Paris Part 1: Ooh La La

Back to travel recapping, which, I gotta be honest, even I am getting a little bit sick of.  Shall we get this over with?

Our first full day in Paris (Tuesday) began with a trip to the Louvre in the morning, in an attempt to beat the crazy tour group crowds to see the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, etc. etc. and so forth.  In retrospect, I don’t think it matters how early you get to anything in Paris: tour groups are there before you, guaranteed (sidenote: I always spell “guaranteed” wrong on the first try.  Always).

I can’t emphasize enough how motherclucking ginormous the Louvre is.  There are four floors, and I feel like each wing is multiple football fields long, with weird winding staircases throughout that make you confused and weepy and wishing you had just left the Louvre to the Da Vinci Code instead.  Tom Hanks made it to the Mona Lisa in record freaking time in that movie.  I don’t buy it.

Speaking of the Mona Lisa, here she is, surrounded by tour groups.  The number of photos I have of famous attractions in Paris is limited to how many times I was willing to stick my elbows out and fight for a front row view, which is to say, not many.

I left that tourist’s scalp in the photo, for authenticity’s sake.  The Mona Lisa is not large, but not postcard-sized, which I had been lead to believe that it was.  The astonishing thing is that on the wall opposite the Mona Lisa is The Wedding at Cana, which is 21 feet tall and 33 feet wide.  It’s ridiculous.

We wove our way through hundreds of other Renaissance-era paintings, that look as vivid today as they probably did in the 1500’s.  Nothing looked run down or aged.  Art preservation is fascinating.

After getting lost in the Egyptian wing, having a minor panic attack, and finally finding our way to Very Important Piece Of Art #2, the Venus de Milo, it was elbows out time again.

Victory is mine.

We spent some time wandering through Napoleon’s apartments before leaving the Louvre and heading to the Musée d’Orsay, which I have no pictures of whatsoever because photography is not allowed inside of it.  But we did see a lot of Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Cesanne…I could go on.  I really, really loved the Orsay.  Maybe because it was smaller, less crowded, and more logically laid out than the Louvre OH SNAP!

{not my photo, FYI}

We implemented a hard and fast rule while visiting Paris: a mandatory bottle of wine every 4 hours.  This was essential to our survival, as it kept us (me) from trying to do too much at once, and also, we were all more pleasant when seated and boozy.  Additionally, Bordeaux is super cheap and tasty in Paris, so if you go there, drink it up!  I miss it already.

We went back to the Louvre in the evening, because our museum pass allowed it and our apartment guide told us that it is open late on certain nights of the week.  We leisurely walked through some of the more obscure corridors, hunted for particularly suggestive paintings that the boys wanted to view, and finally bid the Louvre adieu once they kicked us out.

It was my brilliant idea to walk down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe (it’s possible that we missed a wine break, which is where I became disoriented).  I know now that these two sites are more than 2 miles apart, which is not a desirable distance to cover after wandering through museums all day.  And can I just say, as glamorous as the Champs-Élysées is portrayed to be in movies and such, it’s just a busy street full of H&Ms and Disney Stores…it was like an outdoor shopping mall.  Maybe I was just too tired to appreciate it.  But it was exhausting.

We tried our hardest to find a legitimate cafe where we could eat dinner, but ended up heading to McDonald’s, relieved to be off of our feet with food in front of us.  Foreign fast food is so interesting to me, and Mickey D’s Paris did not disappoint.  They have a whole separate dessert bar inside, with good little macarons and such.  So fancy.

Hubs had the McBaguette, which it pretty much what you see above.  I don’t know if it was any better than a regular burger, but according to him, it hit the spot just fine.  Also to note: McDonald’s fries taste the same pretty much everywhere.

For some reason, about 1,000 cop cars drove down the Champs-Élysées with their sirens blaring while we watched from the 2nd floor of McDonald’s in astonishment.  Maybe it was an impromptu police parade, or maybe it had something to do with the presidential election that was going on at the time.  I guess we’ll never know.

We finally made it to the Arc de Triomphe, took a quick gander, then wisely jumped on the metro and headed back to homebase.

I want to be brief enough not to bore you, but also lengthy enough that I go over everything I want to look back and remember, so I’m going to cut myself off here rather than squeeze another day in Paris into this post.  As a preview, Thursday involved Versailles, stinky cheese, Notre Dame, and devils.  You’ve been warned.

Be Faithful To Your Own Taste

I read this quote in Real Simple magazine last night as I was plugging away on the elliptical and trying to ignore the fact that the gym owner’s wife put Beastly on full blast on one of the shared TVs that is normally muted.  I guess her husband owns the place so she can do whatever she wants, but, it was super distracting!

Anyway:

“Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style.” – Billy Baldwin (no, not the one you’re thinking of)

I’m always afraid to take chances in home decor, because I’m afraid that people will think I’m dumb or lame or have terrible taste in general.  Sometimes I make misguided attempts, and am laughed at by everyone I know, like the time I did this on my living room bookshelves:


*This is not my house, I just didn’t bother to document my own failure.*

I let this sit for about a month before I admitted that it looked silly and turned my books back around…at which point every single person that came over told me how glad they were that I “made it right.”  Thanks for the support, Judgy McJudgersons.

Then I saw a super cool painting at Cost Plus World Market that I refused to pay $129 for and determined that I could recreate it with some nerd tools (a compass, a t-square, some chardonnay and some patience).  I’ll do a more in-depth tutorial on this later, but here are the results:

*Mine is on the left…obviously.*

I used colors that were already incorporated in my decor, so it would flow with things I already owned.  Plus I had a pretty big blank wall that I needed to fill.  I worried that it was too abrasive, too graphic, too paint-by-numbers, but I’ve actually gotten a ton of compliments on it!  Now I wish that I had bought the longer canvas, because painting is fun and the wall still looks pretty empty.

I guess the point is not to be afraid to take chances with your decor, because if you love it, who cares if other people don’t?  You’re the one that has to live with it everyday.  And if you’re cool with it, then that’s all that matters.