We caught the train from Amien and we were in Paris easily by noon. We found what seems to be a decent hotel room. Not as small as I imagined it would be and our bikes are inside the hotel as well. We settled in and then headed off to see Paris on a beautiful, summer-like day after tuna paninis.
I have been to Paris a couple of times before but have never seen the Centre Georges-Pompidou, contempory art museum. So when I discovered that it was en route of walking to our proposed destination, The Louvre, I altered our path slightly to see this highly controverisal building. We didn’t go inside to view the art exhibit and the internal space that was created by turning the building inside out. “Inside out” means the building’s arcitects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers placed the majority of the structural components outside of the building in order to maximize the open space inside. The exterior is a cacophony of functionally colour-coded pipes. Interesting but definitely is discordance with the surrounding neighbourhood.
The Louvre also was an architectural controversy in the late 1980’s when architect, I.M. Pei, designed the new glass pyrimid entrance to the refurbished musuem. There were lots of complaints that it was not harmonious with the overall architectural style of the building but I think most would agree today that it was an inspired solution and a beautiful blending of contrasting architectural styles. Most people who visit Paris, visit the Louvre. I didn’t on my first trip but I made sure I did the next time I returned and I did so again today. This massive former fortress houses some impressive works of art and is impossible to see in a day. As it turns out, Bryan and I spent under two hours there as the warmth and humidity of the rooms contributed to Bryan developing a headache and needing fresh air. But in that brief time we did two of the “essentials” that were to see Leonardo da Vinci’s La Jaconde (or Mona Lisa) and the Venus de Milo. The day was too beautiful outside to be inside anyway.
Out in the fresh air, Bryan went to lay down and I went in search of drugs as I had left our pain medications in the hotel room by accident. Seems that there is a french law that restricts the selling of any form of drug, including tylenol and ibuprofen, to pharmacies. Anyway, I was quite easily to locate one and buy some aspirin and paracetamol from the pharmacisit without reverting to English. The meds were behind the counter and she did actually review maximum dosages, etc very quickly.
After Bryan recovered a bit, we headed through the Jardins des Tuilleries to the Place de la Concorde which is now a busy traffic junction but was once the site of the guillotine during the revolution. The obelisk in the center once stood in Luxor, Egypt in the Temple of Ramses. From here we walked up the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe where victorious armies have marched and where the Tour de France finishes. The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napolean but wasn’t finsihed until 15 years after his death.
By this time, it was dark. Bryan and I were tired and he felt still unwell so we had a quick meal and have headed to bed. Maybe not the most exciting evening for our first night in Paris but you do what you have to do.