Today we had the Musée du Louvre and Musée d’Orsay on our agenda. We all slept well in our cozy Parisienne hotel, and we left around 10:30 for breakfast. We enjoyed croissants and coffees on Rue Cler again before we headed down to the Metro. Two short Metro lines later, and we ascended into the Louvre.
We had already purchased our four-day Paris Passes and had them mailed to us in Dublin. These passes allow entry into about 60 museums, cathedrals, and other exhibits around the city, and some come with “queue jumping” privileges. Now the first Sunday of the month is “free museum day,” which we knew ahead of time, so we expected big crowds. Our lovely passes came to the rescue for avoiding very long lines just to get inside. We were super glad to have them.
The Louvre contains over 14 kilometers of exhibit halls, and we had absolutely no intention of thoroughly covering them. Reed and I had been before, so we mainly set out to see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo this time around. We made our way through the halls and crowds and were able to get good views of both. We also saw Wedding at Cana, Winged Victory, and many, many other paintings and statues along the way. I think the kids enjoyed the marvelous structure of the Louvre itself (originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II, & Louis XIV didn’t think it was grand enough so he moved out to Versailles!), as well as the cool glass pyramids (circa 1988-1993). Jackson is reading The Da Vinci Code now, so he had that additional interest when exploring.
We went on foot across the Seine and over to the Orsay. This is Reed’s and my favorite museum (and we went to a LOT of them on one of our trips here to come to this conclusion), but our children don’t feel the same (which is completely okay). 🙂 The Orsay is housed in what was a train station built for the 1900 World’s Fair. Again, the building itself is spectacular, especially its famous giant clocks. Like the Louvre, we had an efficient plan in mind, only hitting floors five and two for some of the really big names in the art world. Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh top the list. I was very moved seeing these famous pieces, while at the same time I felt guilty for not knowing more and teaching my children more about art.
We strolled along the streets near the Orsay to find a suitable lunch spot. It is quite expensive eating in Paris, as you can imagine, so we try our best to be a bit discerning (and we ask for tap water as a Coke is about $6!). This time it was Italian pasta, which was delicious. We stopped at a souvenir shop to get sunglasses for the kids (great Paris souvenir), and then we headed to the Metro for our next stop: Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur.
We love this bohemian neighborhood and the artsy feel it has (watch Moulin Rouge if you haven’t!). Again, it was super crowded and fairly hot at this point in the day (& the energy of the younger half of Team Mueller was fading fast). We walked up hundreds of steps between getting out of the Metro and then up to Sacré-Cœur, which is at the highest point in Paris. We tried to take in the view of the city amidst the crowd, and then we went into the famous domed basilica. The 4:00 service was just starting, so we sat down for a bit. The sound of the huge organ filled the space, and the nuns lead the crowd in song. We didn’t stay the whole time, but Reed and I were thankful to have a few moments of reflection in such an amazing holy setting.
We took the Metro back to our neighborhood, played some cards, and shared crepes for a snack (Abbie and Reed went with plain sugar while Jackson and I had Nutella and bananas). Later, Reed and I went around the corner for dinner, scoping out a place to take the kids tomorrow night. We brought home a baguette, French butter, brie cheese, and a chocolate tartine for the kids to share…they were delighted. And, the consensus was we like Irish butter better. 🙂
Tomorrow we have Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe at the top of our list, as well as a return to the Eiffel Tower around 10pm to see it sparkle. I could get used to this…j’adore Paris!