Hi! Mom’s turn to share. Maggie is tired and overwhelmed by the all the art today but I’m sure you will hear from her too.
First some general thoughts so far. All the planning and preparations were well worth it. Our Paris apartment is quirky and fun. It feels like living an episode of House Hunters International! I’ve taken pictures to share 🙂 We’re learning to make do and adapt. It hasn’t been too hard.
Paris is much cleaner, friendlier and safer than I expected. It amuses me that since Italy was my last trip to Europe I keep wanting to say “grazie” and “Scusi”. Now and then I remember to say “Merci” but mostly English and pointing work just fine.
Back to Italy one more time. The cathedrals there were mostly brightly decorated with intricate mosaic designs and lots of glittering gold. Here is mostly amazing carved stone. I’ll have the boys bring back a picture of St. Marks in Venice to compare beside Notre Dame. I agree with Maggie – Notre Dame is my favorite. The Vatican was stunning of course but Notre Dame is more approachable and still impressive.
Okay, onto the Louvre. We got there fairly early and headed straight for the Mona Lisa. Walking into the Italian wing brought back many fond memories of Italy with my family. Maggie sadly didn’t remember anything from seven years ago. Well she did remember Botticelli”s ‘Birth of Venus”, so that’s good. The Mona Lisa is on a large wall hung by herself and high enough to be seen from the hallway. It was bigger than I expected and the colors more vibrant. We got closer than I expected too. Mostly I was happy for Michael to finally see her. He wanted to see her before we went to Italy. We drove by the area in Italy where it is thought daVinci started painting it so that feels like we’ve come full circle now. Michael doesn’t know why he has always been interested in her but now he has finally seen her in real life! Lucky kid, he even appreciates what a privilege that is.
Another surprise was the wide variety of art at the Louvre. We saw an Easter Island head, African art, Northwestern Native American art and Medieval art. The kids noticed paintings where the children looked like adults – really kinda creepy but they learned some art history! Another cool surprise was the area set up like the palace it was originally. Talk about opulent!
The northern masters area showcased how their art used more muted colors and was often rural landscape, farming or village life. Not so huge and dramatic as the French, Spanish and Italians. We were shocked to find they all painted scenes of dead, butchered animals. There were also several that looked like a modern day version of a picture celebrating a days hunting varied game.
Our route through the Louvre finished with Medieval exhibit. Tapestries, tiny carved ivory panels, a crown, a gold sword, tiles. It was quite the jarring juxtaposition to leave that and enter the very modern architecture under the glass pyramid and eat cafe food.
My only complaint is the Louvre only uses French descriptions of the art. I’m pretty sure American museums describe everything in at least two languages. Wayne’s translation app helped on several occasions, as did Maggie’s limited French. If you really care about learning I recommend buying the audio guide. There were some plastic guides in different languages but they never talked about what we were trying to figure out. On a positive note it only cost 12 euros each to get in in and Michael was free!
As I sit here writing this Maggie and Wayne are out exploring more. There was one more bus route we hadn’t taken. Michael and I have seen all we can absorb. I hear all the big city noises and marvel at the gorgeous cathedral when I look up. I hear sirens, voices, children playing and a steady stream of traffic. Much to my amusement I keep finding myself listening for a Ducati to come home 🙂 I guess I feel at home here!
Bye for now, I’ll leave picture posting up to Maggie.
Note from Maggie: Mom said pretty much all there is to say about today. Me and dad spent another few hours on the bus, just observing, taking pictures, and watching the crazy driving. The highlight of my day was convincing someone that I was actually French… for about 30 seconds. I ordered food for me and my dad in French and the server asked a question in rapid French that I could’t understand. So I just stood there and stuttered for a bit until someone translated into English. Now that I think about it, the cashier at the same little cafe only spoke to me in French… 1 and a half people convinced that I’m French! Yes!
Tomorrow morning we get kicked out of the apartment and head over to Amsterdam! Tomorrow I’ll be writing to you from a houseboat on one of the canals. I can’t even believe that’s going to happen.
As you can probably tell, we’ve fixed the internet problem. Pictures from yesterday are now up!