Our Speed Tour of the Louvre
The Louvre, you ask? What about the Louvre? Although we didn't plan on it, we DID get a chance to see the "Louvre Highlights" by taking a 2 hour speed tour with Paris Walks! It was grand, but not one of the best.
The building from the outside is daunting, a huge complex. And Mom and I were both of the same opinion that the pyramid thingies were a bad idea, spoiled the overall appearance of the place, very out of place.
We began our tour... underground, of course! Yes, we walked in what used to be the moat of the original castle on this site, dating back to Medieval times.
From below to high above....
This is a view from an escalator, just to give you an idea of the size of the building. HUGE open spaces...
I got a chance to photograph
with her adoring fans.
Mona's really quite small,
as you can see.
Aphrodite's marble butt..., Okay, yes, she's the "Venus de Milo", but she's Greek and from c100BCE, therefore Aphrodite (Venus is the Roman goddess). Standing at 6 feet 8 inches, her twisting pose gives a "balanced S-curve to her body (especially noticeable from the back view) that the Greeks... found beautiful", according to Rick Steves.
Here again is a view of the building itself, just incredible, with carvings and decorations everywhere, like these gryphons high up right under the golden ceiling. It's no wonder the French people revolted, when the rich were so opulent and while they lived in such squalor.
We did not see any rats in the Louvre (please remember we had but only a 2 hour tour). But technically, there were rats (at least while we were there): I had one in my shopping bag, from the sewer's souvenir shop!
No, the Louvre isn't why we went to Paris... in fact, our art gallery of choice was outdoors, and with a less lively crowd...
Outdoor Art: Cimetière du Père- Lachaise
We took the often-mentioned Bus #69 one morning and headed out to the Père-Lachaise Cemetery. This huge, sprawling cemetery (109 acres) on the outskirts of Paris was acquired by the city in 1804 and has been called the "grandest address in Paris". This cemetery has no equal if you're looking for the famous.
A word to the wise: the cemetery is built on a slope so it's best to get off the bus at the back entrance and walk downhill rather than starting at the main gate. We followed Rick Steves tour, his directions were very good, but I also recommend purchasing the map (available at florist shops). Oh, and there are washrooms!
Here are just a few pictures of some favorites... It was a lovely place to stroll about, moss-covered tombs and huge shading trees under a full blue sky. It was, of course, quite over-crowded (with the dead).
This one is eerie and beautiful in its simplicity and symmetry.
Though we were not there to see any graves in particular, we did take note of a few famous residence, like Oscar Wilde, below. Honestly, how could you miss it?! The poor bugger died broke, but a female admirer had this tomb erected for him. I hope he would have liked it (I guess beggars can't be choosers!).
Much more pleasing to the eye was one of the oldest monuments, that dedicated to the lovers Heloise and Abelard. Although it was under restoration when we were there, here's a drawing of it and a close-up of the puppy resting eternally at their feet. (Whenever you see a dog on a memorial monument or gravestone, she represents loyalty.)
If you'd like to read more about this ill-fated love story from the Middle Ages, try:
Heloise & Abelard, A New Biography by James Burge
Somehow, even though the rest of the cemetery was quite empty (of the living) a crowd surrounded Jim Morrison's grave... This is as close as we bothered getting.
It was far more peaceful further along where a cat played in the long grass and by Chopin's lovely, flower-covered tomb.
Rats in the graveyard? No, unfortunately, although there were all sorts of carved animals we did not spot any rats... in the sunlight.
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by Karen Waschinski
Questions? Comments? Please e-mail me at woosel[at]scratchingatthewindow.com
~~Dà Fhaol Mharbh: A Vampyre's Faerytale by Karen Waschinski~~