Doing things and not doing things in la Ville Lumière
Artwork, Towers, Tennis
Sometimes, after a long period of repeated travel, finding a place where you can just chill out for a few days and fall into something that resembles a normal routine is a great thing. And that's just what we did while we were staying at our great Airbnb apartment in Paris. We did, however, still manage to get out and see some other sights in the city.
Of course we had to go to the Louvre. How could we not? With more than 650,000 square feet, it's one of the largest museums in the world and displays around 37,000 works of art. Surely there would be some cool things to see inside its walls.
Unfortunately, a few of the galleries we wanted to see were closed for renovation, which was sort of frustrating, but we did get to fight the selfie stick-armed crowds to see the Mona Lisa (considered by some to be the most overrated attraction in Europe—only slightly ahead of Prague's Astronomical Clock). We also saw Venus de Milo and how the French aristocracy lived in the 18th century (you know, Louis XIV to Louis XVI) before we made our way through the Egyptian section where we got to see another mummy. It looked quite different from the mummies we saw in the Vatican Museum.
We also toured the basement section, just one level down from the Egyptian gallery, that showed what the Louvre looked like during its early days as a military fort. But the place is so huge and you can only look at so much art in one visit, so about the time we heard a woman say, "So, that's not David?" in front of a naked man statue, we decided it was time to leave.
Pont Des Arts
During our walking tour of Paris, we took a look at the beleaguered Pont des Arts bridge, better known the world over as the Paris Love Lock Bridge. So after we left the Louvre, we decided to walk across the bridge to check it out up close.
It's truly amazing how many locks are attached to this poor bridge. There are locks on top of locks on top of locks. Entire sections of the bridge's railing have collapsed under the weight of all the locks. Some sections are covered in plexiglass or plywood, but that still doesn't stop people from declaring eternal love on this bridge.
As long as the vendors along the Seine continue to sell locks for a few euros, people will still find places to put them, even if they're only attached to a Seine-adjacent structure, like a trash receptacle.
Note: As mentioned before, in a move against eternal love, starting 1 June 2015, the locks are being cut from the bridge.
When you visit Paris, you can't not see the Eiffel Tower, because it rises 300 meters into the sky above the city. So we'd seen the Eiffel Tower from a distance plenty of times as we explored Paris, but we wanted to see it up close.
On the walk to the tower, we walked by a fluffle of baby rabbits hanging out on top of a concrete post. This has nothing to do with the Eiffel Tower whatsoever, but these baby bunnies were mighty cute (and I wanted to use the word fluffle).
As we continued our walk toward the tower, we were accosted by a large number of street vendors selling selfie sticks and metal keychain replicas of the tower. These don't seem to be condoned by the city, if this sign is any indicator.
We ended up making two visits to the tower. We forgot to buy tickets in advance (whoops), and on our first visit the lines were very long. So we took a few shots of the tower from the bottom and wandered down the Champs de Mars where we took in a little tennis (more on this in a moment) before we meandered off to find some dinner.
Eiffel Tower Redux
The next day, we tried to buy tickets to the Eiffel Tower online, but it was a holiday weekend, and all the the online slots were sold out. So we went back, determined to wait in line long enough to get to the top. We waited about an hour before were were able to buy our tickets (€53 worth) to take the elevator in the east pillar up to the second floor. From here we could look down and see the long lines snaking around underneath the tower.
From the second floor, we rode another elevator to the top. Paris is pretty flat and the tower is the tallest thing around, so it offers great views of the entire city for kilometers in any direction. It was fun to spot all the city's recognizable landmarks (many of which we'd seen up close a few days before) from high above the city streets.
For some people, joining the ranks of those lovestruck lotharios who lock their love to the aforementioned Pont des Arts isn't grand enough. Instead, they seek something more lofty, namely, the Eiffel Tower.
We were in Paris during the French Open (which everyone in the town just calls Roland Garros), and even the Eiffel Tower was celebrating with a giant fuzzy yellow ball.
After our first (aborted) visit to the tower, we walked down the Champs de Mars and were surprised to see people picnicking on the grass watching tennis matches broadcast from Roland Garros on a big screen.
We were also pleased to discover that if watching tennis on a screen wasn't your thing, there was also live tennis—this is where the junior played their matches—right on Champs de Mars.
We spent two non-consecutive days at Roland Garros watching tennis. We took the Paris Metro to Port d’Auteuil and walked a short distance to the historic Stade Roland Garros.
The first day we went was Kids' Day at the French Open. Compared to the U.S. Open Kids's Day, it was pretty lackluster—the whole kids' day concept was sort of lacking. We did get to see Jo-Wilifred Tsonga play a game, Stan Wawrinka warm up, and the briefest glimpse of Novak Djokovic warming up.
We also got to see teams of three people water the clay in between sets. So that was exciting.
On our second day at the courts, we watched three tennis matches, which about as much tennis as this guy can take at one sitting. And when the angry old English lady got mad at Jackie for bumping into her seat, we figured it was time to go.
And it was time to leave Paris. We'd had a great time in the City of Light, but it was time to head north to Belgium.
This report comprises days 275—279.