Thursday, June 12, 2014

Entering the heart of Paris - Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Paris Opera House

Day 8 (Mon, 9 June 2014)

Can't go to Paris without going to the Louvre! There are so many fantastic art galleries in Paris, it's hard to pick just a couple. However, we had limited time here and I suspect Andre has an art threshold. So we chose Pompidou Centre and the Louvre.

Located in the centre of Paris with its distinctive glass pyramid, the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world.

The Louvre used to be the palace of King Louis XIV until he moved to Versailles. That explains its vast floor area, at over 650,000 square feet. It is the largest museum in the world, with more than 35,000 pieces of artworks (partly thanks to Napolean who seized many pieces from his conquests.)

There are so many famous pieces in the Louvre that once you've visited it, all other art galleries pale in comparison. This is the Venus de Milo from the Greek Antiquities section.

The Mona Lisa by da Vinci, which is honestly underwhelming, as it's small, behind a thick pane of glass and surrounded by a wooden balcony. You have to jostle your way past the crowd to get a closer look.

The Coronation of Napolean by David (it's a massive 6.2m high)

Often, the magnificence of the artwork is matched by its surroundings. There's only so much awesomeness one can take in. It's just mind-blowing.

I don't think we even saw half the gallery - it's too massive.

Andre was a good sport and tried to appreciate all the great masters. However, his threshold stopped at the female form and he squirmed at the liberal display of the human body in its full glory. "Aaarrghh!" he would say as he tried to shield his eyes while walking by yet another Greek statue in a state of undress. "If it's not boobs, it's butt cracks!"

We still had a long day of sight seeing ahead of us, so we left the Louvre at lunch time. We wanted to have our meal at the Carrousel de Louvre food court, next to the Louvre beneath the pyramid but were put off by the high prices. We never thought we'd do this in Paris but we ended up at McD's.

A filet-o-fish is a filet-o-fish. But in Paris, even McD's is Frenchified - it sells macarons!

After lunch, we took the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe, another historic monument. It's 50m tall and stands at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle in honour of those who fought for France. Part of the top was under restoration though, which kinda spoilt the effect a little.

We hadn't forgotten Danger Dan!

From the Arc de Triomphe, you can see straight down the famous Champs Elysees.

Our last attraction of the day was the Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier). It was made famous by the Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux and as much a symbol of Paris as Notre Dame and the Louvre.

You can tell Andre was getting just a wee bit tired of being the subject of photos.

We had planned to go to the Nespresso boutique close to Palais Garnier to buy some capsules for my sister. Nespresso capsules are much cheaper in Europe (about 60+ cts vs 90cts in Singapore). Unfortunately, it was closed. We found out later that today was a public holiday. Quite by accident, we stumbled upon a different boutique - Lindt!

Of course we had to order a hot chocolate to try and it was super rich and thick, almost like drinking melted chocolate. It came with a delicate chocolate tidbit.

At the back of the shop, you can see the chef creating the chocolate pieces.

Chocolate snack over, we walked to Galleries Lafayette. The interior is incredible. We can't get over the fact that even a shopping mall can have such fantastic architecture!

But the main reason we came here was for the panoramic view of the city from the roof terrace. It was drizzly so the photos turned out rather grey.

We went downstairs to Lafayette Gourmet to buy a couple of baguettes, cheese (I can't believe how cheap Boursin is in Paris!), ham and pate for dinner.

Andre had been dying to carry a baguette under his arm like the Parisiens and finally got his chance.

Tres bien!

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