Tuesday, July 7, 2009

July 4: The Louvre, Montmartre, & the Eiffel Tower

This morning began with a visit to the Louvre. Although it began as a palace, today it houses some of the most famous art in the world, including Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. We let the kids go their own ways based on their interests so that they could see what they wanted. Because of the magnitude of the Louvre, it is literally impossible to see it all in the few hours we had.

After the Louvre, most students decided to spend the afternoon shopping. While I ran back to get the sick Gabby D. from the hotel and bring her into the city, the others followed Pascal to a shopping area. Now, I have to dedicate some time to discuss Pascal, our tour director. Pascal is a tall, handsome Frenchman of whom the girls have all grown quite fond. Pascal just has one minor flaw, and that is that he twenty, thirty, and forty-drops when it comes to ETAs. According to Pascal, everything is a 5 minute walk from where ever we are.
"How far is the Eiffel Tower from Notre Dame, Pascal?"
"Oh, it is about five minutes, "(of course this is spoken with an endearing French accent, so it is believeable every time).
"How far is it to the Metro stop from here, Pascal?"
"Oh, it is about five minutes." (still in the French accent, still believable)
"How far of a walk is it from one side of Paris to the other, Pascal?"
"Oh, it is about five minutes." (Okay, this one was an exageration for effect, but I am sure if we asked him, he'd tell us 5 minutes...and we'd still believe him!)
Twenty, thirty, forty-five minutes later, we'd arrive at our destination. This will explain the blisters on our feet...

Those students who chose not to shop went (on my recommendation) with Bill and his family to the Basilique St. Denis. All but four French monarchs are buried here and it is a sight to be seen. I tried to convince Bill that it was worth putting into our itinerary, but did he listen? (married ladies, you understand this rhetorical question, I know!) And what was the first thing he said upon their return? Yep. "We HAVE to add this to the itinerary the next time we come here! It was the best thing I've seen in all of Paris!!" I just gave him the look (again, married ladies, you know what look I mean!)

We took the Metro to Montmartre, which happens to be one of my favorite spots in Paris.Not only is it the highest point in Paris (the view is amazing!), but it is also where the Impressionist art movement and the Bohemian lifestyle were born. It is, however, probably most famous for the Moulin Rouge.

After dinner in Montmartre (where many students tried goat cheese for the first time!) we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. I made it to the second level but never left the center of the structure and was more than happy to bid au revoir to Bill and most of the students who were moving on to the top level (for those who don't know me well, I am insanely fearful of heights). Bill tells me it was an incredible view, and unlike my husband does with me, I will take his word for it!

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