Posted on Tuesday, January 03, 2006 08:03, by Teri
Before we left the hotel, I telephoned the ParisVision office to try to get their location so we could pick up Kristen's gloves and Richard's camera (ok, it's not really a long story - we left them on the tour van the day we went to Versailles). What a long phone call! I was transferred back and forth, and all around, and finally, was told politely that they obviously did not have them since they were not there! I had already explained that the personnel had told me by phone a few days earlier that the items were in the office and were being held at a secure location, so there was no sense beating a dead horse... I thanked them and hung up. Within minutes, the telephone rang - they indeed *did* have our items! Luckily, the office was very close to where we were going, so we took the Metro, picked up our things, and headed to the Louvre.
Arc du Carrousel and the Louvre
Directly before the Louvre is the Arc du Carrousel - a smaller version of the Arc de Triomphe, and a beautifully detailed structure with horse statues on top. I took several photos, determined not to let Kristens insistence that I was over-photographing get me down! *grins*
It was quite a long walk to the Louvre, but the lines were really not that bad and we got in fairly quickly. "Children" under 18 were free; my fee was 8,50 Euros. Kristen suggested we rent the headphones - a very smart idea. At many exhibits, there was an audio-related number, which was keyed into the handheld attached to the headphones to play the related history of the exhibit.
Wasting no time, we headed directly for the Mona Lisa. After going through several rooms of paintings, we exited the area, feeling almost certain that we had gone to the wrong place. We headed for the Egyptian exhibits, which Kristen was keen to see. She was tickled to have her camera again, but oooops! - I had removed the batteries before we left the camera in the van (Richard will understand this - there's something tricky about the battery latch) - and the batteries were in the hotel room. I gave her my camera to use, and she took photos of nearly every single item on exhibition in the Egyptian rooms (I'm not exaggeraing, either!).
After we finished in the Egyptian exhibits, we tried again to find the Mona Lisa. Yes, we were in the right place before. We exited only one room too early. *LOL* We made our way into the large room from which the entry to the room containing the Mona Lisa stood, and WOW. I stood before many beautiful paintings from the masters of our history. It was awesome.
We entered the room with the Mona Lisa exhibit, which was centered prominently in the room with 2 guards and a large, roped-off area. I did not mention earlier, but photos were not allowed in the rooms with the paintings. I saw some people sneaking photos, and while I am sometimes guilty of doing that myself, I didn't dare try it here. We made our way to the back of the broad group in the roped area to slowly inch forward to the painting. Kristen, fortunately, was allowed in FRONT of the roped area with other "kids"of similar height. I have heard that the Mona Lisa is a tiny painting, and I quite frankly was expecting a 4" x 6", or perhaps a 5" x 7". Not so. The painting is tiny compared to the HUGE wall-sized paintings, but it's not *that* tiny. I'd guess probably 16" x 20" - or perhaps a bit larger. It looked, of course, just like the photos we've all seen of it, but it was really fun standing in front of "the real thing".
We exited to the lowest level for another few rooms of Egyptian exhibits. By now, we had spent almost 3 hours in the museum (and I was quite frankly amazed at Kristen's endurance), and my ankles were not happy campers. We exited the Louvre and headed back through the huge park, stopping at the fountains along the way, and watching the children floating their rented wooden boats.
We continued through the park to the huge Ferris Wheel, which we rode (of course). Obscenely, the ferris wheel ride cost more than the Louvre. It was fun, the view was beautiful, and I got some good photos from the top, so no complaints. We hobbled several blocks (more than several) back to the Metro Station, and returned to our home base. Kristen had agreed to let me eat at a "real" French restaurant, but we were too early for supper. She had a very large bowl of tomato soup, and I had a cheese (fromage) plate. Delicious! We returned to the hotel for a bit, then went to our favorite corner bistro.
Inspired by the great art in the museum, I sketched Kristen (either it was inspiration or boredom, one or the other...) in her Journal, then she went through the bistro getting autographs of the staff and patrons. It was a lot of fun, actually, and apparently won the approval of the owner, who sent us a free pepsi and champagne, and then, for the *biggest* surprise - he gave Kristen a wooden shoe as a present when we left. I have, of course, no idea of the story behind the shoe, but it is large and gorgeous, and was a very nice gesture!
We have absolutely NO plans for today - we'll play it by ear! Au revoir for now!