Paris: Day 4

Day 4 was a Sunday, and we opted to sleep in for the first time of our vacay…and at this point, we needed the extra rest. 

All of the museums in Paris offer free admission the first Sunday of every month, and we scheduled our Louvre visit to coincide.  We got up & at ’em around 1:00 pm, and went for our short walk to the Louvre. 

We picked up a crudite, pain au chocolat, and Coke Light at the Paul sandwich cart.  After a quick bite to eat on the very crowded Louvre lawn, we headed inside the massive structure.  I was curious to see what the inside looked like, since we had visited the outside nearly every day of our trip.  One amazing tip:  enter the Louvre at the Porte de Lyons entrance.  Most everyone lines up to enter the main entrance at the pyramid.  Seriously…an hour long wait kind of line, just to get in the door.  We walked RIGHT IN the Porte de Lyons entrance.  Zero line.  I felt badly for the people waiting in line in the sweltering heat.

The Louvre was beautiful.  Although the artwork was amazing, I was truly more impressed with the building itself.  Since neither of us are art buffs, we decided to hit the highlights:  the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and a few other fan favorites:


We wandered around a bit, then decided to rent an audio tour.  After some trouble we (finally) located the audio tour rental booth, paid our 17 euros and geared up for our 3 hour guided tour…except, not really.  The audio tours had not been updated for some time, and the first stop on the tour was closed for renovations.  We tried to follow the rest of it, but could never seem to get our bearings & figure out where we were supposed to be.  In other words, these tours leave a lot to be desired.  We did head down to the basement, and got a chance to see the original foundation work from the 1200’s. 

I am still amazed at the quality and beauty of the Louvre, even more so considering how OLD that place really is.  Truly remarkable.

Although we probably did not get to fully appreciate the Louvre & its artistic offerings, we felt we had seen enough after about 3 hours.  We headed back to our room for a quick…wait for it…wardrobe change…then a pit stop at Carr’s to figure out our next move.

We were not exactly sure what we wanted to do at this point, and had a few things to mark off the ol’ bucket list.  So as we sat & deliberated, I noticed something on the ‘must see’ list given to us on Day 2 from Kate,  the Bike About Tours guide.  Le Cinquante was on the list, and they recommended a visit on Sunday night.  At 6 p.m., locals gather to drink and sing “traditional French folk songs” in a bar atmosphere.  Local time on my watch:  5:30 pm.  Perfect.

We hopped on the subway and headed to Le Cinquante.  I would like to give a special shout out to my sweetheart of a husband for navigating the subways so well.  Because Lord knows, if left up to me, we would have ended up who knows where.

We arrived around 5:50 p.m. and the place was deserted.  It was definitely a local hang out, and we felt pretty out of place. 

The bartender was very nice though, and did her best to be accomodating.  We really appreciated her hospitality.

The crowd started rolling in around 6:30 p.m. & we were handed a song book.  The guitarist did a great job keeping the crowd involved, and we found it funny that several Rolling Stones songs were included in the French folk song book 🙂 

We had a great time, and it was a very unique experience.  When we left, around 8:30, check out the crowd that had packed in:

We walked around the ‘hood for a little bit…the foot traffic was stopped by a drawbridge, which was pretty cool.  I could definitely see this area being in a movie.  It was what I ‘expected’ from a French neighborhood. 

Since it was around 8:30 p.m. or so, we were getting pretty hungry.  After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to find a cafe, we ducked into a sandwich shop for a panini and French fries.  I know, I know.

Afterward, we hit the subway & headed towards Champs-Elysee, for an entirely different French experience.

We ended up getting off one subway stop too early & had a little longer walk to the Champs than we anticipated.  We strolled along though, taking in the sites.  Some guy had a tricked out Ferrari that was parallel parked on the street…About 30 people were crowded around the car taking pictures; some sitting on it, licking the windows, posing on the hood.  It was completely ridiculous!  The guy didn’t seem to mind either…maybe he was used to it?  But seriously, people.  Seriously?

This was the best shot I could get of the Ferrari, through the pack of people laying all over it:

Louis Vuitton’s flagstore store was definitely the most exciting place of the Champs visit for me (though I did not do any shopping).  Shopping + BBP go together like oil and vinegar.  And not in a mixes together to make a delicious salad dressing kind of way.  So I already knew going in that this would be a ‘memory making’ trip–not be a ‘shopping’ trip for me.  And I was just fine with that. 

After taking the obligatory tourist photos in front of the Champs Elysee, and admiring its grand beauty, we were hungry again.  (Almost as surprising as another wardrobe change might be, right?)  We hit Applebee’s Chez Clement for a decent (but not outstanding) meal:

After dinner and a few more stops along the Champs, we headed back to our neck of the woods on the subway.  Since we weren’t quite ready to call it a night, we ended up back at the Louvre with our blankey and bottle of wine.  I just love the way the sky looked at night, and this is my view from ground zero (as in laying on the ground, looking up):

Vive la France!

Tomorrow:  Day 5 with our Paris Greeter, and walking tour of Montmartre/Moulin Rouge area.

  1. July 22nd, 2010
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