First, the weather was ridiculously beautiful. I am praying to the weather god to let it hold for just a few more days – even one day will do, but please whatever your name is, weather god (reminds me of a line from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: “whichever one of you did this, thanks!”), let’s go for two!
Stage direction: Time Passes.
Can you feel it? I can. It’s two hours later, I am back from steak/frites along with vin rouge from Bordeaux, now washing it all down with a large bottle of 1664, and I think I’m ready to continue!
After my simple but tasty breakfast of bread, croissant, and coffee, along with yogurt and orange juice, I hoofed it to my nearest metro station, the madhouse that is the Gare du Nord, and caught the number 4 line to Chatelet. There I could have transferred to the number 1 line, but it was so lovely a morning that I decided to walk along the Seine to the Louvre, and I’m glad I did because while it may have taken slightly longer the air was fresh and, oh, did I mention I was walking along the Seine? I did, I know, just testing – in other words, what’s not to like?
|Sailboats along the Seine|
|A small portion of the sculpture collection at the Louvre|
|Mona Lisa Madness at the Louvre|
Dottore Gianni confesses: I AM rambling, as my own status has been adjusted by the mega-1664 I have now nearly consumed, but the adjustment is such that I don’t care if I’m rambling and will continue. I am easily cut off, one click of your mouse or whatever tool you use will serve, but you might miss something good...
There are also about five Raffaellos (paintings by the man we call Raphael) down the corridor, along with Caravaggios and many other fine works by other fine painters. To my mind the frenzy to push their way through crowds for one painting behind bullet-proof glass is a bit silly, but then so are most tourists. Frenzied AND a bit silly.
Whew! Glad that tirade is over. Whatever you think about the Mona Lisa, among the many collections the Louvre houses, they boast a brilliant collection of French paintings. It was my aim to seek out as many as possible from the eighteenth century and revolutionary era. That way if we can work it out in November when we bring students to Paris that we all go to the Louvre I can easily get them from room to another. I was stymied in this by the Louvre’s nasty habit of shutting down large sections of its collections, partly because of necessary restoration work, partly because they don’t have enough docents to man the rooms necessary. Today it so happened that eighteenth century French paintings were ferme! But I was assured that tomorrow they would be ouvert, so I shall return.
In the meanwhile I was not about to leave the Louvre without racing around to see some of my favorites, and in fact while some works by Jacques-Louis David are placed in a room with nineteenth century French painters, some of his daring neo-classical and also revolutionary paintings were on display in the crowded Denon wing. Crowded because that is the wing that houses the Mona Lisa – but I digress – again. So I caught those, and also only two rooms away the great Delacroix and Gericault canvases, that, post-revolution or not I was happy to see. Three hours passed on my journey for knowledge in the Louvre. And then I admitted to Louvre overkill and got out. Into a gorgeous early afternoon. I was headed next to the Conciergerie, Marie Antoinette’s last residence, along with many others before they were ridden in carts the long distance to the Place de la Revolution (now re-named the Place de la Concorde) and introduced to Mme Guillotine, but was determined to get a fairly inexpensive lunch before I entered. I settled upon a very tasty grilled jambon, tomate, et fromage sandwich from a stand, wolfed it down in front of Notre Dame, and then made my way into that under-visited but fascinating part of the Palais de Justice where the concierge lived, thus the name. I had been before, in fact had taken students when I taught my French Revolution seminar in fall 2005, but I am trying to prune the trip this semester and am debating, still debating even as I sip my last sips of 1664, whether to merely point it out to them or spend the 6 Euros fee for each of them and take them in.
|Tribute to the National Assembly, the Pantheon|
patron saint, Ste Genevieve and final resting place to Voltaire (re-buried there during the Revolution, the first to be so honored, along with many others, including Rousseau, Victor Hugo, and Emile Zola. It’s quite an imposing place, and also has French Revolution resonance, as it was turned from a church which was built at the command of Louis XV. When the Revolution came it was recreated as a non-Christian monument to French dead. Rabid revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat was placed there, but after the reaction against the increasing amount of blood shed by Mme Guillotine, his rancid body was exhumed.
|Jack & Gelato, Luxembourg Gardens|
Finally I made my way the relatively short distance to the Odeon, one of the most important theatres in paris today, then just down the street to the Odeon Metro, in front of which stands a statue of the Revolutionary hero Georges Danton.
Another revolutionary reference! It's ALL about the Revolution, mes ami, all about my class and the stuents in it. What a [rpfesspr! I then caught the number 4 Metro all the way back to the Gare du Nord, after which I collapsed, after which I started this post, after which I slipped off to a tasty dinner of steak/frites, after which, just now in fact, I bid you all bon nuit!