I decided to take a quick trip to Paris while In London, separate from the planned trip at the end of the semester. One can never spend too much time in Paris, n’est ce pas? My journey began early Saturday morning at London St Pancras station in line for the eurostar. I arrived in the specified half an hour before time frame and quickly realized that I might miss my train. Luckily a couple was also trapped at the security checkpoint and we were moved to a line with ten others in the same situation. I boarded the train, settled in, and a few hours later arrived at Gare du Nord. As I stood in line to purchase a two-day metro pass, a young man walked up to me and as he was about to speak, a nice police officer yanked him backwards by the jacket as he yelled at him and ushered him out of the station. Welcome to Paris. I stowed my backpack in a locker and hopped on the metro, in the first car two young men with a speaker and microphones started rapping. At the second station, the car I was in came with a man playing the tuba. Throughout the weekend I experienced many different styles of music in and outside of the metro.
A sea of people wandered around taking photos and this black crow decided to sit right behind me; it freaked me out. After I took it all in, I finally made my way inside. The Louvre is spectacular and sadly I only had two days for exploring. I basically ordered the importance of exhibits that I wanted to see, knowing that I would run out of time. The first day I explored the massive Egyptian display, a medieval section and many galleries of Italian and Spanish paintings, plus a section of Spanish and Italian sculptures. I emerged in the late afternoon and headed over to Rue de Madeleine and Madeleine Place for food and shopping. I found a fantastic organic restaurant and then went over to Hediard and Fauchon to shop. After a bit of exploring I took the metro back to Gare du Nord to claim my backpack and to find my hotel. The hotel was nice and clean with a friendly staff near shopping and restaurants. I found a great Indian restaurant and sat down to eat and people watch. I wandered the neighborhood, drank some wine, and then headed to the hotel.
The next morning I headed to the Louvre as early as possible, sat in the courtyard and drank an espresso at café Marly before what would be a full day of art and walking. I looked at French and European paintings and made it to the overcrowded Mona Lisa room, she is a well-protected woman. I looked at glass, pottery, crowns and jewels. I finally found the African exhibit and toured the rest of the sculptures. I love sculptures and while the sculptures at the Louvre are amazing, Rodin is one of my favorite sculptors. Unfortunately for me, his museum is closed through 2012. I guess I will need to return to Paris. I finished my second day at the Louvre by touring the Napoleon III apartments – they are out of control. Opulent does not even describe it. Looking at the murals on the ceilings throughout the Louvre, along with the doors, windows, staircases and basic architecture is a tour all on its own. When I say I could have been there for days…
I did manage to find my way to Champs Elysees, but there was a photo exhibit opening (perhaps Diane Arbus) and so many people that the police had blocked off streets and were redirecting people, it was difficult to walk around. It was also a Sunday, and most stores were closed. I finally headed to the Gare du Nord area for an Italian dinner and then checked in for the last train to London. It was a quick two days, but well worth it.
I have included a video of musicians in Paris, and though I will not win any cinematography awards, it is a small glimpse of what I experienced.