Okay so this was the day where we kind of broke. It was the BEST day. Like the most amazingly perfect Parisian day. But, we were also up and out by 8 and didn’t really get back till almost 1. But hey, at least we weren’t on hold with Icelandic Airlines, we were at the Eiffel Tower. So we were still in better shape than two nights ago.
The day began, as usual, with the search for food. We took the train and originally had our sights on this really cute café with blue striped awnings and a pretty view. But we also only had about thirty minutes to make it to the Louvre for our reservation time of 9am, and if we missed that, we would basically have to wait in line with everyone else. And at that point, why buy advanced tickets?
So we left our blue awning behind, and made our way to the nerd museum. Once in through the famous pyramid, we found ourselves a little café with coffee and croissants, which, in France, what other breakfast is there? Who needs cute blue awnings? So we sat on a bench, waited for my coffee to cool down to a reasonable temperature, and mapped out our day.
Now, the Louvre is huge. I mean I knew it was huge, but looking at it on a map is kind of ridiculous. So we shrugged our shoulders, picked an escalator, and started to make our way through the various wings.
Now the first item on the agenda was Hammurabi’s Code. We didn’t know that Hammurabi’s code was at the Louvre until yesterday, where we’d Googled “Cool stuff you can see at the Louvre.” HOW DID WE NOT ALREADY KNOW THIS?! Our history nerd radars went haywire. For those of you who may not know, Hammurabi’s Code was the first ever written legal code from ancient Mesopotamia. It’s carved into a tall black block of stone, and used to stand in the public area of the city state. Like, this guy Hammurabi invented the practice of making up rules for society and wrote them all on a rock for his people to see! (Granted like two people were literate in those times, but hey, maybe everyone else was just too entranced by the rock to go against him.) Regardless we got to see it, in the flesh, after years of studying it. Barely ANYBODY was there. And it wasn’t even behind glass! We could have touched it! Nobody was looking! I mean our respect for the preservation of history kept us from doing it, but like, I think it would have been fine to stand the test of time with my fingerprint on it.
On our way to Hammurabi’s code, we also stumbled upon these ancient sculptures of a man/horse creature. They’re examples of Assyrian religious art from an early Persian empire. These sculptures are literally on our powerpoints about monumental architecture, so we geeked out and took a WHAP teacher photo that we plan to put on future powerpoints. If nothing else, kids need to know how big these sculptures are. I didn’t even know!
We meandered a bit on the way to find the replicas to Napoleon III’s apartments. When I say “meandered,” I mean we got lost. It’s really easy to get lost in there. On our way we stumbled across a section called “Objects D’Art,” which I found hilarious. Like, it’s the Louvre. Everything in here is an object of art. But basically it was a bunch of like decorative pocket watches and plates and random crap like that. I guess it was the Louvre’s “Miscellaneous” section. Soon after, we found Napoleon’s rooms, which, fittingly, were grand and gorgeous and elaborate, just like that of every other royal palace I’ve been to. When in doubt, dip it in gold, throw up some embroidery, hang a chandelier and it’s fit for a king.
Here’s some more art. I don’t really know what to say about some of it, other than that it’s cool.
This ancient lady is fabulous.
This one should be called, “Dog Watching Snacks.” -French Dude. 1750.
“Too Many Drinks at Coachella.” -Some French Guy. 1700s I guess.
“History Nerds At Louvre.” 2018.
Our next goal was to find Mona Lisa. Now, at this point of our tour, we left the calm, serene, historical section of the Louvre and entered the section dedicated to Italian Renaissance art. God help me. We were like salmon swimming upstream. It was a ZOO. I mean, granted, I’d only been to the Louvre once and it was to see Mona, take a photo, and get out. Which is apparently the norm. The entire country of France was in that room, staring at an 8 ½ by 11 photo of a girl with a weird face. Guys, the first ever legal code is downstairs and to the right! Y’know how we have like, rules for life? This guy INVENTED that! Ugh somewhere Hammurabi is looking down at earth being like “Oh come on, guys! Look at my thing!” while Leonardo Da Vinci is like “haha.” Furthermore, I feel bad for the other paintings that are hung up in the same room as Mona Lisa, being ignored. Like, imagine spending your life on this magnificent painting of like, a guy in a fancy outfit talking to his wife, and it’s beautiful, and wonderful, and the Louvre buys it when you’re dead, but nobody looks at it. Cuz Mona Lisa gets all the credit.
And then we found–drumroll please—the Islamic art section. I didn’t even know this section existed. We saw the sign for the exhibit when we walked into the Louvre and I felt like I heard a choir of angels. They had cool swords. They had relics from the early Islamic empires. They had artifacts that demonstrated cultural diffusion of Islamic practice blending with Buddhism and Hinduism. They had CURVY SWORDS. And most importantly, they had that beautiful Islamic tilework. Ugh. Just look at it.
Lastly, we hit up the Egypt section. Or what we thought was the Egypt section. We found a Sphinx, turned a corner, thinking the rest of the Egypt stuff would be there. But it wasn’t. But at that point, we were exhausted, so we decided to pass on Egypt, save it for the British Museum (someday…) and left the Louvre.
Honestly I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the Louvre. I’m not always a huge museum person. I’ve been to a lot of art museums and felt underwhelmed. But this one… I mean, it’s the Louvre. I get what all the fuss is about. I’m still morally opposed to Mona Lisa being the star of the show, but that’s just because there’s so much other fun stuff there. You could spend days wandering it and still find something neat.
At this point, it was about 1:30 in the afternoon, and we’d walked like six miles. Our feet hurt. Our bodies ached. It says a lot about us as history nerds that of all the places we could have pushed ourselves beyond our limits, it was the Louvre that did us in. So we decided to do a couple things before heading out for evening activities. We wanted to: get macarons, get some food, buy perfume, and then take a bit of a siesta before hitting up the Eiffel tower. So we did just that.
First we were off to Lauderee, one of France’s more famous macaron shops. This particular one was on the Champs Elysses, which of course was also an unmissable site. So we stopped in, of course waiting in the long line, to get some tasty cookies. Of course, being in the shop alone is a treat. It’s a Fancy French sweet shop where there’s a doorman and every color cookie you can think of. And the architecture of the café is just adorable. Super cute.
We then hopped across the street to Café Romano, which is the same restaurant I’d visited two years ago on my last trip. I’d remembered really liking their Caesar salad, so I got another one, and Jen and I split a plate of fries. I also got another glass of rosè, which was probably one of the best glasses I’ve had. It was crisp and fruity and had a lot of depth to it. For someone who doesn’t know wine, I could tell it was good wine.
I promise you there’s lettuce in there somewhere.
After some time resting in the shade of the restaurant’s awning (and suffering through the repetitive drum beat of a street performer who should have stuck to his day job), we made our way to the Fragonard factory, one of Paris’s more famous perfumeries. We went around smelling stuff, picking out fun perfume. I couldn’t justify buying a whole new bottle considering I still have plenty at home, but I got a little combo pack with a skinny bottle of perfume and a little bottle of lotion that smells lovely. We also went upstairs to the boutique area of the shop, which was actually really cute.
Exhausted, it was time for our afternoon break. Granted by the time we got back to the houseboat, it was around 6pm. Less of a siesta and more of a pre-dinner nap. Luckily no spiders tried to eat us, so that was good. We just kind of slumped over and sat quietly for an hour and a half. And then we changed our shoes. Because mine were attacking my feet.
Then it was time to head out for our evening activities. After a failed attempt to find a restaurant close to our boat, we bailed on that plan and hopped the train to the Eiffel Tower and found a restaurant there. We each got burgers (and I got another glass of wine). They were pretty decent. But then again they were skimpy on the ice for Jen’s water, so that knocked them down a wee peg.
Then it was time for our ascent to the tower. Now, this was my third trip to Paris, and I had never been up the Eiffel Tower. I’d seen it. Obviously. It’s kind of hard to miss. But never had I reached the top. I was kind of worried it was going to be one of those overhyped things that once I did it, I would just be kind of like “meh.” Oh no. Not at all.
After meeting some fun college students in line, and a fun New York family that was making fun of each other incessantly, we made our ascent to the first level of the tower. Once there, we took advantage of the dusky light and took some pictures. Already the view was amazing.
Then we hopped in line to reach the summit. There was a family with two small children, maybe six or seven years old. They were climbing the railings like monkeys and yelling at each other while their parents just kind of laughed, so that was annoying. We were stuck in line near them for maybe twenty minutes or so but it felt like an hour.
But soon, after dealing with that insanity, we made it to the top. As we were up there, the lights of the city were starting to come on, and we had a gorgeous view. We walked around it, trying to spot famous sites like Notre Dame and the Arc Du Triumph. We snapped a million pictures, it was basically like our own private photo shoot. I also got a glass of champagne at the top, cuz I could. How often do you get to drink champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower?
Also, we got to be at the summit when the twinkle lights went off. It happens once every hour, on the hour, and blinks for just a couple minutes. At first we just thought it was a flash going off on a camera. Then my teacher brain immediately went to “Fire drill?” but then we realized it was twinkle time. Everyone in the crowd went “Oooh!” as soon as we realized what was happening.
That’s not flash, that’s Eiffel Tower Twinkles.
We made our descent after a little while, of course after being in line for quite a bit of time, and being encroached upon by other tourists—some who were way to young to be at the Eiffel Tower at midnight, and who were very much “DONE.” But it was fine we were too tired to be cranky about it. In a short while, we had completely descended from the tower, feeling satisfied with our vertical journey.
And we wanted ice cream. So, we looked for some at the snack bars beneath the tower. No dice. So, defeated, we walked in the direction of the train.
We passed an ice cream stand—still very much open—on the other side of the street. We debated crossing the street to get some, but it would have very much been a “Frogger” situation, and we decided it wasn’t a good idea.
We walked all the way to the train station to find that it was closed.
To remind you, at this point of our day, we’d walked 11 miles. To walk ANYWHERE else at this point was not fun.
We backtracked to an earlier train, thinking we could board it and switch onto another line.
That one was also closed.
At THIS POINT, we decided “Screw it!” And walked back to the ice cream stand, each getting a soft serve cone. We agreed that ice cream made our arduous adventure back to the houseboat slightly less painful.
And then, finally, after almost finishing our cones, we came across an open metro station that would get us most of the way back to our houseboat. We rode that train for about twenty minutes, then disembarked. We dragged ourselves, very much happy from our Parisian day of adventure, but very much exhausted by 12 miles of walking. We’d Louvred. We’d cookied. We’d perfumed. We’d Eiffeled. We’d conquered. But we were dead.