Our first weekend in Paris

This weekend was a busy one for David and me. On Saturday evening we went to David’s supervisor’s home for dinner in central Paris. It was a great evening of conversation and amazing wine from the Loire Valley. Good times.

During the afternoon we went for a walk to the library.

I didn’t take many pictures on Saturday, but here are a few from our outings.

Walk

One of the roads we passed along our way to the Bibliothèque National de France. You see on the left a bike port from which you can rent bicycles any time of day and they can be found all over Paris. I think these bikes can also be found in Toronto and Montreal, actually. But in Paris you get the first 5 minutes free. There were a lot of people riding bicycles on our walk. There are very distinct (and many) lanes for bicycles, and the roads are obviously pedestrian and cyclist friendly. In some cases, the pedestrian walkway was wider than the road!

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Just an interesting architectural building, close the the library.

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A really nice apartment building. You can’t tell in this picture because I zoomed in, but it’s very tall. I loved the shape of this building and the terraces.

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Entering the library! David walking up the steps before we go through security. We had to have our pockets and bags checked, in addition to going through a metal detector. I also noticed that many people in this area carried clear briefcases. I figure they were students or professors who frequent the library and having a clear briefcase means quicker access to the library.

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A selfie. We’re getting a bit better at selfies, I think. Generally, with our height difference (David is 6 ft 1 and I’m 5 ft), you see me from the nose up, and David from the nose down! This one turned out really well.

It was a relaxing day, which is good because on Sunday we went to the Louvre! I’m glad we chose a Sunday, though, because it was much less busy than I remember it being. We were at the Louvre from opening until closing, and then spent some time in the gardens before getting the subway back to our apartment.

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After we bought our tickets, David spent some time pouring over the map.

We started with the temporary exhibition, in which you weren’t allowed to take pictures or videos. It was about Ancient Thrace, and was really fascinating. They had lots of explanation (which, I’m sorry to say, was lacking in many other parts of the Louvre).

Next we moved onto some sculptures. Perhaps my favourite part of the Louvre!

Cupid

A very romantic sculpture. It’s called Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss. I think it’s my favourite sculpture from the day. I guess I’m a romantic, after all!

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David really liked this sculpture, above. It depicts scenes from the martyr of Saint Hippolytus. It begins on the right where he is stoned, then it moves to the left where he is beaten. In the centre, he is about to be drawn and quartered, but angels raise his soul to heaven.

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I didn’t get the description of this one above, but I really loved the realistic sculpting of the dress. When I saw it from afar, I didn’t realize it was made of stone!

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David thought this sculpture was really funny.

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MaryMagdalene

This one is of Mary Magdalene. Amazingly beautiful and detailed. Imagine the hair when it was first made – it must’ve been incredibly vibrant!

Philippe Pot

The tomb of Philippe Pott. He lived from 1428 – 1493 and was a Burgundian nobleman, military leader, and diplomat. Very interesting tomb!

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St. George

St. George and the Dragon! An iconic image. I used to have a tapestry in my bedroom as a child of this scene.

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David giving an in-the-air high five to this sculpture. He was posed so perfectly for it, as though he’d just won a battle and was raising his hand to give one of his buds a congratulatory high five. David obliged.

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I laughed a little when I saw this sculpture. What great posture…

The sculpture is that of a Barberini Faun, or Drunken Satyr. In Greek mythology, satyrs were human-like male woodland spirits with several animal features, often a goat-like tail, hooves, ears, or horns. Satyrs attended Dionysus.

Of course, we can’t leave the sculptures without getting a picture next to Napoleon!IMG_6120

Later we took a stroll through Napoleon III’s apartments. The Louvre was first a castle, then a palace, and then a museum. At one point, Napoleon III lived in the Louvre, but only for a short time.

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Napoleon's Apartments

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Now that’s what I call a candy bowl.

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One of the works of art on the ceiling. While walking through the Louvre, you spend just as much time looking to the ceiling as you do looking around you. This one was especially striking because of the centre image – the angel is falling from the sky. When we first looked up, it looked so real!

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In the Galerie d’Apollon.

We also walked through the Ancient Egypt gallery. Also fascinating!

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The tomb of Ramses III. This tomb weighs 18 tonnes!

Egyptian

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This bracelet is almost 4000 years old!

We also saw a fair number of paintings. However, due to the fact that we weren’t allowed to take pictures with a flash, I did edit the pictures below a little to fix the poor lighting, and to add back some of the colour that was washed out from the poor lighting.

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One of my favourite paintings we saw in the galleries. It’s called The Intervention of the Sabine WomanI just love how she’s the centre of this image, graceful and beautiful, but also powerful and strong. Furthermore, I love how it was imagined:

David began work on it in 1796, after his estranged wife visited him in jail. He conceived the idea of telling the story, to honour his wife, with the theme being love prevailing over conflict. The painting was also seen as a plea for the people to reunite after the bloodshed of the revolution. Its realization took him nearly four years.

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Napoleon

The famous painting titled The Coronation of Napoleonby the same artist as the first painting – Jacques-Louis David.

To give you an idea of its actual size:

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Pandemonium

This painting was terrifying and jaw-dropping. It depicts Pandemonium (the capital of Hell, essentially the seat of Satan and his many minions) from John Milton’s Paradise Lost (a pretty amazing epic poem!). This painting was completed by John Martin in 1825.

In addition, see the detail below of the frame! There were snakes and demons along the frame of this painting.

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Of course, no trip to the Louvre is complete without seeing the Mona Lisa. Though I must say, this is my second time seeing it and I still don’t understand the hype. One thing I will say, however, is that it’s somewhat eerie that, regardless of where you choose to stand or from which angle you choose to look, she always seems to stare right at you…

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David and I then rushed our way to the Mesopotamia gallery. This was a pretty fantastic gallery, though it lacked a lot of detail and description.

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Mesopotaemia

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We attempted to see the last couple of galleries, but unfortunately… it was closing time.

Part way through our exploration of the Louvre, we stopped for coffee and an apple tart. It was ridiculously expensive, but a welcome break.

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Earlier we had gone outside to sit by the water fountain for lunch. I packed some sandwiches in my purse before we left.

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At the end of the day, we walked around the gardens and relaxed on the grass for a bit before heading home.

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This picture was actually taken while we were still inside, so you can see a bit of the grime on the window.

Louvre

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It was a beautiful day! Many people were sitting by the water fountains and napping on the grass. I couldn’t resist taking the picture below…

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He looks so peaceful.

It was a pretty amazing weekend! Today David is going to the library (but it doesn’t open today until 2:00 pm), and I’ll pick up some groceries for the next couple of days. We’re both a bit tired and stiff from yesterday’s amount of walking.

But the great part of being here for 2 months is that some days are perfect for lazing around and exploring close to home.

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