Sunday, July 31, 2011

Paris, the City of Lights

Wonderful to wake up in the City of Lights, having already found a patisserie down the road! Pain de chocolat. Nothing wrong with that.

When all were roused and dressed, we took the Metro to the L'ouvre. Being Bastille Day, it was a free entry day, and we joined the throngs in the line -- all the way back to the Palais du Cour. The line moved quickly, though, and before long we were racing through the hallways, on our way to Mona Lisa. The Winged Triumph stood in our path, beautiful and triumphant, despite her lack of head. I should do so well!

The crowds thickened as we approached the area with da Vinci's paintings. Around the Lisa herself, about a hundred people jostled and crowded. We jostled with them to get to the front and try to see the paint strokes and beauty. That is one thing I have particularly noticed this year -- how different, improved and beautiful paintings are in person. Particularly oil paintings, I think. What do you think?

When we walked out of the galleries and stood in the main courtyard, the Court of Napoleon, a helicopter appeared on the West horizon and quickly grew and zoomed over our heads. It was followed by over 20 more! They came from the region of the Arc de Triomphe and came down the Champs de Elysee, which ends at the Arc at the L'ouvre. We ended up going the other way, walking down the Seine toward Notre Dame. We stopped and ate at a nice little Middle Eastern cafe, and then continued the walk.

What gorgeous stained glass! We opted to skip the roof tour, as the kids were once again flagging. Instead we gently continued our stroll up the Seine, stopping at a paper shop and an ice cream store to revive the younguns.

Crossing the Seine off the island, we were at once at the foundations of the Bastille, dragged to that site after the prison was completely destroyed. On up the street to the Place de Bastille, where the prison originally stood. Then, the Metro, aiming one way, and ending up at the Opera House. In front of it were swarms of French soldiers from varying branches of the military. Four of us climbed up a tank and looked around, others got to wear the naval beret.

The Opera House was to close in a half hour, so we just headed back to the hotel again to repack, bathe and get ready for going home tomorrow.

The next morning, Chris went off early alone for his solo flight through Amsterdam. The kids and I left several hours later for our long metro and train ride to Charles de Gaulle. The flight was smooth, but the flight attendants were, perhaps, the rudest I have ever encountered. And, the coffee was a rude awakening, indeed.

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