Well, it hardly seems possible that our time in Paris has come to an end. We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay here and even have learned to appreciate the 54 spiral steps up to our flat at 3 rue Jacques Callot. I can now take them two at a time (i.e., take two steps, catch my breath, take two more). Not really, I can make it all the way up in one slog now, but I am not looking forward to hauling all of our baggage down this tight set of spiral staircases on tomorrow to catch our train to London.
The main item on our schedule today is our visit to the Louvre, but on the way we stopped at St. Chapelle to see how the renovations went since we were last here in Paris back in 2011. We heard the stained glass was magnificent since it had been cleaned, so now we are going to check it out. The rumors were correct, the chapel is incredible and the stained glass looks like new. Since renovations are constant in Paris, the conservators are working on the lower chapel now. We’ll have to check that out on our next trip. We also stopped next door at the Concierge where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned and executed by guillotine. This was kind of a grisly ending for her, but the building was intesting.
|Saint-Chapelle on the Ile de la Cité|
|Left Side||The Apse||Right Side|
|The Rosette||The Clock||Leaving Ile de la Cité|
After our visit to the Palais de Justice and Saint-Chapelle, we walked over to the Louvre. It is so big that it would not be possible to see everything in a week, so we had to focus our stop. We always walk down the Denon wing to visit the Renaissance works, which also leads us by the Winged Victory of Samathrace, which was also recently renovated. There was a very good display in the room next door where the conservators worked on the various elements of the statue and the boat. We watched a good documentary of the conservation process. After that stop, we wandered down the Denon wing and checking out favorite pieces, such as the Da Vincis and other Renaissance works. Then, we made our way through the bustling crowds to our usual stop in front of the Mona Lisa. It is pretty incredible that so many people (i.e., the yellow-flower tour groups) plod right past all the excellent artwork in the main gallery without stopping to look at anything else to ooh and aah over a painting, although it is priceless and well-protected, that is ultimately is one of Da Vinci’s minor pieces, even here in the Louvre. I’m sure Da Vinci would get a good laugh out of that irony.
Although we always stop in the Mona Lisa gallery since Miss Cyd collects memorabilia related to the painting, the constant mob scene in front of Mona Lisa and singular focus of the tour guides reminds me of the time in Venice (October 2013) when we were at the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Our guide told us at the end of the walk through the early religious works, “oh yeah, there is a Da Vinci drawing exhibition over in that wing, so feel free to walk over there, but if not, the tour is over.” Miss Cyd and I made the walk over to the The Universal Man exhibition, which had many of Da Vinci’s drawings, including our personal favorite, the Vitruvian Man (see also James Earle‘s excellent discussion on how Da Vinci expressed the Roman philosopher and architect Vitruvius’ theory of symmetry and proportion in the human body and how it related to good building practices).
After our visit with Mona, we worked our way down the Denon wing and across the Sully Galleries, where we saw many rooms decorated in the style of the Bourbon monarchs, including Louis Quinze. Heading back up the Richelieu wing, we stopped at Le Café Richelieu / Angelina, and enjoyed a nice salade poulet du Caesare and some French onion soup. Quite tasty and just the thing to fuel some art expeditionistas for the next step. Swinging through Napoleon’s apartments, on to the Flemish painters.we went. One of the Vermeers (The Astronomer) was out on loan, but we saw the Lacemaker and many other Flemish works.
Ah, another anecdote comes to mind from the same trip to Italy in October 2013. While we were at the Uffizi, the guide finished up her tour spiel on the Renaissance artwork with a throwaway comment about “those Flemish painters in the other wing.” Of course, Miss Cyd and I had to go see them and found several Rembrandts, a couple of Memlings and some Breughels. Very nice, but these two tales are very symptomatic of regional and temporal biases in Italy and France toward artists. We thoroughly enjoyed our swing through the Louvre, but it can be overwhelming. To finish up our stay in Paris, we had an excellent closing dinner at Un Dimanche á Paris. We ordered the three-course menu and had the lamb with it. After our stop the day before for tea, we had to have dessert too, so Cyd had the death by chocolate, while I settled for a nice Citron Meringue.
It is true that I got very slack with the blog during the rapid pace of our final days on the trip. I planned to post one more blog about London, and then compose an epilogue that wraps up the trip in a tidy package once we got back. I still plan to do that, even though we are back with our noses to the grindstone and our shoulders to the wheel of our normal work-a-day routines, but for now, here are our last days in Paris.
Joe and Cyd