Paris. Romance, art and copious amounts of wine. What is not to love!
Despite Paris being a mere nip across the Channel for me, it has been somewhere that I have longed to go for many years but never actually went. But this is the year and a happy coincidence gave me the perfect excuse to get my act together and go.
I was short for time so it was somewhat of a whirlwind culture dash- unfortunately, this did mean playing the much despised tourist (everyone abhors tourists; I think it is the painfully slow ambling and abrupt stopping. Along with being culturally befuddled and looking the wrong way when crossing roads). I will admit, here and now, I am the worst type of tourist- the one with a map and a huge camera.
Day one: An early start meant bleary eyes whilst attempting to navigate the gargantuan Charles de Gaulle, but made it to Paris by 10.30. After a potter through Jardin du Luxembourg and chucking my bags down at the apartment, the first stop was the Louvre.
I had planned to make my way to the Louvre via Pont des Arts allowing time to take arty shots of the Seine and the iconic/ infamous love locks. Alas, upon arrival, the bridge had been shut off to the public and TV crews were hustling around with their booms as the locks were being removed from the bridge and tossed into the back of a skip… not quite the picture of everlasting love that the romantic protagonists pictured.
The lovelocks were said to be weighing in at around 50 tonnes! It looks like the trend is spreading to various bridges in Paris though, and any available railing even!
After the short detour, I finally made it to the Louvre! And greeted by the dismaying sight of an incredibly long queue; not what I expected to see at on ‘off peak’ time. I spent the time queuing valuably by cursing that I had not been forward thinking enough to get a fast pass and taking abstract photos. I was thrilled to find that as an under 26 resident of the EU, I am able to access the majority of museums in Paris for free. Yes, absolutely free.
The Louvre is, if you didn’t know, insanely huge! I did begin to wonder if I would ever make it out. The maps were rather confusing- but this could have been because my map was in German. My exhibit hit list was minimal: Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. Everything else was just a bonus. Clearly, the Louvre is filled to the brim with fascinating and evocative works of fine art and historical significance. For me, the sculptures were definitely the most appealing.
After soaking up the gloriousness that is the Louvre, I moved to modern times with the Pompidou. Known for its inside out exterior and probably the most prolific museum of modern art in Paris. I am a fan of contemporary art, again leaning towards more sculpture based works and abstract expressionism akin to Pollock and the likes. I tend to be drawn to bright, colourful oeuvres, often thought the medium of oil paint. On a slight aside, I loved some art by Patrick Rousseau that I discovered at a gallery on Île Saint Louis later in the week.
Day one was ended with a lovely Italian meal and beaucoup de vin rouge! Regrettably, I was very timid in communicating en français; I wish I had been a little more courageous since I know the basics but got rather tongue tied any time the opportunity arose! Whilst prepping for this trip, I rediscovered a language learning site, Conversation Exchange, which is exactly as it sounds! It seems to be a buzzing little site and other community members seem quick to respond and eager to learn and help out. I left it a bit late for my trip but it is definitely something I plan to look into in the future!