IntrepidWoman's Journey

Posts Tagged ‘Louvre

We found a cafe with wi-fi –  I am drinking Sangria as I download updates that I typed off-line.

Last day in Paris – July 15th:
We took the Metro to the Louvre in the middle of the afternoon. The sun came out and the area was packed with people because of the National holiday. The Louvre is massive – it goes on for blocks and blocks and branches out in several directions. It would take days, literally, to visit all the displays in the entire museum. Lyndsey and I followed the signs forever to get to the massive room that displays the Mona Lisa. After hearing that it is small, I was surprised that it was larger than I envisioned. People were standing in a huge crowd to view it and take photos. The rest of the massive hall walls were filled with paintings of the era and they were most impressive and gigantic. The light coming from the ceiling made the room perfect for photos, no shadows. It really was awesome to see the Mona Lisa and to now be able to say I have seen it in person, but after seeing it so much in books and commercialized a dozen times over the years, it did not take my breath away like the Degas pastels of dancers did the previous day.
After the Louvre we walked around the area and down to the Seine to watch the tour boats from a bridge. When I waved and told Jack to wave and shout ‘Bonjour!’ he did, and people from the boats began to wave back to us. It was fun and Jack loved it!
We found a marvelous little street cafe – I now understand the many paintings of street cafes and really have more appreciation for these paintings now that I have been here. Our meal was again magnificent, and we took photos for our food record. Sometimes we leap in and then throw our forks down, saying, “Oh no, we forgot!” at the same time. Then we grab our cameras, take our photos and go back to our forks. Magnifique!
Coming home on a series of metro trains was exhausting, so it was nearly 1:00 a.m. when we returned to our apartment. We took photos of the cafe at the base of our building as this was our last night in Paris.

July 15

We got up at 5 a.m. to clean the apartment and take a cab to the high-speed train. Traveling first class was lovely as we had comfy seats and a good view. I was enthralled with the countryside in the first hour out of Paris – lush trees, rolling hills, the most charming farms with crops and white cows and gorgeous stone farm houses out of an earlier century. So picturesque! I totally understand how France inspires a person to want to paint and capture its beauty!

Four hours later we arrived in Agde where our landlord from Britain, David, picked us up at the station. He made two trips to the house – one with Lyndz and Jack and some of our luggage and the second with David and I and the rest of our bags, in his very tiny English car and we soon saw why. The streets are very narrow and the way he maneuvered through the side streets where the stone houses are so close was incredible.

The closer we got, the more in shock I became. We ended up within a maze of turns and twists and 400 year old stone walls, then walked past a rabbit cage containing a little white, long-haired, floppy-eared fellow and up steep steps to our house. In the basement there is a bedroom with en-suite and a window to step outside which is for me. The house has 4 levels. I will post photos. Finally, a warm shower with plenty of water pressure – heaven!

We have 3 levels plus a private, open roof top deck! It is so old but updated for comfort. He paid 16,000 pounds for the building and then had it updated for wiring, etc. adding 3 bathrooms. Many of the interior walls are stone while others are white plaster. Large windows open wide to cool the interior at night and have shutters on them to keep out the daytime heat and to lock for security. No glass window panes!

On the promenade around the corner was a street market today. I think it is here twice a week. There are many cafes along the river and the ambiance is right out of a book! We had a rest in the afternoon before venturing out to the river and cafe walk and another excellent dinner. Lots of local sea food here! There was an orchestra playing with an operatic singer near the bridge and the music floated out over the water to our outside cafe for our enjoyment.

Not home again until nearly one. Everything shuts down at midnight so the walk back was dark and quiet and the night air was cool and fresh. Sigh!

July 16th

Everyone slept in until after 11 a.m.. From all afternoon at the Louvre and not getting to bed until after 1 a.m., then up at 5 a.m. for a train to Agde and then exploring with a sidewalk cafe evening and another walk around until bed time again after midnight, my poor body cried, “Enough!” I have shut down for the day. The rest went off to find the bus that goes to one of several beaches in the intense heat of the day. I have my sparkling water, my fresh prunes and a roof top bed to relax on, so that is my plan.

Like many hot climates, this place shuts down for siesta about 12:30. The stores close and everyone retreats inside for a break from the heat, coming out later, refreshed and ready to continue the day. We like to walk the streets and go down to the river where there are an abundance of cafes and little shops. There is a young Canadian, looks to be in her 30s, living around the corner from us. She is from Thunder Bay, Ontario. David and I both know people from Thunder Bay. Not sure if she lives here full-time, but seems to own her house. This would be a lovely place to return to for the summer every year.

There is not much English spoken here however. I would have to truly concentrate on learning some proper French to live here. The menus are difficult. I was expecting a salad with fruits of the day in it but ended up with salad greens with an assortment of fish of the day in it last night! Not sure how French people stay slim. They do walk a lot, but they eat a lot of high calorie foods and drink a lot of alcohol! I am curious about their cholesterol level – will google when I go home.

July 19 –

David and Lyndz are heading to Tour de France for two days tomorrow. Jack and I will be on our own for 2 nights and 3 days! Life here is sublime!


Today was France’s National Holiday and it was celebrated very well by the French – parades, fireworks, events happening everywhere. Rain did not dampen the spirits, the French nor ours. We headed to the Louvre where I contemplated the Mona Lisa. I can’t say it made my heart beat faster, but finding a lovely John Constable and standing in front of it did!

It is nearly 2 a.m.; we have only been home for 2 hours and need to get up before 5 a.m. to catch the high-speed train to Agde at 7. This is a 4 hour, very fast trip from Paris in the north to the south of France.

Today we had another incredible meal in a sidewalk cafe. I had escargot, duck with potatoes cooked in the juices and apple pie with their special pastry accompanied by real vanilla ice cream.  This was followed by a mocha coffee that had shaved dark chocolate in the bottom of the cup, which when stirred into the coffee was absolutely orgasmic. Sorry Tim Hortons! I will post photos of our meal once we arrive at our next destination.  I have  so many photos from today! Our next stop is a much smaller place, around 22,000 and near several beaches on the southern coast of France.

I bought a Mary Poppins hat tonight to cover my weird, baby-fine hair which has been very rude since we arrived here. I realized it is exactly like the hats worn by the women in the cafes where Toulouse Lautrec painted except it needs a large flower on the side. I will talk to Carrie when I get home! I bought it in a little shop where the young man said I reminded him of his grandmother and then said she was a marvelous lady. He had been talking to David and Jack outside a few minutes earlier so I told him that was my son and grandson. He went out and gave Jack a present and told David that he had a lovely mother. David thought he meant ‘lovely wife’, as he had never heard anyone refer to me like that before; not ever, in his whole life, ha! ha! Ah, those Frenchmen, young and old, are wonderful!

I will miss Paris and must return someday. Traveling the metros is so easy to get to any destination, and there are so many museums, art galleries and restaurants that I could return every year for the rest of my years and explore new things every time. I have loved staying in an apartment. It is so French and so charming. We were able to unpack and ‘live’ here for a week, preparing many of our meals and enjoying the scenes on the streets below. I will post some of the photos I took tonight, showing the cafe on the main floor with the bright lights and red awnings, below our apartment. We took pictures at midnight as we arrived ‘home’.

I will even miss the cold showers. Well, maybe not so much. I look forward to our new destination where we will live in a four hundred year old house for the next two weeks. It will be a more laid back pace with trips to the beach, open markets for fresh food, shopping in quaint little shops and maybe time to read a book or finally send those post cards that I bought at the top of the Eiffel Tower to mail to those who sent me addresses.

This evening outside the Louvre, I finally purchased a little metal Eiffel Tower from one of the many street merchants who are selling them. I decided that I wanted one to perch on my desk at work to remind me that there is more to life than my job. I also bought some prints to frame of the art works that moved me the most in the Musee D’Orsay, so that my right brain (creative side) will be inspired to pick up my brushes and pastels when I get home and to do so on a regular basis. Life is too short to just work and then sleep. I want to work and dream and create with much less of my time spent on the work part. . .

It is after 4 a.m. as I sit by the window in the living room. I can hear animated conversations in the streets below and the traffic is busy as always. We have the windows open in all the rooms, three in the living room which has the round wall facing the corner of the block. There are no bugs at all! Rick Steeves’ site about travelling to Paris said to bring mosquito spray. Maybe there is a season for them, but it is not in the heat of the summer. We started the day with rain, which was a nice interlude after the intense temperatures.

Wee Jack slept nearly 13 hours last night! This is a lot of walking and a lot of waiting and a LOT of sunshine and heat for such a little guy, but he forges on! Nana is very pooped by the end of each day and Jack is ready for a little Backyardigans on the iPad once we return to our flat after our adventures.

Today was the first day we ate in a restaurant since our arrival. We have been feasting on baguettes, croissants, cheeses, meats, olives, fresh fruit, salads, eggs and vegetables prepared in our little kitchen. The little shops are a delight and we are eating very healthy. Our only decadence was the first day with fruit tarts.

We now have a dilemma. The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays so Lyndsey and I are going to the Musee d’Orsay today. Jack and David are going to Euro Disneyland. Both are easily accessible by metro. The dilemma – Wednesday is Fete Nationale (National Holiday) or Bastille Day, the French national holiday celebrated every July 14th, and we want to experience the parade, etc.   The Louvre is free admission this Wednesday, but can we handle the huge line ups with wee Jack in tow? We also want to take a boat and/or double-decker bus tour around the city. We leave Thursday morning for the south of France by train at 7 a.m.  Is it unheard of to go to Paris and NOT go to the Louvre? What to do? Yikes!

Stay tuned to find out what we decided . . .

Historically Speaking

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