Headed downstairs at 8 for breakfast and enjoyed a good continental breakfast and filled up the backpack with some extra rolls and cheese for later. Down into the Metro and off to the Picasso museum. Just love the Metro, it’s easy and quick, with lots of trains and once you work out the directions of each line things go relatively smoothly.
The Picasso museum was great, a nice cross section of his development and output with lots of different types of art from this prolific artist (paintings, sketches, sculpture etc.). Walked back towards the Pompidou Centre and stopped at a pharmacy to find some Listerine. None on display but the guy found us some for €5:15 and we had some fun with the translation as the chemist said 50 in English, but meant 15 in French (‘quinze’). Then a (good) coffee on the street before heading indoors for some more art. Spent a couple of hours in the Pompidou as it now houses the Museum of Modern Art and has a couple of huge floors of excellent things to look at. It’s all very inspiring, well most of it – some things I just didn’t understand. But, we were in a hurry and you could easily spend a whole day here.
Sat next to the crazy fountain thing and filled up on bread and cheese for a snack. The Pompidou is built ‘inside out’ and has all the infrastructure on the outside; escalators, ducting, plumbing etc. and it makes quite a juxtaposition against the older Paris skyline. We’ve noted a fair bit of this in the old cities of Europe and would notice it again in Rotterdam which was bombed flat in WWII and was rebuilt with some architecturally different buildings.
On the way to our next stop I found a ‘Passion a la pain’ and bought a couple of baguettes while Wendy and Ash visited a supermarket (more, pate, cheese, yoghurt and juice) to eat for lunch across the road from the queues waiting to visit the Sainte Chapelle. This is one thing that has changed since our previous visit to Europe. Access to cheap and fast air travel has opened up other countries so that now the main ‘attractions’ tend to get visited (particularly in the summer) by large crowds. lots of school groups doing the excursion and families from all over seeing the sights. I don’t like the fact that you have to spend hours queueing and being ‘crowd controlled’ to visit something that many people just visit to ‘tick off’ the list. Anyway, that’s life it seems and if you want to minimise the waiting and queues, best to plan well and visit things early or later in the day. So, St. Capelle was crossed off the list (couldn’t afford the wait) and it was over the river to the ‘ile de la cite’ and the Notre Dame cathedral. More queues here, both to get in and have a look around inside, and also to climb the tower. We jumped the queue to get in and marveled again at this old church and the beautiful windows and chapels. Had to think of all the people who have come here for regular worship over so many hundreds of years. Someone was playing and the organ music was most suitable for such a place.
Outside it was still an hour wait for the tower and Wendy and Ash went off to check out the museum of the Moyne (olden) Age. I chatted to Swedish couple who had come to Paris for 5 days to check it out and get away from the miserable weather up there and found it disappointing that it was cool and wet in Paris too. Mucked up the communications a bit (my texts go via Australia so take a while) and all of a sudden we where off up the staircase before Ash got back! Halfway up we had to wait in a shop for 5 minutes (decided not to even look at the merchandise in protest) but were soon enjoying the view of Paris from amongst the old sandstone gargoyles. I can’t remember how many steps but it was in the mid hundreds!
We also visited the Crypt under the cathedral and saw the old Roman ruins they have discovered – amazing to think most of the large cities in Europe would have something like this under their streets! We raced off to the Pantheon but missed the last group to be allowed to enter so wandered through the Latin Quarter joining the crowds looking for something eat. Settled for a €10 set menu (at La Marathon) that had enough choices so that Reuben could find some gluten free. Made a mistake with the French onion soup though, it comes with bread and cheese! Good to eat out every now and then and it was good to sit down for a while – but then we had to keep moving to get to the Louvre (it stays open till 10 on Wednesdays…)
Spent a couple of hours running around this great museum/art gallery – ticked off Mona Lisa (too many people posing for photos in front of it despite the signs asking not to!) and the Venus de Milo and some fantastic other things like the huge paintings by David. Also bumped into the archeological section underneath showing the foundations (bit like the crypt under the Notra Dam). The whole place is amazing and people everywhere even at 9:30 in the evening. Ahh, Paris. Yes, the people, the Metro, the buildings, the bridges and the river, the cars and scooters, the cafes and the baguettes. It’s all good, and a couple of more days would be nice to sit and relax and watch the rest of the world go by but maybe next time…