Art, Art and More Art!!

Trip Start Apr 04, 2007
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Trip End Oct 22, 2007


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Flag of France  ,
Sunday, October 7, 2007

Okay, so we knew Paris was famous for it's museums and art galleries, but WOW! As it happened, we were coincidently in Paris on the one day a month museum entry is free, so the question of the day was....how much art and culture can two people pack into one day?

We started off with the Louvre, waiting in the early morning line as the sun lit up the huge glass pyramid over the centre of the museum in the middle courtyard of an old royal palace. From the minute we stepped inside, we were stunned by the sheer scale of it all, the diversity of works on display and the huge number of masterpieces in one piece. We found ourselves almost running from room to room to see what treasures were around the next corner - a massive Easter Island stone head, Egyptian sculptures, the Mona Lisa, massive ancient Persian statues, the Venus de Milo, Michaelangelo's Dying Slave - it would have taken months to see it all, but after two hours of jaw-dropping, photo-snapping madness we reluctantly decided to move on.

We walked through the Jardin de Tuleries, a huge park in the middle of the city filled with sculptures, ponds and people in deck chairs relaxing in the autumn sun as the leaves fell around them. We carried on up the Avenue de Champs Elysees, a long tree-lined street past glitzy shops and up to the massive and imposing Arc de Triumph. We found our way through the underpasses and popped up in the middle of the crazy traffic island that is the Arc, and took yet more photos before heading to the most photographed monument of all, the Eiffel Tower!

It was a little surreal standing beneath it, pinching ourselves that we were actually here. Tired (and slightly lazy!) after our morning walking, we opted for the escalator rather than the stairs to the second level of the tower, past the giant inflated rugby ball suspended underneath in honour of the World Cup. From that high above the city, the view over the Seine River and across Paris was stunning and we lingered for ages taking photos and soaking it all in before heading back down the stairs through the dizzying iron lacework of the tower.

On the way out of the park around the Tower, we stopped to check out a huge rugby ball with '100% Pure New Zealand' written on the side. It turned out to be a movie theatre showing a short film about NZ and promoting it as the host for the 2011 World Cup. Gabrielle got sufficiently homesick and nostalgic and we headed on.

Slightly tired, hungry and footsore by this point in our marathon day of sightseeing, we suddenly realised that the Rodin Museum was about to close, and booked it over to check out The Thinker, The Kiss, and dozens of other beautiful works. Mission accomplished, we collapsed on the steps of the museum with exorbitantly priced cookies and fizzy drink, then headed to the Metro in the hopes that we could see a bit more the city while our sugar buzz lasted!

We found our way to Montmatre, the bohemian artsy district, in the golden late-afternoon sun. We bought some prints of Paris from a little art shop and watched the light on the domes of the Sacre Coeur while a band played on the steps and Paris was laid out before us like a spectacular jigsaw puzzle of monuments and apartment buildings. Our day not yet over, we headed to the Moulin Rouge, where men in suits and tuxedos and women in fancy jewelry queued to see the world's most expensive burlesque show before finding a little Middle Eastern restaurant and lingering over a dinner of hot, spiced donar and then catching the Metro back to our hostel to collapse.

After some debate, and only slightly rested, we decided to rouse ourselves from our very comfy beds and set off once more on the Metro (love that public transit!!) to see the Eiffel Tower again, this time shining in all it's lit-up glory. Although we missed the sparkling lights (apparently only once an hour) the sight of it like a huge beacon against the black sky was well worth dodging all the pushy rose salesmen
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