Posted by: Lee | October 5, 2005

The Paris Expedition – Day 2

Having had a solid nights sleep after our energetic first day we awoke feeling refreshed…..I tell a lie Liz woke refreshed,  I was more like a walking zombie, I was up though! Our main goals for the day were to see the Musee d’Orsay and Musee du Louvre. A lot of walking! J

We once again navigated the busy Metro system to a stop near Musee d’Orsay and logically headed straight to a Café for “Deux Café au Lait”. Nothing like a proper French Coffee to start the day with. Even better was the Café we found, a quaint little corner establishment on a very peaceful Parisian road. I once again, with coaching from Lizzie, attempted to flex my limited French vocabulary. I actually understood the waitress in parts too (she spoke entirely in French to us), that made the Coffee even better J 

After the Coffee it was a 2 minute walk up a small street to Musee d’Orsay. The Museum itself is a converted train station which is home to many famous masterpieces. Some of the work on display is by artists such as Monnet, Renoir, Degas and Van Gogh. We had to queue for about 20 minutes to get in, once in we had to walk though a metal detector and have our bags x-rayed, not for the last time at a tourist attraction. We queued for tickets for a minute before I confidently asked for 2 tickets in French, the ticket attendant replied in English….obviously I need to work on my pronunciation J, nonetheless he understood what I said.  The interior of the Museum itself was very impressive, I’ve never been in a Gallery quite like it. It’s hard to describe really, all I can say is it very contemporary, it’s a converted train station! I’ll upload pictures of our trip soon anyway. 

Now I must confess, I’ve never really quite got art, as in the meaning behind paintings and the structure behind the painting…yes there is a structure, I had no clue. Lizzie on the other hand is very enthusiastic about art and is gifted with an imaginative arty brain as opposed to my boring scientific one. This means she usually understands the meaning behind a painting, I’m envious, I’m usually stood there thinking “isn’t that colourful”. Full credit it to her, she has been trying to train my mind to figure paintings out, no easy task but I’m trying J. Resultantly I most enjoyed walking round looking at the work on show (there were sculptures as well as paintings and drawings). The immense scale and detail of some of the paintings was incredible whilst the simplicity of others was quite thought provoking (what in the world is happening to my brain!!). The Van Gogh paintings were particularly interesting, they are so colourful and simple yet at the same time……..my brain is struggling now J. I did like that Museum, we were in there several hours!

After d’Orsay we strolled off to get lunch, French baguettes with ham and butter, accompanied by some croissants and bottles of coke. It was a beautiful day so we sat and ate our food on the steps in front of the Musee d’Orsay. Afterwards we strolled over towards the Tuileries (which are not to far from d’Orsay) and up towards the Louvre. Just as we were approaching it I was pounced on by a street trader again. He was insisting on taking a picture of myself and Lizzie, only 5 euros he kept saying….bargain….yeah right, at the time he was pestering me, Liz was in the process of taking a picture of the Louvre with her camera, right in front him! Why would we want to pay for one, you have to admire their cheek J.

We trotted inside the Louvre, noticing in the process the French don’t like to queue and try to push past you. It is amazing how much space I manage to occupy when I try J. The Louvre is a hell of a big place (thankfully with lots of seats scattered around it, we needed them!). We did the obvious tourist thing and headed straight for the Venus de Milo (they’ve still not found the poor girls arms), fighting our way past hundreds of Japanese to get near it, then straight onto the Mona Lisa. Seeing the Mona Lisa is a strange experience, I’ve seen it before but never get used to how small it is. It’s in a new room now, full of other paintings, truly incredible paintings yet this one little work of art, within a glass case mounted on a specially built wall in the middle of the room, truly captivates people. I do wonder how some paintings develop such a reputation over other paintings which are seemingly just as good or intriguing. Whatever the reason, you can’t help staring at Da Vinci’s masterpiece, if you can get close enough, there are swarms of people around it (what a surprise). Irritatingly you are not allowed to take a picture of it, even if you don’t use a flash. You have to see it though, just to say you’ve seen it. 

Afterwards we strolled off to the quieter sections of the museum and realised just how big it is, we were wandering round the Ancient Egyptian section (I’ve always found the Egyptians fascinating, very mysterious period), it goes on and on and on. There are so many relics on display, I took loads of pictures. We also browsed round the African and South American section, unfortunately it is very small but has some interesting pieces. We were in the Louvre for hours and by the time we left our feet were well and truly sore, oh god they were sore. 

From leaving the Louvre we trotted back into the Tuileries opposite and collapsed in some seats next to one of the large fountains. A seat had never felt so comfortable. We sat there for about 20 minutes before…guess what….we decided to walk up the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. That took quite a while at our sore feet slow pace. We stopped along the way to get a hot-dog, French style. Rather than a hot-dog bun you get a baguette instead, very very tasty! The pavements get so busy as you reach the section of the Champs-Elysees with shops on it, so so busy, it’s a nightmare. Upon reaching the Triomphe we discovered there was some sort of ceremony taking place underneath the great archway. It appeared to be a memorial service (there were lots of old people with their medals on). There were French police scattered all over the island on which the Triomphe is located. They stopped us going all the way round it which was a pain but we still managed to take in the enormity of the arch and the details of the statues carved into it.

After pausing to sit down for a few minutes (our feet were really sore by then, really sore) we headed for the nearest Metro stop to get a Metro down to Notre Damn again. Unfortunately it was closed by the time we arrived, after 7pm. We didn’t go in it the day before as we had suitcases. There a lots of cafes in that area though so we stopped to have dinner and rest our feet for an hour or so. It was a very pleasant meal. Afterwards we were strolling back to the metro, past Notre Damn and discovered its doors were open, very strange. We went in and soon discovered it was because a presentation was about to take place on the history of the Cathedral, in French though. We wandered round the bits of the Cathedral that were open before deciding to head back to the hotel. We were quite exhausted after our busy day. It had been a very good day, eventful and extremely busy so off we trotted to our favourite the busy Metro. We were back at the hotel quite quickly and asleep probably just as quickly when our heads hit the pillow.

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Responses

  1. I like Lee\’s little blogs, but he rather over states the case for my abilities in both french speaking and painting interpretation. did love seeing them though. and did love the trip generally.

  2. There is no overstating what-so-ever, Lizzie is far too modest!!!


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