As I’ve mentioned before, I dabbled in French for about four to five years during middle school and high school. This fully qualifies me to hold conversations with children and certain breeds of small dogs. Despite my remedial language skills, I managed to make it off the train, on to the metro and all the way to the hostel without incident.
I was surprised to find that my hostel was situated at the foot of the Sacre Coeur cathedral, in the heart of the Montmartre district. This put me just a few blocks away from the Moulin Rouge.
…and its classier cousin, the Paris “Sexodrome”.
The fact that the neon O has completely burnt out just seems to add to the authenticity.
After checking into my room, I dashed out the door, hoping to catch the next walking tour. I made it to Saint Michel with minutes to spare, joining the tour lead by Arnaud, an expat Californian who took us around the sights with wonderful color commentary, as is the usual. We saw the typical sights: Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, The Arc Du Triomphe, albeit from a distance. Arnaud also pointed out sights I would’ve completely missed, such as the faces adorning the New Bridge, which is ironically the oldest bridge in Paris.
Apparently, after throwing a sick kegger, King Henri III, had artists draw portraits of all His drunk friends, then made them carve the portraits into his New Bridge. Arnaud, probably summed it up perfectly, “Henri was tagging drunk friends on a wall way before Facebook.”
Ha ha! Tres bien.
Arnaud also gave us some cool pointers, mainly that the Louvre was free from 6-10 on Fridays for under 26ers and that there was a seldom used secret entrance we could use to skip the lines. Being under 26, lazy and cheap, I jumped at the opportunity, and made it a point to visit later that night.
Also on the tour group was Lindsay, a theatre major at NYU Tisch, and therefore a fellow New Yorker. (Yes, Lindsay, this is the part of the blog where I talk about you.) She was studying in Madrid for the semester and took the weekend off to travel to Paris. Unfortunately, she wont be in Madrid during my visit. (Nice planning, Ganesh.) We met and became instant Paris-Best-Friends. After the tour, we grabbed the discount lunch they provided and decided to take a closer look at the Eiffel Tower.
We didn’t go to the top, because that would be stupid and expensive. Overall, though, I was actually pretty impressed by it. It was much taller than I expected and was pretty cool.
It was about time from the Louvre, so we headed back, and killed a bit of time in the Louvre’s park, which was eerily quiet for being next to a busy street, but, thus, pretty nice.
We approached Arnaud’s “super secret entrance”, only to find it closed on Fridays.
And this is where the curse of the Louvre began.
Once you enter The Building-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, time, space and causality cease to exist. Things go from being a strict progression of cause to effect and transform into a big…ball…of wibbly wobbly…timey wimey…stuff. And yes, it is bigger on the inside. I really couldn’t tell you how many hours we spent trapped in this labyrinth of evil, somewhere between 2 and infinity. Every time we approached a map to ascertain our location, we found that it had rotated some arbitrary amount of degrees, leaving us discombobulated and confused. We began shaking our fists in the air, and yelling “LOUVRE!!!” in a curse to the heavens. Actually, we started doing this every time something untoward happened to us. We’re going to make it a thing. It’ll be a thing.
Am I exaggerating? Maybe. (I think I may have went too far with “labyrinth of evil”)
Regardless of the Louvre’s disastrous impositions on the Theory of Relativity, some of the pieces of artwork contained within are necessary viewing. The most famous of which is, of course, the Mona Lisa. The way this thing is advertised, you’d think it was the only thing in this monstrous building and the rest of the exhibits were just wallpaper. The constant crowd around it also adds to this supposition. The incessant oohing and aching and shutter clicks were a particular annoyance of mine, as it made my attempts to solve the Da Vinci Code that much more difficult. Enough talk. Here’s the lady in question:
Other notable exhibits include the Chick With No Arms:
Royal Transvestite Prostitute:
And Laws On a Thumb:
(The last one is the original Code of Hammurabi. Yes, THAT Hammurabi. Not exactly the most recognizable thing, but still very cool.)
I won’t bother you with the details of our miraculous escape from the Louvre, but once we emerged, we were clearly hungry and stumbled upon a nice little crepe place near my hostel. Our most notable purchase was the Crepe Flamboyeuse, which is where they take a crepe, drown it Grand Marnier, and set it on fire.
Seated at the table behind us were a large group of English teachers playing a game with rules we could barely discern. They were shouting out random initials and the other players would have to come up with names that fit the initials. You got extra points for naming fictional and dead people, or dead fictional people. One guy attempted to garner an extra point by claiming Harry Potter was dead, but I interrupted and called him out on his bullshit. He told me to stay out of it.
He was just mad that he didn’t get the point.
Once we thought we had figured out these rules, the teachers suddenly began talking about treasure maps and a cemetery…which confused the crap out of both of us.
It was getting late, so Lindsay and I parted ways and made plans to meet up at the Musee D’Orsay the following day…which posed another slight set of problems.
Next: Musee D’umb and EuroDisney from 1,500 feet!
Voulez-vous couchez avec,