Monday, September 19, 2011

Adventures in Paris, Day 3: Mysterious Smiles, Fortuitous Weather, and Six Unlucky Snails

This was what we woke up to yesterday morning - a street market happening on our very doorstep!  

Husband and I trotted ourselves right downstairs and found some exceptional rummage sale booty, including: an antique bellows (yes, the kind Billy Crystal uses in The Princess Bride to bring Westley back to life), an impressive-looking miniature sword that we're now hoping we can get through customs, a French Garfield book, a cute red handbag with floral embroidery, and a VHS copy of 101 Dalmatians in FRENCH.

Great start to the day!

But I must share with you a very sad, very short story.  When I was getting ready to go outside, Husband was watching the sale from our window, and he said, "Hey, Joy!  There's a beret for sale down there!  It's purplish!"

"AHH!" I said.  "We've got to get down there!  Just let me finish my make-up and brush my teeth and stuff."

Well, between the make-up and the tooth-brushing and the stuff, it took us a good few minutes to get down there.  When we did, the beret had already been sold.  How do I know this?  Because Husband spotted someone else wearing it.

It was not purplish.  It was raspberry.


How do you bounce back from something like that?!

Well, at least I got a big confidence-shot in the arm when we stopped for coffee once we got into town and I saw this sign.  Do you see the error?

TOATS!  Toats with butter and jam!  If the French can mess up their English on signs, then I'm not going to freeze up and panic over whether my past participles are perfect.  I'm just going to keep on speaking francais and hope for the best.

(Yes, I know I have serious grammar/spelling police issues when I'm correcting things in other languages WHILE ON VACATION... but I can't just turn it off!)

Next we went here!  Can you tell where we are?  I'll give you a hint... Tom Hanks LOVES this place.


Yes, the Louvre!!!  The beautiful, inimitable palais-turned-museum that houses some of the finest cultural icons in the world.  Yeah, the glass pyramids are a little random.  But you need something to distinguish this place from every other royal residence in Europe, right?

We also spotted a couple of unfortunate statues on our way in:

The best caption for either of these photos wins a prize that may or may not be an antique bellows.

Once we got inside, we visited and gaped at some pretty incredible things.  Here is a selection of some of the works we photographed:

This lion was painted onto bricks by an ancient culture.  It reminded me of Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia.  That's basically why I photographed it. 

 It looks like the second figure from the left is saying, "OH NO YOU DIDN'T!" or maybe, "Hey girl!  I KNOW you didn't steal my fake beard!" to the figure behind her.
I thought this sculpture was charming.  You may find it creepy.  But that's really the nature of art, isn't it? 

Lady Liberty!  What a beautiful life-size statue you make! 

As with Lady Liberty above, I was fascinated with this sculpture's mimicry of fabrics and textures.  I wish there was a way to express with each work how many hours went into details of its construction, because the detail work on this Napoleon sculpture is staggering. 

Honestly?  This statue reminded me of Bentley from the latest season of The Bachelorette.  For those of you scoffing right now, Husband TOTALLY picked up on it, too!  I guess those 20 minutes of that one episode that I coerced him into watching were very formative.  But seriously, I liked the character of this sculpture, and how alive it seemed.

Hey, friends reading this post, want to see MORE cool things from the Louvre?  Okay!

Husband thought this sign reminding visitors of all the things to NOT do in the Louvre was amusing.  I concur.

This is a medieval tapestry depicting a glorious scene of... medieviality.  But I really can't describe in a blog how breathtaking these are.  They are HUGE - the size of a wall - and if you stand close enough you can see the individual stitches.  Imagine the laborers' hours spent over these stitches, commemorating this one moment in history piece by piece... when we can capture moments so easily with Nikon and Kodak, it's easy to forget what a premium was placed on documentary art.

Side note: I recommend clicking on these artworks to see them full-size - our camera does a decent job, and it's worth seeing the details.

It's important to keep in mind that the Louvre is a palace first and foremost, and staircases like these add to its overall aesthetic appeal.  They have for centuries!

Check out the detail on this suit of armor for a king of France (I can't recall now which one).  It's covered with allegorical scenes of Caesar defeating an enemy -- to ensure that the wearer will have the same success, of course.

 Man, the French sure do know how to dress up a ceiling, am I right?  Just LOOK at the detail on these two gallery ceilings!  They are as ornate and as expertly executed as the paintings hanging below them!  I can't wait to get the Husband to Versailles, where we'll see more of these beauties.

Yes, that is exactly what you think it is, painted by exactly who you think painted it.

 Aaaaaand there's that winning smile.  Who cares if it's "smaller in person?"  The Mona Lisa (or La Joconde in the Louvre) was everything I expected and more back in 2002, when I first saw it, and it's no less magical now.

This is a depiction of the coronation of Napoleon as emperor.  The significance depicted here is that Napoleon took the crown from the Pope to crown HIMSELF as Emperor, indicating that he gave himself the power, rather than being granted it from some other entity (like, you know, the Creator of the Universe).  It's a powerful artistic display of a controversial move.

Here's something with a little less gravity to it.  Husband and I saw these signs, indicating "Handicap access" and "Exit," respectively.  I was just amused because HERE:
 It looks like the fellow in the wheelchair is chasing the green guy, and THERE around the corner:
They've switched places!  That's all - just thought it was funny.

Anyway, after the Louvre, we trotted over to another Parisian landmark, just in time for messe (mass).

Sanctuary!  Sanctuary!  Reliquary!  Oratory!  Notre Dame has it all!  Husband and I walked through as the organ played an echoing prelude, and thousands of Catholics prepared for worship in the pews.  There aren't enough words, enough photos, or enough expressions to show the depth of experiencing this church in person.  Although it is man-made, you feel as though you're standing in the middle of nature.

And then, as if that weren't enough, when we came outside, a light rain was falling.  And you know what a light rain means...

A rainbow!  Right onto the cathedral!  It was a beautiful moment, and I'm so glad we were able to capture it on digital media.


Well, it's late and I better wrap up this post.  Here's one more picture for you:

It's Husband with the six unlucky snails.  He says they were delicious.  I'll take his word for it.

Bonne nuit, mes amis!

Paris, je t'aime!

1 comment:

  1. What fun! I love that the market came to you! May you have lots more toats on your grand adventure!