Sunday, June 10, 2012

Masterpieces, Mummies and Mumbles

After our long day in London, we enjoyed a more leisurely morning, savoring our fresh quiche, baguettes, and croissants and not feeling any big rush to head out to Le Louvre, our destination for the day.  This is one of the fabulous things about our location in Paris, and it's not unusual at all - we had at least four bakeries and two fresh food markets within less than two blocks of our apartment.  Rick was the man...he went out every morning and picked out the pastries and whatever else we needed to have a nice Parisian breakfast.  I think it was this morning that he purchased quiche from Hediard's, a specialty grocery store:

It was THE BEST quiche we ate while we were there, creamy and salty and well, just right.  It was probably the priciest, too.  But hey, we were on vacation and eating breakfast in our apartment was definitely saving a few euros every morning. 

After everyone was satisfied, showered and ready to go, we walked to the taxi stand and hailed a taxi to Le Louvre.  We arrived there in a few minutes and the outdoor plaza was jammed with people queued up to go in at the Pyramid entrance.  NOTE to all of you who are anticipating a trip - don't wait in that line.  Enter the pyramid at any other entrance and walk up, buy your tickets inside...really.  No need to spend an hour getting your tickets inside.  It's just not obviously intuitive that you can use another entrance.  Because of the wheelchair, we walked right up to an assistant and were ushered inside.  We got our tickets in just a couple minutes, headed up to the main level on a nice oval-shaped lift that held us all, Christine fetched audio guides for each of us, and then we were off to visit the world's largest art collection. 

Le Louvre has more than 300,000 pieces and has about 30,000 on display.  So there is no hope of seeing everything in one day, or even one week!  The audio guides were overly-complex, Nintendo DS-based with gps that sort of worked some of the time.  We found that when they did work, the narrative was more than we wanted to hear.  And the GPS wasn't keeping track of us all that well.  Eventually, we all ended up shutting them down and just soaking in the art.

Christine and I took off separately from Rick and Alli.  The place was crowded and all the grand masterpieces had so many people crowded around them that it was hard to get close.  With the sculptures, it was sometimes better to look from different angles rather than just the front.

You can see what we were encountering from the picture above...every renowned piece was very crowded.  This is one time when we might have been better off sticking with Rick and Alli because an attendant would often escort them up to the art - right around the crowds.  That was especially helpful when viewing the Mona Lisa.  Christine and I stood in a crushing crowd to get close enough to take a picture.  Rick and Alli were escorted right up to the lady!

So I did eventually get close enough for a snapshot of Da Vinci's most famous work, but it was not easy!  And the painting is protected behind glass, thus the reflection in the middle of the picture. 

After enduring the crowds surrounding the grand masterpieces, we decided to go in search of mummies.  Yes, Christine wanted to see mummies!  So we made our way to the Egyptian art salons and sure enough, we found the "one" human mummy on display, but not before finding a Sphynx and a few other interesting objects d'art.

Notice the little jars - the Egyptians mastered the art of embalming, and those jars are for the entrails...yeah, really!

We found a few other animal mummies - fish, birds, your average house pet...LOL. 

Allison looking at what else she wanted to see, Christine thinking...enough art already...LOL.
And Rick worried about whether or not I could manage the wheelchair.

At this point, my knees were screaming for mercy and Christine had experienced her fill of museum art.  Rick and Christine were scheduled for a Segway tour, Allison wanted to see more Le Louvre, and I wanted to go hang out in the Tuileries gardens and drink wine.  So after a strategy session, we walked across to the gardens, Allison and I found a cafe and ordered wine, and Rick and Christine went off to find a taxi to the Eiffel Tower and their tour. 

After I recovered a bit, Alli and I headed back to the museum and spent a couple hours wheeling around taking in more of the Italian art that we had both missed.  About 8:30, we were "done in" and headed out to find a nice cafe and enjoy dinner.  The timing worked out well.  We had dinner, Rick and Christine finished their Segway tour, we both caught separate taxis and ended up back at the apartment a few minutes apart.  That was a good thing because I needed a little help managing the wheelchair, so our timing was excellent.  Rick and Christine were still grinning from ear to ear - they absolutely loved every minute of their tour.
Yeah, you can tell...they didn't like that AT ALL!!!

I have to mention this little place we found in our neighborhood called Mumbles.  It was a little crepe shop, not unlike an American neighborhood pizza shop.  The place had 3 or 4 high-top tables with a few metal barstools, and a table stacked high with pre-assembled boxes used for crepe takeout.  They had a line-up of bikes with insulated boxes ready to deliver your favorite crepes right to your door.  We walked in and looked at the all French menu, and breathed a sigh of relief when one of the delivery drivers offered to translate for us.  We ordered some savory and sweet crepes and they were definitely the best we had, not to mention very inexpensive.  Every one was made to order - no pre-made crepes in this little joint. 

This was our "supper" on Monday night and the perfect "inexpensive" couterpoint to our Eiffel Tower lunch splurge.

1 comment:

  1. I am amazed at how many activities you were able to fit into your time! I really appreciate the travelogue.

    I am drooling over the description of all the pastries. Can't remember the last time I indulged in something like that. I will have to remember to do that the day we are in Paris on our trip next year.