The best things about Paris

Seine, Paris

Today was a super-hectic day. The day started at around 10AM at the triangle above the Louvre. We met Don and Debbie and went down to the superb but chaotic museum. There were thousands of tourists (mostly Asians) hurrying about in every direction possible. Many were in groups of 50+ with headsets and guides. There were also school kids neatly walking in rows of twos.

I am not knowledgeable in art, but the Louvre is absolutely a must-see if you are in Paris. You can spend days, weeks, even months admiring all it has to offer. We didn’t really do it justice by spending only a few hours, but we did see the highlights.

People have their own opinions on why the Mona Lisa is the world’s most valuable painting. It is priceless and is easily the biggest attraction in Paris. Thousands of people flock to see it daily. In today’s tech connected world, everyone takes a picture; many take selfies. I guess they want a record that they were there with the Mona Lisa. Their face next to the world’s most coveted painting is…well…something to brag about!

The Winged Victory and Aphrodite are two other masterpieces that are must-see works of art at the Louvre. The Winged Victory is particularly impressive. For us during this trip, it has particular significance; the stone is from Rhodes and it has a Greek history!

Tourists snapping the Mona Lisa in Paris

We also visited Napoleon’s “apartment” full of gold and opulence. I guess it was a different era; a different way to live! The French gaudiness was a bit too much for me. Definitely not classy!

After the hubbub of all the masterpieces we finally went to an indoor garden full of sculptures where a few art students were sketching of the statues. The room is bright with natural light pouring in through the translucent ceiling. All the art looks suspended in time and motion; as if all the pieces will come alive all at once. Men on horses with spears, gods and angels readying for war, fair maidens staring into the distance with their flowing transparent garments, cupids with their arrows, lovers embracing in animated poses; they are all superbly carved in perfect proportion. The entire space is quiet, calm and peaceful with an occasional whisper from a visitor. I walked down the steps, sat on a bench in solitude and soaked it all in. I was at the Louvre in Paris!

All in all, we barely saw 20% of the museum and didn’t spend more than a couple of minutes on any piece. I could spend days here and barely scratch the surface. In spite of the chaos and the crowds in most of the museum, I thoroughly enjoyed my time here.

In the afternoon, I went for a run from the hotel to the Eiffel tower and back. I ran through Jardin des Tuileries again, crossed the river and ran on the west bank directly under the Eiffel tower. As I snapped a souvenir picture, I was approached by a couple of gypsy girls who asked me if I spoke English. I’d been warned about these girls and their pickpocketing ways. Other than my phone, I was carrying nothing. I was in shorts and a t-shirts. They were obviously rookies trying to indulge me in a conversation. I shrugged and aggressively told them that I spoke English “better than you do!” They backed off. As I ran back to the hotel, I wondered where they live, how they are brought up, what their families are like. Maybe they get a bad rap about pickpocketing; maybe they are just trying to make a buck selling newspapers. I felt empathy…

In the evening, we walked to a restaurant far far away from the hotel and had some delicious crepes. My crepe with honey, nuts and flambe rum was very excellent. The evening conclude with a boat ride on the Seine. It lasted an hour and we even saw the Eiffel tower sparkling. It was a cold evening but the evening boat ride is worth it. By the time we walked back to the hotel, it was just short of midnight.

Tomorrow, we visit the Palace of Versailles.

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