What's in my head

This is the home of your average girl in her early 30s making her way in the big city...Not really. I have thoughts. Now I have somewhere to put them.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Paris Day 4 (aka Look at all the pretty art...and guns)

Friday Oct. 21

I woke up sick. I must have caught a cold because I am The Girl With No Immune System. But I had places to go, museums to see so I sucked it up, filled up on my usual breakfast of croissants, freshly squeezed orange juice, a sad looking piece of fruit and hot chocolate (it was the only way to have milk), and then Cecilia and I boarded the metro to get to the City. We soon parted as today we had decided to go it alone all day. Aren't I independent?

My first stop? The Musee du Louvre.

Now incase you haven't heard it's a little big (800m big) and I didn't have that much time in Paris so I hit the highlights and was outta there. Highlights including this one.
And of course the Mona Lisa. I think it was one of the copies though because there were only two security guards and one of them didn't seem to care how close you got to the glass case. I didn't take a photo because you're not supposed to and I'm a good girl (that and I really only went to see it because how could I go to Paris and the Louvre and not see it?). It was smaller than I imagined.

In addition to all the sculptures and paintings (some of which that were soooo weird - for example a whole wall of people with knives through their head done in the 16th century...nope, no pictures of them either), the Louvre is also home to Napoleon's apartment(s?). That's me in Napoleon's apartment (I know it's fuzzy). Aren't I clever?

This is the dinning room. Nice, huh?

As I exited the mammoth museum I noticed it was sunny outside and having clued in to how unpredictable Parisian weather can be I changed my plans and decided to walk around and photograph the Jardin des Tuileries now instead of after museum #2.

(I know there are no flowers in that photo, but the garden did have some. The best one though is me doing the whole arm-out-taking-a-picture-of-myself thing and I don't like the way I look in my shades).

Next I walked across the river in search of a reasonably priced lunch. (That's the Louvre).

After wandering for a bit, I stumbled into the university district and thought I could find something yummy here. I was right (...as I often am). I got a baguette from a patissiere, it had tuna, hard boiled egg and tomato on the most yummy of breads (though I wondered: have French people heard of whole wheat...?). Eating also helped make me feel less icky.

Then it was time for the museum I'd been waiting for: the Musee d'Orsay with the Impressionist paintings! Like this one (Whistler's Mother by Turner oops, don't even know if that's an artist, it's really by someone named McNeill).

And these. (I had to limit myself or I would have taken a picture of Every. Single. Monet. More of my obsession will be revealed later).

The museum itself was pretty nice. It used to be a train station. But you probably guessed that.

It has a terrace along one side. (Can you find Sacre Coeur?...How can you not...?)

No, this isn't some snotty French furniture store. This is an exhibit (display?) in the modern section.

The one in the middle, "Talk to the hand."
There was also a sculpture/statute of a polar bear. I checked, it wasn't Canadian. (No photo).

Next it was on to the Arc de Triomphe. It's a monument to commemorate the wars France won or something (I wasn't listening to the tour guide when we drove past it and there were no English brochures left.)

The only thing between me and the top was an admission price (paid for with my included one-day museum pass hence the "M" is for museum theme of the day - there is a quasi war museum at the top) and something like 240 of these little stairs.

Keep in mind I had a cold, which was now much worse, and I have asthma even when I'm healthy. I began the trek with a lot of momentum, so much so I really should have taken off a layer or two before embarking on the trek because I think I'd also developed a bit of a fever that combined with the exercise caused a wee bit of sweating. The view at the top was worth it. But, wait for it, it had started raining while I was conquering the stairs so my time at the top was short lived.

I did watch traffic for a bit in the hopes of seeing an accident in Place Charles de Gaulle (supposed to happen every seven minutes on average). Twelve streets converge here and I have no clue who has the right of way. It was better an hour later in rush hour, but I didn't have the strength to ascend the stairs again.

I couldn't go back to the hotel yet though because every day at 6:30 p.m. there is a ceremony to honour French veterans (yes, EVERY DAY). I killed time going to the McDonalds on the Champs Elysees and buying a strawberry (the one place in France chocolate is scarce) milkshake.

This is the memorial for the unknown soldier.

The ceremony started early (while I was killing more time by reading three week old American celebrity magazines in the drugstore - that sold cigars and wine) so I was late and in the back so no decent pictures during the event. Instead I struggled to stay warm (I wish I'd had a scarf - everyone in Paris wears a scarf, regardless of the weather) as the weather had turned cloudy, windy and cool. After I did manage to capture these soliders with their guns.

There were about 40 soliders, all with the big guns, from three different branches of the armed service. I felt safe...sorta.

After it was over I got on the metro and made the long trek back to the 'burbs by myself. I guess I looked like I kinda fit in because someone asked me for the time in French, I couldn't quite remember how to answer her back in French so I showed her my watch. To kill time upon my arrival in the place where everything closes at 8 p.m. I had decided to eat by the hotel. I shouldn't have done this. I ate fast food (hadn't eaten it for nearly a year here, but five days in Paris and I have it twice) from Quick. It seemed to be a Burger King equivalent. It wasn't good.

Next: a train ride to Vernon.


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