Day 4: The Marais District and the Louvre

Louvre

Best of Paris Itinerary: We’ll begin our day with a walking tour through Paris’ diverse, history-layered Marais district. As we walk we’ll learn about enlightened 17th-century urban planning at the beautiful Place des Vosges, the cultural roots of the Jewish Quarter and how the French Revolution grew from this neighborhood. Our walk will end at the Carnavalet Museum, a cavalcade of Parisian history, which you can visit on your own. This evening, Europe’s greatest museum—the Louvre—is open late, and we’ll take full advantage of that. You’ll come face-to-face with the works of Rafael, Delacroix, and Leonardo, and timeless treasures that include Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and hundreds more. Walking: strenuous.

Journal

Wednesday, May 4
We enjoyed strolling through the Marais district. There was a beautiful little garden with dozens of little birds swooping through and singing. It’s so lovely to find these little pockets of green where you can step out of the busy city for a moment.

We had lunch with Darrin and Tami at a Middle Eastern restaurant – we knew it would be good, because there was a long line out the door. It was our first time eating falafel, and we had a really fun time visiting with this delightful couple. After lunch, Mom and I shopped around the Marais district and sampled some macarons at a cute little bakery.

Getting ourselves to the Louvre, our sense of direction worked fine today, but depth perception was a little off! We thought it was just a few blocks away, but kept walking … and walking … and walking. (It’s the biggest museum in the world, it has to be around here somewhere.) Mom approached a trio of French Armed Forces – serious-looking men, carrying very big weapons – and made a “pyramid” sign with her fingers. They just looked at us, unsmiling and puzzled. We kept walking the same direction, and soon – voila! – we saw a glimpse of the great glass pyramid that is the entrance to the museum. Tip: take Bus #69 – it drops you off right at the front of the museum. 😳

We met our tour guide, Charles, who led us through the highlights of the Louvre – Venus de Milo, the Wing of Victory, the Crown Jewels, and of course Mona Lisa. I hardly took any photos today – there was just so much to take in with my eyes, so much amazing European art. One thing that stood out: a 3,750-square-foot ceiling painting by American Cy Twombly – suddenly you find yourself in the sea and sun of the Mediterranean. The Louvre has room for everything.

Tip: Wednesday night is a perfect time to visit the Louvre, when it is open late. Except for the Mona Lisa exhibit, it was not crowded at all!

“When good Americans die, they go to Paris.”

– Oscar Wilde

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