sitting in me now.” Note the lack of anyone else in the station. I’m pretty sure I saw a skeleton covered in cobwebs in one of the corners.

We were glad that we purchased a two-day Metro pass, which allowed us to jump from train to train without having to pay yet another fare. We think we saved about 143 Euros today alone, plus we taught all sorts of Parisians how to sing the theme from The Flintstones.

After backtracking and pondering the maps and my iPhone and arguing about which direction we should go, we finally somehow ended up at the tourist bureau in the early afternoon. And we started at 6:00 AM.

Just kiddin’.

We’re actually taking it fairly easy, and not pushing to see every damn thing possible since we’re not as young as we used to be and our feet are getting a little sick and tired of being walked on, so they complain more often. So we’re just doing what we can and not trying to conquer Paris in two days. Conquering Paris didn’t work out too well for Hitler in any case.

The funny thing was that it seemed like every time we got lost, we’d stumble upon something interesting or that we already wanted to see, for instance, the Arc de Triomphe, which stands for, “Victory Over Your Arches,” a slogan Nike originally rejected in favor of “Just Do It.” We walked out of a Metro Station thinking we might be near the Louvre, and instead came face to face with the second most famous Parisian monument there is, with the first being the well-known “Statue of a Rude Parisian,” which we neglected to take a picture of.

And so, feeling a little smug because we walked out of a Metro Station right into the Parisian version of the Golden Arches just like we knew what we were doing, we proceeded to return to the Metro Station in order to enjoy another hour or two of subway riding. There’s simply nothing like it, there were times we both raised our hands in the air screaming “whoo hoo!” like it was a roller coaster. We were even entertained by an accordion player who played for free and even offered us something out of his cup, which we politely declined to accept because he looked a little bedraggled.

I know it doesn’t look like much, but this building was a real sight for sore eyes, let me tell you. The Paris Tourist Office: the finish line of a two-hour Metro ride that should’ve been about fifteen minutes.

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After retrieving our Museum Passes, we proceed to walk to the Louvre. What follows is a pictorial guide to what we saw, with a little less commentary than you’re used to ignoring:

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We finally made it to the Louvre, featuring the iconic pyramid and the even more iconic selfie.

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The courtyards surrounding the Lourve are expansive, with massive buildings surrounding it. Even the sky looks big in France.

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Trying to remember the name of that big tower thingee.

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How’d you like to get the cleaning contract for this building?

The French obviously like their arches; this isn’t the Arc de Triomphe, it’s in the courtyard of the Louvre. The U.S. imitates the French by building thousands of McDonalds.

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A nice Canadian couple traded picture-taking with us. We stole their camera and ran.

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Everyone’s seen pictures of the Louvre Pyramid from the outside, but how about from the inside? The Pyramid is what you go through to enter the Louvre. Once inside, all that glass makes it quite hot inside.

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Veni, vidi, vici.

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Winged Victory. Too bad she lost her mind over it.

The Mona Lisa. We were told that it would be smaller than we expected, but actually, maybe due to those expectations, it seemed just the right size to us. It isn’t often you get to see the most famous and iconic piece of artwork in the history of the world in person. Viewing this was worth the visit to the Louvre alone, and perhaps even Paris.

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It’s behind glass so you’re getting the reflection of Bernie Sanders’ head in it, but that just serves to prove we saw it and didn’t just pull an image off the internet.

IMG_6744I was going to buy a copy of this as a paint-by-numbers set, but I didn’t want to pay the airlines for oversized luggage.

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Even the ceilings throughout the Louvre have artwork elaborate enough to enhance nearly any brothel.

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This chair scared Carolyn. I think it was the lack of cushions.

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Every bedroom should have a view of a glass pyramid.

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Sometimes you have to get naked to pull a sliver from your foot. Quite a beautiful statue, actually. I just hope the model didn’t have to sit there with the sliver in her foot the entire six years it took to carve it.

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Vinnie, vampy, Visa.

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Michelangelo  so beautifully captured the angst one feels when you can’t find your pants.

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We have to admit there were a few times when we got a little boared.

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The Venus de Milo. Are you kidding me? First the Mona Lisa, and then the Venus de Milo?  All that’s left is a portrait of Donald Trump!

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I asked Carolyn to pose without her clothes on to match up better, but she declined.

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This statue of Athena was created around 430 BC, which is before cable and iPhones and everything. But not apparently before the invention of chocolate ice cream, which the model obviously had just finished eating.

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We sphinx this is something Egyptian.

That was about the last of what we saw at the Louvre. I read that if one took the time to just glance at everything the Louvre has to offer, it would take nine months to do it. I’m a little dubious of that fact, unless they’re counting an Indiana Jones-like basement warehouse full of antiquities, but the place is indeed massive. There’s just no way to cover much of it in just one day, much less enough of a day to make the feet on old farts like us start barking like a couple of chihuahuas having their tails stepped on.

That said, you can only look at so many big paintings of naked people being harassed by little naked angels, or statues of other naked people standing around wondering where their clothes are, or sculptures of faces with blank stares on account of the fact that they hadn’t yet invented glass eyes when they carved them.

But my other thought was that only the French would create a museum like the Louvre, where millions of people all over the world would come visit to see some of the most famous pieces of art in the history of the planet, and have almost every informational placard printed only in French. I’ve seen one-room museums in the US that have four languages on every sign. As a result, we had little idea what the history was for most of the artwork, and we sure as hell weren’t going to try and translate every one of them on an iPhone app. Yes, France, you lost the battle for the world’s go-to language. So just surrender to that fact and put some English and German and Japanese and maybe Italian on some of those cards. Keeping everything only in French just makes you look petty. You have a beautiful language, to be sure, but there a lot of other ones too.

That said, just so you don’t get the wrong idea, Paris is an amazing city. It’s as if the French wanted to build the biggest of everything anytime they could. Hopefully, they’re not trying to compensate for other issues, but the result is a city full of history, and very large buildings with statues and decorations that give true meaning to the word “awesome.” Paris should be on the bucket list of every traveler. Sure, the French are a bit arrogant, and sure, almost all of them who work in information kiosks deliver only one sentence answers with no hint of any smile or enthusiasm, but it’s an amazing city and you can in fact run into people in Paris who are more than happy to help. Just don’t expect it to be the ones who are paid to do so.

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No day would be complete without a Carolyn Door of the Day, and in typical French fashion, it’s pretty massive.

On the way back from the Louvre, we again got turned around in the Metro, plus the line we wanted to go on had a big X through it because they heard we were coming, so we ended up walking some more and came across this plaza with some Very Big Things in it, including a ferris wheel from the Middle Ages.

And yet another Door of the Day had to sneak in, because, you know, Paris doesn’t horse around.

And now we’re back in the apartment, after giving up on the Metro and calling for an Uber car, resting our weary feet and making plans for our next day of sightseeing. We could have used another three or fifty days here to see everything, but after knocking out the Eiffel, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and best of all, the Metro Subway system, we’re content that we’ve already hit the main highlights of The City of Light.

The rest is already gravy.

 

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