And yes, we did see her – that famous lady with the famous smile that hordes of people were clamoring around. She reigned over the mad horde of tourists with an otherworldly calm... Which is part of the reason why so many people have stood in line to see her!
What I found fascinating was how much the actual place, the Louvre, has changed since the time of Louis XIV. Not many people go here, but deep underneath Mona Lisa are the excavated and intact foundations of the original palace, and here, you could see how the premises grew and grew, how it was reshaped, and how IM Pei's pyramids found their home in the courtyard.
We had taken care to buy a six-day museum pass, which meant that we could go back at any time. The Louvre is actually hard to describe – kind of like the Mt. Everest of art – and so we just meandered, wide-eyed, soaking up centuries of artistic expression. And every once in a while we came across some new art being created as well!
Then, after four hours of wandering through some of the great treasuries of Western civilization, we took our artistically saturated selves out of doors for a while. After lunch, Michele thought it would be a great day to stroll the Champs Élysées, so off we went, by way of the Church of the Madeleine.
I must do more reading on this unique and holy space. We'll be back here later on this week, taking in a concert of sacred music. It is situated at a straight line shot from the Place de la Concorde, but it is not, in inward or outward appearances, the typical Parisian place of prayer.
And finally, we walked the entire famous boulevard, the Champs Élysées, and climbed ever so carefully up to the top of the L'Arc de Triomphe. I'm not entirely sure of all my French national holidays (it's still a few weeks until Bastille Day), but there was a major gathering of dignitaries and a formal French military band playing inside the arch and over the tomb of the unknown soldier:
I'd say we took in quite a bit in one day!
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