Day Nine

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Tigres de Voyage

May 19, 2002

Paris on Foot (Day 3 of 4)

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An American Breakfast / Off to the Louvre

Museum Hell / Tourist Bus in the Rain

Delightful Musee Marmottan

Walk Around Aimlessly / Pizza for Dinner

Day 08 Return to Main Page Day 10


An American Breakfast / Off to the Louvre


Dave: We woke up determined to avoid our dismal fate from yesterday. We would not walk our legs numb while skipping meals and then be too tired to enjoy Paris sightseeing. No Sir! So we headed downstairs for a big Renaissance Hotel breakfast. I should add that since the concierge lounge was closed on the week-end, upon check-in we were given vouchers for breakfast in honor of my Marriott platinum status. Only problem was, two days? Two vouchers. So we skipped breakfast the first day (with disastrous results) and spent both coupons this morning. The buffet was wonderful, practically overflowing with American-style breakfast items. We feasted on scrambled eggs, sausage, toast, fruit. Even "American-style" coffee. We were set.

We finalized our plans to immediately visit the Louvre, to "open the place", then relax on tourist bus (further utilizing our two-day pass), then pick one more destination for the dozen available: Eiffel tower, Musee d'Orsay, Pompideu Center, etc. We smacked our lips, packed our camera and headed off to the Grand Arche metro station.


Museum Hell / Delightful Musee Marmottan


The famous Lourve pyramid

The tiny sign that ruined our day (Click to enlarge)

The line naturally formed at the entrance to the Louvre, 
with with tourists loitering, then lurching forward in groups.
Click HERE to read the tiny sign
posted at the Louvre entrance

Dave: We were so proud of ourselves as we entered the courtyard and the famous glass pyramid. We stood here yesterday, but postponed our visit to be fully rested and fed, full of energy and ready to see the splendid treasures at the world's most famous museum. We would be leaving Paris tomorrow, so this was to be the only day for Paris to show herself to us in all of her splendor!

The line of tourists was already present at the pyramid and we fell right in place behind them. We moved forward, seemingly in groups of about 20. This wasn't a natural flow, like when people buy tickets one at a time, but rather like when you load a roller coaster or boat ride and seat people in groups, then wait a bit, then repeat. It seemed very unnatural while we moved forward and made small talk. Soon we were at the head of the line, with now a hundred other tourists behind us. The people in front of us just dispersed, and I was not even aware that they seemed to move off in groups in different directions. We stood and chatted, waited for the door to open to escort our next group in. But wait, the last group didn't go in the door. We loitered there almost 10 full minutes, when others behind us began to fuss about a tiny white sign with tiny small black print. No guard, no docent, no representative from the museum or tourist bureau or city government. Just a small white sign at a slightly oblique angle to us. While I "kept our place" (at the head of the line), Jesse finally walked about around to the front of the sign, and his jaw dropped. In tiny print, with no other help, was a tiny sign saying the Louvre would not open today, but would "be open tomorrow". Just in time for us to be on our train to Luxembourg!

At the Lourve courtyardDirty Bastard French Frogs! We were standing here 24 hrs ago. Had there been the least hint, we would have visited then. Instead we organized our entire life, 30 out of the 96 total hours we spent in Paris, around this visit to the Lourve, and there was no effort to assist us. Not only that, but we had been standing here, WASTING OUR TIME, for over 30 minutes and not one single solitary French Bastard had the decency to point to the sign, apologize, etc. We were simultaneously crestfallen and livid. I was additionally filled with an urgent sense of vengeance, but Jesse prevented me for prying off a piece of marble facade and flinging it through a pane on the glass pyramids. Take that your inconsiderate, arrogant French Bastards!

Instead we sat down, and tried to think of plan "B". What should we do. Jesse was overcome with stupidhood, playing with gravel, telling jokes and riddles. I pointed out that as each minute elapsed, another 30-50 people figured out the Louvre was closed and headed for their second choice destination. He announced that he was "done with Paris" and wanted to go back to the hotel at 10am. I eventually ushered him out the courtyard.

At the Lourve courtyard

At the Lourve courtyard

Jesse announced he was "done with Paris"
seated at the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
We cheered ourselves up by playing a bit, posing for "Phoons" in front of the famous Louvre pyramid.

Dave: Logically, we would head across the Seine and visit the Musee d'Orsay and its famous collection of Impressionist paintings. The beautiful former train station was just a few blocks away and easily in view from the Louvre archway entrance. We excitedly approached the museum but slowed until we again stood slack-jawed! We were not the first to find the Louvre closed this Sunday morning, and not the first to make d'Orsay to be Plan "B". The line to enter the building stood 3 and 4 abreast, stretched all the way down the block, the entire length of the building. As a process engineer, I started my watch and walked about snapping pictures. After exactly 5 minutes I gauged the line movement and extrapolated. It would be between 60 and 90 minutes of standing on the sidewalk for the privilege of then walking about the cavernous galleries. It would be lunchtime before we even arrived at the door (just like yesterday!). We moseyed toward the end of the line, and with 10 minutes now elapsed, I redid the calculation and the results were the same, 60 to 90 minutes. Furthermore, the end of the line was growing faster than the front was receding, and it began to stretch across the crosswalk of a street. I could see confusion break out as some people queued across the street, and others started at the near corner. Rather than be played again as fools by these French Bastards, I stepped back (at exactly 15 minutes) calculated again, and it would now be over 90 minutes to enter, and getting longer by the moment. We would see neither the Louvre or d'Orsay this day (nor this trip), and vowed to vent our anger by publicizing the audacity and arrogance of the French Bastard that run these institutions (which I am doing right here). Let them bitch about American culture to each other. Let them kiss my rosy red American Ass!

The line at Musee d'Orsay

The line was down the block and across a street. We timed it at almost 90 minutes to get to the door!

As we stood there, groping for Plan "C", up pulled a red double-decker tourist bus. Unbeknownst, we had been standing at the "Musee d'Orsay bus stop" with our 2nd day bus passes in our hands. Plan "C" was suddenly obvious, and we jumped aboard to calm our nerves, rest our feet, and put together our heads. We seated ourselves atop the bus when one final French insult was put upon us, and the cloudy overcast skies began to lightly mist then slowly drizzle a very light, very cold rain. With the other tourists, we scampered down to the cramped, dingy confines of the lower deck.


The line at Musee d'Orsay

The line at Musee d'Orsay barely moved.

A red bus appeared out of the blue

It started to rain

L'Angels sent us le bus d'Rouge
The party ended with it started a cold misty rain

We rode the bus on its circuit on the right bank, by the Place d'Concord and its stolen Egyptian obelisk, through the fancy shops of the fashion and perfume districts, past the grand original Paris Opera House and for a sneaky stop directly in front of the stores that underwrite the bus tour. What a perfect place to sit idle for ten minutes (nominally to "change drivers"), and "please note that your Paris tour book includes a 10% off coupon good at these stores". Yet other tourists, coupons in hand, were indeed walking toward the store! We waited out this ridiculous pit stop then circled back taking more pictures. During this time Jesse proposed a marvelous Plan "C".

Back at home, Jesse had read about the Musee Marmottan, an impressive show of Van Gogh and Monet oils (many say the "third best museum in Paris"). It started as a private collection in a private home, was converted to a museum upon the death of the owner a hundred years previously, and was augmented by donations of  Monet's heir and other collectors of Impressionist works. Unfortunately it is a bit off the path, located in a historically residential area, several blocks from a metro. But off we set, in the cloudy overcast and light rain, with our bones chilled, and our legs already tired, and still yet to see even one square millimetre of Art Museum.

The Place d'Concorde with Invalids in the distance

Jesse at the Arch d'Triomphe

The Place d'Concorde with Invalids in the distance.
We stopped at the Arch d'Triomphe for another picture.

Monsiur Chat (Click to Enlarge)

Spring Fling sale (Click to Enlarge)

Click HERE to Monsuir Chat Graffiti
Click HERE to see "Spring Fling" Sale


Delightful Musee Marmottan


Dave: The metro ride was again ridiculous with two changes of train this time, each requiring a half mile underground trek with multiple FLIGHTS of stairs (both up and down) to traverse. I still fail to see the romance of the Paris metro in comparison to the practical design of subways in London, Washington or even New York.

We walked from the Muette station to Musee Marmottan crossing a small park, with statuary and a merry go round. Neighborhood kids were playing and adults were walking and sunning. It was delightful to "sneak" into experiencing a tiny slice of "life in Paris".

We arrived at the museum and honored their request to check our bag and take no pictures. We later bought picture postcards of the art.  The Marmatton galleries were well stocked, but I can't compare the collection to the one's at the Louvre or d'Orsay (dirty French Bastard!). It was delightful to see Monet's repeated studies of the Rouen Cathedral and the "Japonese bridge" near his famous cottage in Givenchy. We walked about for about an hour, then excused ourselves and relaxed at a nearby bus stop bench. There Jesse acquired "leg cramps" and solved all planning issues with his desire to "go back to the hotel". Out of the blue, a man passing by stopped to chat when he saw me reviewing our map. He was an American, on his way to a Monday meeting in Budapest. He wanted to stop somewhere to rest during his flight, so he spent Sunday in Paris before flying on in the morning. He told several stories about his favorite hotels, restaurants, and sites in Paris, but then let loose that he was an American "venture capitalist" working with companies across Eastern Europe, and I mentally vowed to wash my hands when he left. But it was delicious to let him finish his reminiscing about his various trips to Europe and Paris, years ago, with his wife and young daughter, only to admit that he was now divorced and doing his sightseeing by himself. No wonder he would stop to talk to strangers on a park bench.

I wanted to return to the Eiffel tower or a different site, but Jesse was using the Teen-Terror technique of making unequivocal pronouncements. "I can't go any further", etc. I lead us back to the Metro, and back upon the little red bus. The bus drove us by Ecole d'Militarie and the Hotel d'Invalides. I had us jump off near the Rodin museum, but he both agreed that a sculpture garden was off the mark for us today. I headed us back to Invalids and then I saw the sign reminding us that "Napoleon's tomb" was located there. A logical addition to my collection of gravesites of US Presidents and Canadian Prime Ministers.

We passed through this Paris park

We countered the statue of
La Fontaine (with eagle and fox) 
in Ranelagh park on our way
to the Marmottan museum.

Resting after Marmotten

After the museum, Jesse's legs
actually began to "cramp".

Calling mom after Marmottan

Calling mom after Marmottan

We called mom and told her we were taking our picture.
That night we uploaded them, to help her feel close by.


Walk Around Aimlessly / Pizza for Dinner


Paris Sign: This way to Napoleon's Tomb

Jesse in front of the famous Hotel d'Invalides

The sign that pushed us toward Napoleon's Tomb
Jesse in front of the famous Hotel d'Invalides.

Dave: After seeing the sign, we walked across the beautiful grounds, passing a group of Gen-X French policemen in their starched round caps, and then followed the signs to the ticket booth, "Billeterie". We were reminded that along with the Tomb (for my collection), we would also find a wonderful Musee d'Armee, showing historical military uniforms and equipment, a favorite site for Jesse, and a third museum of lesser interest all available as a package all for one entrance fee.

As we stood near the ticket booth, Jesse again adamantly stated "I do not want to see anything in Paris", and "I'm done with Paris" and "Let's just go back to the hotel". I pointed to the wall, and said, "Ten feet through that wall is Napoleons Tomb" and "We live six thousand miles from here". But Jesse was adamant. I walked him outside and threatened that I would force him to enjoy this historic place (that he is actually interested in) and he absolutely refused. I said we could leave, but it would simply guarantee that we would leave Paris tomorrow, then fly all the way back home to Florida, and then eventually fly all the way back to Paris, walk up to this very spot, buy a ticket at that very ticket window and tour this building then. He said it would never happen that way (we shall see), and refused to budge. I was not going to get into fisticuffs, or drag him in by his ear, so I relented.

And when I tried to replan and organize our morning tomorrow to squeeze in a visit to the Louvre, and still get on a later train to Luxembourg, he would hear nothing about it, sometimes whining and other times stating again "Let's just go" and "I'm done with Paris". Oh well. What a marvelous age.

About a block away, we passed a small sidewalk cafe and were greeted by an exuberant man that was flagging down passers by from the sidewalk, handing them menus, directing them to tables. He quickly seated us and got our drink order started (hot coffee for dad) to make sure we planted roots at his table. And we did. And it was delightful to watch him chase down others tourists just like Jesse with his Grande Jus d'Pommehe did to us, seating the reluctant diners and quickly getting them drinks. Some were bothered, others were confused, but Jesse and I just laughed and smiled at his entrepreneurial antics!

Jesse had "Jus d' Pomme" (just like always) adding "Grande, si vous plait" (just like always) but our jaws dropped when his Apple Juice arrived in an oversized beer stein. We both went bug eyed and laughed, debating if we might somehow take the excess with us. But between my coffee and our light lunch / dinner and conversation afterward to rest our aching legs, that whole mug was left empty. What a delightful memory!

After lunch / dinner, we walked to the nearby Metro station. After we got home, I learned that our cafe had been within a city block of "Rue Claire", the street constantly heaved over in Rick Steves Back Door series. I had wanted to simply see the much-touted street (and its "feet of an angel" cheese), and here we had passed within 100 metres of it, but of course we had done no research ahead of time.

Dave in front of the famous Hotel d'Invalides

Dave in front of the famous Hotel d'Invalides.

Dave enjoying Coffee and a rest

Dave enjoying coffee and a rest

Our little Paris cafe with the busy greeter

The little cafe with the hyper-active greeter

Archd'Triompe from the Plaza of Grande Arche

From the Grand Arche to the Arch d'Triompe.
We enjoyed the Sunday Sunshine
once the rain finally cleared

We took the metro back to Grande Arch l'Defense and exited one stop early. This let us slowly walk the half mile promenade passing the many modern Ugly-French style offices and apartments and totally wrong-scaled open spaces and public places. We took many pictures, each documenting the garishness of the design.

Since it was our last trips in the Metro, I stopped to take pictures of several outrageous advertising signs that had been posted all over the Paris subway stations during the week of our visit (Metro signs change weekly). These ads were seemingly typical for France but would certainly have caused an uproar back home in the USA. These overtly sexist or bizarrely conceptual signs included "Emma" cooking dinner in her underwear, and my personal favorite of the woman on the beach in a pink bikini and matching pink dead fish and shark knife. Only the French!

Paris Metro Ad: Click to Enlarge

Paris Metro Ad: Click to Enlarge

Click HERE to Enlarge this Paris Metro Ad
Click HERE to Enlarge this Paris Metro Ad

Day 08 Return to Main Page Day 10

Original Web Upload May 2002
Last Update: March 18, 2008