Many a traveller daydreams about Paris and it’s easy to understand why. The place is stupidly adorable.
Even outside its major landmarks it’s still pleasant to walk around — even in early February. It just might be the world’s premier destination.
Rebecca and I went there to meet Franck, a French Tenor and family friend of Rebecca’s, who took us on a whirlwind tour of some of the city’s best culture.
Before we met him we had to check in to our hostel, which strangely enough, was the very same one my brother and I stayed in 8 years ago.
It’s in the Mont Marte area, within spitting distance of the Sacre Coeur Basilica:
That was our first stop. Our second – the Louvre. It was my third time there, and even now I feel like I missed a lot.
This trip, though, was vastly improved…by video games. LOOK AT THE LOUVRE’S NEW AUDIO GUIDE: Wow! Nintendo!
I didn’t even see the Venus de Milo because I had a Nintendo 3DS in my hand. And I didn’t need to! A 3D image rendered right in my face, complete with exhaustive audio guides from curators! I didn’t have to fight the throngs of field-tripping children for a look!
(Seriously though the Venus and the Mona Lisa are both at the Louvre and they’re both worth about 18 seconds of your time — there’s just too many people around.)
It was great to see some of my favorites again: Raft of the Medusa The sail the Medussans were looking for – see it in the corner? Victory Stele at Samothrace Oath of the Horatii Some guy gnawing on Dante’s boat
All good stuff. And in the hall containing this dumb painting… Why is there always a 150+ person crowd around this thing?
… we met up with Franck.
Reba and Franck
He took us from the Louvre to the Orangerie, a musuem that wasn’t even on our travel radar. No pictures allowed, but it’s most famous for Monet’s enormous series of waterlillies:
From there we went to the Musee D’Orsay, which has a very cool interior, converted from an old railway station. And of course some intriguing paintings:
And this gorgeous writing desk, which I will go to my grave feeling jealous of:
By that time it was late in the evening, so we went and saw this thing, which I forget the name of:
The next morning we met Franck again, and he took us to go have the worthily athletic climb to the top of Notre Dame:
After that we went to go see the Shoha Musuem (Holocaust Memorial), where Franck showed us the Wall of Names – it lists every French Jew who got killed through the cooperation of Vichy France with the Nazis.
Both of his grandfathers were deported and killed within one day of each other – horrible coincidence.
In the neighborhood of the museum we had a wonderful lunch at a deli in the Jewish quarter, and then we toured The Luxembourg musuem, which had a special exhibit of impressionist paintings collected by Paul Durand. Perhaps most famously this one:
When we finished with all that art Franck took us to the Monte Marte area, where he treated us to a wonderfully indulgent meal – but only after a very fierce, many-staged battle for the check. What a fantastic host.
As I said, Paris has a justified reputation for being the world’s premier destination. I won’t miss Paris prices, but I know it won’t be too long before I plan another trip back again.