Monday, May 4, 2009

Plan B in Paris

On our second full day in Paris, we had planned to go to Versailles, in keeping with the castle/palace theme from yesterday's tour, but surprisingly in Paris a lot of things are still closed on Sunday, most notably train ticket offices, so we had to come up with a Plan B.

Because it was still early out and there weren't many people around, we decided to begin Plan B with a walk around Paris. We meandered over to Place D’Concorde and then down the Champs Elyses toward the Arc D’Triomph. It was a beautiful morning with perfect weather. Here is a picture of the Arc D'Triomph:

And a picture of the fountain at the Place D'Concord:

We walked back down the Champs Elyses, over a bridge Hubby had seen on the bus ride out yesterday morning that he had also liked, and back toward the Musee D’Orsay, which we’ve decided to see today.

On the way back, we noticed several walkways leading down to the Seine were roped off, but not by the police. We couldn’t figure out what was going on. We thought maybe someone was filming something. We crossed back over the river and walked along the street closest to the Seine, before realizing why those walkways have been roped off.

There was a Formula One race car on the street below. For those of you who don't know, Hubby. Loves. Cars.

We were so close to the Musee D’Orsay. I thought about all those masterpieces inside that building, and then looked at the Formula One car. It’s not even doing anything. It’s just sitting there in all of its exhaust-filled glory. There was a driver and a crew, but there was only one car, so it didn’t appear as though there was a race.

Hubby of course has to stop and have his moment of Formula One Worship. We lined up along the fence with other gawkers, and Hubby took some pictures. One of the car guards came over and started shooing people away, and I thought, “Yay! Now he’ll HAVE to leave.”

Oh no. Hubby just moved his pilgrimage a few feet down. The fact that the car was not doing anything was just fascinating to him, because it opened up all sorts of possibilities of what COULD happen. A race? A practice? Hubby was determined to find out. So while the world’s artistic masterpieces sat forlornly a few blocks away, we stood near the Seine, in the presence of…a Formula One car. Finally, finally the driver reved the engine, and the car sped off out of eyesight. Hubby is ecstatic. So am I, because it means we can leave.

The Formula One car:

We finally made it to the Orsay. I loved the Orsay. We mainly stuck to the Impressionist works, but did also see some of the sculptures, the print exhibit and an exhibit that was a glass floor with a model city of Paris underneath it. The thing I loved so much about Europe was that so many things that you just study in school here in the US, or only ever see pictures of, is there, in front of you, in Europe. I marveled at all of the Impressionist treasures under one roof, especially since Impressionism is my favorite style. We got close up to the paintings, and then stood back a few feet to take them in to compare/contrast the detail versus the overall effect. Lovely. I also enjoyed the sculptures, I think because of the way they were laid out, and the fact that all of the crowds are upstairs looking at the Monets. It was a very calming atmosphere.

We spent maybe 2-3 hours at the Orsay, and then headed back to the apartment for food. Then we headed back down to tourist central to see Notre Dame. The interior of this church is worth seeing, but we were disappointed that it felt like a tourist attraction and not a church. But the outside: Wow. Here are some pictures:

Later that night we walked down to see the Eiffel Tower. I hadn’t been that excited to see the Eiffel Tower up close, because I assumed it would just look like this awkward metal…thing. I was really surprised to see that it looked…almost graceful, and…delicate. It was actually very pretty close up, and a very ingenious design.

We staked out a piece of grass and waited for it to light up. It was kind of cool being there when it did light up, and hearing everyone around applaud. While we were there, a woman approached me and asked me in French if I spoke English. I could tell she was American, so I told her in English that I did because I was American. It turned out she and her family are also from the Minneapolis suburbs. We chatted with them for a few minutes and take turns taking pictures of each other. By this time it is completely dark, so we headed back to the apartment. We were reminded again of the importance to roll with the punches, because while we didn’t end up doing Plan A, Plan B ended up being one of our favorite days in Paris.

1 comment:

MadMad said...

Oh, missy. I came over here to thank you for your kind comments, and almost fell over! Guess where we're going next month? Paris? And the Loire Valley! So I've been spending a minutes reading your tips (I realize the trip was a while ago, but it was more recent than MY last trip there, and it's always great to get another point of view.) So thanks twice over!