Monday, December 1, 2014

European Vacation--Day 3 Paris

We had an early start to our museum day.  We arrived at the Louvre well before opening and took some time walking around the lovely Tuileries Gardens.  Fortunately, Wingnut had read about a "secret" entrance to the Louvre and we were able to avoid standing in the long line at the main entrance.  We began working our way through the Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities, which were not crowded at all.  People don't know what they are missing by skipping this part of the museum.  The collections of ancient Greek and Roman statuary and Egyptian sarcophagi were pretty impressive.

We spent a good amount of time in the French artist galleries, especially the pre-impressionists and then toured the great Italian medieval and renaissance painting galleries.  The crowd to see the Mona Lisa was oppressive, but Wingnut Jr. got a fairly good view and shot with the camera on the iPhone.  Really, it would be nice if they forbade photography in the Louvre, altogether.  Folks taking selfies with great artwork was pretty obnoxious, although I do love my shot of Winged Victory of Samothrace.

We had a lovely lunch at a nearby creperie.  I tried an English bacon, blue cheese and caramelized onion buckwheat crepe.  It was amazing!

Our next museum stop was the Orsay, which I enjoyed much more than the Louvre.  It is much less overwhelming, less crowed, and photography is forbidden.  We saw sculptures by Rodin and paintings by many of the famous impressionists and post-impressionists.  My favorite exhibit was the gallery currently exhibiting Religion, Devotion and Modernity.  It contained one of my all time favorite paintings The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulcher on the Morning of the Resurrection by Eugene Burnand.  It was thrilling to see it in person.

The boys were pretty much done with museums at that point so we decided to find the Paris Catacombs for a change in scenery.  The catacomb tour is a 45 minute self guided tour beneath the city that houses an impressive ossuary.  The bones were removed from ancient cemeteries and then rearranged in the catacombs in an interesting combination of macabre and reverential displays beginning in 1787.  The boys really enjoyed walking/running through the maze of passages and discovering the different displays of skeletal remains.

We went back to the hotel for a short rest and to rearrange our luggage.  We then took on last quick trip into the city to see L'Arc de Triomphe.  We thought we might take the boys to the top until we learned we'd have to climb 248 stairs to the top.  After 3 days straight of marching around Paris, we decided the climb was not worth it.

I really enjoyed seeing Paris--a dream I've had since taking French in high school and college.  The Paris Metro is very easy to use and we were able to find our way around the city with very little trouble. I was disappointed in how run down, littered, and marked up with graffiti much of the city was.



Detail of the Louvre palace



Even in November, the Tuileries Garden was beautiful



Sunrise over the Louvre





This statue in the Tuileries Garden made me laugh.  It is an ancient face palm, no?






Loved the moon sitting just behind this statue outside the Louvre







Can you see the face of the lecherous old man in the background of this French renaissance painting?





This was my favorite shot from the Louvre--Winged Victory of Samothrace







The other famous ancient Greek statue--The Venus de Milo





Within the Paris Catacombs





Beneath L'Arc de Triomphe




L'Arc de Triomphe
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