Weekend 2: Le Marais & the Louvre

I started off my Saturday morning with the goal to run to the Eiffel Tower (and back). Ever since I realized how close I live to the Eiffel Tower, I really wanted to use it as a running goal. I hadn’t had time to run since coming to France, so I was pretty excited. However, running on the sidewalks in Paris is no easy task. You have to maneuver around pedestrians, children, dogs, street cafes, and you have to stop a lot. Plus, once I got close to the Tower, there were tons of tourists and there was a pretty bad car accident. I also went down the wrong street a few times Still, I did it!

Snapped a quick pic under the tower before turning back.

Snapped a quick pic under the tower before turning back.

Once I got back, my friend asked if I wanted to go to le Marais so I met up with her and we spent the afternoon exploring.

On our way down, we passed a photography museum we heard about (Maison Européenne de la Photographie) and decided to check it out. There were several featured artist exhibitions going on that were progressively more interesting. It’s a huge building with tons of floors and is pretty confusing to navigate at first, but once we figured it out we really enjoyed it.

An interesting way to display photograhs

An interesting way to display photograhs

Dali and cats? Perfect.

Dali and cats? Perfect.

Then it was on to le Marais. This area of Paris has lots of great shops, boulangeries, chocolatiers, and patisseries. There’s also a lot of interesting graffiti and the most Americans I’ve heard since coming here, yet it is not touristy in the way that, say, the Eiffel Tower is. It is one of my favorite areas of the city so far!

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An adorable and tempting chocolate shop.

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For some reason there are signs with DC and Marvel heroes on them. I am okay with this.

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Super amazing smelling and looking boulangeries:

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I let myself get a treat. I decided to try something new and got a chausson aux pommes. It’s basically an apple-stuffed croissant. YUM.

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They take their mopeds and motorcycles seriously here.

The end of a pretty garden street.

The end of a pretty garden street.

Terrifying graffiti

Terrifying graffiti

St. Paul

St. Paul

In a bookbinding shop

In a bookbinding shop

Later that night we went to a super cheap Chinese restaurant we heard about and then to a party at another student’s apartment. It was another fun, full day!

Sunday I woke up with the intention of going to the Louvre. I had already been in Paris for almost two weeks without going, and that needed to change! First off I had to go get a Navigo pass. These are monthly passes that allow you access to all public transportation in Paris for a flat rate. They are completely worth it if you are spending a good amount of time in Paris. I love having it and it makes me feel a little more Parisian.

On my way to the metro station, I stopped in this really amazing smelling boulangerie right across the street from where I live. It’s one of those places that makes me wish there was a way to capture smell like a photograph. I was happily surprised to find that they have sandwiches with hard boiled eggs. Hooray for vegetarian-friendly fare!

Lunch, Paris-style

Lunch, Paris-style

Then it was time for the Louvre. I entered through the shopping mall entrance, but it turned out to be a free entry day anyway because it was the first Sunday of the month, so the line moved very quickly. Once I was inside the Louvre, I realized I had no idea where to go or start or where the things I wanted to see were located. For some reason, I had this feeling that I needed to see the Winged Victory of Samothrace before anything else because that was the thing that mentally solidified being in the Louvre for me. I started to freak out trying to find it and maybe had a little panic attack. Luckily it didn’t take me that long and I was able to stare at it and get over myself enough to start walking in a direction.

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Ahhhh!

I had no idea where I was going but I ended up in the French painting area. I think most of my time was spent looking without really seeing. I needed to get an over-all feel for the museum before I started scoping out the major works. After wandering around through French painters I didn’t know very well, I came across the big ones that each had their own rooms (Gericault, Ingres, David, Corot, Delacroix, among many others). Of course, their biggest paintings were not in their individual rooms.

I kept wandering and ended up in Italian painting. I figured I should get the Mona Lisa over with, being my first time at the Louvre. I made my way to the front, got my crappy cell phone photo, and was immediately pushed aside. I wouldn’t mind it if I could actually look at the painting, but since that’s obviously not an option I got out of there as soon as possible. It’s a pretty weird phenomena to think about. One of the world’s most famous paintings, and all people want to do is take a photograph standing in front of it. I don’t think anyone actually looks at the Mona Lisa.

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I was also kind of shocked at the amount of tourists blasting their flashes away at these super old paintings. Like Leonardo’s St. John the Baptist. That painting was clearly in better condition at one point, and there are now tourists flashing it with their cameras all the time. There are signs everywhere with pictures showing not to use flash, but everyone does anyway and no one regulates it. This is definitely a big difference from American museums.

Moving on, I then found the big, famous paintings by the French artists I saw earlier. I found this especially exciting because these were works I studied a lot in my art history classes, and yet there is no comparison to seeing the real thing in person. The size makes such a difference. Having said that, here are a few photographs I took of them (for all you non-art history people).

Ingres’ Grande Odalisque

I actually thought this painting was smaller in person than I thought it would be.

This painting was smaller in person than I thought it would be.

David’s Oath of the Horatii

This was bigger than I thought it was!

This was bigger than I thought it would be!

There was also Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa, which was exactly how I hoped it would be!

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Another thing I realized about the Louvre is that I found myself constantly looking not only at the walls, but the ceiling as well.

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The whole building not only contains art, but is art!

I wandered around some more and then decided to go look at the Greek sculptures. Marble sculpture will always completely blow my mind. I can’t comprehend how something that was once a huge hunk of marble becomes an incredibly life-like representation of humanity.

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At this point they were starting to close off certain parts of the museum. I don’t even know how long I had been there but it was at least 4-5 hours. I decided I should start meandering out of the museum. I was pretty tired and had seen way more than I could absorb.

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This guy is cool.

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Oh look an area of the Louvre with no people.

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Dat baby’s face.

So I definitely need to go to the Louvre only about a million more times, but I’d say this was not bad for my first time. I now can at least get my bearings when I go inside and I’ll hopefully be able to navigate a bit better. I may need to systematically tackle a small section of the Louvre each weekend. But then school is starting, and I still need to go to the d’Orsay, and the Petit Palais, and the Picasso Museum, and the Rodin museum, and Versailles, and Giverny, and Saint Denis, and Notre Dame, and Sainte Chapelle, and the Pompidou again, and the Palais de Tokyo, and an infinite list of other places. Good thing I don’t have class on Fridays.

To end my day, I went out for crepes and wandered around Saint Germain.

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Candy!

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Coolest graffiti ever?!

So there it is. Just another weekend in Paris. This is my life.

My next post will be about my first week of class! Let the craziness begin.

Day 2: Exploration

I started off my morning with a mini panic attack because I realized I would need to take the metro to the TGV station at 6:00AM the next morning. Before coming to Paris, I thought my excitement would always be greater than any fears I had about suddenly throwing myself into a strange new culture, but in this moment that was proven wrong. Anne helpfully drove me to the closest metro station so that I could see where it was and buy tickets. Once I got back and stopped freaking out, I realized the only way to reassure myself was to go ahead and use the metro. I picked the Eiffel Tower as my destination and set off. (All the following photos were taken with my phone)

It turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be. I soon got off at the station and headed in the direction I thought the Eiffel Tower was in. Pretty soon I realized I was wrong, but I kept going anyways.

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If I were rich, I would eat here.

I ended up on the Left Bank of the Seine, and started following it. Immediately as I went down to the bank, there was this awesome floating greenhouse/garden that followed along the river for quite a while.

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I walked along the Seine until I passed the Pont des Invalides and then arrived at the famous Pont Alexandre III, the most ornate bridge in Paris. (This is where I started taking panoramas with my phone and they get a bit funky…)

Pont des Invalides

Pont des Invalides

Pont Alexandre III

Pont Alexandre III

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Pont Alexandre III

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Stairs up to le Pont Alexandre III

I then wandered across the bridge to the other bank…

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La statue de La Fayette

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La statue de La Fayette

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La statue de La Fayette

From across the water I saw this giant domed building which turned out to be the Alexandre III Grand Palais. I need to get inside it somehow, but it’s super fancy.

Alexadre III Grand Palais

Alexadre III Grand Palais

Across the street is the Musee des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, which I will have to visit again.

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Le Petit Palais/Musee des Beaux-Arts

Le Petit Palais/Musee des Beaux-Arts

Le Petit Palais/Musee des Beaux-Arts

I kept on walking through a park, which was of course beautiful. These flowers made me think of a painting, as does everything else in Paris!

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I then realized I was probably close to the Louvre, so I looked it up on my phone (Yay apps! They have been awesome so far) and started heading in that direction. I came across the great Egyptian Luxor Obelisque in the Place de la Concorde, which is in front of the entrance to the Tuileries Gardens that lead up to the Louvre.

Luxor Obelisque

Luxor Obelisque

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And of course the amazing Fontaines de la Concorde. Coming from the City of Fountains, this kind of puts Kansas City to shame…

Fontaines de la Concorde

Fontaines de la Concorde

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Fontaines de la Concorde

Fontaines de la Concorde

The Two Towers

The Two Towers

I then headed into the Tuileries Gardens, which has lots of beautiful sculptures that each have a unique personality!

Librarie des jardins

Librarie des jardins

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The Pit Smeller

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At lest your day is going better than this guy’s…

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They missed the last ferris wheel ride.

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I also made my first purchase in Paris… Banana Sorbet shaped like a rose!

Yummy

Yummy

Then it was time to finally see the Louvre!

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Funky panorama

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Taking a selfie in front of the Louvre is harder than it looks…

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I thought it was funny how on either side of the pyramids there are things to stand on so it looks like you're touching the tip of the pyramid. Oookay.

I thought it was funny how on either side of the pyramids there are things to stand on so it looks like you’re touching the tip of the pyramid. Oookay.

The museum was closed today, and I actually did not intend to go in anyways, so I just kept wandering around.

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A sculpture in one of the courtyards.

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Through some windows, you can see people installing something!

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By this point I was pretty tired (I don’t even know how many miles I walked or for how many hours) so I figured I should get something to eat. I exited the Louvre through the side and crossed the street, seeing this metro immediately.

Art Nouveau Metro!

Art Nouveau Metro!

Being a super huge Art Nouveau enthusiast, I was really happy to stumble upon this metro station on my first full day in Paris. I kept wandering down the street, which is pretty much all touristy shops. I stopped to get a panini and then kept walking, trying to find a place to rest and eat it.

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This panini was way huger than it looks.

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La Madeleine

This church had caught my eye earlier, so I decided to head down to it and eat in the shade on its steps. Once I had eaten enough, I retraced my steps all the way back to the original metro station I came from and headed back to my new Parisian home. Of course, once I got out of the metro I got lost for a little bit, but I eventually found my way back.

Tomorrow I have to get up at 5AM to leave at 6AM to make sure I get to my 7:37AM TGV train to Avignon. I’m still a little nervous, but after all of my exploring today the excitement is definitely back. I still have to pack, so I’m going to do that and then go to sleep. Bon nuit!