May 2006 - Tokyo & Europe

  • of rooms opened in the Louvre the day I went: Approx. 411

  • of rooms visited: 403 (Miss the arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas)

  • Hours spent in the Louvre: 6 straight, no break, no food.

Within the first 10 minutes of visiting the Louvre I had viewed both the Winged Victory of Samothrace and Mona Lisa. Venus de Milo eluded me for a few more hours as she was not where she was supposed to be, but I found her, even without an updated map.

The Louvre was everything that I hoped it would be; I was in my element. At first I decided to tick off the rooms that I had been to so that when I come back I would know what I have and haven’t seen but by the end it was a game to tick them all off and to mark where my favourite parts were. The parts I enjoyed the most were the Italian Paintings, of course Da Vinci, the whole Egyptian section and Napoleon’s apartment. In the French Paintings I also happened upon a couple of paintings by Monet, Cezanne and Pissaro that I didn’t think were in the Louvre, bonus. I just couldn’t get over the size and amount of paintings and sculptures, some paintings that would normally take centre stage in any other art gallery were just on the wall next to another painting, next to another painting.

After the craziness of viewing the entire Louvre (or there abouts in one day) I was both starving and exhausted and my feet were very happy when I took them back to the room for a break. But it wasn’t long until I was out and about again, not willing to waste any time. I walked up to Centre Pompidou (that’s one crazy modern art building), Hotel de Ville and across to Notre Dame. There was a service happening in Notre Dame when I was there and as you can imagine it was packed with people. After Notre Dame I wandered back along the Seine, finally found that pizza place that Trent and Sue had mentioned (you were right about the guy there too!) Took my pizza back to my room and fell asleep shortly after, filled to the brim with yummy pizza.

I was hoping to go to the Musee D’Orsay today, unfortunately I realised it was closed on Mondays and not on Tuesdays when I had thought it was. So that left one crammed morning on Tuesday before Eurostarring to London, but that comes in a bit.

So I once again hit the walking trail, this time up to Palais Royale, Forum Des Halles and on my way to the Place de la Bastille I fluked the Musee Picasso (it was on my list of things to do I just didn’t think I was going to make it there). I just like to say that Picasso was one weird, strange man. Amongst the paintings were his scribbles (he liked to scribble) so you would have newspapers with a couple of black lines framed and called art amongst other things. I left the musee both baffled and glad to have seen it because it gave me a perspective I had never thought about before, Picasso was a nut.

Having successfully avoided the Metro system in Paris up until this point I knew I was going to have to make one trip. I figured out the automated ticket machine ok, but missed the first train because I didn’t know how to open the door (bet I looked funny to those people inside, hehe). Anyhow, soon I had successfully navigated myself to Montmatre. As I made my way up all the stairs to the Basilique du Sacre Coeur I passed a few street husslers and a few gangs… Ah the Paris I had neglected to see before now. Finally made it to the top and was amazed by both the view and the Basilique, quite amazing. I decided the climb the 290 steps to the Dome to improve on the already amazing view and considering the ticket machine only took coins or French credits cards I was one of only a few people hiking upstairs. In fact, I only saw one couple at the top of the Dome, which made the experience a little unnerving and slightly eerie as you can probably imagine climbing a dark spiral staircase to the top of a very old basilique. But the view and the experience was worth both the money and the eeriness.

Thankfully I made it back to the nice Paris without any problems at all and then went shopping for the last couple of hours. I decided to have a special dinner on my final night in Paris and what better way to finish then to have dinner overlooking the pyramid at the Louvre. I was a little early for dinner so I sat on the side of the Louvre soaking it all in. Within 15 minutes I was asked if I was OK (was I alone?) four times. From what I can tell 3 Sincere, 1 dodgey. I even got an invitation to spend the rest of the evening with a French couple, he spoke English, she did not, but they were both very sweet. Of course, people asking me whether I was alone made me realise I was alone and how I missed everyone (but I’m still having a blast, not coming home yet!) So I ended up trying one of the recommendations by Lonely Planet, Café Marly. My table looked straight out onto the Pyramid and Louvre, perfect. Only problem being that I had to eat dessert in order to stay at the table till the sun went down which was at about 10pm. Food was ok, but what a way to spend the last night in Paris.

With a taxi set to pick me up at 11.30am and the Musee D’Orsay opening at 9.30am I knew it was only going to be a quick glance, but I couldn’t come to Paris and not see it! Thankfully I had purchased my ticket at the Hotel beforehand because I would have been waiting till at least 10am to get in normally. So, three main floors, half an hour each was all the time I could allow. Things were all running like clockwork with one level left, that was when I realised that the final level was where the kept all the good stuff. Wall to wall Renoir, Money, Degas, Van Gogh... ARGH! So many paintings, so little time! I had to take a few piccies to reflect on at a later time. Wish I had more time here, could have easily spent another 2 hours looking around and absorbing.

Got back to the Hotel with 15mins to spare, unfortunately this is the rare time in which a taxi was early. I quickly threw all my stuff together and ran out the door (don’t think I forgot anything). The taxi had already started the meter (which was a bit rude since he was 10 mins early) and I would argued that if he had understood English but I just wanted to get to the train station in one piece, so I let it slide. I was dropped at the other end of the station to where the Eurostar check-in was (figures) and of course I had no idea where to go so it took me a decent 10mins and one wrong queue to find out where I was supposed to be.

So I have left France behind and am heading to London where I can’t wait to communicate in English again! I shall leave you with a piccie I took last night of the Louvre, my favourite place in Paris.