Louvre: Liberty Leads the People


I went to the Louvre today and visited my favorite large-format 19th century paintings (Delacroix, David, Ingres, Gericault), which were inspiring as usual. I was amazed at the number of idiots taking flash photos of the paintings. I guess that virtually everyone has a camera these days and that the museum staff simply can’t stop everyone, so they post a few signs and give up. The flash, of course, is bad for the paintings. If it were up to me, I’d put one of those idiots in a cage on the wall for an hour with a large warning sign about camera flash. They even ignored the "No Photo" signs on the easel of the real painter painting a copy of one of the works. Sheesh! Cultural note: extreme rudeness is not, as often advertised, solely the province of American tourists. We’re all apparently "One World" when it comes to that.

The French are a bit riled up right now because it’s been announced that a McDonald’s will be joining the restaurant line-up in the Carousel du Louvre, the underground shoppng area beneath the museum.

Then, after a quick stop at nearby Angelina, advertised as a Tea Room but serving the world’s best hot chocolate since 1880-something, I strolled up thru Place Vendome, past all the high-high-high-end designer clothing and jewelry joints, to the decidedly more pedestrian Printemps department store. Like its neighbor, Galleries Lafayette, these are the definition of stores like this. Both massive buildings are built around inner cores topped by huge art-deco stained glass domes, and Printemps went the extra step of flooring in its 6th floor and opening a restaurant there. So, after surveying all the cool men’s clothes I couldn’t afford, fit into, or look sharp in, I had a lovely lunch beneath their fantastic glass dome. The meal began with cream of mushroom soup, which was jaw-droppingly good, and followed with a penne dish with gorgonzoloa cheese sause, with diced ham, white raisins, and walnuts. A lovely Bordeau was the perfect compliment. Absolutely tasty!

By the way, French clothing sizes (and also British sizes) do not necessarly match those in the U.S. and forget finding BIG stuff like size 13 shoes.

Then I hoofed about a bit more and spent time daydreaming while sitting in the Tuileries Gardens, which extend out from the Louvre. Many folks were out today, just enjoying the nice Fall weather. As in many French parks, there are long gravel and dirt paths which surround large areas of grass so perfect that any U.S. homeowner would kill for it. And yet, these perfect grassy areas are usually off limits to anyone! They’re bordered by flower beds and are clearly just eye-candy, and they sure look inviting.

Wound up the day back in my hotel neighborhood at the Soufflot Cafe. It’s quite fun to people-watch and also waiter-watch. Being a cafe waiter in France is an actual career, not just a temp job, and they take it seriously and perform it with style. They wear a standard uniform of black pants, white shirt, black vest, and white apron, and when not serving they patrol in front of their sidewalk seating and troll for customers. It’s really entertaining to observe them at work.

So tomorrow, I’m back on the Eurostar train at midday for London. There I’ll get one last crack at my favorite traditional ales before winging home on Saturday. 

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