Sunday, March 24, 2013

Our Day as Patrons of the Arts

CAUTION: Some of the following pictures may contain nudity in the form of works of art. I'm good with it.
Ah, another day in the 17th arrondissement. 

For those of you who don't know, Paris is organized into 20 arrondissements spiraling out from the center of the city. Basically, Paris is made up of 20 small townships and we were staying in the 17th; which happens to be the only area without something "sight-see-y". So, if you want to put yourself somewhere to get a real taste of a Parisian neighborhood, the 17th arrondissement is the place to do it.

To start our day, first we looked left,

then we looked right,

and then we crossed the street and walked to the corner

to catch the 94 bus line.

Vespas are quickly becoming the main mode of transportation for the citizens of Europe. This is not a surprise considering gas prices in this day and age.

Our first stop of the day is the Musee d'Orsday, which just so happens to be my favorite Museum. 


The building which the Museum is housed in used to be the Orsay Train Station.

You aren't allowed to take pictures in the Orsay, so any you see are ones I snuck. I didn't get to take any of my favorite paintings. Which if I had would have been from the Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism wings. 

 There was a fabulous view of Montmartre and Sac Couer Cathedral.

Truly, an awesome Museum with amazing works of art.

Bye Musee d'Orsay! See you next time!

Then, we set off across the Seine and the Tuileries Gardens to get to lunch!

If you ever go to the Louvre, make sure to walk on over to Zen for lunch. It was delicious! 

There are a lot of Asian restaurants surrounding the Louvre. 
Zen has to be one of the best. The food is delicious, the restaurant is clean and bustling, and the prices are good.

At lunch, everyone except for myself got the "A" lunch special on the front of the menu. I flipped the menu open and pointed to the picture of something I thought looked good.

We were sat in the basement at one of the last available tables.  It is quite busy at lunch!

Another tidbit about Paris, if you don't eat lunch by 2, you are out of luck. Most restaurants only open from 11a-2p for lunch. They close and then reopen for dinner around 7p. Plan accordingly.

Scrumptious dumplings came with the ramen of meal "A".

My dish came with a yummy broth. 

Hands down, my dish of Yakiniku Don was the best! I would eat that over and over again at Zen without feeling like I'm missing out on something else. 

Everyone else enjoyed their lunch. I will tell you a secret though, we went back to Zen for a lunch a second time a couple of days later, and no one reordered the ramen. Three of us reordered Yakiniku Don though.


 Outside Zen again. I like how everyone has their menus posted outside in Europe. It helps you to figure out if you want to go in or not. You're not blindsided once you've already been seated.

This store took its macaroons seriously. A little too chic looking. They were probably two euros a macaroon.

On our way back to the Louvre, we saw another Monoprix. So, we went shopping again. Inside we saw some French police with roller blades on. Our Hostess Nathalie said they wear them because they think it looks more American. Little do they know, our cops don't wear roller blades.

Yay! Jake found Orangina! The last time I was in Paris I fell in love with it. It is like carbonated orange juice. It's yummy. Jake fell in love with it too. He likes his orange juice.

Mom also got herself and Orangina and a pain au chocolate. Basically, it is a croissant with chocolate inside of it. 

Back to the Tuileries Gardens we went. 

We must have shopped longer than I thought because Jake saw a Paul's truck and went to get a snickey-snack.

So, we ended up waiting,

and waiting (watching people feed the pigeons)

and still waiting...

How long does a Quiche Lorraine take?!


And it was delicious, warm, buttery, flakey crust, quiche-y goodness. 

 Aw, man! Dang bus blocking the controversial pyramid.

The main structure of the Louvre used to be a Palace. Many/Most of France's royal palaces have been turned into museums of different kinds. In 1984 the President of France commissioned the construction of multiple glass pyramids. They were meant to help alleviate problems caused by the immense number of visitors trying to enter the Louvre each and every day. The construction of the pyramid triggered much controversy because many people felt that the pyramid looked too futuristic in juxtaposition with the classical structure of the Louvre Museum. The debate has yet to be settled to this day.

Jake's best spur of the moment sculptural pose.

Down the escalators of the glass and metal structure we go!

Now, as I have previously stated, the Musee d'Orsay is my favorite museum. However, the Louvre... is THE Louvre. It was the first of its kind in the world. Not to mention, the entire experience is a spectacle.

For instance, the Louvre has over 12 miles of wall space for art. I got lost each and every time I went there (this trip was no exception). And even though there is all that glorious art to see, there are placards designating which route to take to see particularly famous and legendary pieces. Such as, The Mona Lisa. That was our first stop, so we followed the signage.

 Keep followin'.

Jake was kicking himself for not choosing this pose earlier. Next time, Honey.

On the way to Mona Lisa, you get to see Winged Victory.

Winged Victory is of the Greek Goddess Nike and dates back to 190 BC.

We finally reached the appropriate wing, and started taking in some art.

Basically, the Catholic Church was the largest employer of artists back at this day in time. They were one of the few with money to spare and stories/images that needed illustration.

So, most of the art in this wing has to do with Christianity. It's a good rule of thumb that if you see a woman holding a baby, it's the Virgin Mary holding Christ.


I like this picture because it is of Mary and Elizabeth, when they were both pregnant and Elizabeth's womb lept.

I will reiterate, we are not in Paris during the fashionable season or the normal tourist season. Imagine if you will, four times as many people herding toward the Mona Lisa. It's crazy.

These kids were on a field trip and one of them was a dork and touched the sculpture. An alarm sounded and they all jumped 5 feet backward, looked over their shoulders to make sure no one saw, and then burst out laughing. Teenagers.

And there she is...

at least that is what they want you to think. I'm pretty sure the real thing is locked up somewhere. She is flanked by "No Photography" signs and yet everyone is flashing away! I'd put money on this just being a replica.

To quote wikipedia, "The ambiguity of the subject's expression, frequently described as enigmatic, the monumentality of the composition, the subtle modeling of forms and the atmospheric illusionism were novel qualities that have contributed to the continuing fascination and study of the work." 
To sum it up, in 1503, she was the first of her kind. A beautiful experimentation of perspective and dimensions. And just what the heck is that expression on her face?

Moving on...

The ceilings in the palace were outstanding.

These ladies were lovely.

Napoleon crowning his wife.

Nike again.

And down stairs to...


Field Trip!

the Venus de Milo. 

Did you know this is one of the most famous works of Greek sculpture and no one knows who created it?! That is a tragedy. It was discovered on a Greek Isle in 1820 but is from before 100 BC. She is beautiful.

Athena isn't too bad either.

 Hermes! He's so mischievous. I love Greek Mythology... and the Percy Jackson series. I'll admit! I'm a sucker for 8th grade reading.

After a little bit of shopping at the Museum shops (the Louvre has many), we headed top side.

There was a short snow flurry as we crossed the square.

We got back out to the Seine and headed toward the Islands, namely Isle de la Cite. Isle de la Cite and Isle Saint Louis both float on the Seine.

I liked these sketches, but the artist had abandoned his post. He didn't get any money from me. Sad.

We decided to cross the bridge at this building and discovered

it was a Bridge of Love.

They have these bridges all over the world. People come with their locks, and their keys, and their loves. The lock symbolizes their eternal love. They latch it to the bridge and then ceremoniously throw the key into the river. Surely, this is the secret to eternal love. We must do it! 

I had meant to bring locks with us. I knew there were a couple of bridges in Paris where this was happening. However, it got pushed to the back burner and was forgotten about. Luckily, there were a couple of schmoes out selling locks to tourists at ridiculously high prices. I'll buy one! I'm a sucker! 

There it is, our love lock, Jacob and Rachel forever! Who needs Priesthood Keys when we have thrown our love lock keys over into the Seine?! 

Mom and Dad latched theirs next to ours.

A little bit of us will always be in Paris.

Over goes their key!

Then ours!

Jacob is such a sweetie. He noticed that we received 3 keys with our 1 lock. So, he suggested we only throw over one key and keep the other 2 for ourselves, one for each of our sets of house keys.

The part of the bridge we decided to use had recently been replaced. There weren't many locks on it. Other flanks of the bridge looked like this.

Some people are so clever they brought bike locks. 
Big fat ones locked around the actual bridge posts! 

Back on track, we headed for Isle de la Cite.

See ya later, Hello Kitty.

During the Spring and Summer, there are little stands filled with all sorts of things. They try to squeeze every pence and penny out of the tourists.

The first time I was here I bought French Spiderman Comic books for my brothers from a similar set-up near the Seine.

At the end of the day, they close and lock up shop until the next morning.

Onto St. Chapelle Cathedral, which just so happens to be within the compound of the local Court. We had to wait in line and go through metal detectors to go to it. It was one of the places I had never been before. I didn't even know it existed. It is just a block over from Notre Dame.

St. Chapelle is under a major rejuvenation project. 

Mom and Jake read about it. Nerds. It was apparently finished just after Notre Dame.

When we stepped in it was tiny, yet breathtaking. I've never seen anything like it. It seemed as if everything was gilded in gold leaf.

Come to find out we were in some small annex. We took the stairs to the main Chapel. It was even more stunning.

 The left side of the chapel was being cleaned up and refurbished.

 This is a pair of stained glass that has yet to be refurbished.

 This pair has. Quite the difference.


A mini rose window.

I would love to have seen even the floor at its former glory.

Back down some very narrow and steep stairs to the tiny annex, and then out we went.

Even the courthouse has fancy regal gates.

It was just a hop and a skip over to Notre Dame. 
They are celebrating its 850th anniversary. What anniversary is that? The uber diamond encrusted platinum anniversary?
Anyway, I hate that they had all of these tents setup. I couldn't get a full pic! 

It was almost 6 o'clock mass when we entered. Someone was singing beautifully at the front of the cathedral. 

 Unlike St. Chapelle, Notre Dame is not tiny in any way whatsoever.

It is massive.

Sorry, it's fuzzy. I had my flash off. 

Joan of Arc. I think this is just a memorial for her, unless they carried her martyred self back from Rouen. 

THE Rose Window.

It is enormous.

These relief sculptures depicting the life of Christ around the nave (or what I assume is the nave) were beautiful.

West Minster was filled with sarcophaghi. Notre Dame only had two that I could see. They appeared to be Popes or Cardinals.

An original chandelier. 

  Mass started.

So many more people were observing the cathedral and the service, rather than participating in it.


I started taking pictures of lost gloves too late. It seemed as if, anytime someone came across a lone glove on the ground they would stick in something. I tried to take pictures of them from here on out. Dad helped me spot them.

Even Notre Dame has a store hocking their wares. The lady on the right said, "No pictures!" Ashamed are we?

After Notre Dame, we had a little bit of walking to do, and Mom and I were peckish. We hadn't had quiche lorraine earlier after all. So, Mom decided she wanted to try a Nutella Crepe.

This is where we encountered our grouchiest Parisian of the trip. I can't blame him. It was freezing outside and he gets to stand their making Nutella Crepes for every tourist who walks by. Needless to say, he wasn't rude, but he won't be winning any customer service commendations. But his crepes sure are yummy!

Dad watched him make it. Essentially, it is a very thin pancake, smeared with nutella, folded, smeared with nutella again, and then folded one last time and put in wax paper. 

Mom's first bite of her very first crepe.

"It's good! It's like a warm kit kat!"
She and I were supposed to share that one, but after we started walking and eating, she ran back to get her own.  

We stumbled across a commercial looking bakery, Hure. But I could tell they did some baking on the premises.

We got snacks for later, once we were back in our rooms. I got 6 macaroons, and Mom and Dad got a raspberry coconut bar thing, and something else. I think the citron macaroon (lemon macaroon) was my favorite. It was like eating a lemon bar. Citron and Framboise are my favorite macaroon flavors. Lemon and Raspberry.

 The french lady was very nice. What she didn't know how to say in english, she made up for in spunk and personality. She was delightful.

I was going to take everyone to Ile Saint Louis to look around, but it was getting late and cold. I didn't think any entertainers would be out, and things would be shutting down soon.

So, we decided to head for dinner. It was going to be a little bit of a walk to get to the place I had in mind for dinner. We had to go across Avenue Victoria.

We walked past the only tower standing left behind from a fire. They had created a park surrounding it. 

We had done really well up until this point, in terms of finding places and restaurants that we had never physically been to before. 

Little did I know what a pain in the rear this place would be to find. 
Ugh. After an extra 30 minutes detour, we finally found it when we stumbled past a Metro map of the nearby area. Two really nice store clerks tried to help us find it, but they had never even heard of the street name before! We were headed to who-knows-where when we stumbled past the Metro entrance with the map. Luckily, it had the local streets listed alphabetically and we were able to easily find it. We had been circling the street just in front of it, literally. It was a roundabout.

 Once we finally found Bistrot Victoiries it was a warm, quaint little place.

One thing I thought was interesting in Europe, was that the daily specials were always written on a chalkboard. When a new table sits down, they bring the chalkboard over and set it on a chair while you read the specials. Too bad, we don't read (or speak) french. We could pick out bits though. 

Dad and Jake each got the roast chicken and mashed potatoes.

Jake and Dad really enjoyed it.

Mom and I had steak and fries. It looked really delicious. The fries were really delicious. But the steak was smoked in something that was too pungent. It was okay for the first few bits, but then I could not take it anymore, and I didn't finish. It's okay. I had macaroons waiting for me.

It was pretty empty when we first got there. It was filled up by the time we left.

 Back to the Metro and home we went!
Pat Benatar sat across from us.

Our haul from the day.

I got myself a pair of earrings so I can think of Paris each time I wear them. They had great reasonably priced jewelry in the store. The store and brand is called, Satellite. They have a website!

Tomorrow, Versailles!

1 comment:

Salinda said...

I love your blog Rach!