Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday in France

We'd done our research to know that there is always a long line to climb the tower at Notre Dame Cathedral, even mid-week in January. So we got an early start and headed over, stopping to take a brief tour of Sainte-Chapelle, since it was also included in the museum pass. The stained glass was gorgeous, and this is also worth a future visit when we have more time to figure out all of the 1,000+ biblical stories they depict.
Notre Dame is just a couple of blocks away.
When we got to the tower line (good thing the guide books tell you it's around the corner to the left because it isn't very well marked) there were only a couple of people in line.  Because they only let a limited number up at a time, even though we were near the front of the line, we still had a wait of a half hour or so. I can only imagine what it would be like in the summer! It also wasn't very clear as to where you purchase your tickets to go up, so in case you ever need to know, it's after you go through security and up the first set of stairs. There happens to be a little gift shop there, and we decided Brooke needed a Quasimodo to accompany her up the stairs. He was happy to see his bell at the top, where the view was great, even if it was obscured by ugly black netting. (FYI, strollers aren't allowed up these stairs either, but at least they had a place to store them at the bottom.)
Once at ground level again, we walked through the inside of the cathedral.
The artwork and details are amazing and mind-boggling, but I still like our temples better. I think a lot of that is due to light. These old cathedrals are kind of dark and damp. Wayne detoured to see the treasury; maybe the rest of us should have as well, because he said it was quite fascinating.
We did took a few minutes to check out the crypt. I thought it would be filled with coffins of old priests, but it was really a series of exhibits on how Paris was founded.

Then it was time to cross the bridge and walk through the Latin Quarter on our way to the Jardin du Luxembourg so that Brooke could play on the playground.

She was kind of disappointed that there weren't any swings. We thought it was interesting that you had to pay to go inside. However, because it was damp and misty and cold, she had the huge playground all to herself. That probably wouldn't happen in summer either.
By then it was raining a bit harder and we were all hungry, so we found someplace to eat lunch and then we visited the Musee de l'Armee. First up was Napoleon's Tomb, and then we walked through the World War I and World War II exhibits.

Once again we stayed until closing time. While it might have been nicer without the rain, we still had a wonderful Friday in France.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Museums and More

One of the things that intrigued me during my research of things to do in Paris was the Passage Jouffroy, a covered shopping mall. Many of these passages were created 200 years ago to help the shoppers of the day avoid mud and rain. Because it wasn't on our "top ten" list, we didn't explore these passages when the stores were open, but we did walk through them one morning, and decided we'd love to come back and spend more time there some day.
Thursday morning's museum was the Musee de l'Orangerie, which was originally designed as a showcase for Monet's Water Lilies paintings.
However, there were other paintings as well.
After going through the displays at the museum, we left to meet Brad's family. We showed Brooke our view of the Eiffel Tower and then left to catch a bus.
Our first stop was the Arc de Triomphe.
After we arrived we discovered that strollers aren't allowed to go up to the top; it was a bit disappointing to not be together at the top. We also learned that if you want to take a picture of the Eiffel Tower you should go in the afternoon so the sun doesn't interfere. At least, it was sunny and not rainy!
The detail on the arch was amazing. 
Robyn had a grand time exploring the tunnel under the monument.
Afterwards we strolled along the Champs Elysees, which included the must-do tourist stop at Lauderee for some macarons. We tried chocolate, salted caramel, raspberry, vanilla pecan, pistachio and rose petal, cutting them into teeny tiny pieces so everyone could try each flavor. Salted caramel and raspberry were the favorites.
We made it to the end!
We walked through the Jardins des Tuileries and actually found some green grass. When we walked through it that morning (on the way to the museum) I was surprised at how brown it was, and that most of the walkways were dirt. It's still a beautiful park, though, just different.
At the far end of the park we stopped to take some pictures of the Louvre, or the Ecole du Louvre.
Then we crossed the Seine River using the Pont Royal bridge, on our way to the next museum.
This time it was the Musee d'Orsay
They did a great job of turning an old train station into an art museum.
It's possible to have an overload of art, but I'm still glad we went.
Once again we stayed pretty much until closing, and then we walked over the famous "love lock" bridge, Pont des Arts, although it was too dark to really see anything.
After dinner we helped Brad's family check into their hotel. Don't you just love their cute little elevator? 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Louvre Museum

As mentioned earlier, one of the main purposes of our trip was so Wayne could fulfill the promise he made years ago to take me to the Louvre. So he did, and we had an absolutely wonderful day exploring this gigantic museum. We picked Wednesday because it was open late, and we were there from opening to closing, over 12 hours. That was a long day, and we still barely scratched the surface of what there is to see!
We prefer the original building over the new pyramid, but the light it provided was nice.
The first order of business was to pick up a map and get an audio guide for Wayne. During his last visit, he did the "walk-through" and this time wanted to go more in depth in as many sections as possible. He chose to start at the bottom, with the "Medieval Louvre" section on the ground floor of the Sully wing. These exhibits showcased the original castle fortress and moat which was unearthed in the 1980's.
That led into the Egyptian Antiquities section, with artifacts that were even more ancient.
Of course one of the unique aspects of this particular museum is that the building itself is amazing. We loved this staircase, which took you to the next level of Egyptian artifacts.

While Wayne finished his detailed exploration of this area, I took a detour through the Richelieu Wing to see the "Decorative Arts," or the rooms where Napoleon and the kings lived. My favorite was the Grand Salon.
It would be nice to have a dining room such as this one for family reunions.
The individual pieces of furniture were detailed and amazing. I particularly liked this desk (top left) that turned into a table (or the other way around) and the baby cradle (with the green curtain).

 I loved all the beautiful chandeliers!
After grabbing a quick sandwich at the Cafe de la Pyramide, we followed the signs, and the crowds, to pay the obligatory visit to the Mona Lisa.
We didn't spend much time there, though, because Wayne was anxious to get started on listening to all the explanations for the Greek and Roman Antiquities displays.
While he did that, I looked at the paintings and displays in the Apollo Gallery, and then walked through the rooms on the first floor of the Denon Wing. There are a LOT of paintings!
Some of the more interesting ones to me were these depictions of David and Goliath, probably because that was the next lesson to prepare for seminary.
There were a lot of renditions of the Madonna, and other bible stories as well.
The view out the windows was almost prettier than what was on the walls.
Once I finished that, it was time to catch up with Wayne, who was making great progress.

A lot of different artifacts have been gathered from Greek and Roman history, some of them big, some of them little, some we liked more than others. However, we didn't like these two ceilings, which were painted within the last ten years or so. In our opinion they're hideous and totally out of place, but we're not art connoisseurs, so what do we know?
By the time Wayne finished listening to the last description, the lights were being turned off and the patrons were leaving. So, we did too, but we stopped to say good-bye to the Winged Victory of Samothrace on our way.
Until next time!