Monday, April 21, 2008

Today's Garden of Parisian Curosities:

Le Louvre is one hell of a large museum. We approached it from the eastern side, and entered into what I thought was the main courtyard of the museum. Sacre Bleu! What a large courtyard! It wasn't until we had been milling about for a little while that we realized that this wasn't the main courtyard at all, but the "small" inner courtyard. Through a few arches stood the giant glass pyramids and the real entrance to the Louvre.  

A note on the pyramid: I guess it was and continues to be quite controversial, and I can understand why. It's this extremely modern structure smack in the middle of one of the most ornate and fanciest places on earth. I thought it was quite remarkable, though - it ties old and new together in a way that I didn't even know was possible. I'm not much of a 'classic art' fan by any stretch - but the addition of an ultra-modern glass sculpture that allows you to create your own views of classic architecture through a mesh of glass and wire = 100% great.

The musee itself is ungodly, unbelievably, stunningly large, and since it's the world's most visited museum, you can probably guess how many people were inside, all trying to get their 10 second glimpse of the Mona Lisa so they can check the square in the Sights of The Da-Vinci Code guidebook. The room that the Mona Lisa is in is pretty enormous, and it is nearly shoulder to shoulder with people. The areas of the Louvre that aren't crowded are pretty amazing, and I think it'd be nice to roll through there some night after the crowds have all gone home. It's a wonder of architecture and space, and the sculpture garden that is somewhere deep within the museum (I was lost almost 88% of the time while in the museum, so I couldn't really tell you exactly where. There's also an absolutely epic statue of a naked dude wrestling a snake, so it's got that going on too.

On the way to the Louvre, we also passed by this row of plant stores and pet stores, quite a few of them clustered together. The pet stores really hit home exactly how RICH Parisians are. Your usual suspects of purebred dogs and cats, except expensive beyond imagination. They had cats that cost 2800 euro, and with today's exchange rate you might as well just purchase a motorcycle. What I found particularly interesting was in addition to fancy dogs and cats, they also sold a complete menagerie of extremely exotic birds, chickens, ducks, quail, and many other birds of all colors, shapes and sizes that you can presumably spend thousands on to populate your fanciful backyard aviary with. Brawwk!

Just a general note on Paris - I have a hard time separating out the feeling that it's this enormous art and museum theme park. Pretty much the entire city is ornate and detailed to this impossible level and after a while it's exhausting looking at everything and thinking about the whys and hows. The city is absolutely gorgeous in every way, visually complex, and filled with some of the most interesting to watch citizens I've ever seen. It's really too bad I can't understand most of the words they say.

We also went to the French Mall, which was awesome because there wasn't a single store I recognized, and got to go to FNAC which for some reason I thought was a couture store but instead: AWESOME ELECTRONICS/CELLPHONE WONDERLAND. I was a little sad because by this time I'd already walked like a thousand miles in the louvre and the dogs were barkin'. So not so much time to browse european consumer electronics. Maybe tomorrow.

On the way back to the hotel, we also found the world's largest vending machine where a robotic arm will fetch all manner of european snacks, candies and drinks for you, place them into a little robot basket, and put them in a robot drawer. biddle-dit-pup-DING!

P.S. - despite hearing epic tales of racy French television, I've yet to see evidence of this.  All I've seen so far are some game shows where people yell at each other and a show that's just like Murder She Wrote, except instead of an elderly detective, it stars a magical midget. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hey Alex,

Isn't France crazy? I've studied the culture and language for several years and it still blows my mind. A note on the pet store: France has great animal control programs, which means that people there can buy purebred animals without people asking them why they didn't adopt one from a shelter instead. So people there don't generally adopt their kittens from a box at the side of the road, which is how I got all of mine, hehe.

Also, what's with french people not picking up their dogs' poo?

The guy who designed Le Louvre also designed a building on my university's campus. It isn't as cool as the pyramid, but the awesome wall of glass allows me to fix my hair as I walk buy. So that's something.

Have fun! Eat croissants and l'os à moëlle. (That second one is bone marrow).