25 March 2011

Paris, not Hilton

In January I flew with Ryanair to 'Paris' from Rome. While Ryanair is extremely cheap, I wish they'd had the courtesy to inform me that my flight was not actually landing in Paris, but rather, over 150km away in the middle of nowhere. From the airport, we were forced to catch an expensive 2 hour bus late in the freezing evening to central Paris.

I only had a few days to spend in Paris, and, as it seemed, a few euro too.

Under the Arc de Triomphe
I irk at the thought of Paris being considered one of the world's most romantic cities. I don't see how anyone can consider this place romantic unless they enjoy cold, gloomy, wet weather. Then again, three factors probably adversely affected my time in Paris: it was winter, I don't speak French, and I was physically exhausted.

We sought solace from the assertive Parisian chill in overpriced and crowded cafes that lacked the cosiness and kind hospitality that I'd become accustomed to in Copenhagen.

C and I had a bit of an art adventure in Paris. The first art museum we visited was the Musee d'Orsay. Located along the left bank of the Seine, it's an old train station that was converted into a museum in the mid 1980s. We spent a whole day inside this historic building, admiring the works of some of the most prolific artists in history, from the likes of Van Gogh, Cezanne and Gauguin to Renoit, Monet and Signac.

Inside the Louvre's Pyramid
We of course couldn't avoid the attraction of the labyrinth that is the Louvre. Standing in front of its glass pyramid entrance designed by Chinese artist I.M. Pei, I vividly remember experiencing one of those "Wow, I'm actually here" moments. Housing over 35,000 pieces of artwork, I could have easily spent a week here exploring all the exhibitions and/or playing hide and seek. Despite closely following the directions of my audio-guide, I managed to get lost amongst several exhibitions in my quest to find the Louvre's three most famous masterpieces; the Mona Lisa, Venus del Mar and the Victory of Samothrace.

Inside the Louvre 
I find it interesting and perplexing as to why and how these three 'masterpieces' have reached such great heights in fame, whilst none of the other 34,997 pieces in the museum are nearly as recognisable. Curiously, my audio-guide suggested that one of the reasons the Mona Lisa has reached its current state of fame is because it was stolen and returned not long ago. Then this led to the debate with my friends as to whether the Mona Lisa on display is the 'real' Mona Lisa...

I was lucky enough to have my local Parisian friends Yannis and Aurelie take me out for dinner one night. We went to a dimly lit cosy little restaurant on the corner of a small street near the Cluney La Sorbonne station. I remember the entree was amazing; spring rolls filled with some sort of gourmet French cheese. Another night, C and I ventured out of our comfort zones and ordered some foie gras (duck liver) and escargot. I gotta say, I never thought snails would taste so good!

And, just for the record, yes, I visited the Eiffel Tower, and yes, it was beautiful!
Oh, and I also visited Notre Dame, Champs Elysees (could never pronounce/remember this name) and the Arc de Triomphe.

Over and Out! 


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