Monday, September 10, 2012

Paris: Day Eight (Monday)

This was the beginning of our second week in Paris, and the weather was still wonderful, sunny, warm and fresh.  We were still having troubles getting up early, but then again, this is a vacation, so we didn't really make the effort, honestly.

By the time we got out, however, it was already noon, so our first stop was at a corner cafe--Bistro Renaissance, where I had one of the best steak/frittes so far.  Valery enjoyed a wonderful charcuterie salad and Maddie had a hamburger.  It's hard for me to order a hamburger in France without thinking about Steve Martin's hilarious send-up of the pronunciation, but I managed with a wry smile, and, naturally, it was delicious.  Nothing at all like an American burger, that's for sure.

Next it was time for our second trip to the Louvre, this time for a quick 500 year trip through the paintings.  We started with the Flemish (Rolin Madonna anyone?) moved quickly through the Italians and French and ended with a mad clusterf*** at the Mona Lisa.

It's always been the same since I first saw it in the '70's: the room is jammed from front to back and no one even bothers to actually look at the painting.  Everyone is too busy trying to take a picture--either of the painting (from about twenty feet away) or each other in front of it, all trying on their best enigmatic smile.  We went simply because Maddie had never seen it, of course, and because it's something you have to do at least once.

Well, ok.  Been there, done that.

We did manage to see a number of wonderful canvasses and I was able to recall just enough of Francesca's lectures to give Maddie a rough introduction to the history of Western painting.  When all is said an done, however, it's really best to come to the Louvre in the absolute dead of winter, when only the art-history students and the off season tourists are there.

We escaped the crowds and emerged into the late afternoon sun, almost dead on our feet, but with just enough energy to walk down to the Opera in search of a pen store I'd found online.

We found it, but it was tiny and overpriced, so we decided to head for home.  Alas, our timing was bit off and it was rush hour, so we decided to simply hike home on the Grands Boulevards.  A great walk, but physically exhausting, and by the time we reached the Boulevard St. Denis, near the apartment, we were spent.

After a brief respite, Valery prepared dinner, while I took a series of wonderful photos out of the skylight (called a 'vas is das' by the French).  After dinner, Valery and I took a brief walk around the quartier, then we fell into bed, more tired than after any day other than our first.  Those crowds sure do take it out of you!

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