Paris: we made a list of sights and checked 'em off -- "Cher-check!"
August 9-10, 1999:
Our first destination was the Louvre. On Mondays they keep it open till 9:30 and it's half priced after 3:30 every day. Put those two facts together and when do you think the crowds show up?
Same time we did: 3:30pm, Monday afternoon.
The signs in the Louvre point visitors to the most famous artwork with tiny pictures of them.
Left: Psyche and Cupid by Antonio Canova (circa 1750s).
Right: Aphrodite, or Venus de Milo, by artist unknown (circa 400BC)
Thousands of visitors leave the Louvre every day with pictures of their flash instead of Mona's face.
Though it's behind protective plastic with special coatings, over centuries our flashes will slowly fade this unique masterpiece.
After 5:30, they closed off whole sections of the museum and it got eerily quiet. As if the visitors had been turned to stone.
We crept around and discovered the lesser known art pieces we liked.
This Roman statue is checking to see his important parts are as ordered.
We found a series of paintings by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (circa 1500) showing the seasons as heads made of fruits from that season.
One of Kathleen's favorite artists is Boticelli (real name: Sandro di Mariano Filipepi).
Here are two of his famous frescos, sadly damaged, but then it's incredible they can transport plaster paintings anyway.
We got to travel the mass transit a lot since we based ourselves in Versailles for our Paris excursions.
This women kept looking at her faint reflection and patting her dyed hairs.
Fifteen years ago Henry was in Paris and remembers the same stalls outside Notre Dame selling prints of the sights.
Come to think of it, they were working on Notre Dame back then too.
By far one of the most famous cathedrals in Europe, its grandeur comes from history, not size or brightness (it's dark and not as grand as you'd think).
They've adopted artwork from every age. Here the central cross is of 1960s vintage, with a silver sliver signifying the glory of God.
The cathedral's darkness owes itself to the conservative application of the new Gothic building techniques (flying buttresses and all). A reconstruction shows the crude tools they used. That wheel behind the column is their version of a crane: a laborer walks inside the wheel which pulls the stones up via a pulley.
After Notre Dame, it poured. We were grateful for our umbrella.
Others weren't so lucky.
We walked La Voie Triomphale from La Défense at the Louvre, along the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triumph.
If you've heard of the Place de la Concorde, this is it.
Photo of a person walking in front of a photo of a person walking in front of a painting of a person walking.
Avante guarde art is still in in Paris.
We rested in triumph, munching baguettes, after checking another sight off our list.
Then a chilling thing happened on our way to the Eiffel Tower.
We happened on the tunnel where Diana was killed. On the street above there's a hundred year old monument with a gold Liberty Flame that's been taken over as a monument to the fallen princess.
Fallen she may be, but not forgotten. The messages cover the statue, the sidewalk and the cement fences. They're all from the last two months -- older ones wash off.
The pain people feel seems still current.
The Eiffel tower is a kid's playground.
The young of body blow off energy while they wait in line for their tickets to the top.
The young of heart lean back and wonder at the view.
Surely aliens who visit the earth after we're all gone will marvel like this when they look up the belly of Eiffel's tower.
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