Nom de Plumage

March 4, 2012

The Magnificence of The Louvre and the Elegance of Sacre Coeur

One of the joys of hosteling is when a new room-mate arrives at 1:00am and then for the next 45 minutes proceeds to unpack and then get ready for bed. After this little interlude, I still managed to wake early and get to the Louvre before the crowds. Again, due to strict security checks, it did take some time before I got into the actual museum and let me say, the wait was worth it! When one finally gets into the foyer of the museum, there are several ticket windows in anticipation for the huge crowds. Your next dilemma, is which entrance to start from because there are several? I chose the nearest one and hoped for the best?
I remember reading somewhere, that to actually see all that the Louvre offers, you need five full days. Are you kidding? Unfortunately, NO! One word to describe the enormity of the palace – MASSIVE! Other words to describe the pieces on show – decadent, opulent, priceless, precious and absolutely stunning. A real jaw-dropper all the way. The museum has everything and more in terms of exquisite art,priceless statues,magnificent sculptures,intricate tapestries, precious old books, stunning china/porcelain and beautiful furniture and jewellery. The list goes on……..!
The magnificent Napoleon Rooms are still intact to when he ruled the country more than two hundred years ago. He certainly knew how to live like a King and it shows in his exquisite taste. The wing dedicated to sculptures and statues is unbelievable. The pristine white marble, perfectly sculptured to reveal naked men/women is something to admire. The craftsmanship is now rare in todays era. My absolute favourite wing and the one that everyone comes to see, is the priceless art. The kings of Renaissance art are all on show – Da Vinci and Botticelli to name a few. The painting that everyone comes to see and certainly the world’s most famous painting is the ‘Mona Lisa’. Da Vinci is my favourite artist and one of my pilgrimages is to see as much of his life and work that I can. I have seen so many images of his masterpiece and reality is nothing to compare. Firstly, the painting is smaller than I expected, nonetheless it is still beautiful. I was fortunate enough to get to see the painting before a huge crowd arrived. The other paintings were all just as precious and one can now understand why the Italian masters are held in such high repute.
I wish that I could have spent five days at the Louvre, but alas I had so much to see. I walked down through the gardens to the Musee` Orangerie where paintings from the Impressionist era are held. The likes of Renoir, Cezanne, Monet and Picasso. One can not miss when in Paris is the famous Place Vendome and the more famous Ritz Hotel. Shops that certainly cater to the ‘rich and famous’, but window shopping needs no money to dream and admire.
The weather had started to turn grey and miserable and my last stop for the day was at the district of Montmarte. Honestly, I cannot write what I really expected of this district as it is very synonymous with the ‘Bohemians’, but what I can say, is that it truly surprised me and I loved it! Once you exit the underground metro station, to get to the heart of this quaint district, you need to walk up a monster of a hill. It almost killed me! But the sweating, cursing and sore feet was worth it all. Narrow cobblestone laid streets, weaved an intricate web past cafes, bakeries, shops and a beautiful market. The vibe of this place was so “bohemian’ and so relaxed. I stopped off at a local bakery for a baguette filled with brie, tomato and lettuce and a delicious pear almondine tart. I continued up the hill to the highlight of my walk and that was the Cathedral of Sacre Coeur. Situated perfectly overlooking Paris, although somewhat grey and overcast, it was a perfect place to sit down on the stairs and eat my lunch and to just enjoy the view. To get into the cathedral, one must by-pass the gypsy beggars to get inside. Unfortunately no photo’s are allowed to be taken and therefore my memory of the place is very sketchy, but what I can say, is that it was beautiful and very serene.


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