Paris - Day 2: 5e & Louvre
The second day of Paris was just as interesting as the first, with a lot of interesting things seen. We woke up and started the day late, still recovering from the jet lag of +7 hours. We walked around the 5th Arrondissement, going for a little walk in the direction which we had gone before, but when it was darker we couldn’t see a lot of things, and of course many of the shops are not open in the night when we were walking. It is an interesting place to walk and we stopped by the famous store Shakespeare and Company before having a lunch at Creposuk. I had the Gargantua which was ham and cheese and an egg in the middle. Diana had a dessert crepe which had some honey on it. Both were very good.
After that, we walked down in the other direction from the hotel toward the University in Paris, and stopped at a couple of shops to buy some things and look around. Diana found a store which sells a lot of perfume oils and supplies, pretty much exactly tuned to her likings because of the small business of custom perfumes and she bought a few of them. We kept walking, saw a lot of the area around the university and made a small stop at a Cafe and had some Cafe au Lait for an afternoon small treat. A man who teaches business English chatted with us and helped a little with the order although I already knew about the things there. Sitting at the bar looking at some French people and students walk by was interesting.
We walked back to the Hotel for another nap, passing by the other side of the Saint-Nicholas du Chardonnet while we went. I noticed that while we were by the university there were a lot of gaming shops and comic shops, which I guess could be expected. There were some stores showing off their Warhammer minis and how they were painted. It was interesting to see such a familiar sight in the middle of this fairly foreign country. We had a short hour nap or so before heading off to the Louvre.
After walking across the Ile Saint-Louis, which had a lot of interesting looking shops and restaurants (note to self: try out some of these restaurants!) and a great view of the other side of Notre-Dame (see above), we took the metro for the first time since the trip from CDG airport, and I was happy to find that it is much easier once you know a little bit about how the system works. We got to the Louvre pretty easily since the station was only a couple of stops down the line.
The Louvre is humongous. I am glad that we set aside two days to see it more on a second day, and that we got the Museum pass so that we don’t have to worry so much about getting tickets each time. Just starting from the outside it is situated on truly spectacular grounds where the trademark pyramid sits and there are a ton of statues on the whole structure. I took a bunch of pictures outside and there was interesting people watching as people just kind of sat on the area there.
We got there at around 6pm and then started our self-guided tour, which is nice because we can take it at our own pace. The “big things” were all marked out on a map but there were specific areas which we wanted to see first and make sure. Diana was interested in the ancient things from Greece, Rome and such and we went right there, after we saw some of the moat that used to be part of the castle that the Louvre is built on in the basement. The collection that they have of the ancient sculpture is super, with a lot which are in pristine condition. It took us nearly the whole time we were there. I wanted to see some of the large-format paintings which were on the top floor of the same wing, and they definitely live up to their namesake. Most were taller than I was and while I don’t know much about the paintings themselves, they were all well preserved and good. We walked past the Mona Lisa, opting instead to gaze at The Wedding Feast at Carna which is another massive display.
Honestly it was a lot to take in, and both of Diana’s batteries went out during the trip there. We marked on the map where we saw so that when we go back we can see some of the other things. At about 8:30pm we were quite hungry having only had the crepes and some cafe au lait from earlier in the day to eat. We walked down the Rue de Saint Honore and stopped at Cafe Saint Honore about a block away. The waiter there was nice and the food was really great. I ended up having half of a chicken which had herbs on it with french fries. It was filling but hard to eat with a fork and knife, so I think I want to avoid having something so complicated to eat in the future. I was kind of hoping to find a restaurant with le menu available for this evening but we have another 4 days here so I think it will not be a problem. We had dessert as well which was more Crepes for me, this time with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Fantastic!
At this point it was about 11pm so we headed toward the hotel, taking the Metro almost the entire way this time with a change in the middle to get on the one that goes right by our temporary place here in Paris. There was a small restaurant / cafe on our way and we decided to stop for some wine and maybe fromage. We got seated right away but didn’t tell our waitress that we were just having drinks and she got somewhat mad at me when I tried to order off of the wine menu and didn’t get anything else. I wasn’t very good at ordering, and it put me off a little, I didn’t know that I was supposed to say something on the way into the restaurant that we just wanted drinks. The wine was pretty good though, and she treated Diana okay when it was more clear that we don’t know French that much. It was the first real screwup in Paris, although I don’t really know what I could be doing differently. :( Maybe when we get in, we should say deux pour dessert, which might give them the right idea? I couldn’t seem to find anything in to say “just drinks”. Maybe we should just go to the Cafe when we just want drinks.
At any rate, we got back at the hotel pretty late, and now I need to get some winks in because tomorrow is our trip out of town to Versailles. I’m a little worried about getting the correct (return) tickets on our way out, because we don’t need any tickets to the palace itself, and I hope that the station ticket offices are open.