Day 54: Saturday, October 28
awoke to a cool, cloudy day and had a good complementary
breakfast in the hotel. We caught the Metro
- which is a wonderful way to get
around Paris by the way -
to the Louvre Museum and
arrived at 9:00 am to beat the crowds. One of our guide
books suggested entering via the Carousel du Louvre shopping
mall which is underneath the Louvre and accessed from the
Palais-Royal Metro station, instead of using the main entrance.
This turned out to be a great idea as we did not have to wait in
line. Because of our destinations on this day, it was one
of the very few days that Ken wore pants.
Panorama of two
photos of the Louvre and the Glass Pyramid
One of the largest museums in the world, and possibly the most
famous of them all is the Louvre. Situated in the 1st
arrondissement, at the heart of Paris, this palace is both from
an architectural point of view as from an arts perspective one
of the must see sights in Paris. It displays about 300,000
works, among them some world-famous like the Mona Lisa
from Leonardo da Vinci, Venus de Milo and Winged
Victory. The first time the immense collection was displayed
was in 1789, during the revolution when the Revolutionary
Committee decided to open the King's arts collection to the
public. The Louvre was built in several stages. It was first
built in the sixteenth
century when the Royal family
started to move near the fortress of the Louvre. The original
keep was then destroyed and it was replaced by a palace.
The main architect was Pierre Lescot, who was appointed in 1546
by the king. The immense building had 2 courtyards and was 2
stories high. Its architecture combines French and Italian
features. About a decade later, Catherine de Medici started with
another palace project, the Tuileries on the west side of the
Louvre. Later, during the second empire, between 1853 and 1857,
the Louvre was massively extended by Visconti and Lefuel.
Ken on the
staircase leading up to the main entrance to the Louvre
The latest addition to the Louvre
was the Glass Pyramid entrance, one of the finest
examples of a combination of modern and historic architecture.
On request of the late French President Mitterrand, it was
designed by the renowned American architect I. M. Pei. The glass
pyramid allows the sunlight to come in on the underground floor.
It has received mixed reviews, as it contrasts sharply with the
design of the surrounding buildings. The pyramid covers
the Louvre entresol and forms part of the new main entrance into
green sweater, in front of the Glass Pyramid
Deciding how to spend your time at the Louvre is a real problem.
With over 300,000 works on site, it takes days to see
everything. Unfortunately we only had about three hours so
we saw all the really famous paintings and sculptures and then
visited a couple of wings that contained art that we were
interested in. If you ever plan to visit the Louvre, do
your homework well in advance and make a plan.
For more information see
You are not allowed to take flash
photos in the Louvre and no photos are allowed at all in the
Apollo Gallery and in the Denon wing (where the Mona Lisa
is located). The Mona Lisa surprised Ken because it is so
much smaller than he thought -
77cm by 53 cm. It is
displayed in a purpose-built, climate-controlled enclosure
behind bullet proof glass and a formidable railing as you can
see in the small photo at right which I found on the Internet.
It may be small but the Mona Lisa's enigmatic expression, which
seems both alluring and aloof, has given the portrait universal
We exited up the staircase under
the pyramid and went out to the courtyard to take in the
scenery, where Ken took the photos in the panorama at the top of
the page. Just west of the Louvre is the Tuileries Garden
which covers about 25 hectares.
I did take several photos at the
Louvre wherever I could. The more famous ones are in the
slide show below while the unknown works are in the photo
gallery below. Click on a thumbnail for a larger view.
jumped on the Metro to go to buy tickets to the
Folies Bergère, a Parisian music hall which was at the
height of its fame and popularity from the 1890s through the
1920s. Shows featured elaborate costumes; the women's were
frequently revealing, and shows often contained a good deal of
nudity. When we got off the train, Ken got his sense of
direction twisted and headed off the wrong way, map in hand.
Kathryn knew he was going the wrong way but foolishly let him
have his way. After wandering for awhile, Ken listened to
Kathryn and we found the theatre.
We wanted to see something that was different and thought we
would enjoy this type of famous French 'culture', so we bought
tickets for the next night. Luckily, just as we left the
theatre, ken noticed that we had purchased tickets to Cabaret, a
musical which was now running at the Folies Bergère. It
seems the burlesque type shows had stopped running here in the
90's. We had already seen performances of Cabaret in
Canada and Kathryn had to practically beg to get our money back.
was back on the Metro to the community of Montmartre to
get ticket to Moulin Rouge. Moulin Rouge (French
for Red Mill or windmill) is a traditional cabaret, built in
1889. Situated in the red-light district of Pigalle on
Boulevard de Clichy, it is recognized by the large red imitation
windmill on its roof. Over the past hundred years, the
Moulin Rouge has remained a popular tourist destination,
offering musical dance entertainment for adult visitors from
the world. Much of the romance
from turn-of-the-century France is still present in the club's
decor. Unfortunately, it was sold out until Tuesday and
that was the day we were leaving -strike two. Pigalle has
long been notorious as a popular hotspot for the more risqué
We walked around and looked at the
various sex shops, peep shows, strip clubs, cabarets and general
adults-only, X-rated adventures.
then walked a few blocks north uphill to Montmartre's other
famous location, the
The "Basilica of the Sacred Heart" is a Roman Catholic basilica
and popular landmark in Paris, dedicated to the Sacred Heart.
The basilica is made of Chateau-Landon stone which secretes
calcite when wet and bleaches the facade white. The
basilica is located at the summit of the Montmartre butte and,
next to the Eiffel Tower, is the highest point in the city. The
Sacré-Coeur district offers many spectacular views on Paris. Its
village-like streets and squares, its cafés and restaurants, its
painters on the Place du Tertre attract many tourists. You
can walk up the steep steps to the top of the
Coeur. Ken can be seen in the arch on the right with his
hill but we chose to ride the
funicular cable railway which travels up the steep hill side,
and which was included with our Métro pass.
We rode the Metro back to our hotel and got off at the
St.-Michel station. The used-book sellers ('les
bouquiniste') you see along the quais of the Seine around
Notre-Dame are a Parisian fixture. It seems they've been here
forever — at least since the mid-1500s, when shops and stalls
lined most of the bridges in Paris. In 1557, they were labeled
as thieves for selling forbidden Protestant pamphlets during the
Wars of Religion (Parisians were staunchly Catholic). First
using wheelbarrows to transport and sell their goods, these
hardy entrepreneurs eventually fastened trays with thin leather
straps to the parapets of the bridges. After the Revolution,
business boomed when entire libraries were seized from
Quai St.-Michel with Notre Dame in the background
nobles or clergymen and ended up
for sale cheap on the banks of the Seine. In 1891, bouquinistes
received permission to permanently attach their boxes to the
quaysides. Today, the waiting list is eight years to become one
of Paris' 250 bouquinistes. Each bouquiniste is given four boxes
(boîtes — each 6 feet long, 14 inches high, and 2.5 feet deep),
and rent is paid only for the stone on which the boxes rest
(less than €100 per year). The most coveted spots are awarded
based on seniority. Maintenance costs, including the required
vert wagon paint (the green color of old train cars), is paid by
the bouquinistes. With little overhead, prices are usually
cheaper than in most shops. While these days tourists buy
magnets and posters more than vintage books, officially the city
allows no more than one box of souvenirs for every three boxes
of books. Bouquinistes must be open at least four days a week.
And yes, they do leave everything inside when they lock up at
night; metal bars and padlocks keep things safe.
found an outdoor table at a restaurant across the street from
Notre Dame and had a late lunch. We sat for hours just
watching people - tourists and locals - pass by. It was a
very entertaining way to pass the time.
We then went back to the hotel. Ken was under the weather
again and needed a nap. Kathryn later went back to the
Place Maubert Market for sandwiches and fruit and, of course,
lemon tarts for dinner.
coffee on the Quai
Click here for a slide
show of Day 54 photos.