I think all these late evenings are starting to break me down. I can stay up late watching TV or something, but night after night of opera, concerts and whatnot, maybe it’s just too much. Oh, first world problems. Actually, I’m rather happy with the way I planned this trip. I do my sightseeing in the morning, come back to the apartment for a rest then go back out for dinner and evening entertainment. I would never be able to keep up the pace without that afternoon rest. It’s also a lot of walking and stairs, but I did not plan a breakneck trip, running from one thing to the next. I hate that style of vacation, and so many people do it. They show up some place for a few minutes, take a picture and then run off. What is the point?
Anyway, it’s my day for the Louvre, the most famous museum in the world. I already said I was take it or leave it when it comes to museums. I do appreciate high art, but I can’t stare at it all day long. I understand its importance and contribution to the human dynamic but just like anything there’s a line to be drawn. I hate going to these places and some guy is staring at a black square, talking about the artist’s emotions. Bitch, it’s a black square, get over yourself. But then again, I guess I do the same thing about literature and music–it’s all relative.
I got to the Louvre around 930 and already there was a considerable queue. During the low season, the Louvre is free on the first Sunday of the month, otherwise it costs like $40 to get in. Being the most famous museum in the world, I guess you can command that high price and people are actually paying it.
My friend told me to use the side entrance. I did not come in through the pyramid, but instead went to Porte Richelieu and walked right in. There was no one there at all! It was raining and all these people were just standing out there. One thing I am not clear is if you still need to get a ticket of some sort, even if it is free. I still had the museum pass, so I waved it at the security person just to be sure and he let me in.
I decided to get the audioguide for the Louvre because it’s just so massive. I don’t usually do audioguides but I felt like I would benefit from it. It only costs 5E, and I brought my own headphones. I’ve got noise-cancelling, noise-isolating Bose headphones—excellent for drowning out the noise. The audioguide is a Nintendo hand-held and ended up being a little frustrating.
I started off with the Masterpieces tour. It’s supposed to take you on a 50 minute tour of the greatest masterpieces the museum has to offer. It has a GPS thing and it tells you where to go. Obviously, GPS and I have had a falling out after that fiasco leaving the Pantheon. Every five seconds the stupid thing was like, “You have left the tour, would you like to recalculate?” In some cases I wasn’t even moving. I was still admiring a piece of art. After a while I just gave up on trying to have a tour. You can input the numbers from a certain work and the commentary will come up. The audioguide will also automatically detect which section you’re in and give you a brief overview.
When I came to the Louvre, I had only two goals in mind: La Giaconda (like everyone else) and The Last Supper (more on that in a minute! LOL). I figured if I saw anything else of import it would be an additional treat. I also thought I would only be in the museum two hours, three max. I can only stand to look at so much. Well…..
I started with the Venus de Milo, or “What Happened to My Arms?” Again, I am making up my own names to the artwork. I liked the audioguide because it did help me understand what I was supposed to appreciate about the piece. You get to hear a lot about the history of the work and the artist (in this case, unknown). It’s crazy that it was created a hundred years before Christ. Some guy found it in the 1820 while digging around on the island of Milos. They did find the arms but they were all messed up, so no one knows exactly how her arms were situated.
Next I went into a room with Greek and Roman sculptures. I viewed Artemis with a Doe and the Caryatides. This is where the audioguide got me all messed up. It told me to go to Caryatides and I was practically standing on top of them and it was like, “You’ve left the tour.” Ugh. So I just started wandering, which ended up being a far better idea.
In case you didn’t know, the Louvre is MAAAASIVE. I wonder how long it would take to “do” the Louvre properly. Even the Louvre itself is a masterpiece, apparently an old fortress and palace. From floor to ceiling, every space has a piece of art crammed into it. I was in overload within minutes, but it was like I couldn’t stop. I did take a moment to sit down for some French style breakfast at one of the many cafes inside the Louvre; it was to regroup after getting lost on the Nintendo tour and to decide if I really wanted the hassle. There’s a lot of people in here and most people are wandering around kind of aimlessly. You know I move with a purpose.
I decided to keep going, and I ended up in the Greek, Roman and Etruscan sculptures. I was there for an hour before I wandered into French paintings. Of course, being France, there is a shit ton of French paintings. They have it divided by period, and then there’s the Italian paintings. My God! Some of them are just so massive. Maybe because I don’t have a creative bone in my body, I wonder how on earth you just wake up one day and decide to paint a ten foot canvas of some subject.
It took me two hours to find La Giaconda, or “I’ve Got a Secret,” or “Need To Get My Brows Done.” (You know she ain’t go not eyebrows.) So, the harsh reality is that the Louvre is always busy and you will never get a private moment with Lisa. This bitch is in high demand. She has her own personal bodyguards and a barricade to keep you from getting too close. She is a celebrity and everybody wants to take their picture with her. Fuck Beyonce; it’s Mona Lisa, bitch. I did not want to photo bomb La Giaconda, but I did take a picture of the crowd in front of her so I could show my friends back home what it’s like. I am not even sure what the deal is with trying to take a picture with the Mona Lisa, especially because there are a thousand people just standing there. Whatever. Once again, even though I knew beforehand the situation, I was very disappointed. I wanted to chat with her for a moment and ask her what’s so funny. I think she has something to say. It is said that visitors spend about 15 seconds looking at her before moving on, so she has never had the opportunity to let anyone in on the joke. What a shame. You know people have thrown rocks, acid and paint at her? That is why she is has a bullet proof case. People are crazy.
Since the Mona Lisa is in the Italian paintings area, I figured The Last Supper would be around there too. You can use the audioguide to find a piece of work, but the joke’s on me because The Last Supper is not in the Louvre! I went through that whole list of Italian paintings, then I went through each painter before I realised my mistake. I was always under the impression The Last Supper was on display in the Louvre. Apparently it’s in Milan. My second guess would have been Rome. You have to make an appointment to see it and you can only look at it for fifteen minutes. That’s some exclusive shit.
At any rate, I decided to get my religious painting fix. There’s a whole area devoted to renditions of the Virgin and Christ. Right here is evidence to what I said before: we all come from the same place, we just tell the story differently. You can compare and contrast these depictions of the Virgin, taking note of little details like the style of clothes she wears or who’s hanging about in the background. Depending on where the artist is from, Mary is white, black, Chinese, young, younger, celestial, human or fat. It’s astounding. I really like different interpretations on religious stuff. You know I believe all of it is the same damn story just told differently, and people are out here fighting to the death to get people to believe in the exact same way as they believe. That’s a damn shame. You got one life to live and that’s how you choose to live it.
So now we’re three hours into the Louvre. I think I’m ready to go and I even head towards the desk to return my audioguide but now the Near Eastern Antiquities have caught my eye, then I wandered into Oriental objets d’art. Next I’m looking at old rich people furniture, like some Marie Antoinette type stuff. My feet hurt really badly and I say to myself, “It’ll still be here when you come back.”
It was almost 3PM when I left. Feet hurt, back hurt. Everything hurts. Walking around on all that marble, going up millions of stairs. At least I’m getting some exercise.
My next stop was the Arc de Triomphe. This also turned out to be free entrance. I had no idea you could go up in it. The stairs are killer and I don’t know if there is limited ability access.
It is basically a memorial to all those that fought and died in the French Revolution and the Napoleon campaigns. Now, I think it is a monument to all French Soldiers because there is a Tomb of the Unknown under the Arch, and it represents Soldiers who died in both world wars. So, of course, I’m all about supporting Soldiers and I love it when a nation honours its military. I like patriotism.
There’s a room full of different French military uniforms throughout the years. It’s a bit of a museum on the inside, complete with photos and vignettes to tell various stories. The view from the top is superb. Of course, you can see the Eiffel Tower from there. It wasn’t terribly crowded up here either because the weather is not that great. Over the years, I have developed a fear of unprotected heights so I couldn’t stay up there too long.
I was supposed to stroll the Champs-Elysees afterward but here comes the icy rain again. I’m dog tired anyway, and I plan to stay up late to watch the Super Bowl. Time for a crepe and a rest.
The creperie is Ar Poul Gwen and the crepe is chocolate and Grand Marnier. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! The Bayeux crepe has finally been unseated. This crepe here is the truth! The actual crepe is very delicate. There’s a light butter flavour, not too much because it doesn’t alienate the chocolate. She put just enough chocolate inside. (Don’t you hate when they overstuff the crepes?) Then the Grand Marnier. Yum! She folds it very neatly and cuts it into neat rectangles so it is easy to eat.
I have two more days to test crepes before I make a decision once and for all.
I have another cheap dinner of some leftover Chinese, Thai and la tradition. I’m still hoping that Jules Verne will take me. I’ve already looked at the menu and calculated I will spend a tidy sum.
After taking a nap, I spent some time researching on where to view the Super Bowl in Paris. I did get some suggestions from TA, and I found at least 10 bars where the big game would be playing. In the end, I decided to stay in the apartment. I really did not want to go back out in the cold, and I am not big on hanging out in bars by myself. I probably would have met some new friends, but some of these places were talking about I needed to have made reservations and all that jazz. Really I kept falling asleep. It’s cosy in my little apartment. To go to a bar I would have to take a shower, get dressed and transport myself there. It all seemed like too much. I have champagne and spring rolls right here. Why do I need to go someplace else?
It was an experience trying to watch the game on French TV. The commentary was in French which I didn’t expect. I mean, that’s stupid, but I honestly never gave it any thought. When the game finally came on and the commentators started up with the back story of the Patriots and the Seahawks I just busted out laughing. If you know the sport, you probably don’t need any commentary at all but it’s part of the experience. They talk about stats, previous games, comparisons to other teams. How do you say “third down” in French?
I ended up watching the game on my laptop. I was very surprised this was available. In previous years you could only watch Super Bowl on your mobile devices if you had a cable subscription. Since I technically do not live anywhere, and I’m a cord cutter anyway. Thank God for VPN.
I kept the French game on in the background because it was hysterical. Even the intonation of the French commentators’ voices is different. When Jermaine Kearse made that insane catch, the French commentators did not sound as excited. Maybe they were like, “Who likes this stupid violent sport anyway?” On the American channel the commentators were screaming like maniacs. You could tell they had jumped onto their desks.
It was good I stayed in because Katy Perry’s half time show put me to sleep a little bit. I woke up somewhere in the middle of the third quarter. My team was losing and it didn’t look good for us, but you know Brady. He specialises in last minute hope. I think he likes to be under pressure like that. Anyway, thanks to Pete Carroll’s horrible call the Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl—and yes, you can call us a dynasty.
Anyway, time to get some sleep. Lucky the only real thing I have planned for Monday is an attempt to get into Jules Verne.
You’ll find out how that went, plus the Champs-Elysees!