Day 3 (16 April 2012)
Note: click on images to enlarge.
Today we visited The Louvre. We arrived around noon. Since it was lunch time, we decided to have lunch at a gourmet foodcourt at Caroussel du Louvre, a mini shopping hall under the pyramid part of The Louvre. They have a variety of choices from Lebanese food, Italian, French and even McDonalds. We decided to have the Lebanese food. The meal we had at the Lebanese restaurant is the same one shown here. Tip: If you haven’t bought the Paris Pass (refer to previous post for details), and would like to skip the long lines at the Louvre, you can buy it at a souvenir shop in Caroussel du Louvre.
After lunch, we proceeded to the entrance of The Louvre. We passed by La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid), made famous by Dan Brown in his book The Da Vinci Code.
At the entrance of The Louvre, there were a number of counters. All counters were packed with people. It was a good thing all of us bought the Paris Pass. Without the Paris Pass, a single adult ticket to The Louvre is €11.60.
We collected our audio guides and we were off exploring the museum. The audio guide was a Nintendo 3DS. Based on my experience exploring many museums in the UK and Europe,using the Nintendo 3DS as guide is unnecessary. It’s too complicated and took us a good 10-15 minutes to figure out how it works. The museums in the UK would typically give you a simple audio guide that looks like a mobile phone, you press the number when you’re near an item and listen to it. The phone-type guides are simple and straight forward.
Later, as I was going up a flight of stairs in the museum, I was so engrossed in trying to figure out the Nintendo 3DS guide that I didn’t realise somebody was reaching out to my wallet behind me! Thank god a friend of mine, standing at the top of the stairs, turned around and shouted “hey!”. The pickpocket immediately acted as if he is stretching his hands and walked away. Yes, pickpockets are all over the Louvre! I’ll write a separate blogpost about this as we had a number of encounters with pickpockets during ours stay in Paris.
Visiting The Louvre is not complete without visiting the Mona Lisa. I was quite surprised to see the actual Mona Lisa painting to be quite small! The area near Mona Lisa was quite crowded. We squeezed through for a photo. Unfortunately, there was also another pickpocket attempt on me there. More about this in another post.
The next important painting in the Louvre is of course Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix. He painted it in 1830, in commemorating the July Revolution (in 1830), which toppled Charles X of France. We then explored the remaining parts of the museum before heading out. While I am impressed with the size of the whole complex and its large collection, I left under the impression that The Louvre was somewhat overrated. It’s portrayal in the media and the over romantization of Paris and its museums contributed to this. In my opinion, no museum could compete with the Vatican Museums in Italy. I visited the Vatican Museums in December 2011 and it was just fantastic (blogpost here).
After The Louvre, we had coffee at Le Fumoir, a cafe near the Louvre. We took the opportunity to practice our French and the waiter was quite amused. She turned out to be quite friendly and helped us with the ordering.
From there, we took the metro to Jardin du Luxembourg. It’s the second largest public park in Paris. It was founded in 1611 by Marie de Medicis, the widow of Henry IV and the regent for the King Louis XIII. The palace was meant to be an imitation of the Pitti Palace from her native Florence. The gardens were beautiful. I could only imagine how colourful the gardens are during summer.
Jardin du Lexembourg is situated near the Latin Quarter. We explored the Latin Quarter, famous for cafes, student life, and its lively atmosphere. Sorbonne University and the Panthéon are located in the Latin Quarter. I wanted to enter the Pantheon but unfortunately we arrived late and it has closed for the day. Tourists are not allowed into Sorbonne University, so we were only able to admire its facade.
From there, we took the metro to St-Michel Notre Dame station and had dinner there. We saw a number of restaurants here on day 1 that we wanted to try out. In the end, we had dinner at La Maison de Gyros. It’s Greek fast-food infused with some French elements. We had the baguette-gyros! With the chips on top of it (refer photo above), it was what you need after a day of walking. Seriously awesome stuff.
After dinner, we went back to the hotel to get some rest. Later that night around 10PM we went to Moulin Rouge. The show started at 11PM. I bought our tickets online for €95 per person (without beverage) about a month ago (Moulin Rouge website link). Later when we got into the hall, I realised I should I have bought the €105 ticket (with beverage), at least you’ll have something to drink throughout the show.
Photography was not allowed, but I was able to snap a photo of the stage before the show started. As for the performance, I’ve included some snapshots from the booklet for readers out there. The show is exactly as the photos in the booklet. I was thoroughly impressed with the performance. Apart from the main performance, there were intervals every 15-20 mins where a single performer would do tricks (e.g. juggling). All in all we were very entertained. The energetic dance, the beautiful dancers, and the fantastic music. I even went back home to download their songs! I highly recommend it to everybody visiting Paris! If we ever come back to Paris in the future, we might consider watching Lido (a competitor to Moulin Rouge), located on Champs-Élysées (Lido’s website).
To view the full set of photos I took in Paris, proceed to my Flickr page here.