Part 1 is here for your consumption 🙂
When Louvre Museum comes up in a conversation, Mona Lisa immediately springs to mind. Fair enough because it’s where the most famous painting in the world is housed. However, this Picasso baby wasn’t the priority when I decided to pay the Louvre a visit.
I had read about it and seen a number of videos beforehand that the thought of actually seeing it in the flesh was no longer that appealing. Don’t get me wrong; I fully understand the difference between seeing a YouTube video about something and being face-to-face with that something. Seeing the Vatican, Château de Versailles, the Napoleon III apartments, the Eiffel Tower and all other places during our trip with my own eyes was a positively mind-blowing experience. The works of Monet and Van Gogh at Musee d’Orsay did evoke a strong emotional response in me. But when it comes to the Mona Lisa painting which is protected with bullet-proof glass, I wasn’t so sure.
Plus, my Argentinean friend Pablo whom I met before I left Venice for Paris had warned me of the jostling crowds of tourists there and even showed me the only photo he captured inside. Sadly, the subject of his photo wasn’t THE enigmatic woman whose smile has perplexed the entire world for the longest time. Instead, it was the unmanageable crowd of people doing one of these things: shuttering away or putting their iPads high in the sky or even worse posing right next to the painting.
My sister and me still joined the throngs of tourists in the end because we were already inside the museum and after Napoleon apartments we didn’t know where to go next. As soon as I arrived at this section of the museum, everything Pablo has told me immediately clicked. Despite the less chaotic crowd (because we got there pretty late in the afternoon), we could barely see the painting. I did my utmost to frame my photo so that no skull or iPad would appear in it. What you see above is the only picture I have, which I thought was pretty decent in the sense that it was not photobombed.
Lord, have mercy! It literally just dawned on me one minute ago that my photo is definitely photobombed. Shit. Can you see what I see?
A statue I saw on the way to meet Mona Lisa.Louvre Museum is just as much about arts as it’s about architecture. I’m slightly obsessed with architecture so just wandering inside the museum and soaking in its stunning architectural layout and meticulous details already made me very happy. A modern artwork that resonates with the way I have been leading my life. Due to my negligence, I forgot to jot down the artist’s name so I could look him up later and do some research about what this actually means. However, I feel like this piece sums up my life perfectly. Based on my own interpretation, anyway. Welcome to the life of a hoarder. If you happen to know who made it, tell me in the comment section below. I’m quite curious. The closing time is 6PM on most days. At around 5:45PM, the staff started asking everyone to leave. So, au revoir Le Louvre. J’dore you.
With our first trip to Europe coming to an end, we both agreed on a slightly fancier dining experience on this last night. As I had to come back to the apartment to pick up my tripod, we started googling for restaurants around Le Marais. Normally, you don’t have to google for restaurants in Le Marais because as soon as you step outside, there are myriad options to pick and choose. Trust me on that. But we wanted a place that would be a little more special. Glowing reviews would be a bonus. After 30 minutes of searching high and low, I finally settled on Le Dome Du Marais.
As the name already gives it away, this restaurant is known for its pretty, Pantheon-style dome. The setting is quite elegant with a garden, antique furniture, and beautiful paintings here and there. The atmosphere when we were there was lovely as well.
Unfortunately, when it came down to the most important reason we were there for, I have to say I was let down. Not utterly let down but the dinner wasn’t a bang for the buck. I don’t remember what my sister had, but I went for the Provencal roasted chicken & tarragon with grilled potatoes which tasted fine but wasn’t memorable. I kid you not, we have a very similar dish here in the third world. Plus, for a dish that simple, the price wasn’t really justified. The restaurant menu says the environment is a concern to them, thus the meats come from family-run organic farms and the veggies are sourced locally. That’s probably why the prices are inflated? I don’t know, but I give them the benefit of the doubt. Also keep in mind that we only tried two dishes in the menu, so our judgements are clearly subjective. Just overall, for us, it wasn’t special. There are many, many things I adore in Paris, one of which happen to be its legendary landmark, the Eiffel Tower. I’m not exaggerating but before the trip, I prepared a list of places that offer a sweeping view of the Eiffel. Some are extremely popular such as Arc de Triomphe, Champ de Mars or Tour Montparnasse while others live a bit more off the beaten path like Rue de Monttessuy. For the record, I didn’t get to test every single place due to time restraints but of all the places that I went to, Place du Trocadéro is THE place to be. Full stop.
Sure, it’s worse than a human zoo more often than not, but what we get in return is truly worth all the hassle. I have to forewarn you that it’s remarkably tough to be able to take a photo that is free of distractions due to the insane number of tourists like you and me. If you are patient enough, it can be done. I took in the region of 50 pictures at different angles, and only one (below) makes the cut. It filled the both of us with joy and put a perfect end to our last night in Paris despite the not so outstanding yet pricey meal earlier. We sure as hell giggled our way home.
Our flight return was scheduled at 1PM the next day. The next morning, we were woken up by torrential downpour and thunderstorms at around 8:00-ish, which sent some chills down my spine. As much as I loved Paris, I’d only want to stay longer of my own accord. I grabbed my phone and checked our flight status. Still scheduled, phew. Breakfast and packing were completed within the next hour and a half. At 10-ish, we kissed the apartment and Le Marais a final goodbye and hauled our asses along with 4 giant-ass suitcases to Bastille metro station to catch a taxi.
It was only a miracle that the rain stopped as we were trying to hail a taxi. We waited and waved in vain at every single taxi passing by. Strangely enough, even the ones without customers didn’t pull up. 25 minutes had gone by, and we weren’t getting any fucking taxi. Seriously, Paris? Anger and frustrations were surely written all over our faces. Then, an old lady walked by and pointed us toward a black taxi on the opposite side of the boulevard. She told my sister to cross the street with her while I stayed put. I had no idea what she said to the driver, but within 2 minutes my sister gave the c’mon over gesture. Turns out you can NOT hail a taxi at just any corner on a big boulevard in Paris. You actually have to look for the sign, that’s what she told us. We quickly loaded our suitcases onto the taxi, merci beaucoup-ed and au revoir-ed her. At 10:30AM, we were on our way to the airport. The shower resumed right after the taxi started moving. Safely shielded from the rain that was rattling gustily against the taxi windows, I couldn’t help but feel immensely thankful for the hospitality that Parisians had been showering us during our short stay. I understand I lucked out this time because the travelers I met in Italy and my friends back home didn’t give Paris a good score in terms of friendliness. However, my own experience has made me realize that a smile and a very broken French do go a long way.
Oh the morning traffic. What a fucking nightmare! What should have been a slightly under an hour ride wound up taking nearly an hour and a half. I slept and woke up twice during the ride only to find out we were still in the middle of somewhere. The third time I woke up, we actually arrived. Third time’s a charm, isn’t it? We rushed inside and found ourselves in a not so crowded terminal. “Is this really the notoriously busy terminal that people have been telling me about?”, I asked myself. Note: that was just a question, not a complaint. Our flight (Thai Airways) was at 1PM. We arrived at the airport at 12:05. I couldn’t conceptualize what mess it would have been if it had been the other terminal because other than checking in, we also had to go collect our tax refund for all the purchases we had made inside Europe and pick up some duty-free gifts for family and friends. All within the span of 45 minutes. We ran from places to places like two headless chicken. When the customs officer looked at our boarding passes, she instantly told us to make a beeline for the gate and gave us her blessings. We got to our gate at 1PM sharp and were the very last two passengers. Too exhausted from all the running that amounted to a full workout session, I drifted off even before the plan took off.
Au Revoir, Paris. I think I’m in love with you…
(The series officially conclude here. I wrote all the posts in a pretty terrible state of nostalgia for the seductive charm at every corner of Paris. Thank you for following along)