They say you cannot do everything in a day, but I certainly tried. My last day in Paris was full of adventure, and I made sure to cross everything off of my “to-do” list for sightseeing in the city.
My first stop of the day was the Harry Potter Exhibition in Northern Paris. Some memorabilia from the films is on a world tour, and I was lucky enough that the tour was in town while I was there. I am quite a fan of Harry Potter, and I have not yet been to Orlando to visit the new parks built by Universal Studios. This exhibition, however, was a great way to introduce what that park might be like when I get the chance to visit. The audio guide was awesome, and featured the actual artists, props people, and costumers who worked on the films talking about their experiences crafting objects and creating different aspects of the characters and sets for the big screen.
At the entrance!
Golden Egg – The object from the first challenge in the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Buckbeak, the Hippogriff – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Sitting in Hagrid’s chair!
Ravenclaw for life! (the headphones are for the audio tour)
The Yule Ball outfits for Viktor Krum and Hermione Granger
What I look like wielding a wand – I can’t wait to get one of my own! 🙂
After walking through the exhibition and taking a TON of pictures, I got back on the metro and headed to the city center. The next step for the day was to visit the Louvre and do a guided tour of the major works of art in the museum. I had been warned by just about everyone that seeing the entire museum would take a WEEK, so I had to be choosy about what I wanted to see. Since I had already seen quite a few wonderful paintings while meandering through Musee d’Orsay, I figured the guided tour would be the best way to get through the overwhelming experience that is the Louvre.
The Glass Pyramid serves as the entrance to the Louvre – the queue to get through security is MASSIVE, but it only took about 25 minutes for me to get through to downstairs to purchase my entrance ticket for the museum
As I said, I paid extra to do the guided tour, because finding the major works of art in the museum on my own was beyond my capacity for the day, and quite beyond my time constraints. If you’re not sure what all you want to see, do the guided tour to see the “big stuff” and get a rundown of the history of the museum, and then go do some exploring on your own for the rest of the day. They usually have an English tour a couple of times per day, and in high season they have 1 or 2 in the morning and 1 or 2 in the afternoon. My tour was scheduled for 4pm, so I left the museum (you can get back in through a shorter line once you have your ticket because they know you’ve already gone through security) and went to find some lunch.
I know… this doesn’t look like French food. It’s “urban Vietnamese” and it was delicious! It reminded me a bit of Ramen Bowls back in Lawrence, and was a refreshing break from all of the heavy European cuisine I had been eating the whole trip.
As I was eating lunch, I realized I hadn’t get gone to the top of the Eiffel Tower! I went to see it with Patrick when we spent the day together, but didn’t go to the top because it was closed for the day. Yikes! I decided that I would go immediately after my tour of the Louvre and wait as long as it took to get to the top. After all, the Eiffel Tower is usually open until about 11pm, and I would have plenty of time in the evening to wait in line to get a ticket.
When I got back to the Louvre, just like earlier in the day, it was PACKED. Even the tour guide remarked that it had been one of the busiest days of the year, with over 30,000 people visiting. WOW. I had no idea that many people went in and out of the museum, but it is certainly big enough to hold them all – multiple floors and an entire complex that was two city blocks in length. The guide recommended that we all come back another day when it wasn’t so busy to see other things that weren’t on the tour.
Note: The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. (I was there on a Monday, but the guide also told everyone that going to Musee d’Orsay on a Tuesday was not a great idea because all of the potential visitors to the Louvre would be there since they are across the water from each other).
Essentially, if you’re interested in seeing these two museums, don’t plan to do it on a Tuesday. Go to Versailles, instead (it’s closed on Mondays – see how that works?)
Here are some of the highlights of the tour:
Under the Glass Pyramid that is now the entrance to the Louvre, is the original foundation of the original fortress that stood on the grounds. This treasure was not discovered until the excavation of the site in preparation for the new entrance in the 1980s.
The Venus de Milo – They didn’t find her arms, but believe she was holding an apple in one hand. Her facial features were crafted according to beauty standards of the period. This is especially noticeable in her nose.
Many of the rooms have highly decorated ceilings – but we did not hear information on each of the murals or their artists
Statue of Nike – this was my favorite piece in the entire museum. Her wings are partially reconstructed, because more of them were found than her arms. The head was also not found with the statue. There is a lot of movement in her skirt, like she is landing from the sky. According to our guide, she was crafted out of thanks for a particular victory in battle for the Greeks. They are not sure which battle, or who made her, but it fits with what they know about sculptures in that time period.
I also saw the Mona Lisa – along with 30,000 other people. The crowd to get near this painting was CRAZY. The Italians believe that the French “stole” this painting because Leonardo da Vinci never gave it to the family who commissioned it in Italy. For some reason, he brought it with him when he was invited to do a residency in Paris, and the painting never returned to Italy.
More ornate ceilings, though this one seemed more gothically inspired than several of the others.
This painting is of the coronation of Napoleon. Many features of the painting are revisions of the actual attendants at the event. In addition, Napoleon shocked everyone when he coronated himself instead of allowing the Pope to do so; the painter chose to show Napoleon coronating Josephine instead of his actual coronation so as not to be too offensive.
Napoleon’s mother is also present in the painting, though she was not at the actual event. She had a falling out with her son over his choice to marry Josephine, a widow who was on the verge of being too old to bear children.
This painting is based on actual events after a shipwreck. Even back then, sensationalist news still got everyone’s attention. Though many people perished in the shipwreck, some survived and lived to tell the tale that inspired the painting.
Cupid and Psyche, demonstrating the complications of love and logic
This was a nice end to the tour, a quiet area containing Arabic art through the ages.
Phew… Made it through the Louvre and it was time to walk over to the Eiffel Tower.
Pro tip: Rent the bikes just across the river from the Louvre near Musee d’Orsay. There is a drop off point near the Eiffel Tower, and it will save your feet. Public transit is also an option, but I wanted to save my last two metro tickets for getting back to my flat and my trip to the train station the next day.
The walk to the Eiffel Tower was lovely.
The queue, however, was not. But I had time and eventually got to the top deck. If you do not have tickets in advance for the Eiffel Tower (buy them in advance!), you have to wait to get a ticket to the second level, and there you can buy your ticket for the Top Deck.
The whole process is as follows:
1. Get ticket to go to the Second Level. There’s a Level 1 and a Level 2. You can walk up to either, but still have to purchase a ticket for 7 Euro. If you want to save your legs, get the ticket for the elevators.
2. Buy ticket for the Top Deck on the Second Level. The first level is just shops and places to eat. Queue to get on the elevators to the top.
3. Arrive at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
4. Note: The Eiffel Tower Top Deck periodically “shuts down” throughout the day due to overcrowding at the top. As long as your patient, you will still be able to get to the top. It can take about 45 minutes to get the people re-balanced in the tower.
The second level! I was getting closer… If you look closely, you can see that half of the building at the front of the fountain is in shambles. I still don’t know why.
The elevators to the top were a little scary, but I made it through! (The video footage from the ascent and descent will be added into my next mini-film about my trip)
A glass of champagne at the Top Deck and a toast to my time in Paris!
I was so happy to see the city from above…
… And to watch the sunset!
I was ready… But Greg wasn’t there. Next time… ❤
Artsy shot of the city through the fences
What a sunset!
Listening to Mr. Brightside by The Killers while watching the sunset over Paris from the Eiffel Tower is a highlight of my trip.
While I absolutely do NOT recommend trying to do the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower the same day, it was necessary for me to check everything off of my list for this trip to Paris. There is so much to do, and 4 days was not nearly enough to see everything this city has to offer. Next time, maybe?
Special thanks to Nicolas and Justina for hosting me while I was there! The trip would not have been the same without you! ❤