The Louvre

So today’s post (which is what I did yesterday) is about the largest museum in the world, the Louvre.I actually got lost on my way there. I saw this..

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Église St. Eustache

Église St. Eustache

You come out of the mall that is attached to the subway and Bam, there is an enormous church that youève never heard of. Why haven’t you heard of it,  because Paris has no shortage of crazy big, famous amazing churches. This one was built between 1532 and 1642. To put that in context, it was finished 43 years before Bach was born and right around the time when  Jacques Cartier arrived in the Gaspé Peninsula and claimed the land for France (1534). This church is as old as the beginning of the written history of the land now called Canada. It’s 335 years older than Canada….Mind blown!

The front of the church resembles Notre Dame Cathedral. Wikipedia tells me, that “The eclectic design features both Renaissance-era decorative elements and a classic gothic design. Its unfinished appearance is oddly charming.” You know, because it looks soooooo unfinished. I think they forgot to ornately decorate that one part of that stone over there. How unfinished!

For those of you who are oganistas, aka organ enthusiasts (Phil, I’m lookin at you), the church has over 8000 pipes and it was used by famous composers such as Franz Listz and Hector Berlioz to compose many of their key works. Sorry, didn’t see the organ. Remember this is just me passing by on my way to the Louvre. Oh and also…

BIg head outside St. Eustache.

BIg head outside St. Eustache.

The next building I run into is this one…also highly impressive.

Agro Paris Bourse (this is the Sask Wheat Pool of France)

Agro Paris Bourse (this is the Sask Wheat Pool of France)

Then I pass a palace (Perrault’s Colonnade, below)…cause, there’s like 15 palaces in Paris. Although if you count Ïle-de-France and Versaillles, which are each only approximately 20-25 km away from the centre of Paris, the palace count goes up to 31.

Perrault's Colonnade (1665 -1680)  is actually part of the Louvre which I did not know until just now. The Louvre is enormous.

Perrault’s Colonnade (1665 -1680) is actually part of the Louvre which I did not know until just now. The Louvre is enormous.

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Then I walk for what seems like forever, I get lost (actually I was going the right way I had it in my mind that the museum couldn’t possible be a building that was 5 blocks long. so I turned the other way and then found my favourite part and the most Romantic part of Paris,. By Romantic, I mean my idealized version of Paris, the city as I imagined it before I came and as I’ve seen it portrayed in movies. The Paris of An American in Paris, or Funny Face, or Charade, and I was completely engrossed in the little trinket shops on the banks of the Seine. There, they have things such as old postcards, some with messages of love to friends, some still blank, but printed as early as 1900. They sell copies of old books, plays, and poetry. Some sell artwork and jewelery and trinkets like old pocket watches and binoculars, others sell old copies of maps of Paris, or the plans for the Eiffel Tower. Some sell old pictures of people in Paris, not even famous people, just people. I must go back there tomorrow…so many curiousities!

Finally, I get turned back around and I find myself walking through the gates of the Louvre.

The entrance to the Louvre.

The entrance to the Louvre.

Just to make you aware of the grandeur of the place, this picture shows only half of one of the entrances. You see the buildings on the other side, through the archways, that is still part of the Louvre. In every crevasse, in every ceiling, above every window, there is some ornately beautiful element that was crafted by an artist. For example, here is part of the inside of one of the archways.

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Every part of this place has been considered and crafted by an artist.

Every part of this place has been considered and crafted by an artist.

Paris, “That’s hot!”

Yep, I’m quoting Paris Hilton’s famous phrase because Paris (the city) is soooo hot, 38 degrees in the shade, phew! Some of you might think I’m being a wimp but, you see, in Paris air conditioning is not a given. It seems like only chain stores have it and those stores are not predominant in Paris. At one point today I contemplated whether my legs were being cooked inside my pants as I walked around Luxembourg gardens.

Enough about the heat. Luxembourg gardens, which is only blocks from my hotel room, was my first point of interest today. The gardens and the Palace were created in 1612 for Marie de Medci, the widow of King Henry IV of France. Today the French Senate is housed in the Palace and owns the gardens. Her court artist was the famous Peter Paul Rubens. My first thought upon seeing the palace was “this is where Babar lives.” Of course its not, because Babar lives in Celesteville…and because he’s a cartoon, but that was my first thought nonetheless.

Luxembourg Palace, aka where Babar lives.

Luxembourg Palace, aka where Babar lives.

Huge garden space!

Huge garden space!

Panorama of the bowl in the middle of the gardens.

Panorama of the bowl in the middle of the gardens.

More pictures of the bowl.

More pictures of the bowl.

Trees line the sides of the garden.

Trees line the sides of the garden.

The fountain of Marie de Medici.

The fountain of Marie de Medici.

While at the gardens I sat down to work, i.e. listen to music and analyze the score, when I noticed that nobody had earphones on. I watched this all day and saw only one set of headphones other than mine. I have a theory about this that I will reveal at the end of the week, but for now, Paris, as I have observed it, is mostly earphoneless. While sitting at a cafe in the park, I had, perhaps, the best espresso of my life. I haven’t had a lot of coffee because I forget about it when it’s so hot, but I’ll have to have another coffee tomorrow.

Next I did a walk about and found these ads:

Would you like to vacation where there is snow, and horses?

Would you like to vacation where there is snow, and horses?

Or maybe where there are mountains and tractors?

Or maybe where there are mountains and tractors?

You know where you should vacation…Canada. We have lots of that!

Then I continued my crazy stupid hot walk and stumbled upon a number of libraries (which are bookstores in Paris). The first one was just a tiny little shop piled to the ceiling with the oldest collection I’ve ever seen in one place (except maybe for the U of T Rare Book Collection). I looked through the collection and found publications that were up to 200 years old. Holy stromboli! When I walk around in France and see all this amazing old stuff I feel like, EVERTHING IS AMAZING. Everything is hundreds of years old and that is FREAKING AMAZING! I felt like running into the street and shouting, “Do you know how old these books are? Older than the entire written recorded history of Canada!”

How I feel, in a youtube video:

Then I went to the following places…

Église Saint Etienne du Mont

Église Saint Etienne du Mont

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The Pantheon

The Pantheon

The Panthéon was once a church but is now a secular Mausoleum containing important French citizens such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, and Marie Curie.

On either side of the Panthéon there are these buildings…

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If I have given you the impression that there are huge amazing old buildings everywhere, then your impression is correct. When walking in Paris it seems to me that if you’re not walking amongst tiny streets lined with cute apartment buildings, then you’re on your way, through lines of trees, to some sort of old amazing building.

I’m strictly tourist!

The title today comes from a song from the movie Funny Face, a song that was playing in my head during most of my 5 hours of walking around the tourist sites of Paris. Those interested in old movie nerdular nerdance, here you go.

So yesterday, although I was incredibly sleep-deprived, I had difficulty actually sleeping. I went to bed at 2:00, fell asleep at 5:00 and didn’t wake until 1:00 p.m. I was so psyched to get up early and do all my touristy things early, but instead I was walking around Paris in the afternoon heat. Oh well.

So, on my walk I first came across this beautiful church, the Église Notre Dame des Champs. This isn’t the hunchback’s Notre Dame, so don’t get too excited, but it’s still a pretty big church and its old (1876) and it has a cool history (something about an older version of the church having a secret crypt to which people would make a pilgrimmage. I don’t know much more than that about it but here are some pics.

Église Notre Dame des Champs

Église Notre Dame des Champs

One of the things I noticed about Paris as I was walking is that, although the streets are not set in a strict grid, and there are many unusual intersections, the trees are in perfect rows and are often cut into square shapes. The first three pics are 3/6 of the streets in one crazy intersection where there were no traffic signs and no pedestrian lights. I probably looked like an idiot, but I booked it across those streets in case of traffic.

Crazy cobbled streets

Crazy cobbled streets,

Crazy intersection

unusual intersection,

and no traffic signs!

and no traffic signs!

The next photos demonstrate the trees in lines and the square-tree effect.

Square trees.

Square trees. Also Orange is the New Black now on French netflix.

Trees in lines

Trees in lines

Look at that square tree!

Look at that square tree! This was also a line of trees. That is the ultimate – square trees in lines!

I’m making fun of the trees but it’s actually highly impressive all these lines of trees. As you approach a line of trees you’re like, “Oh, there’s something touristy over here…what could it be?” As you keep walking you see just how long the line of trees is and just how square those trees are and you start to get excited. “This is going to be awesome…so many square trees!” And finally you see it!

Bam! Statue of Simon Bolivar (Venezuelan political and military leader). Want to know more: http://www.culturaltravelguide.com/simon-bolivar-liberator-statues

Simon Bolivar

Simon Bolivar

Bam! Arc de Triumph!

Arc de Triumph and me!

Arc de Triumph and me!

Bam! Eiffel Tower (notice the square trees)!

Eiffel Tower and me!

Eiffel Tower and me!

The grandeur of the streets and the architecture is impressive to say the least. So here’s a little information on why Paris is set up the way it is. In the first half of the 19th century, Paris was hugely overcrowded and disease was rampant. Streets were also so tiny (some as small as one meter wide) that it was difficult for traffic to move in and out of the centre of Paris. As you might imagine, the inhabitants in these areas were discontented and a number of uprisings broke out in these overcrowded areas during the revolution (just think of how easily barricades could go up in a street only one meter wide). So finally, Emporer Napoléon III commissioned a renovation of Paris to be led by Georges-Eugène Haussmann. So on June 29 (my birthday) 1853, Napoléon directed Haussmann to aérer, unifier, et embellir Paris: to give it air and open space, to connect and unify the different parts of the city into one whole, and to make it more beautiful.

Space,

Space,

connection this is a panorama so the bridge is oposite the huge palace-looking building),

connection (this is a panorama so the bridge is opposite the huge palace-looking building),

and beauty,

and beauty,

and more beauty,

and more beauty,

and more beauty!

and more beauty!

It took me a good 30 minutes to get around the Arc de Triumph because the streets are huge and there are twelve, yes twelve streets that instersect at the Arc (my favourite is Avenue Victor Hugo). So I should do this more in order, I found the military museum first, with its golden dome and its surprisingly round trees…

The Tombeau de Napoléon is the golden domed building in the back. The Army museum includes it and the building pictured here.

The Tombeau de Napoléon is the golden domed building in the back. The Army museum includes it and the building pictured here.

The dome from the other side.

The dome from the other side.

Then I made my way up the Avenue de Maréchal Gallieni, over the Seine river, to the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais, which are on opposite sides of the street from each other. Both seem pretty grand!

The statues on the bridge.

The statues on the bridge.

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Some statues are creepy.

Me on the Seine.

Me on the Seine.

This picture...

This picture…

is in my hotel room. See, I'm pointing at the statue.

…is in my hotel room. See, I’m pointing at the statue.

Grand Palais.

Grand Palais.

Petit Palais.

Petit Palais.

Then I walk down the Champs Élysées which is super touristy but has air conditioned shops where you can stand and hang out. I should’ve taken a picture of the Abercrombie and Fitch which was like a palace beyond a secret garden gate with super high topiary labyrinth walls. Neat!

Then I went to the Arc. More detailed photos below.

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Creepy sculptures and details on the Arc

Creepy sculptures and details on the Arc

Then I finally made it to the Eiffel tower. By then I had to have some ice cream. Pistachio!

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Ice cream!

Ice cream!

It is now 5:30 am here and again I’m not asleep. Better get going on that.

Night!