Europe 2007 Day 18 – Paris

After being worn out for the past few days, Daniel and I tried to sleep in a bit again and got a late start. We headed out to Tour Eiffel and found the queue to get up into the tower was over an hour long. Not wanting to waste precious time with it, we were satisfied with some snaps of the overall tower and then decided to do some serious museum time. I wanted to see the Musee Orsay where the famous impressionist paintings can be found, but we decided to forgo it and head into the mother-ship of all museums – the Louvre.

One could spend years inside (and that is just trying to get in or out of the place or trying to get to the toilets), but I like to just take a few hours to get to the highlights. The only other time I was in the Louvre was in 1990 with my good friend Kris on our high school graduation trip. This trip really instilled the traveling bug in me (although at the time I was a bit overwhelmed by it all). One of my favorite memories with Kris was wandering around the museum with one of the chaperones of the trip. It was then we saw the Mona Lisa, the code of Hammurabi, and other famous works of art. In fact, in one of my old photo albums there is a photo of the Code of Hammurabi and not much else from the Louvre. So as Daniel and I made our highlights tour around the museum, I made sure to visit those select paintings that brought back memories of 1990.

One thing I noticed, was that in the 17 years since I visited, some places look completely different, reorganized, and modernized. On the other hand, there are some rooms where it looks like nothing has changed since my previous visit. Daniel enjoyed seeing some great works of art, as did I, and we spent some time taking photos of Venus de Milo as well as some other famous pieces, including the famous Napoleon crowning himself painting by Jaques-Louis David.

After the Louvre, we headed off to Notre Dame for a quick photo op and visit to the cathedral. Not too much excitement there so we then headed off to the catacombs. Now, the catacombs have always fascinated me and it has been on my list of things to do in Paris for a long time. If you are not familiar, the catacombs were old abandoned limestone quarries underneath Paris where after a pandemic of disease and a shortage of space, they moved thousands of dead bodies in the late 1700s and early 1800s. They are mentioned in a lot of literature and have always been something I wanted to see. Unfortunately, Daniel and I arrived right at 1605, 5 minutes too late to see them. We will have to try again later.

We then headed back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation. With Jonathan arriving this evening, we decided to go to the Moulin Rouge and the show doesn’t start until after 11pm, so I know we will be out late. We relaxed for a bit and then headed out to do some shopping at Printemps. When we arrived, we discovered it was way overpriced and didn’t spend much time there. On a suggestion by Daniel, we headed to C and A. I have never heard of them, but we discovered that they were pretty inexpensive (for Paris) and proceeded to do some good shopping. I picked up some socks, a sweater, and an extra set of underwear to get me through the last 5 days of the trip. Daniel also scored some stuff to get him to the end of the trip as well as a neat shoulder bag.

Armed with our purchases, we headed back again to the hotel to change. We then had to turn around and get to the Moulin Rouge. After some metro-ing and some walking we arrived at the world famous cabaret theater. There was a huge line out front so we jumped in it and waited for Jonathan. Happily, he arrived before the line began to move. I did notice a huge number of Asian tourists disembarking from a tour bus and making a dash inside. Before too long, we were in our seats and ready to go. We got a bottle and a half of champagne to split between us, and since Daniel does not drink it, Jonathan and I had a great time drinking it.

The show at the Moulin Rouge was very cabaret and Vegas. It reminded me of a Charo concert I saw at the Venetian. It consisted of 4 musical acts divided by acrobats, magicians, and a ventriloquist. Overall, there were elaborate sets and costumes and it was a spectacle to behold. Speaking of costumes, someone had warned me that the MR was full of topless women. Actually only about one-third were topless and the rest kept their shirts on. Just thought you wanted to know.

A bit tipsy from the champagne, we parted ways and Daniel and I hailed a cab back to the hotel. It was a great night, and tomorrow we are off to have a day with Jonathan on the town.