My bride and I visited Paris in February of 2007. If the song “I Love Paris” had been totally accurate, I might be singing “I love Paris in the winter, when it drizzles.” However, we didn’t get rained on during our stay. A while later, while in London, it was a different story.
As with any trip we take to a place we’ve never been, my bride and I read all sorts of travel brochures and surfed the Internet so we’d have a fairly good idea of exactly what we wanted to do during out limited time in the capital of France. When I discovered that many museums are free on Sundays, and most of them – including the Louvre – are free on the first Sunday of the month, I called our travel agent and had them switch a bus tour of the city from Sunday to Monday. That left us Sunday to freely wander around the world’s most famous museum.
Anyone who has ever been to the Louvre knows it’s almost indescribable. We saw the original Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, and many other famous works of art. We also saw portions of ancient buildings that left me in awe of the abilities of workers who erected such towering structures without the aid of our modern equipment.
Based on the size of this one column I can only imagine how immense the complete structure must have been. We saw many similar, intricately carved columns in different areas of the museum. In the above picture, we were in the Egyptian section. Columns of equal grandeur were also found in the Greek and Roman sections.
I should point out that the Louvre is a complex of numerous buildings spread over acres of land. Being a history buff, I found the construction of the buildings themselves to be enormously interesting. Before it was taken over by the democratic government, the complex of buildings served as the Royal Palace.
The craftsmanship on the ceilings, doors, door and window frames was unbelievable. I was left wondering how much it cost for the Kings and Queens to have it done. For that matter, how much would it cost to have it done today? Could such skilled craftsmen even be found?
After spending hours being awestruck by the art work and the architecture, we left to find something to eat. That’s when we totally forgot the basic rules we found outlined in most of the reading material we’d gone through prior to the trip.
Rule number one: If it is a sidewalk cafe, eat inside where the food is cheaper. Rule number two: Remember that meals are ala carte; they don’t have value combo meals. Rule number three: Check the prices carefully prior to ordering.
Our first mistake: We stopped at a sidewalk cafe within a block of the Louvre. That was a guarantee that the prices would be higher. Secondly, it was such a beautiful day, we sat outside with a wonderful view of the River Seine. Well, it would’ve been a wonderful view if it wasn’t for the constant stream of traffic and the stone wall on the other side of the street.
Lu ordered a ham and cheese sandwich and a diet coke. When the waiter politely asked which she would prefer – a salad or French fries, she opted for the salad. I ordered a hot dog and a glass of beer. The waiter politely asked which side dish I would prefer; I took the fries.
The food was very good. The price of that meal was very bad. It cost us approximately sixty Euros which equated to about eighty dollars. The beer alone was almost twenty dollars. The salad and fries did not come with the sandwiches. Everything was priced separately. Live and learn!
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a corner grocery store. I found a large bottle of the same beer – it would have filled my glass at least twice – priced at three dollars. That was all the information we needed.
The next day, after touring Notre Dame Cathedral, we stopped at a small bakery and bought open faced sandwiches. We then stopped at a little grocery and bought bottled water. After finding a bench overlooking the River Seine, we had a marvelous lunch that cost us less than ten dollars.
Now that we know how to survive in Paris, we want to go back. Unfortunately, we can’t afford the air fare and hotel. Therefore, we will gladly accept donations. Let me know if you’re interested in helping us out and I’ll set up a savings account at the local bank. Checks and cash will be gratefully accepted. Credit and debit cards are beyond my realm.
Send us back to Paris… Please! It will make me as happy as Maurice Chevalier