Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Le Louvre

We live in Paris, right? Well, not exactly. You see, Paris is a well-defined area, with no room for growth. There is a road that surrounds the city called the boulevard périphérique. Sort of like a by-pass or similar highway that circles an american city, the périphérique circles Paris, and everything inside the circle is Paris, everything outside is not. We live outside the périphérique, and after a month of living here, we actually had not yet made it inside! That's right, we live in Paris and after one month we'd not been to Paris! This weekend, we changed that.

The first Sunday of each month means free admission to all Paris museums, so we thought we'd take advantage of one of the coldest free Sundays of the year and head to the Louvre in February. We plotted our route on the trains/subways and took off for the day. We didn't bother to bring maps though, and when we tried to change trains for the second leg of our trip and discovered that the train was shut down (not sure why, but lots of police, red tape [literal red tape], dogs, and such blocking the wing of the train station), we had to improvise with no real plan and no directions to follow. So we walked. And looked at maps on bus stations. And generally got lucky. Along the walk through downtown Paris, we did discover a little bit of why people seem to like this city. There's something captivating about the place. It's nice. You should come.

As we were walking, I had to find a bathroom bad. Luckily, this little guy popped up in my path:
Sort of like a port-a-potty but more permanent, cleaner, and automated. I'd read in a book once that you have to pay for these streetside stalls, but thankfully this one read "gratuit" on the door. So I pressed a button to open the door and went inside. When the door closed, I prepped myself for the task at hand and saw a red lever on the door. Assuming the lever to be the locking mechanism, I pulled it. The door immediately swung open and a voice started telling me to exit, over and over again. Try as I might, I couldn't get the door to close again, so I obeyed and stepped outside. The door then shut and a wash cycle commenced to fully clean the unit while I stood outside in the cold doing the peepee dance. Don't push the lever, it doesn't lock the door!

We eventually found our way to the Louvre. A big old building full of art. It's pretty cool. In the middle courtyard is this big glass pyramid. Controversial when it was built, it's now the entrance to the big old building art museum. Many people still don't like the weird modernness of the glass pyramid. It was ok I guess. If you'd like to know more, ask someone or go to wikipedia or something.

Inside there were lots of paintings. Most of them just hung on the wall and you could look at them. No big deal. But then there was this one:Protected by glass with ropes blocking you from getting too close, the Mona Lisa is one of the most famous paintings in the world. Maybe the most famous. I totally don't get it. More on that in a sec. Here's a picture of the ridiculous mass of people taking pictures of the Mona Lisa:

Facing the Mona Lisa across the room was the very large painting below. Now this giant painting had not one person, but 120. And 5 dogs. And I'm pretty sure Jesus was one of the people. I figure that makes it about 125 times better than the Mona Lisa. Yep, this painting is better than the Mona Lisa. I tried to get people to turn around and look, but they were too attached to their cameras and phones and such.
(*side note - after starting this post, JJ told me that this painting is famous too, who knew?)

I'll take my little Venus over the white stone one with no arms anyday:

Probably the most disturbing piece of art, courtesy of our good buddy John:

Almost as disturbing was this statue found in the deep bowels of the museum:

I liked this painting. I think it's of Charlie Daniels...

Living art. I think I'm onto something.

Hooray Le Louvre! We had a great time. After a couple hours of looking at pretty stuff, we spent another hour trying to find our way out. For a big, almost U-shaped building, you'd think getting out would be easy. But it's not. They get you with the floors, up and down and up and down. It's a mess. Next time we'll start our exit an hour earlier.


Anonymous said...

Isn't there a painting with someone picking up John's head off the plate?

I would love to go here. Can we go when I come?


Anonymous said...

By the way, the "painting across from the Mona Lisa" is one of my favorites. Studied it in Architecture school. It's supposed to be when Jesus turns water into wine. Tons of symbolism about the sacred and the profane mixing together. Personally, I love how it depicts Christ being IN the "world". Like it more now? :)

It also happens to have been painted in the one place I wish to go before I die: Venice.