It was a pretty calm afternoon here in Paris – well, for us at least! A protest against discussed changes in the labor laws (making it easier for French people to get fired and making them work more than they do right now) became violent in a different part of the city than where we were, so there were a lot of sirens going off all afternoon but we didn’t actually see any hint of disruption otherwise. French police sirens sound very different than American police sirens, by the way – it’s more of a long, two-toned, purposefully annoying sound. Think like if someone sat down at a piano, picked two notes that they knew didn’t sound good together and would drive you crazy if you listened to it for a long time, and then just played those exact two notes back and forth for a while. I’ll try to get a short recording of it sometime before we leave so you can hear it for yourselves!
But we started the afternoon at the Louvre hanging out in the courtyard with the famous glass pyramids.
The Louvre itself is huge. It’s said that to see every single room and every single piece of artwork in it, you would have to spend nearly an entire week inside! By our best guess, just one of the three main hallways is about 500 yards long – a little over a fourth of a mile. The building itself is also very ornate and is completed covered in statues (yes, there are actually statues on the side of the building!) and other decorations. It might not be much of a surprise that this building and courtyard actually used to be part of the royal palace back when France had a king and queen!
The new additions are the glass pyramids. A lot of people don’t realize that there are actually 4 pyramids: the famous big pyramid in the middle and three much smaller ones around it. The biggest pyramid is not only a piece of art, but is actually one of the possible entrances to the museum! There are also a large number of fountains and walking paths, and a lot of people like to just come and hang out in the courtyard even if they never go inside. That’s exactly what we did today since we didn’t have enough time to go inside (as you might imagine, getting into the Louvre is one of the longest lines in all of Paris and can take up to 2-3 hours just to get in some days!)
After the Louvre, we wandered across the street to visit the Tuileries.
The Tuileries is an equally huge garden/park area with several of its own fountains, a fish pond, a few cafés, statues, walking paths, and of course lots and lots of green space with trees and flowers all carefully arranged to be as beautiful as possible. It is a very popular hang out spot in Paris, with people coming down here to eat, meet up with friends, exercise, practice their artwork (many of the spaces are so beautiful, artists love to come to practice drawing and painting them), and relax in this natural oasis in the middle of the big city. And yes, there is in fact a ferris wheel here! It is remarkably tall at 200 feet; if anyones ridden the Detonator at Worlds of Fun back home in KC, that’s how high up the ferris wheel goes. (Anyone recognize that landmark in the background from this morning…?)
As you might be able to tell from the picture, a rainstorm started moving in so we didn’t get to ride the ferris wheel, but we did get to see the Eiffel Tower outlined beautifully against the incoming storm (it is not too terribly far south of the Tuileries!)
We dodged raindrops all the way to a café for some dinner, finding by pure chance an absolutely lovely option not too far away from the hotel on a very big and important street called Boulevard Haussmann. It is named for the city planner who redesigned Paris in the mid-1800s specifically to make it into a more welcoming and beautiful city than had ever existed in the world before that. Many parts of this boulevard are very popular and host a section of Paris called the “Grands Magasins” where many of the biggest and most important stores can be found. This café was close to that district but substantially quieter and narrower; the view from the second row of sidewalk tables could be said to be a pretty classic view from a French café.
I had duck, which is fairly common in France, and my husband tried a steak; there is not much good pasture for raising cattle in France so the beef, while very popular, tends to be not quite as good as in the US, and he said it tasted delicious but was a little chewier than he was used to. Another crème brûlée for dessert and our stomachs were definitely very happy!
Tomorrow is our last full day in Paris, so it’ll be an important one to wrap up the major sites. This is also the last city where both my husband and I have seen it before; from here on out, every single city we’re going to is new to at least one of us and sometimes both. It’ll be an adventure for sure!
Today’s lucky comment winner: Hananeel!!! Congrats! Everyone else, don’t forget to keep on reading and commenting and your lucky number will certainly pop up before the end of the trip 🙂