Monday, October 31, 2016

Paris - a walking City

2 Days in a row we just walked and walked and walked.  It might be the flattest city I have every visited.  The walk was 22 kms and doesn't include touring around the different buildings we went into.  I think I took as many advil as I had glasses of wine :).  Every morning we left our hotel and went for a quick latte and croissant, the French Breakfast.  And then we started walking.  How could you not follow the slowly meandering Seine any time you could.  It was full of boats and barges and restaurants docked on the boardwalks.

It felt like there was a bridge very kilometre.  

There were beautiful carousels on a number of street corners, especially around the Eiffel Tower.  I couldn't get Jim to go on, next time :)

Did I say that everytime you turn around you can see the Eiffel Tower, here are a few of my favourite shots.

This is a new Russian Church that had opening day on the Wednesday,  Putin was supposed to come to the opening, but had a disagreement with the French PM.  I must admit I was glad he backed out, the security would have been even more stringent.  

Everyone was stopping on a tiny little island in the middle of the Champs Elysees to get their selfie of the Arc De Triomphe.   There are beautiful memorials surrounding the Arc commemorating the different wars and the lives that were lost.  

As we are sitting having lunch on the Champs Elysees we kept spotting people stopping to get their picture taken just next door to us at this wrought iron gate building.  Lots of people going in, security checking them.  We thought we better check it out when we finished.  LOL.  Yep it was Abercrombie & Fitch.

These buildings were crazy busy, with lots of security and lots of people.  FIAC was in town, a contemporary art show.  I gather it is here every year.  We definitely needed another day or two.   

Afternoon wine was in the Latin Quarter, Happy Hour too.  Paris also seems to be famous for their chestnut trees.  I can't remember the last time I saw a chestnut tree (ok probably in Italy).  We had them on our street growing up in Mimico, but we only used them for making conkers, stringing them up and then whacking your friends conkers to see who was the King of the Conkers.  Lots of bruised fingers.  

Lots of street vendors and take-away cafes with amazing aromas surrounding them.  




On one of our little jig and jogs around the Paris streets we came across this memorial along the Seine near Notre Dame.  A memorial to 6 female resistance fighters from WWII.  

Two last little comments on life in Europe.  My first shock was when we stopped for a latte overlooking the Joan of Arc church in Rouen and I had to go upstairs to the bathroom.  Yes all the bathrooms were up or down windy stairs.  I see 2 stalls - ladies  and men and a central sink.  OK  I'm cool with that.  I come out of my stall and I hear water running, it wasn't water.  Right beside the sink is a urinal and sure enough there was a man there having a pee.  I think my face went scarlet, not that I could see anything, but yes it kinda shocked me.  LOL and here we are in North America hiring consultants and advertising companies to try and smooth over transgender bathrooms.  

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When we were having lunch in Honfleur, this couple came walking in with quite a large dog, they walk right through the restaurant and sit down beside where the seafood display is.  The waiter comes hustling over I thought to remove them, but no he has a bowl of water for the dog along with his menus.  In Canada you can't bring them into a retail store, even when it's 80 degrees outside.  

A number of restaurants in Paris had cats wandering around, the waiters would pick them up and rub them and then bring you your food/drink.  The cats would jump up on the tables and no one thought anything of it.  I think this little one is waiting for his date.  As friendly and well cared for as a cat could wish for.  I'm a cat (and dog) person and was missing my cats terribly so I was more than happy to enjoy these little cat moments.  

And lastly when walking in France, keep your eye on the pavement/cobblestones, not so you don't trip, but looking for dog poop.  It doesn't seem like you have to scoop up your doggy doo, but we did find a few Scoop and Poop public employees wandering around.  

Au Revoir France and Paris, we had an amazing time and hope to return someday.  

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Louvre - so much history

Today is Louvre day, after yesterday's walk, I actually pop on my "hiking" shoes.  These cobblestone streets are killers.  Until 1682 the Louvre housed the Royal Family, and then under Louis XIV he moved the royal court to Versailles.  The building was originally built in the 12th century and it is only fitting that all these marvelous pieces of art are housed in an architectural piece of art.  I found the building itself as interesting as the contents.  LOL  Not sure I should classify the Mona Lisa as a "content".    

 The grounds leading up to the Louvre are full of ancient and modern works of art as well as beautiful gardens, lots of people and street vendors everywhere.
Yes I bought a little Eiffel Tower to hang on my Christmas Tree this year.  :)

A beautiful bride and groom having their pictures taken.  

This is the entrance to the Louvre, the stairwell in the left hand picture has no cylinder.  The same stairwell on the right hand picture shows the elevator which is in the cylinder which disappears into the ground when it goes down.  So cooooooool !!!!!!!!!!

Sorry I know this is probably sacrilege, but I can't look at these statutes without thinking "shrinkage".
It is actually "Satyres en Atlante Rome Louvre - Four Statues Depicting Omphaloskepsis" ('Navel-Gazing')  I gather it is good for our soul to spend time gazing at our navels.  

To think I wouldn't have even known there was a pyramid of glass both above the ground and below the ground if I hadn't read the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.  

This is Reni's portrayal of David and Golaith.  Definitely not the manly muscle bound David I was expecting.  


How appropriate that Libra (Lynne) and Taurus (Jim) were directly facing each other across this great hall.  Just waiting for the dancing to start :)

Not knowing very much about art (make that nothing) I tended to veer towards the ones that were a wee bit strange.  Hence the collection of paintings below:

If there was a follow up to this picture I can just picture the little girl reaching up to touch his nose.  

This is a painting of Salome receiving the head of John the Baptist by Luini
The Italians of this age seemed to like painting pictures of heads.  

I did find a Raphael

The Winged Victory of Samothrace dates back to 220BC and is at the top of a stairway.  I gather this is the original.  Very impressive.  

So about now you are saying Lynne where is the Mona Lisa.  I saved her for last.  :)

 This was me trying to get a picture of the Mona Lisa.  The crowd was 10 deep and not moving, not even looking at the picture just trying to get a selfie.  I was very surprised that they allowed selfie sticks.  People were getting clunked on the head all the time.  Remember my Paris lament, thank goodness it isn't July.

Jim being the good hockey player that he is and a fair bit taller than the rest of the crowd, put elbows up, took my camera and came up with this beautiful picture.  That's not a ghost in the bottom, she is behind glass so that is a reflection of the people in the front.  I never did get that close.  LOL

There is a lovely little cafe/restaurant along the right hand side wall, we had a lovely latte there while watching everyone scurry out of the rain.  It seems like everywhere I go, I say I will have to go back well the Louvre is definitely back on the list.  After all our walking I realized we saw the great Italian painters but never saw the French Impressionists.  Luckily I at least saw Monet in Giverney.

This turned out to be our favourite restaurant and we just found it by accident.  It was up a wee alley from the Louvre.  When you first look at it, it doesn't seem like much.  Luckily my bladder was calling so I went inside and there was this amazing pub with fine dining food and absolutely packed.  They had a curtain across the door so you can't peek inside.  It was definitely a locals place, as most of the people were in suits or quite dressy.  Who know who we may have been sitting beside.  :)  The meal was amazing and the wine was glorious.