Friday July 8th – The Louvre

I made it to the Louvre by taking the Metro. (Once again, thank you Maéva for all your lovely instructions and for taking the time to tell where to go and what to see. Believe me, it saved me a lot of useless wandering, even though Paris is perfect for simply meandering around.)20160708_013828

I arrived at the Louvre and the crowd moved through the entrance pretty fast.

20160708_013711It was self check-in and was actually quite easy. The good folks at this amazing art museum understand the essentials of crowd control and getting people in and out. I guess they have gotten used to it over the years, since it opened in 1793!

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The Musée du Louvre is on the right bank (rive droite) of the Seine River. (The famous Latin Quarter, home to artists, poets, musicians and many delicious restaurants, is located on the other side of the river, the Left Bank (rive gauche). It was built originally as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II in 1180-1223. For more than 800 years the Louvre Palace has changed its complexion, from a medieval castle to the gargantuan museum that it is today. The Louvre has become a central focus point in France’s Capital City. It became the first public museum during the French Revolution and it even served as an apartment for Napoleon at one point. The Louvre is the world’s largest museum.20160708_014125

I started my wanderings through history with the Near Eastern Antiquities (7500 BC-AD 500). This included the finest collection of Egyptian Art I have ever seen, including that at the British Museum. Here you can see the masterpieces gathered from numerous  great civilizations, including quite a few from palaces and temples in the Middle East, including Turkey, Iran, and places like Iraq.20160708_02240420160708_022714

Then I explored the incredible world of Greek art, and on to the sculptures, vases, weapons, jewels, furniture and pieces of the history from the Romans. (Each wing in the museum represented different time periods and world locations.)

My favorite piece was the La Victoria de Samothrace (“The Winged Victory of Samothrace” in English) (190 BCE). This amazing piece is a very incredible Greek marble statute that seems to float above us in its perfect ravishing beauty.Winged.Samothrace20160708_040442

I also visited the Decorative Arts of Europe (500-1850). There I was pleasantly surprised to discover precious objects, jewelry, tapestry, glassware, and rooms and rooms of gold-layered furniture. Very stunning this beauty, breathtaking, gathered from the time of Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie Antoinette of Austria. (Mademoiselle Antoinette held this post for seventeen years before her untimely demise.) She was known as “Madame Deficit” due to her extravagant spendthrift ways which wound up costing her her head.

I saw some French paintings but not a lot. This Museum is so big that it would take a week to give it a fair viewing, and even then you probably would still not have seen everything. After three hours I was pretty overloaded with such exquisite pieces of fine art. I did make it into the Grande Galeria and saw the famous Mona Lisa, an oil painting from the early 16th century by the great Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci. The room was packed with eager tourists scrambling for a closeup of the enigmatic smiling lady, and it was just too crazy to even try to get close to the actual image. Yet, I managed.

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Interesting facts: In 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen. Although it had been in France since the opening of the Louvre, it was returned to its homeland of Italy. In 1939, the famous painting was hidden in the castle Montal in Quercy (southern central France) to protect it from the Germans during World War II.

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The entire history of French architecture is represented here at the Louvre.

After I left the museum I walked over to the garden across the street near a lovely place called Galerie Vivienne.The Palais Royal was also very close.20160708_05031620160708_050339

I visited a shop called L’Aparte which turned out to be very impressive. The lady who owned the store made beautiful paper flowers that were delicate and simply gorgeous. In this fleuriste shop the flowers were painted on tea lights. I kind of regret not picking up a few, but I was just so concerned about carrying anything more than what I had in my backpack, for the final journey to the airport.20160708_053313

Afterwards, I had lunch at the Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger (bakery). It was perfect, replete with beautiful fresh food. I had a salad, apple, and a peppermint lemon ice tea. (aux thé vert citrons et larme de menthes). It was a fantastic lunch and everything around me was perfect. The nice folks at the table next to me spoke English so I asked them where they were from and they said California. After a bit they told me they are from Palo Alto; it is such a small world.20160708_055256

Anyway, after drinking an espresso with a tad of chocolate,20160708_062538

I moved on down the street in search of the Opera House that Maéva had described to me. I walked down the street: du Quatre Septembre.

At one point I saw an opening for an art show title “An inadequate history of conceptual art” which I found amusing.20160708_050909

After finding the Opera building, which was astounding, I took some pictures and decided I needed to get back to Maéva’s neighborhood. The day was turning warm day and it was getting hard to walk on my sore ankle.20160708_071521

I picked up a French market basket so I could carry things on the plane and bought some green and peppermint tea to bring home.

I spoke with Jean-Marie and let him know that I would be back at the apartment shortly so I could pack up to move over to his home. His family (wife and four children) just left to stay at a French island in southern France just off the Mediterranean coast. Jean-Marie will join them later at the end of this week. His mother is here to visit and also to take care of the home and pets.

I came in and started to pack and Maéva came back. (I was very happy to see her because she has been extremely kind to me.) Many blessings to her beauty, both inside and out. She helped me carry my things to the cab so I could make it to Jean-Marie’s home and it was a bittersweet goodbye. She had to go to a funeral in the morning for the unexpected passing of a friend and then to a wedding later in the evening on a boat on the Seine. Then her fiancé was due to arrive from Belgium. He too works making movies. Sweet.

In the cab headed towards Jean-Marie I took a photograph of the Eiffel Tower. It was great to reconnect with Jean-Marie and then to meeting his lovely mother Marie from Chambery, France, a town the size of 60,000 people. She is a retired nurse and helped me take care of my ankle. I am in the right place at the right time. Together we had a perfectly lovely French supper with salad, cheese, bread, and wine. I am so cared for and in such great hands.

MERCI

Just before leaving Maéva’s place and getting into the taxi, Maéva shared a piece of music with me: My Walking Stick by Tommy Dorsey from the 1930s. It was the perfect parting song from the perfect hostess. Together we walked to the taxi. (Maéva was kind enough to help me carry my basket.) She spoke French to the cab driver to make sure he clearly understood that he was to take me directly to Jean-Marie’s place. It was a wonderful feeling to be in the hands of someone who took such good care of their house guest. Friends are the world’s greatest gift.

In the cab the ride over, the driver was very quiet. He turned a corner at one point and there right in front of me was The Eiffel Tower. I grabbed my phone to take a picture of this magnificent structure dominating the Paris skyline.20160708_111216

I arrived at Jean-Marie’s place and he spoke to the cab driver like a longtime friend. Afterwards, I asked him Jean-Marie he knew the driver because they were so friendly with each other. He said no, that he was just checking to make sure I wasn’t “taken for a ride.” Jean-Marie asked me if I left him a tip and I said yes. He was glad because this driver was really honest; Maéva also made sure he knew where he was driving me to. How sweet. Then I went upstairs in the lift to the fourth floor and met Jean-Marie’s mother, Marie (pronounced “Mary”). I just love the French language. Everything sounds like a song. Marie prepared us a pleasing delicious dinner of salad, cheese, and wine.

Afterwards, Marie told me she was a retired nurse and that she would take care of my ankle. She was a very loving woman and she told me that I should sleep with it elevated, which I did.

A perfect ending to a most perfect day.

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