Thursday, 18 August 2011

Minimoon in Paris (2)

Le chat noir.

Continuing from yesterdays blog - more Parisian minimoon antics.

We loved our Montmatre walking tour so much that on day four we did another discover walk, this time it was the Îlse de la Cité and Notre Dame

Notre Dame.

Reading the facade.
Once again it was brilliant. We learned to how to read the carvings on the facade of the cathedral, saw the location of a barbers and pie makers which provided the original inspiration for the story of Sweeny Todd and the house where medieval lovers Rosamund and Abelard lived, prior to her expulsion to a nunnery and his castration – Ow! And at the end, we all stuck our bags up our jumpers and posed in a very un-pc way as the hunch back of Notre Dame for a group photo.

Crazy woman.

And her art.

More art was bought from a crazy woman by the side of the road, before walking up past the Louvre, through the Tuileries to Place de la Concorde. 

One of the things I love most about travelling is buying my Rough Guide book the month before and reading all about the history of a place. I knew very little about Paris – of course I knew about the French Revolution, but it was more from ‘Carry On – Don’t Lose Your Head’ with Sid James as The Scarlet Pimpernel, than anything more factual. The blood-shed that took place during the revolution was horrific. At one point they were guillotining people so quickly that bodies mounted up while rats and dogs wallowed in the lakes of congealed stinking blood that blocked the drains. The Place de la Concorde saw the beheading of thousands. 

Site of rampant beheading.

I stood there in the middle of Place de la Concorde, next to the fountains and giant obelisk trying to imagine the scenes. Like most places with a grizzly past, you stand there and while on one level you know what took place – in the middle of modern day Paris with all the traffic and bustle, you just can’t quite connect with it. Nonetheless, it was still very impressive. 

Onwards along the Champs Elysees – we became part of the city planning which sees the Louvre, Place de la Concorde and Arc du Triomphe line up beautifully, then onto the Étoile itself and the Arc with its huge Tricolour blowing crazily in the wind in the middle. Napoleon sure knew how to build an impressive monument.

View from the Eiffel Tower of the Etoile.


On our last day, riding the metro like Parisians, we dumped our bags at Gare du Nord and went back to cross off the final thing on our ‘must do’ list for Paris - The Louvre.

This is where I can publically say – ‘Rough Guide to Paris – I love you’!

‘Don’t queue up with all the others by the Pyramid’ it said go through the side door ‘Porte des Lions’. Although there are some days when it’s not open, for us it worked like a charm as we by-passed the queues and waltzed straight in. 

The place NOT to queue.

The Louvre was not at all what I’d expected. I knew there was a pyramid involved in things somewhere, but other than that I thought it was going to be a dingy little museum. Not so, it was a ruddy great big palace and it was spectacular.

We were tight for time so we needed tactics. We decided to limit ourselves to the first floor and head straight for the main attraction, following the thoughtfully placed ‘Mona Lisa – this way’ sign posts. Everyone I know who has seen the Mona Lisa has told me what a disappointment it is - that it’s small and dirty. I was expecting something the size of a postage stamp, so I’m probably the only person in history to have been pleasantly surprised by the old girl. 
Mona, Mona, Mona!

It didn’t take me long to muscle my way to the front to take my obligatory ‘Mona photo’, before winkling out the other, less popular Di Vinci portraits residing in the Louvre. Again, another top Rough Guide tip, the other Di Vinci’s are much more beguiling and practically ignored by the crowds.

The other Di Vinci girl.

If you are into the Italian Renaissance or Egyptology then the Louvre is for you. Personally I’d rather have seen some of the Impressionists, but they are in other museums, so I guess I’ll have to save them for another day.

At 2pm we started trying to leave the Louvre. Thirty minutes later we were still trying to leave. The place is just huge and not designed for a quick escape.

And then we were back on the Eurostar to London. Paris was romantic, intense, superb, and it was over all too quickly. We couldn’t have chosen a better place for our minimoon and we did it to the max.

Paris - je t'aime xx

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to our wedding ‘Bliss List’ and treated us to the sights and sounds of Paris for our wedding present. We had the best time – Trés bien with nobs on!

No comments:

Post a Comment