The countdown begins, as this is my last Thursday here.
Our walk took us around Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, and the cobblestone streets that lead uphill to the church.
(During our break around noon, I got an ice cream of Creme Brûlée and Pistachio. Not as good as Berthillon.)
Our walk continued down some wonderful side streets with adorable views of buildings seeming to almost collapse or overlap onto one another. We even saw the cafe where Amelie works in the movie.
(Van Gogh’s house)
Once our group was done with class, I went with a couple girls to Angelina near the Tuileries. It’s a place known for its overpriced hot chocolate but it’s now the tourist thing to do, so I was weary. I mean, I thought “How much better could hot chocolate get?” But oh my gosh, it was experience.
First of all, the place is gorgeous like Laduree with gold embellishments to its little tearooms. The waitress didn’t even need to ask and just said “Trois chocolat chaud?” I wanted mini croissants to have sustenance for my “lunch” as well.
The chocolate came in a mini pitcher for us to pour. I’m crying, it was amazing. It was so thick – honestly like melted chocolate with cream. We got little porcelain cups of whipped cream to put on top, too. It was so thick that we could make designs from the melted cream, and dip the flaky croissants into the chocolate. I had no idea hot chocolate could be this good and rich, a little bitter of course but not too much. Just perfect.
The funniest part was the weird sugar rush and food coma it gave us. We were lethargic after just one cup and too bloated to move, yet at the same time we were hyper and talkative because of all the sugar and fat packed into one cup. As I said, I hadn’t eaten lunch (just ice cream – oops) and after this I was completely full. I thought Angelina was going to just be a tourist trap for a “Parisian” cafe experience, but it was actually really luxurious.
Also I will add that near the Louvre there are some touristy shops, but I had a great experience in one of them. I asked (in French) if the employee spoke English, and he said “a little” with a laugh. One of the other customers, however, said he spoke both and agreed to translate for us. And so it was, like in movies or something, where I spoke to the customer who spoke to the employee who spoke to the customer who spoke to me. Sometimes I spoke in broken French and sometimes the employee spoke in broken English, but it was a delightful experience and we both thanked the other customer for translating and it was all very amicable. But I digress…
I’d also planned to go to the Mussee du Louvre today – finally! The two girls had already been, so I went alone, knowing some other people from the program were there (I ran into them twice). This museum is so massive, literally housed in the former palace.
People told me it takes three days of three hours each to get through the whole thing… I had 2.5 hours to see what I needed, because honestly I can’t sit and look at walls for too long. Luckily I was able to get in free because I’m studying in Paris (though it was a complicated process every time I changed galleries to explain that I have an American student ID card but I’m studying here). The staff was really nice and trusted me, somehow – probably because I was speaking polite French unlike the loud selfie-taking tourists.
I briefly explored the French painting section and sculptures, until I realized essentially everything I wanted to see was in a different branch of the U-shaped museum. A lot of the paintings here are classical as in nude and angelic and regal portraits/scenes, not covered in my modern art class.
I finally moved over to the other half of the museum to see the famous paintings I knew. Pro tip: if you don’t have much time, the Pavillion Denon is really the only area you need to see.
(The winged victory statue at the entrance of the staircase.)
(Wonder what this could be…)
(Oh, it’s this. It’s as close as we can get. The Mona Lisa is the size of a poster not a piece of paper.)
I was about to leave this area (Italian painters) but I turned down one of the hallways into another room and hit the jackpot by seeing every other painting I wanted to in one single area.
(Raft of Medusa, Liberty Leading the People, Napoleon’s Coronation, Oath of Horatii)
Only at the Louvre, called the best museum on earth, can you find Liberty two paintings down from the Medusa. What luck inside the huge monster of a museum. I can’t tell you how overwhelming it was to find the Mona Lisa at first, like wandering through mazes of sculptures and jewelry and tapestries. It’s enormous. I like the d’Orsay much better because I love the manageable size and the Impressionist collection, which the Louvre doesn’t focus on.
I’d say the best part of the Louvre is the gorgeous venue, a regal place to store these artworks.
So, to tie this post up in a nice neat bow, today was a very sweet day full of bucket-list things and very overwhelmingly sweet things. The Louvre is over-the-top with its huge collection of artwork and Angelina was overwhelming in its rich chocolate. I was expecting both of these places to be highly overrated, but I actually enjoyed them more than I thought I would, probably because my expectations were low.
(Bonus pic from our walk – the lamppost says “With love from Paris”)