One evening, we went to the Louvre with M and E. It was open late, until 10pm, and we thought we’d get reduced admission after six which unfortunately is not true. We did have several hours there and saw the Mona Lisa (no line!), which was enough for the troops but felt too little time for this massive, excellent museum. We really enjoyed the Egyptian exhibit and parts of Darius III’s Persepolis palace. Outside and inside the Louvre:
Arcimboldo’s Seasons (1570’s) and Ms. Mona Lisa:
We met a family from home who travel here often and spent a wonderful day with M, C, and R. M, half Tunisian herself, grew up here in a neighborhood with many residents from North Africa. We had fabulous Algerian food while watching the olympics. Then we went to Pere Lachaise Cemetery and saw the graves of Jim Morrison, Marcel Marceau, Oscar Wilde, and many others. Many graves look like telephone booths there, and are beautiful with stained glass windows and other details.
Jim Morrison’s grave:
We went to a park on a hill with a giant slide and wooden climbing structure. This was a great place for kids and nearby was a small craft market and a nice view (below; Eiffel Tower is in the distance on right in upper photo) of the city.
The Metro in Paris is fast with frequent trains. We laughed at short distance between stops, especially after experiencing the opposite in Moscow. It seemed five or more Paris stops would fit between two Moscow stops. The seats in Paris face each other so that you are knee to knee with fellow passengers, which can feel awkward or interesting depending on your disposition. Some doors on cars are opened by hand at stops, which we learned by necessity very quickly.
St. Eustache Eglise de Halles:
I spent a day alone walking around. I again noticed the many metro stops- I’m not complaining because above ground they each had really good maps that tell where one is and nearby sights. For me, it served as a poor mama’s gps since I don’t usually have an internet connection and can practically wander lost in my own house with my sketchy sense of direction. The “you are here” dot moved with me block by block and I had a very pleasant meander.
M, C, and R recommended the Beauborg area for wandering, and I enjoyed myself there. The Halles metro dropped me off right outside of the church above. A plaza there called Halles Forum was under construction but looked to be a nice public space. The Pompidou Center, with its colorful exposed pipes was an interesting place to see and had a large plaza outside. I went to the nearby National Museum of Modern Art which has free admission and saw an exhibit on the Romanian sculptor Brancusi’s workshop. It was a re-creation of his workspace in Paris in the 1950’s. I met a young New York artist who just finished a residency at a rural French abbey and fell in love with a local, so sweet! I had excellent takeaway falafel and sat in a park. I walked around gothic St. Jacques Tower, below, beautiful.
I searched for and found tiramisu and cappuccino at a cafe that had wifi and wasn’t overpriced, spending a time there to watch people pass by. There were blue skies, low humidity, endless gorgeous buildings with iron railed balconies and flowers, awnings, beveled slate roofs, historic churches, the Seine. Some tourist spots were crowded, but many locals take vacation at this time and many streets were quiet with shops closed. I loved Shakespeare & Company bookstore, open and busy, near Notre Dame.
Bells ringing at Notre Dame were extraordinary, it washed over me like a waterfall. St. Severin church had a service that began while I was there and the pipe organ and the woman singing were so lovely:
St. Etienne du Mont, below, had spiral staircases and a large pipe organ. The setting sun shot through the windows and a man was singing a classical piece that sounded like Handel as someone played the organ and the scent of jasmine permeated the church.
I walked around the Pantheon, below, and saw St. Michel Fountain, below, which I had somehow missed despite passing nearby in previous days, and eventually I made my way back to the house. It was our last day in Paris, tomorrow was London! Thank you M, E, and belle Paris!