I’D agree that the glass pyramid of the Louvre is quite the stark juxtaposition of the modernist against the richly decorative classical façade but, at the same time, I couldn’t make an argument against its arresting panorama. Rooms upon rooms of art we couldn’t have covered in a day so we made a beeline for the hits. There was the Mona Lisa with her a smile more cat-ate-the-canary — the sight slightly underwhelming for a bucketlist item but ticked off nonetheless. A flight of marble steps triumphantly led up to the Winged Victory. Venus De Milo fell short only of limbs. The Egyptian section revealed the very interesting Le Menu De Tepemânkh, the Menu of the Dead, a roughly 1x1m stone relief of an Egyptian temple menu.
That suggestion of meals segued into brunch at one of the in-house cafes. Except for the literal ham skirt, I had a no-frills Jambon et Fromage Baguette straight up with Gruyere. I took the chance at a pun to declare my “Louvre” for apple pie and paired my Tarte Aux Pommes with a Café Americano. We covered as much as our feet could for the rest of the afternoon then hopped on the L’open Bus Tour to take a roundabout of the city in seated comfort.
The elevated view from the open second deck of the bus gave us yet another perspective of the city. Angles and details of sights not seen from the ground level revealed themselves as we passed through much of what we covered in the Old Quarter on foot. Moving on to Champs-Elyseés, we got off at the far end, triumphantly taking a dead-on frontal of the Arc de Triomphe at the crossing.
What was a leisurely long walk back to mainstreet Champs worked up quite the appetite that I didn’t quite ruin with a Framboise-Vanille Glace, that’s Raspberry-Vanilla Ice Cream, from Jeff de Bruges. Buyer’s remorse is when you get a regular and like it so much you wished you pushed an extra Euro for the next cone thrice its size. I swore I’d eat only local while travelling but I succumbed to the convenience of fastfood. Let’s make the exception that this is a French Big Mac and Really French Fries, shall we?
Our last day in Paris was reserved for the Versailles. A dedicated train with double-decker cabs decorated in the theme plied the route to and from Place d’Armes. It seemed like the Chateau had a town built around and specifically for it. The line for tickets snaked around the block and we jumped on the VIP guided tour option for twice the regular price. The Chateau itself was still a considerable walk from the ticket center and the grand sight slowly zoomed into view like an exposition shot in a period movie. The gate to the inner courtyard was in gold as were the decorative motifs on the buildings. Gold was the recurring, if not the theme of the entire complex. We learned that Louis XIV loved ballet and, judging from his decor, he would have loved Spandau. This is perhaps proof that the word ostentatious has a French root. The tour was peppered with enough historical tidbits of gossip to keep it interesting beyond the up-next-is’s and to-your-left-or-right-are’s. The highlight was the hall of mirrors with 10,000 candles that they lit manually for parties in its heydays way before Edison was mainstream.
Our tickets included passes to the gardens but intermittent downpours kept us indoors, keeping the pain of the wait at bay with Pain Au Chocolat and coffee. We braved the cold when the skies trickled to a drizzle. Tired and damp but quite fulfilled, we boarded the train back to central Paris nursing the beginnings of a cold.
We broke fast the next day with assorted cold cuts and cheeses at the Melon Café breakfast buffet. I opted for French Vanilla from the automated coffee dispenser like that would really complete the French experience. There was much we’ve seen but even more we have yet to.
To pull the French leave was not possible with the PA announcing boarding for our flight back home. “Au revoir”, as most of us would know to mean goodbye, actually means “until we see each other again”. So be it, Paris. So be it.