The real end of summer is quickly approaching, however things are settling down. It’s Labor Day weekend here in the States meaning a four day weekend for most of my house (those of us with no Friday classes). Monday is the traditional day off, though it has been made apparent to me from my sister that not all universities give their students a break. Now, I was able to switch my schedule around and join the Visual Rhetoric class, though only now do I realize how much work I have condemned myself to this semester. Well…c’est la vie, non?
If the title hasn’t given away where this post will be taking place, I’m sure that last bit did. When I left Rome back in April, I traveled to Paris to meet back up with Iris, Betsey, and Amanda who had been there for a few days already. I only spent one night in Paris, but I have had to good fortune to have been to the beautiful “Ville-Lumiere” twice before. The first time was years ago. My family took a trip to London and Paris for a week when I was 13 or so. A few years later I was able to travel to Europe with my high school French class. So, one day in Paris it was!
After getting my bearings in the Paris metro (which meant asking once or twice for help from the very kind – no lie! – metro workers), I made it to the hostel Amanda and Betsey were staying at around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. What the girls hadn’t done yet were to hit up the two most well known museums in Paris/the world. We grabbed some food from a few small shops and a local produce stand and made our way from rue Mouffetard to, you guessed it, the Louvre.
I realize just how lucky I am to have been able to visit the Louvre three times in my 21 years of life. I can tell you quite honestly, reader, that the works of art in this museum never stop stupefying and being altogether magnificent. If you have never been, I hope you seriously consider making a point of doing so. From the Napoleon III Apartments to the Mona Lisa, bits of Medieval walls and relics to incredible Greek and Roman statues, you will most definitely not be disappointed!
A great thing about the Louvre is that students and anyone under the age of 18 get in free. If you’re neither a student or under 18, check out the Louvre’s website for special admission days and prices. An ongoing tradition in Paris for many museums is to offer free admission on the first Sunday of every month.
Now, I stated a few of the things you can see at the Louvre and let me just say that there is a lot to see. A lot. First timers may even want to schedule in two days, if there is time, to see the museum so as not to get burned out. If time is tight, perhaps take a look at all of the exhibits on offer and decide ahead of time which ones are a must see, and go from there.
Really though, you can’t go wrong with where you choose to start. The Louvre has such a collection of wonders. Incredible art is certainly a part of it, but it’s also the sense of the past you get from wandering through the halls that make it such an experience. Of course, there is the Venus de Milo, daVinci’s “Mona Lisa”, Delacroix’s “Liberty leading the People”, Winged Victory and other such iconic works, but really, each room has some truly amazing pieces in it. Just think, it took three times for me to get through the entire museum!
We went in around 4pm and came out close to 9pm. It had started to rain – our weather luck from the rest of the trip was sliping away – but we took some pictures outside anyway looking down the Champs Elysee towards the Arc de Triomphe. Then we had to take some far away shots of the lit up Eiffel Tower, of course. We had a late dinner back near the hostel. Betsey and Amanda (Iris was couch surfing in Paris so not with us that night) had been raving about this super popular crepe place a few doors down from the hostel. Turns out, it was quite popular!
Au P’tit Grec is a small Greek creperie on rue Mouffetard which people literally flocked to at night for a take away crepe. While they did traditional sweet crepes, the more substantial crepes had a definite Greek twist to them such as using Feta cheese, olives, and the like. They were good! Though what I had was just a basic ham, cheese, and lettuce gallette. The other girls had vegetarian gallettes, I believe, with eggplant, lettuce, Feta, and more.
After eating our crepes, there were two very good reasons that we had to find a place to get creme brulee. One, we were in France. And two, Betsey had never had it before (I know, right?!). So we found a small restaurant and had one of my (admittedly many) favorite desserts. Afterwards, we called it a night.
The next day we would be traveling to La Rochelle, but the three of us were set on getting to the Musee D’Orsay before we had to catch our afternoon train. I had been once before to this museum when my French class came to Paris. All three of us were fans of Impressionist art, so I knew we had to go. What’s interesting about the Musee D’Orsay is the fact that it used to be a train station! You can really tell when you’re walking around inside as well that the building was simply turned into a museum. Unlike the Louvre, no photos were allowed of the works of art in the Musee D’Orsay, which is why you will notice the distinct lack Monet’s and Van Gogh’s in the slideshow below…
The Musee D’Orsay is home to some of the most significant and beautiful Impressionist art around the world. I suppose that only makes sense, though, as the Impressionist movement began in Paris. It is therefore in this museum you will see some of the greatest works of Monet, Van Gogh, Seurat, Renoir, Signac, and more. It’s definitely worth a visit for any art appreciators – Impressionist lovers or not!
Though Impressionist lovers will not want to miss the Monet Room to see the famous waterlilies, which I can tell you look exactly like the scenery in his garden. We were able to go with my French class, and the likeness and beauty of the gardens is truly amazing.
After the allotted couple of hours spent at the Musee D’Orsay, we took the metro back to the hostel, grabbed our stuff, checked out, and hopped back on the metro to Montparnasse. We met up with Iris, who arrived before us and found a creperie across the street. We were pretty easily convinced to get a crepe for the ride. This time, I had a delicious banana and chocolate (nutella) crepe with whipped cream.
All in all, my third trip to Paris was short but still excellent. And I would still love to go back to Paris as well as other areas of France anytime the opportunity arose. The food is amazing, the architecture iconic and lovely, the history abundant, and the art incredible. The famous City of Lights (and love, I’ve heard) has something to offer everyone. Plus, after having just reread the book Phantom (see the post “Paper faces on parade…” for more info on that), I’d love to take another look at and a tour of the Opera Garnier.
On that note, I’m signing off and I’ll let you get on with the rest of your evenings or mornings. While one of my housemates and I are entertaining four of her friends from other schools and her sister, the other housemates are off in Columbus. While this should be an interesting weekend, to say the least, I have to admit to a bit of envy at one of my parents weekend plans. They are going to see the new production of Les Miserables, those lucky ducks! At any rate, I hope you all have some good weekend plans to bring summer to an end!
Right, well, I had this all written out and then it took two more days to sort through and label the pictures. So here you have it, the next post and the next segment of Travel Tales. Enjoy the pictures and I hope each of you gets the chance to see these works of art in person some day! Time for me to get back to work. Thanks for reading, cheers! Until then…