Groundhog Days

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photo Louvre

Traveling in Paris was far easier than I had anticipated. The metro system, like many of the masterpieces you’ll see in the Louvre or the Orsay Museum, is a work of art with its color-coded tunnels and maps posted every ten meters so that even an illiterate user can figure out where to go. Lauren and I, as noted earlier, were about as articulate as a couple of mimes, so we reveled in the sense of power that the metro bestowed as we made plans and executed them with zero input from the natives. We Americans are great that way. So we burrowed our way across that city like a couple of groundhogs, popping out of the ground at intervals to swivel our heads in several directions before finally taking off on another sight-seeing mission. Our first triumph came with the discovery of the Eiffel Tower.

We found it!

We found it!

I’m pretty sure most of you just rolled your eyes thinking, “The Eiffel Tower?  Isn’t that about 3 miles high and visible from space?  How could you possibly miss that landmark?”  But the beauty wasn’t in tracking something that even a legally blind person could spot; the beauty was in taking the subway and emerging victorious at the closest stop. We ascended from the cement bowels of the city, rounded a corner, and lo and behold!  There she was!  We pointed and exclaimed and even did a little bunny hop or two as if we’d just spotted a long-sought button under a dresser that would finally make our favorite pair of capris complete.  There was no stopping us now.

We decided to tackle the Louvre on our last full day in the city. We had read all the books to know the least crowded time to visit, but let me just say that if that was the least busy time to pop in, then on the crazy days the visitor stats must rival the population of India. Lauren and I took on a Siamese twin mentality, because we knew that if we got separated, there’d be nothing left to do except double back to the hotel to regroup, and we couldn’t stand the thought of wasting time in a city with so much to offer. And so much to eat. If I missed even one Nutella banana crepe, I’d be nursing hurt feelings for months.

No one gets between a woman and her crepe

No one gets between a woman and her crepe

We tethered ourselves with a set of ear buds and used the audio commentary as both a guide and a barrier to drown out the forty different languages around us. We hobbled along listening to lectures on the Venus de Milo and 15th century art while gazing skyward at ceilings that should have been in frames.

photo Louvre ceiling

The highlight of the Louvre is the Mona Lisa, but after battling our way through a mass of humanity and stopping every ten paces to let our eyes adjust from momentary blindness inflicted by the paparazzi, we finally made it within 25 feet of the great lady. She carried such clout that she commanded her own private property, and from where I stood, it looked as if someone had licked and stuck a postage stamp to the wall.  Arms swayed through the air like a rock concert as people jockeyed for the best snapshot, and I’m pretty sure all 37 languages were exclaiming simultaneously, “Who knew she’d be the size of a Saltine cracker?”  Lauren and I elbowed our way back out and finished the rest of the tour.

We capped off the end of a lovely day with a cafe supper, and then we pulled out our handy map, located the nearest metro hole to our current location, and left the last vestiges of light behind as we burrowed into the ground.

© 2013 – Traci Carver

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21 responses »

  1. I send you to France with just two objectives for me: crepes and eclairs. What do you do? You ruin a perfectly good crepe with bananas. I’m just going to have to go for myself. Can’t trust you not to do something silly like stick mushy fruit on there. LOL

    • I fell in love with Pissarro and Sisley at the Orsay museum. I knew I was a Monet girl, but I could have spent all my time in there gazing at the impressionists. It was quite surreal to be two feet in front of works I’d only ever seen in books.

  2. I know what you mean about Mona Lisa, I couldn’t believe how small she was either, I loved the Louvre though and, back in 1990 when I last visited it was almost empty. Maybe more people have learned to appreciate art since then 🙂 my favourite thing about the metro was the wonderful Art Deco signs at the entrances

    • I’m so glad that I had the experience, but I truly needed a week just for the Louvre. My favorite was the Orsay museum. I just can’t get enough Pissarro and Monet. 🙂

  3. About the Mona Lisa: It just goes to show you about write-ups about painting: Nobody notices the dimensions of a famous painting beforehand. We had a similar reaction to seeing the Mona Lisa at The Louvre: Postage stamp and saltine cracker are perfect images for this tiny painting that appear so large in our collective cultural sense. I guess being a woman of mystery and intrigue pays off!

    • Not sure, but they display it over there in sizes that rival Kraft mayo in the South. I think a vat that size in the States would probably cost a couple of grand. Even at Sam’s.

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