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  • Writer's pictureGregory T. Wilkins

Paris, France 2023



United Airlines Ticket Sun, Mar 05, 2023 - 12:53 PM - Asheville, NC, US (AVL) 03:02 PM - New York/Newark, NJ, US (EWR)

Flight 2 of 5 UA5(

Sun, Mar 05, 2023 to Mon, Mar 06, 2023 06:25 PM - New York/Newark, NJ, US (EWR) 07:25 AM - Paris, FR (CDG)

Fl

Tue, Mar 14, 2023 09:10 AM - Paris, FR (CDG) 10:35 AM - Munich, DE (MUC)

Flight Operated by Lufthansa.Class: United Economy ( Tue, Mar 14, 2023 11:25 AM - Munich, DE (MUC) 03:10 PM - Chicago, IL, US (ORD)FligClass: Unite


Tue, Mar 14, 2023 07:45 PM - Chicago, IL, US (ORD) 10:33 PM - Asheville, NC, US (AVL)

Flight Operated by Air Wisconsin Airlines dba United Express.


Airfare: 80.00 USD

U.S. Transportation Tax: 39.40 USD

International Surcharge: 240.00 USD

September 11th Security Fee: 11.20 USD

U.S. APHIS User Fee: 3.96 USD

Germany Passenger Service Charge: 17.00 USD

U.S. Customs User Fee: 6.52 USD

U.S. Immigration User Fee: 7.00 USD

France Airport Tax: 20.00 USD

France Air Passenger Solidarity Tax: 3.00 USD

France Passenger Service Charge: 12.20 USD

France Air Passenger Solidarity Tax: 4.50 USD

U.S. Passenger Facility Charge: 13.50 USD

Total Per Passenger: 458.28 USD

Total: 458.28 USD


lass: United Economy (

Street Graffiti


March 5, 2023 I had arranged my land transportation from Warren Wilson College to the Asheville Airport weeks in advance and confirmed it earlier in the week with Timmy Carcel. He was great to work with when I went to Spain in December and figured all would work out well this time around. Nope! Timmy had an accident a couple of weeks ago when he was playing on the WWC lacrosse team. He injured his leg and will need to be in convalescence. He does have access to his body and is able to get around for the most part, and he is able to drive. I reached out to him to make sure all was well, and he assured me he would be able to get me to the airport. Well, Sunday arrived and was ready to go as planned when he did not show-up. I sent him a text on my phone as well as on the GroupMe app for the lacrosse team. I resent it after waiting for 15 minutes, and he did not arrive. Scrambling to make a back-up plan, I saw Gwen. I asked if she wanted to make a quick dollar, and she said she would help me out. No sooner had we stated down the road to the airport did I receive note from Timmy saying he went to Urgent Care because of his leg. He thought he sent me a text, but he did not. He apologized. Thank goodness for Gwen and working a miracle for me. I arrived at the airport with time to spare. I am one of those fliers who prefers to arrive hours in advance to have the peace of mind of getting through security and settling in versus scrambling to get to the gate half-crazed. And low behold, the flight was late by approximately 35 minutes. One nice thing about flying out of AVL is the terminal is small and quaint. It has grown considerably since I was an undergraduate, though not a monstrosity. With Asheville now being more of a tourist destination, this has benefited fliers too financially. For ex., normally the flight from AVL to Paris would be closer to $1200. I was able to snag a deal 4 months ago for roughly $450 – WINNING! This flight value was the reason why I chose to spend Spring Break in Paris. The other thing to my benefit is the world financial market is depressed. This is the lowest the Euro has been in a quarter century. It is nearly 1:1 – 1 Euro = $1.06. The other blessing is I am going on the cusp on the season which will save me money in housing. For example, my hostel in a 4-bed bunk room in high season is $70/night. I was able to get it for $40. While this is considerably higher than I would ever stay for a hostel room, Paris is abhorrently pricey. Now was the perfect time to venture here and explore the city. COSTS: $458.28 – round trip flight from the USA to Paris, France $20 – round trip from airport to Warren Wilson



March 6, 2023

Arriving to a place I am unfamiliar, I always make sure I know how to get from Point A to Point B with as little drama as possible. Oops! Hostel sent me directions via the subway in advance. The real hurdle is if they are spot on or not. Fortunately for me, the directions were excellent! Paris Metro has a Navigo Decouverte pass as well as a Visite Pass. The price for Navigo is 30€ plus 5€ for the card fee payable in Euro cash notes or coins, Visa / Mastercard credit card or European debit card. It is good for one week. I was fortunate to arrive on Monday and would get a great value. Tourists often get the Visite Pass. It is more than twice the price. It pays to do a little research in advance.

You can use Navigo Decouverte on any Paris area subway/train/bus/tram type (with one exception) such as Paris Metro (subway, 16 lines), RER (suburban train, 5 lines), Transilien suburban trains (8 lines), trams (10 lines) and city buses (RATP/Noctilien/Optile). The one train not included in Navigo is the Orlyval train connected the RER B train to Orly 1 airport terminal. The Navigo Découverte pass card by default includes all 5 transit zones which covers Paris and surrounding suburbs. This includes Charles de Gaulle airport (zone 5) and Orly airport (zone 4), Chateau Versailles (zone 4), Fountainbleau (zone 5), Disneypland Paris (zone 5) and the majority of the Ile-de-France Paris Metropolitan area. The services included are any Metro, RER (suburban express) train, buses (RATP/Noctilien/Optile), Transilien suburban trains, and trams up to the zone limits of your pass.

The Orlyval train is a notable exception and is not included in Navigo coverage. Orlyval is a train that connects the RER B train station “Antony” (closest RER B station) to Orly Airport. Orlyval is owned & operated by a separate private company which does not accept Navigo passes for travel and requires a separate ticket specifically for the short distance Orlyval train (although Paris Visite tickets are accepted).

Navigo pass validity starts on Monday morning (00:00) and ends the following Sunday at midnight (11:59:59 PM / 23:59:59) regardless of which day you buy the pass. Knowing I was going to go to Chateau Versailles plus explore all the city, this was the pass for me. It is a great value because each train ride separately is Euro 2.20. If you ride it only twice a day, it more than pays for itself over the course of the week. I knew I was going to be using it frequently on some days and not knowing the city well, I figured I was going to make an oops from to time. And when I went to Sacre Couer, I was able to ride the funicular up and down the hill without having pay an additional fee because it was included the price. ****************

To get to Oops! Hostel From Charles de Gaulle Airport Take the RER B direction Massy-Palaiseau until Denfert-Rochereau, then take the Line 6 direction Nation stop at Place d’Italie. Take the metro exit that says Boulevard Auguste Blanqui Manufacture des Gobelins. When you get to Avenue des Gobelins, continue walking for 400 meters. Exit number 4 "Mairie du 13e Manufacture des Gobelins" is also a good option. Arriving to Oops! Hostel in the early morning, check-in would not be until 4 p.m. I had the day to myself. I placed my luggage into storage and decided to explore the Latin Quarter.


Pantheon

I walked to the Pantheon. The Pantheon, originally a church and later a mausoleum, is rich in history. Louis XV began the build and was completed right before the revolution. Famous folks are laid to rest here -- Louis Braille (as in the alphabet), Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Marie Curie, Josephine Baker, et. al. It stands in the Latin Quarter and around the corner from the university. It sits on Montage Sainte-Geneieve, a hill overlooking the city. The edifice was built between 1758 and 1790, from designs by Jacques-Germain Soufflot by the request of King Louise VXV. The king intended it as a church dedicated to Saint Geneviève, Paris’s patron saint, and whose relics were stored here.


Pantheon Columns

The building is impressive. Arriving to the front gates, massive columns hold up a ceiling that rises several stories. There is a waiting line for tourists to visits, and I get in line for my turn. It moves rather quickly, and once inside, it is spectacular. I have chosen well for my first thing to witness in Paris and fills my passion for history, churches, art, and cemeteries.


The building is 110 meters long by 84 meters wide, and 83 meters high, with the crypt beneath of the same size. The ceiling was supported by isolated columns, which supported an array of barrel vaults and transverse arches. The massive dome was supported by pendentives rested upon four massive pillars. Critics of the plan contended that the pillars could not support such a large dome. Soufflot (architect) strengthened the stone structure with a system of iron rods, a predecessor of modern reinforced buildings. The bars had deteriorated by the 21st century, and a major restoration project to replace them was carried out between 2010 and 2020.



The dome is actually three domes, fitting within each other. The first, lowest dome, has a coffered ceiling with rosettes, and is open in the center. Looking through this dome, the second dome is visible, decorated with the fresco The Apotheosis of Saint Genevieve by Antoine Gros. The outermost dome, visible from the outside, is built of stone bound together with iron cramps and covered with lead sheathing, rather than of carpentry construction, as was the common French practice of the period. Concealed buttresses inside the walls give additional support to the dome.


The volume of the building is extensive. It is well worth a visit and one of the highlights of my stay in Paris.

Afterward I walked to the Eglise St. Etienne only to find the doors locked. Not to get me down, I ventured to the university streets that twisted in and out of courtyards and alleyways. If you are looking for an affordable meal, this is the spot to go. Paris is a pricey town to go out and eat, and at least here you can find a sandwich for approximately 5 Euro. I decided instead to grab something at a corner store for half that price.


St. Severin Church - Front Facade

Heading to the Eglise St. Severin in the Latin Quarter, it is one of the oldest churches on the Left Bank. The church took its name from Saint Séverin of Paris, a devout hermit who lived at the site in the 6th century, and died around 540. After the death of Severin, a chapel was erected on the site of his cell. This chapel was destroyed during the Norman invasions in the 9th century, then rebuilt in the Romanesque style in the 11th century. The University of Paris was founded in 1215, and Saint Severin became its parish church.


Door Hinge

During the Hundreds’ Years War, the church suffered heavy casualties and was rebuilt again in 1520. The building we see today reflects the façade we see today.


During the French Revolution, the church was closed and turned into a storehouse for gunpowder, and later a storehouse for grain and for church bells, which during the period were often melted down to make cannon. It was returned to the Catholic Church in 1803, but, like other Paris churches, the building is still owned by the French State, with exclusive use granted to the Catholic Church.


The oldest stained glass windows, dating to about 1378, in the church are three pairs of bay windows, each with two lancets, which are found near the apse. They were originally intended for another church, the chapel of the college of Beauvais. A large portion of the stained glass was added in the 19th century.


The area behind the altar is decorated with a group of eight modern stained glass windows, made by Jean Rene Bazaine between 1964 and 1970. They are inspired by the seven sacraments of the Catholic church. The artist explained that the abstract windows were designed "not as decoration but means to make the non-visible appear." The dominant colors are blue and red, particularly in the center, near the baptistry, where the colors represent water and fire.

Returning back to Oops! Hostel I was able to check-in and then settled into my bunk for a 2-hour nap with the attempt to tach-up with the time difference. While I try to stay on top of things the best I am when I am arrive to Europe, at some point it always catches up with me. The joys of a 6 hour time difference!

COSTS in Euro: $1USD = 1.07 Euro $11.50 – Pantheon $3.52 – sandwich, 2 packages of cookies

Free - St. Entienne Church Free - St. Severin Church



March 7, 2023 I was warned last night that Paris would be going into a strike today because of the conversative government’s attempt to move the retirement age from 62 to 64. Railways, subways, buses, and some national monuments would be closed. The great thing is the strikers informed the citizens in advance so that they could plan accordingly. In solidarity, they would keep public transportation open during the morning and afternoon rush hour, and the remainder of the time it would be closed or several disrupted.


Planning accordingly, I decided to visit Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris -- a major municipal museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art of the 20th and 21st centuries, including monumental murals by Raoul Dufy, Gaston Suisse, and Henri Matisse. The museum is one of the 14 City of Paris' Museums that have been incorporated since January 1, 2013 in the public institution Paris Musées. And across the river via a bridge, I thoroughly enjoyed the Quai Branly Jacques Chirac. It is one of the finest anthropological museums I have ever visited on Earth. It was one of the highlights of my trip to Paris.




The Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris or MAM Paris, is a major municipal museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art of the 20th and 21st centuries, including monumental murals by Raoul Dufy, and Henri Matisse. It shares the building with Palais de Tokyo. Their impressive collection has works by Picasso, Vuillard, Marcel Duchamp, Delaunay, Modigliani, Gerhard Richter, Jean Dubuffet, Léger, et. al.





This is the same museum famous for a famous art heist. On May 20, 2010, Vjeran Tomic broke into the museum and stole several paintings. It is unclear why the alarm systems in the museum failed to detect the robbery, staff only noticing when they arrived at the museum just before 7:00 am. The paintings taken were Pigeon with Peas by Pablo Picasso, La Pastorale by Henri Matisee, Olive Tree near L'Estaque by Georges Braque, Woman with a Fan by Amedo Modigliani and Nature Morte aux Chandeliers by Fernad Leger. They were valued at €100 million ( $123 million USD). A window was smashed, and CCTV footage showed a masked man taking the paintings.



For fear that investigators were closing in on the thief, accomplices apparently destroyed the paintings. "I threw them into the trash," stated Yonathan Birn, one of three people on trial in the case. However, neither the judge nor other defendants believed Birn's statement. The authorities believe all the paintings were removed from France. Birn's co-defendants testified he was "too smart" to destroy €100 million worth of artwork.


Door Entrance Before Opening

The theft follows the $62 million heist of masterpieces by Cezanne, Degas, Van Gogh and Monet from Foundation E.G. Buhrle in Zurich, Switzerland in February 2008 and could be one of the biggest art thefts in history (by value). It has been described as the "heist of the century".


Right across the Seine river and in the shadow of the Eifel Tower is the Quai Branly Jacques Chirac. The museum features the indigenous art and cultures of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. The museum collection comprises more than a million objects (ethnographic objects, photographs, documents, etc.), of which 3,500 are on display at any given time, in both permanent and temporary thematic exhibits. The Quai Branly Museum opened in 2006; it is the newest of the major museums in Paris. The museum has been the subject of controversy, with some calling for the repatriation of its collections that were acquired through colonial conquest and stolen from its habitants.


Also impressive is the building from which the collection is held. Original plans were blocked by neighborhood residents; it was reintroduced and approved after taking feedback from others into account. Jean Nouvel was selected to be the architect, and the project moved forward.


In his design for the new museum, Nouvel took into account the criticisms of the neighbors who had blocked the Mitterrand project. The new museum was designed to be as out of sight as possible; the main building is designed to appear lower than the buildings around it, and it is largely screened from view by its gardens. The shape of the main building follows the curve of the Seine, and the three administrative buildings are constructed to harmonize with the Haussmann-period buildings next to them.



Nouvel designed the interior of the museum to liberate artifacts from their Western architectural references by not including barriers and railings in the gallery spaces. There are no physical or spatial barriers separating the four main geographical areas, so visitors can go on a simulated "journey" by traveling from one continent to the other. Labels are almost hidden, and plaques with historical context are brief and generalized, in a way that seems to emphasize the aesthetic qualities of the displays rather than their cultural history. It is a brilliant collection and space that seems to go on forever. Construction of the new museum began at the beginning of 2001, and it was completed in 2005.


Ornate Stitching on Kimono

Returning back via Paris Metro, the subway had reopened. The strike on the streets were in full force. You could smell fires burning and seeing the smoke fill the sky as I emerged from the underground and into the Latin Quarter. Thousands of people filled the streets stopping all traffic. It was thrilling and scary simultaneously.


Paris, the City of Love, was on fire as people took to the streets to protest the Right Wings plans to increase the retirement age by 2 years. 700,000+ Parisians wee making their voices heard. As I approached Oops! Hostel, police gathered in a swarm as protestors spray apinted windows, threw garage in the streets, and garbage cans were set ablaze. I kept my distance but was close enough to take some pictures before departing back into the hostel for safe keeping while hoping the chaos would remain outside the walls and not venture into the hostel. Meanwhile, the TV news was capturing the action as people were being arrested and the throngs would not be silenced.




Costs in Euro:

Free - Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris

12.00 – Quai Branly Jaques Chirac

$2.89 – sandwich, 2 cookie packages


Pompidou Centre

March 8, 2023 Simon Theil and I have had a challenging time to reconnect. He lives in Germany and a former student of mine at Minnesota state University, Mankato. The last time we traveled together was when I was in Portugal. He was studying in Spain for his Masters and was able to spend a week with me in Sintra and Lisbon. Three years ago, when Covid hit Earth, he was planning to spend time with me in Florence. He was going to come via Spain. However, Italy shut down with the rest of the planet as he was on the border trying to get into Italy. This time around, he was going to bring his fiancé (Laura) to meet me in Paris. We had been planning this excursion for months only this time around to be stopped at the border because of the strikes in France. The rail was closed stranding him and his fiancé. They had to return home. I arrived to the Louvre first thing in the morning to wait in line for a ticket and to get in place for Simon, Laura, and I. I did not get a ticket in advance because I heard from folks at the hostel that the system went down earlier in the week not approving for folks to buy one. Plus, I heard the strikers shut down the building yesterday. Inclement skies and cold breeze kept my hopes high that the strikers would find more comfort in a coffee shop than outdoors. Not true though for hardly Parisians. They were out in full force. They shut down the main entrance at the pyramid. Guests stood outside waiting patiently as more and more visitors lined up at the entrance. It did not matter what kind of ticket you had because the lines were going nowhere. Eight guards came out with machine guns as others entered the building. The strikers continued their chants and holding up signs. Three hours later, the doors remained shut. No one was going into the museum. After 11:20 a.m., we were instructed the museum was not going to open. The guests were outraged. People shouted at the security team. I decided it was not worth the hassle and commotion and made a beeline for the Metro. My back-up plan was to head to the Pompidou Center.


Play Space for Children Once inside moving sidewalks and escalators get you from floor to floor as well as a glass elevator. (To enter the building is free, but to see the collections it costs.) It was the first major example of an 'inside-out' building with its structural system, mechanical systems, and circulation exposed on the exterior of the building. Initially, all the functional structural elements of the building were color-coded: green pipes are plumbing, blue ducts are for climate control, electrical wires are encased in yellow, and air circulation and devices for safety are red. The building cost 993 million francs to build. The Centre Pompidou was intended to handle 8,000 visitors a day. In its first two decades, it attracted more than 145 million visitors, more than five times the number first thought.


Eglise de Saint Merri To get away from the rain and chill, I went to Eglise de St. Merri, a lovely chapel around the corner from Pompidou Center. Saint Merri was buried here in 700 AD. In 884 he was chosen as the patron saint of the Right Bank of Paris. As Paris grew, the neighborhood did as well and became an important commercial district. The church was too small to meet the needs of the community. A new one was built in the early 1200s, and this one too was outgrown. What we see today on the site was completed in 1560 with support from King Francois I. Some call this church the daughter of Notre Dame.

COSTS in Euro:

$7.89 – bag of mandarins, croissant, chocolate pastry

$9.80 – wooden kitchen tools (to make a bracelet)

$2.95 – Sandwich and chocolate bar

$16 – Pompidou Center


Musée Nissim de Camondo


March 9, 2023 The Musée Nissim de Camondo is a historic mansion filled with French decorative arts. Taking Line 2 to Monceau, I walked around the park and down the street. The collection is spectacular with antiques from the 2nd half of the 18th century. Tapestries, paintings, and artifacts galore, the house is well appointed and quiet compared to the usual hustle and bustle of most museums in Paris. (And if you go, consider purchasing the combo ticket that will get you into this house as well as the Decorative Arts Museum down the street from the Louvre. You have 4 days to use the other ticket.)


Main Staircase

Salon The house was built in 1911 by Count Moise de Camando, a prominent banker. His architect. Rene Sergent, designed the footprint of the house like the Petit Trianon at Versailles. When the count died in 1935, he gave the mansion and his collection to the City of Paris. The museum was named after his son, Nissim, who died in World War I.


Door Lock

Salon

Dining Room Tragedy reigned supreme for this prominent family when Moïse's daughter and her family were deported to the Auschwitz in World War II. (The Camondo family was a Sephardic Jewish clan.) In 1944, Béatrice de Camondo, her husband Léon Reinach, and their two children, Fanny and Bertrand all died in the concentration camp. Moïse's widow Irène survived by escaping to a villa in the south of France.


Salon

Office

Kitchen Afterward, I walked down the street to Eglise St. Austine. It was built between 1860 and 1871 by the Paris city chief architect Victor Baltard. It was the first church in Paris to combine a cast-iron frame, fully visible, with stone construction. The church is quiet and a place of respite.

Front of Church


Frieze Depicting Christ and the Twelve Apostles

Facade Painting by Paul Balze

Facade Painting by Paul Balze

Facade Painting by Paul Balze


Stained Glass Window

Door into Church

Side of Church

Interior

Interior

Interior Detail

Venturing back up the boulevard, I decided to walk back to the Metro via the park. On my way I saw a sign of a free museum – Musee Cernuschi. The museum was founded in 1898 by Henri Cernuschi (1821–1896) in the mansion that used to be his home. It describes itself as the second-oldest Asian art museum in France, and the fifth-oldest Chinese art museum in Europe.


Landing to Staircase

COSTS in Euro:

$8.56 – croissant, pastry, deodorant, razors

$20 – Decorative Arts Museum and Mussee Nissim de Camando combo ticket

$3.78 – sandwich and chips Free - Musee Cernuschi

Musée des Arts Décoratifs


March 10, 2023

Musée des Arts Décoratifs -- is a Parisian Museum whose objective is the promotion of applied fine arts and the development of links between industry, culture, creation, and production. It preserves one of the most important collections of decorative arts in the world and has over one million artifacts. It is part of the Louvre but not part of the Louvre most people visit. It has a separate entrance and was a perfect way to spend a rainy day.


There are many beautiful things in the collection – porcelain, jewelry, carpets, fashion, etc. Each room leads you to something to admire. Of note were the period rooms. I loved them!




I was particularly taken by the Galerie des Bijoux. It is housed on the opposite side from where most of the decorative art is located up a staircase on the second floor. Approximately 1200 pieces provide an exemplary overview of the history of jewelry from the Middle Ages to the present day. Organized chronologically, the exhibits include rings, necklaces, bracelets, and brooches, alongside a presentation of jewelry-making techniques. The room is wrapped in black velvet and gives the room a feeling of intimacy. All who enter are hushed to mere whispers.





The jewelry pieces are exhibited behind large glass windows that completely cover the gallery walls from floor to ceiling. The display begins with jewelry from the Middle Ages and Renaissance and continues with18th-century pieces and a wide range of 19th-century designs from the collection donated in 1924 by the jeweler Henri Vever. Art Nouveau is represented with some outstanding pieces by René Lalique, Georges Fouquet, and Lucien Gaillard. Additional pieces showcase the great jewelry houses - Vendôme, Boucheron, and Cartier.



There was also a special exhibit of fashion houses and designers on the ground floor that I admired. It was very modern in its feel – almost too hip to my liking. The space was visually loud, which encouraged visitors to be boisterous in their words in order to compete with the videos and music in specific rooms. While fun, I liked other spaces in the museum more, but I must admit it was a joy to see couture up close and personal. I liked how the curator mixed fashion with furniture and other domestic goods. An exhibition of this nature too is a way to bring in a younger audience into the museum.








Christian Laroix


Jean Paul Gaultier





COSTS in Euro:

$2.10 – croissant and pastry $8 - 6 pictures at Metro - 1 for Navigo $3.55 - croissant, chocolate croissant, apple croissant $3.11 - 4 mandarins, croissant, chocolate croissant


March 11, 2023 With my first attempt to enter the Louvre not being successful, I decided today would be the perfect day to try once again. As the ol’ adage goers, “If you first don’t succeed, try, try again”. And like before I got there before they opened to insure my place a great place in the front of the line. This time I was the first to arrive in the non-ticketed advance area. Knowing the drill from before, I helped the security team set-up the ropes and tent. We joked about the last time around, and I hinted if today looked better. They assured me that today would not be a problem.


The Louvre -- The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built in the late 12th to 13th century under Philip II. Remnants of the Medieval Louvre fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. Due to urban expansion, the fortress eventually lost its defensive function, and in 1546 Francis I converted it into the primary residence of the French Kings. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation's masterpieces. It is the largest collection on Earth.



Attendance in 2022 was 7.8 million visitors, up 170 percent from 2021, but still below the 10.8 million visitors in 2018 before COVID-19.


As the line opened at 9:20 after the line with pre-sale guests entered the museum, I snaked my way through the ropes to the front of the pyramid. Opening my backpack for the officers for security purposes, I entered the building. Taking the escalator down, the glass pyramid fills the gallery below with natural light. (The Chinese architect, I. M. Pei did an impressive job in this addition built in the 1980s.) I immediately bee-lined for the lockers so I could place my personal belongings there for safe keeping. Afterward, I went to the ticket line which went relatively quickly. I then headed to the permanent collection. I started at the top of the museum and worked my way through the galleries. I wanted to see the decorative apartments before the throngs of people descended on the palace.


The museum was quiet. Room upon room opened to another leaving my mind reeling. The vast collection of paintings was particularly overwhelming. They became wallpaper after a while. If I was going to see the entire museum, I would need to be specific as to how much time I would give each space. And to boot, I was going to have to plan for the hordes of tourists.


Door Lock

Window Latch

Before arriving at the museum, I had already made up my mind that I was not planning to see the Mona Lisa. I had seen images of the throngs trying to catch a glimpse of her with cameras in hand. I would stroll by her gallery, and once I saw what I had already anticipated, I kept my distance and kept walking. I saw her in the distance as the paparazzi snapped selfies and swarmed her. I was glad I had already made up my mind. (She has so been admired over time that Napoleon hung her in his private quarters. She was also stolen in 1911and later returned to the museum when the thief tried to sell her to an art dealer.)


Ceiling Knowing how vast the collection is, I was going to be strategic. In fact, if someone were to look at every object and spend 30 seconds on each piece, it would take 100 consecutive days without sleep, breaks, or meals to get through them all. Keeping this in mind, think about what is most important to you when you visit. For me, it was the decorative arts, jewelry, and paintings.


Be prepared to spend the entire day at the Louvre. The collection is housed in 15 acres of the palace. The rooms and floors go on forever. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, to take breaks, and eat lunch at the museum.


Ceiling


And like many great collections (Guggenheim, Disney World, etc.) you can also visit the Louvre’s first international site. Abu Dhabi is the largest art museum on the Arabian peninsula. It cost over $600 million to complete and has over one million visitors per year.



The Louvre did not disappoint. It’s a place I would definitely return again.


COSTS in Euro:

$15 – Louvre

$1.20 – Louvre Postcard

$3.10 – sandwich and chocolate bar

$5.90 – Louvre sandwich made with a pretzel


March 12, 2023 Wanting to beat the tourists to the Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre, I left the hostel first thing in the morning with croissant and mandarin in hand. The Pris Metro was quiet. I love the city when it is asleep. I got up so early, even the street vendors were only just beginning to set-up shop on the sidewalk. Perfection! I took the funicular up the hill. I had forgotten my Navigo pass included the funicular and did a happy dance to the basilica. The church was quiet. Even guards were just opening the front entrance. I let them see inside my backpack and was swept inside to warmth.


Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre - the dome, two hundred meters above the Seine, the basilica overlooks the entire city of Paris and its suburbs. The basilica was designed by Paul Abadie, whose Neo-Byzantine-Romanesque plan was selected from among seventy-seven proposals. Construction began in 1875 and continued for forty years under five different architects. Completed in 1914, the basilica was formally consecrated in 1919 after World War I.



Sacré-Cœur Basilica has maintained a perpetual adoration of the Holy Eucharist since 1885. In fact, you can register in advance to pray in the space over night to keep the tradition alive. The site is traditionally associated with the martyrdom of Saint Denis, the patron saint of Paris.



Making my way down the hill, I walked through the neighborhood and to the bridge. The cemetery below was sandwiched between the living and the dead. The city was built around the space which created an interesting juxtaposition. On both sides of the bridge, I glanced down into the cemetery alleys and streetways. A large wall kept the city at bay, and I couldn't figure out how to enter. Speaking with a garbage man who was picking up the trash with his crew, he directed me to the entrance. It was back across the bridge, down a staircase, and around the bend. And Viola!... there it was.


Montparnasse Cemetery is a cemetery in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris, in the city's 14th arrondissement. The cemetery is roughly 47 acres and is the second largest cemetery in Paris. The cemetery has over 35,000 graves and approximately a thousand people are buried here each year. Some notoriety buried here is: Alfred Dreyfus (as in the Dreyfus Affair), Simone de Beauvoir is buried with Jean-Paul Sartre, Edward Degas (the artist), and Vaslav Nijinski (ballet dancer) et. al.






Vaslav Nijinski



Bridge Overhead

Door Detail

Iron Detail COSTS in Euro: $10 - cock pendent at flea market


March 13, 2023 The Basilica of Saint-Denis is a large former medieval abbey church and present cathedral in the commune of Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris. The building is of singular importance historically and architecturally as its choir, completed in 1144, is widely considered the first structure to employ all of the elements of Gothic architecture.


The metro to the basilica took longer than I expected because it is a suburban of Paris. It is located in a transitional community with people from all over the world calling this neighborhood home, particularly African nations. This is evident with the stores on the street, the heavy Moslem presence, and pop-ups selling cheap clothes, counter fit fashion and accessories.



The basilica became a place of pilgrimage and a necropolis containing the tombs of the Kings of France, including nearly every king from the 10th century to Louis XVIII in the 19th century. While admission to the basilica is free, to enter the necropolis you have to pay admission. I decided to glance over the railing to capture a glance of the space.


Necropolis Henry IV of France came to Saint-Denis to formally renounce his Protestant faith and become a Catholic. The Queens of France were crowned at Saint-Denis, and the royal regalia, including the sword used for crowning the kings and the royal scepter, were kept at Saint-Denis between coronations.



One of the galleries in the church has vestments behind glass. The stitch work is particularly striking. I could spend a half day just looking at garments, tablecloths, and liturgical items.

Rose Window



COSTS in Euro: Free - Basilica of Saint-Denis $6.30 - 3 trips on Metro $1.20 - beignet at flea market $2.70 sandwich & 7-Up $4.83 - drink, sandwich, cholate bar

Versailles March 14, 2023 Chilly weather greeted the day. The wind swept through the streets, as I pulled my jacket tight. At least it was not raining which would put a damper on the day, particularly knowing that the Chateau had vast distances between the palace, the Petite Trianon, the Grand Trianon, plus gardens.


Garden Statue Going to Versailles on the RER C train is the easiest option and also the most popular because it puts you closest to the Versailles Palace entry gates. In addition, trains on the RER C line typically run about every 5-10 minutes, vs about every 15 minutes for Line N and about every 20 minutes for Line L, so on average, you'll have less of a wait. Best of all, the RER C train runs along the Left Bank of the Seine River, and has nine stations within the city, so you can choose to depart from whichever station is closest to you. For most visitors to Versailles, RER C is the best choice.


Wall Detail Important to Know: RER C has two branches in the direction of Versailles. One of them terminates at the Versailles Château Rive-Gauche station (yes, that's the one you want), and the other terminates at Saint-Quentin en Yvelines but makes a stop at Versailles Chantiers (NOT the station you want). Once you're in the RER station and you have your ticket, you'll see the announcements board for incoming trains. (Even better is if you have a Navigo Pass, the train/Metro ticket is covered in the price of the ticket and won't have to buy a ticket.) Be sure to board one that's going to Versailles Chateau Rive-Gauche. (But if the worst happens and you accidentally board the other train, get off once you reach Versailles Chantiers; the walk to the Palace will take you 10-15 minutes instead of 5-10, so it's not a big setback.) Once you get off the Metro, the signage to the Chateau is not clearly marked. You can ask someone on the street or just walk outside the terminal and walk forward. On the street there will bea post pointing you where to go. I walked along the embankment and through the park. It took about 15 to minutes fro the metro to the Chateau. There is a large parking plot in the front of the Chateau as well as a gate. you will need to walk through the gate. If you have already purchased a ticket in advance, you will need to follow the signs in front of you and wait your appointed time to enter the palace. If time is on your side, you can walk through the gardens. If you don't have a ticket, no problems. There will be a building on the left side the palace where you can buy one. I would advise arriving to the chateau as early as possible, because tickets sell out quickly. You may have to wait for an afternoon entrance to the palace.


I arrive first in the morning, and I got a ticket for 2 p.m. I would spend my morning in the garden, as well as seeing the Petite Trianon, and the Grand Trianon. I had plenty of time.

Petit Trianon The Petit Trianon is a Neoclassical chateau located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. It was built between 1762 and 1768 during the reign of King Louis XV. The Petit Trianon was constructed within the park of a larger royal retreat known as the Grand Trianon. Marie Antoniette lived here to get away from the hustle and bustle of Versailles. It is a very quaint home with smaller rooms and gives the guests and a more intimate feeling. While still very impressive compared to the commoner's way of living, it is a space that is welcoming.


Petit Trianon - backyard Before the Queen lived here, Louis XV built the house for his long time mistress Madame de Pompadour who died four years before its completion, and the Petit Trianon was subsequently occupied by her successor, Madam du Barry. Upon his accession to the throne in 1774, the 20-year-old Louis XVI gave the château and its surrounding park to his 19-year-old Queen Marie Antoinette for her exclusive use and enjoyment.


Bedroom

Interior


Belvedere in the park Since all were de par la Reine (by order of the Queen), none were permitted to enter the property without the Queen's permission. Only the Queen's "inner circle" were invited, which alienated the court nobility. In the spring of 1779, Marie Antoinette retired to the Petit Trianon to recover from illness after the birth of her daughter Marie-Therese. Her entire household came with her, as well as four male friends to attend to her. This was in violation of court etiquette, causing gossip to circulate at Versailles.


Grand Trianon The Grand Trianon is a French Baroque chateau situated in the northwestern part of the estate. It was built at the request of King Louis XIV as a retreat for himself and his maîtresse-en-titre of the time, the Marquise de Montespan. It was also a place where he and invited guests could take light meals away from the strict etiquette and formality of the royal court. The Grand Trianon is set within its own park, which includes the Petit Trianon.



Grand Trianon


Grand Trianon Hallway Château de Versailles is a former royal residence built by King Louis XIV located in Versailles, about 12 miles (19 km) west of Paris, France. Approximately 15 million people visit the palace, park, or gardens of Versailles every year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.


Versailles Hallway

Louis XIII built a simple hunting lodge on the site of the Palace of Versailles in 1623. With his passing came Louis XIV who expanded the château into the beginnings of a palace that went through several changes and phases from 1661 to 1715. It was a favorite residence for both kings, and in 1682, Louis XIV moved the seat of his court and government to Versailles, making the palace the de facto capital of France. This state of affairs was continued by Kings Louis XV and Louis XVI, who primarily made interior alterations to the palace, but in 1789 the royal family and capital of France returned to Paris. For the rest of the French Revolution, the Palace of Versailles was largely abandoned and emptied of its contents, and the population of the surrounding city plummeted. While impressive, because the estate was plummeted, it lacks its former opulence. I prefer the palaces in Vienna, Austria and St. Petersburg, Russia.


Chapel

Hall of Mirrors COSTS in Euro: $20 - Versailles


Père Lachaise Cemetery March 15, 2023 I do love a fabulous cemetery. It is a reflection of a culture and people over time. It is also usually a quiet place filled with greenery and an escape from the hustle of a city. Père Lachaise Cemetery was definitely on my list for this trip, and it was a perfect way to spend a day, despite the inclement weather.




Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris, France (44 hectares or 110 acres). With more than 3.5 million visitors annually, it is the most visited necropolis in the world. Notable figures in the arts buried there include Michel Ney, Frédéric Chopin, Édith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Marcel Marceau, Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, and Jim Morrison.






One thing I always admire when I visit a cemetery like Père Lachaise Cemetery is the artisanal metal work. It is finely detailed, beautiful to look at, and has survived centuries of wear and tear in the elements. My Grandfather Donald Paige Rogers was a master metalsmith in St, Louis, Missouri, and this may be one reason for my appreciation.




I always appreciate the artistry of the cemetery markers. Sometimes it reflects the career of the deceased and other times the mournful loss of family and friends. There is something extraordinary about the old ways people would stylize markers compared to the modern simple stone in a piece of earth. While expensive to produce, it is truly a testament of their time on the planet. I love it!




Père Lachaise Cemetery is famous for many famous people who are buried here. I enjoy trying to figure out where they are located. It is a labyrinth of alleyways and corners, twists and turns, and like trying to find a needle in a haystack.


Edith Piaf

Jim Morrison

Oscar Wilde


Sometimes people vandalize a marker. Oscar Wilde's stone was vandalized when someone chopped off the penis off the statue. I am amazed that someone would actually have the audacity to do this. In addition, the cemetery had to place glass around it to hinder more folks from damaging it further. People would kiss it with bright red lipstick. They had to put glass around it because it was discoloring the stone. Now a security guard walks around the neighborhood of this marker, He carries a spray bottle and towels to clean the glass from lipstick as well as to ensure others don't damage the stone.








Moss covers rocks and statuary creating a texture that is rich. I can walk through spaces like this for hours discovering something new at every bend. This cemetery is no different. My mother came to France after World War II to help rebuild thenatioonal. My grandmother was not happy with this decision. My mother, now in her mid-80s, looks back this moment with great fondness. The Holocaust in France was terrible as Nazis the persecuted, deported, and annihilated of Jews and Roma between 1940 and 1944. (Just this week The Orsay returned stolen work in their collection.) Persecution began in 1940 with deportation into the mid-40s. Of the 340,000 Jews living in metropolitan/continental France in 1940, more than 75,000 were deported to death camps, where about 72,500 were murdered. The cemetery has a reminder for all who visit to never forget these crimes against nature. It is witnessed in monuments honoring the dead.



Honoring those who were murded in Auschwitz.

Honoring the children who were murdered.

The horrors of hate and discrimination.

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