Trains, Planes and Blistered Feet – Part Six

So, we awoke for our 3 day experience in Paris. As I mentioned in the previous post, I had a cunning plan about visiting the Louvre. Sophia, our friend, stated that every first Sunday in Paris, the museums are free entrance. My cunning plan was that I assumed that thousands would turn up at the Louvre on Sunday to get the free entrance, so the day before would be less crowded. That was the plan for the morning, to head early to the Louvre and take our chances.
So, after a quick metro charge to the city centre, (I should point out if people are looking at travel advise, that it’s wise to buy metro tickets in bulk [10 minimum], and pay with credit card. They can be used anywhere, and even buses, etc.) we arrived at the Louvre station. A little confusing as we basically ended up at the pre-paid queue and soon realised we were in the wrong place. A walk into the courtyard revealed the amazing and famous pyramid of the entrance to the museum. And as my cunning plan seemed to bare out, an empty entrance way. Absolutely nobody in any kind of queue. We just walked in and did the standard scan of items, which seemed weird as even if it set the alarms off, they did nothing about it.
So, what you don’t realise when you enter the museum is how vast it is. The cloakrooms are worth utilising, and are free. So we stored most of our stuff there, and headed to the ticket office. Now, there were like 30 ticket booths, today only two working. We stood in the queue and I watched the cheery gentlemen helping out the customers he was serving. It seemed promising that I was also going to get him, but then this other booth opened up and I ended up getting the most miserable, unhelpful woman, who did nothing to help or even talk to me. We got our tickets (which I actually found out later, Lythia’s was free if we asked as she is an 18 EU citizen).
Anyway, we were in and surrounded by culture and art. We first turned left and entered the Greek section (well what a surprise). Lythia was trying hard to translate anything she could find, hoping her Ancient Greek lessons would come in handy. What you start to realise about the Louvre, is how immaculate everything is placed and tagged and displayed. There is a total unification in the styling of all the displays and it was impressive to see.
One thing I really did notice is that people never seemed to look up. If you did you would see these totally amazing gold framed ceilings in almost every room and corridor. I even tried that trick of standing and staring up, to see if I could attract people’s gazes, but nothing.
The map we were given was a little hard to follow, and so we really didn’t have a clue where we were going. All I knew was that Lythia had a B-line plan to see the Mona Lisa! So, we wandered around aimlessly, taking in all the art and culture, and having a discussion or laugh about their presence. We knew when we were getting close to a well-known people as a throng of people would be gathered around it. This is how we discovered the Venus De Milo. Which stood majestic in one of the halls. As we wandered we started to sense a growing presence of people building around us.
When we made a climb onto one set of stairs and turned right, it hit us, we were entering the Italian art hall! (The image below was taken about half way down, so you can see how long it was) This was the home of the Mona Lisa!! We took a deep breath, and decided to amble down until we discovered her. Looking at all of the amazing arts on the way.
So, Lythia was amazed with all the Renaissance art that had a monk with a hatchet in his head. Seemed to be a common theme in this hallway. As we strolled, that characteristic sign of popularity gathering started to emerge, and halfway down the hall, and entrance revealed the ‘perfect portrait’ to us. As you would expect the place was literally packed with people aiming to see the delight. I was a little dismayed that you had to stand behind a cordon that was actually some way off from the original wooden barrier. Anyway, we saw the Mona Lisa and we did the selfie part and we moved on. I still had a slight tingle in my skin hairs as we departed. One item off the bucket list!
So, we continued on, and past our second hour in the Louvre. I was literally pumped with all the art to explore. Then we entered this room, and from over 30 metres away I saw a Goya. I literally yelped it out to Lythia, and was hoping the rest of the way to the final opportunity to look over the fine piece. Not sure if Lythia got it, as I recalled our trip to Teloglio Museum to see the complete collection of his etchings (something I put Lythia through at about 8 years old).
So, after a quick circumnavigation of the ethnic art sections which seemed to have a lot of Turner, Constable and Hobbs preceding it, we decided to all it a day. It had been a long four hours of pure artistic indulgence. We could have stayed longer, but our days were numbered, and we had a lot more to see in Paris. After a quick stop at the shop to by the obligatory Mona Lisa replica print, we said good bye to the Louvre. As we exited we were met by pure blue skies and sunshine, which was a treat. As we had been given sandwiches by Sophia we decided to find a spot in the Tuileries Garden, outside the Louvre and sit down for a while.
Lythia was content that she had finally seem some great art. I think she was finally warming up to the trip…but I guess the sunshine helped there.
So, as we entered the Tuileries Garden we noticed a couple of small ponds either side of the path. I suggested we sat around one to eat our lunch. We found a couple of free chairs and sat back to enjoy some Winter sun. It caught my eye that there were a load of people (obviously not Young Ornithologists at a younger age) trying to feed the birds at the pond inappropriate food, like popcorn! I was a little annoyed at this, but a funny thing happened. As soon as we took out our well made sandwiches, a group of cocky ducks approached us. Obviously aware of the haute cuisine on offer. We surrendered some of our sandwich to them, as they were so cute, and Lythia enjoyed the spectacle. Lunch was over and we had the Champs-Élysées to walk.
As we exited the Tuileries Garden, we encountered the Place de la Concorde. This was the first time we saw the Eiffel Tower. Lythia was all glazed over in her vision, and gave her a little more punch in her step. But first, the reason we travelled the Champs-Élysées was to reach the end, and the Arc de Triomphe. It was a long walk, but we made it, and like some tourist expectations, it let me down slightly. This was because you had to carefully navigate down the centre of the road, and stand on the edge of the very busy roundabout to get any kind of decent photograph. But we both did it, amount the myriad of Japanese tourists.
Little did we know, that the following week in Paris was the start of the ‘Yellow Vest’ movement, and that we were ultra lucky to be able to walk up the Champs-Élysées and to see the monument. This luck was soon deflated as we checking in with Sophia to find the required metro line and stop for the Eiffel Tower. We discovered that it was closed this week for maintenance, and that we had to walk all the way to the Eiffel Tower. We had walked a lot, so a little more wasn’t going to hurt (not Lythia’s understanding).
As we reached the Seine we took a direct line to the Eiffel Tower along the banks of the river. In hindsight I now realise that this would lead us to the gardens and the magnificent view, but were tired and this was the quickest route. It is indeed a monument to be in awe of. Standing below you feel humble by its majesty and scale. It was getting into early afternoon and we were in need of a ‘pit stop’. having no clue on public amenities in Paris we chanced on a museum entrance, and decided to take a look and use the facilities.
A very helpful young lady informed us of the free pass Lythia gets for her age and EU status, and we entered. Not knowing what to expect, but soon became fascinated with all the ethnic artefacts that were housed there. It is split into 4 contents, and displayed a mass of different cultural art and design from these places. It soon became Lythia’s and my favourite museum. We must have spend like 3 hours in there and it was an eight of the size of the Louvre. Anyway, the sun was starting to set on our first full day in Paris, and we decided to make that ‘pit stop’ in the museum cafe. We sat next to the window and enjoyed our drinks and cake, with the Eiffel Tower leaning over us in the background. A quick call to Sophia set a plan to meet back at the Louvre and out for dinner.
So, we took a leisurely stroll down the bank of the Seine, to find our way back to the Louvre and the rendezvous point. The city seemed very much more cosmopolitan as we walked, with loads of families, couples and young people astride this new scooter fad. Buzzing up and down past us like bees racing to their hives. The Seine has many bridges along it and they all have some intent about them. They are well utilised for cafes and tourist attraction places, and so there was always a mass of people on the path. We didn’t realise how far it was, so we walked and walked and walked.
As the sun finally closed up shop for the day, we saw the ambient glow of the Louvre lights in the distance, and a little further, we could even see the Notre Dame lit. We found the whole city to be a great and wondrous place to look at, and it felt so much better in November with the sun as warm as it was. We made a quick call to Sophia to find the exact spot and decided on making it the world famous metro stop at the Louvre. Little did we know that there was more than one entrance to the metro at the Louvre! So, we stood and stood and waited and waited. All the people eventually dispersed, and we stood a lone for a while. Then from around the corner, the smiley face of Sophia!

It had been a long and exhausting day, with over 14Kms covered by foot. Lythia was ready for a rest. Before we went home Sophia said she wished to take us to China town for something to eat. So, with a little bit more wandering to the Opera house, we entered China town. A myriad of Eastern delicacy joints of either Chinese or Japanese flavours. The places was very popular and packed, and we couldn’t choose as most were like micro restaurants with not much room. After wandering for a while we chanced upon a Japanese place that Sophia knew and we decided (or our legs did) that this was the place. I had sushi some time back in London, so didn’t have a n issue with this type of meal. Ordered a well selective range of morsels to eat down on, but Lythia was a little more reluctant and had a cooked meal. All-in-all it was a very nice meal and a perfect end to a wonderful day. We know we had to get back to the flat, rest up and get ready for an early start in the morning!

Paris
Walk
Day One 14.72kms

For part one of Milan, look here, part two here, part three here and part four here and part five look here!