The Louvre, Amelie, the Eiffel Tower & breaking the ‘law’

Louvre Courtyard

There are no fat people in Paris…

ok, they’re not all rail skinny and there are some with broader beams, a couple of matronly looking ladies..but the only obese people I’ve seen have been American tourists!

I’m not sure if it’s because with such efficient public transport people use cars less, or the reasonable portions they serve, or genetic but definitely the Parisians as a group are normal weight folk..(look, Gerard Depardieu doesn’t count, remember ..he was so miff about the government raising taxes on the rich he applied for Russian citizenship! )

As a South African the first thing I always notice is the homeless.  They’re here too as they are no doubt everywhere, but far fewer than back home and few street children!  Mostly they seem to be immigrants.  It’s odd, for the main part they don’t beg..just sit there on their knees, head bent cup in front of them…I think I may find that more disturbing to be honest …felt like home though today when a barefoot ..really smelly fella walked through the metro carriage muttering something which I translated roughly as “give me some money my larny” to all.

I’ve also noticed that they warn you about beggars and pickpockets constantly, though coming from CT I don’t feel very threatened or concerned…other than I always hate walking on by someone in need..but what can one do?

One thing I do love encountering in the subways are the buskers…just like in NY they make my day … from classical violinists, hip hop, and soulful French ‘lounge’music ..there are plenty about

Went to Louvre today I knew it was big..really I did.  I’d been told, I’d read about it, I even went on line and looked at pics but in no way did it prepare me for the sheer volume…not only of the building but just how much artwork there is fact never mind the artwork ..the building itself is a piece of art with ornate ceilings and carved pillars everywhere. I found the history of the Louvre as fascinating as the artwork inside

To realise you’re looking at some of the very first cuneiform writing is humbling, to see the marvelously carved statues is breathtaking;…how does someone take a piece of hard cold marble and breathe life into it like that…? marble gowns that flow, muscles you expect to see flex and contract…I wouldn’t have been surprised if one of them had stepped off the podium so lifelike are these heroic figures.

Of course one has to see the Mona Lisa …truly good and yes she does have an enigmatic smile ..yet, she was exactly what I expected and nothing more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m privileged to have seen her but she left me feeling nothing new  ..unlike Van Gogh’s starry night which I was fortunate enough to see for real in SFO at the de Young Museum…that was so much more than I ever imagined!! it appeared 3 D, irridiscent and throbbing with feeling.  Mind you I don’t think Ms Lisa minds..she had enough camera’s flashing around here to rival most movie stars!

Very crowded
Very crowded

After about 3 / 4 hours Pierre and I had barely seen even a fraction of all there is to see but…there is only so much museum and art one can do without your brain leaking out your ears…so we took a lovely brisk walk back to our place which helped warm us up on this chilly afternoon ..!

Then, for dinner, a highlight for me ..a visit to Cafe des 2 Moulins – the very restaurant where Amelie was filmed!! Again the thrill when someone understands my request in French for a meal for us. It did not disappoint… 🙂 a lovely meal, a stunning creme brulee for Pierre and some of the best cappuccino we”ve had since we’ve arrived (for the most part we’ve found them pretty watery and flavourless)…as we leave I cannot resist and succumb to being a tourist and sheepishly beg Pierre to take a pic of me in front of the restaurant.

The very restaurant where Amelie was filmed!!
The very restaurant where Amelie was filmed!!

On the way back we stopped to get some more metro tickets, how odd, these are quite a bit more than the first lot we paid for, but we only have one each of those left so we buy some more.  I see the original tickets say ‘reduit’..reduced?  why?  did we buy on a day when tickets were cheaper? Was it the specific Metro we bought it from?  wrong, wrong, wrong as we were to discover.

A bunch of official looking folk in the metro tunnel asking for tickets…we hand ours over confidently …turns out ‘reduit’ is reduced because it’s for children.  The woman questioning us can speak no English and certainly this is not covered in my language tapes.  I try and play up the fact we don’t understand, but they don’t particularly care ..30 Euro fine..EACH.  Damn those tickets were expensive after all!

Ah, well..having now paid the piper we proceed on our journey to Trocadero where we get off in what is most certainly a very POSH area ..we climb the stairs to view the Eiffel Tower.  Certainly she’s large.  The area around here is truly stunning with a lovely park, a skateboarding area around it, lovely blossoming trees and carousels a plenty.  We take a walk through all this beauty and eventually find a little restaurant to have a glass of wine.  ‘We’re so close to the Eiffel Tower ..we may as well get closer, we’re right there, we may as well go up but even at 11:00 pm the queues are huge..’wait says my beloved, there’s another ticket office over there, no queue and it says élevator’ let’s use that one…’  Well..guess what?  no elevator but we’re there now so..we start walking and walking and walking.

Loads of stairs, if you take that option!
Loads of stairs, if you take that option!

What can I say ..Paris will be forever etched in my arse and calves (incidentally this was a spontaneous idea so no, of course I am NOT wearing takkies)  However you can only walk as far as the 2nd level and then you have to buy another ticket to take a lift the last way.  Again the queues and by now the sweat is rapidly cooling us in the chilly night air.  We decide that the view from here is fabulous enough and after a quick look around ..we descend.

And that was the end to a very full day!

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