Our schedule indicated that we had a date with Mona Lisa that day. We got up late, because we were quite tired after all that walking around Eiffel tower the previous night. We even discussed about ditching the day's schedule, but then, what is a visit to Paris worth, without a trip to The Louvre? We quickly devoured the free continental breakfast at the hotel and hailed an Uber.
|The Louvre courtyard with the glass pyramid in the middle.|
The glass pyramid serves as the main entrance to the palace. A moderate crowd was jostling for space. Since we had purchased the tickets online before leaving the hotel, we were able to get in quickly.
To the right of the pyramid is the Denon wing, buildings in the left comprise the Richelieu wing and the ones behind the pyramid form the Sully wing. The museum has five floors, unconventionally numbered from - 2 to +2, with the main entrance on floor zero.
If you are interested in the Roman history, art and architecture, this museum is a must-see. Depending on one's knowledge and taste in European art, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to completely appreciate the more than 38,000 objects on display. We completed it in 4 hours straight while managing to keep our date with Mona Lisa.
|Portrait of a wealthy Italian lady named Lisa del Giocondo|
The area in front of the painting (about 15' x 15') had been cordoned off for security reasons, which puts the viewers at a slight distance and disadvantage. The painting, whose value is estimated to be north of $700 million, sits safely behind a bullet-proof glass. I did ponder for a moment about the valuation of art, but decided to come back to the subject later since the kids started pestering me for lunch. It took us a good fifteen minutes to figure out the location of the cafeteria in the maze of corridors and connecting pathways. Vegetarian options were limited and the entrees provided us a taste of cost of living in Paris.
|One of the innumerable ceiling frescos|
|The inverted pyramid|
We walked past the inverted pyramid and exited through the mall in the floor below. If you had watched the movie The Da Vinci Code, you would have known that deep below the pyramid is the final resting place of Mary Magdalene Since it was closed, we headed back to the hotel.
We rested for an hour or so in the late afternoon to catch our breath. Kids decided to evaluate the hotel swimming pool, hence my wife and I headed to the Church of Notre Dame. En route we stopped at the Conciergerie, a palace that also served as the prison for the traitors of the French Revolution, including the former queen Marie Antoinette.
|Conciergerie - the palace of guards|
We looked at the cells that held the prisoners. In a stark contrast to the level where the guards lived, the cells were dingy, dark and cramped. If it felt that way now, imagine the plight of the prisoners in the pre-electricity days. What could they be thinking, while waiting for the certain death at the guillotine? It was scary.
We walked the couple of blocks to the Church of Notre Dame. The Conciergerie, Notre Dame de Paris, and another famous church, Saint-Chapelle are all situated in a tiny island in the middle of river Seine. We felt a cool breeze which made the walk pleasant!
At the outset, Notre Dame de Paris looked structurally similar to the Westminster Abbey in London, with two tall towers and a high-arched entrance in between them. Many a time I have confused the photos of the two. I'm sure they are different, but I felt vaguely familiar while standing in the line outside.
|Church of Notre Dame|
Once inside, the architecture was recognizable, with high arches and colored glasses, bringing back memories of St Paul's and Westminster Abbey.
|Inside the church|
The church had erected pathways and lines directing us where to go. We completed the self-guided tour in about thirty minutes. When we came out, there was still light. We hurried back to the hotel to make dinner plans.
Note: Almost an year after our trip, this church was destroyed in an unfortunate fire accident on April 15 2019. I believe it is still under construction.