Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Louvre and Its Amazingness, Dinner with Assistants

I spent all of today in Paris with Sam (finally, it only took one month!) and her friend Whitney at the Louvre. All I can say is: OMGTHELOUVREISAMAZING. Yes, in one word. I was in heaven!

We met in le carrousel which is the underground portion underneath the glass pyramid at around 11 am and proceeded to try our luck with the purchasing of tickets. Sam has successfully obtained her passe d'education, which is the amazing card that assistants get as teachers and that permits us to access all museums and national monuments free of charge. Unfortunately, my schools haven't been so speedy on helping me to obtain one, so I opted instead to buy la carte louvre jeunes for 15 euros. Basically, since I'm under 26, I get cheap unlimited access to the Louvre for one whole year. For 15 euros. Not bad methinks!

Whitney was able to obtain her ticket free of charge as well with her passport since we all are *technically* French residents with long stay visas, and the Louvre is free for residents. Since I'm paranoid and don't like to carry my passport around, I didn't think to do this. Nonetheless, I had a lovely chat with the lady who set up my card and (theme of the year...) was told I speak French very well. Since I now have unlimited access to this fantastic, fantastic institution, I now have something to occupy my time if there is ever a strike and I don't have to teach at school. I hope this will allow me to see a vast chunk of the Louvre's collections this year.

After acquiring access to the Louvre, Sam, Whitney and I wandered at leisure. The Louvre in and of itself is a work of art--the floors and ceilings are incredible. One of the things I love most about Europe is that everything has history, and I often find myself imagining what a particular building or park or street must have looked liked 100, 200, even 400 years ago. I was doing this with the Louvre as we wandered its corridors, thinking about how the castle must have appeared when it was someone's home, what each room must have looked liked furnished, how many hidden spots there must have been for children to play hide and seek.

This is the kind of person I am, and I like to think about the details no one else thinks about: how many chairs were in each room? What sorts of things were hung on the walls? How did they ever heat the palace? How many servants were there?

I admit I did the same thing with the art, and I'm in complete awe of what I saw. I don't know how anyone can look at a chunk of marble and know exactly where to chisel to sculpt a face, a particular curve in the hip, a gesture. The same is true of painting: how did painters ever learn to create so much depth and life on a 2-D surface? I feel as if I could walk into some of the paintings I saw.

We ate lunch for a break and then wandered upstairs and looked at some of the rooms which were furnished with items from the 1500-1600s, and so naturally, I jumped up and down and squealed like a five year old. Because of my penchant for the past, there is nothing I love more to see historical buildings appropriately furnished, and this was a real treat. I even saw Henri II's armor!

Needless to say, there is much more to be seen. Today was spent primarily on the Grecian Antiquities, the Italian painters (oh lord, the Mona Lisa, dite La Jaconde...was surrounded by a million and one people!), the more famous items (Nike of Samothrace [!!!!!],
the Venus de Milo, Eugene Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People), and some of the French painters in both the Sully and Denon wings. The Richelieu wing still needs to be tackled, as does all of the 17th century collections. The Louvre and I will be good friends, I forsee.

After the Louvre, Sam, Whitney, and I went to a fellow assistant's apartment in the 10th and ate grilled veggies and meat for dinner, along with some great wine and cheese. Said fellow assistant lives with a mutual friend who happens to be a native and a financial analyst. He worked for a year in Canada and two years in New York city, and (common theme, methinks?) LOVES AMERICA. The poor fellow came back to the apartment later in the evening after working for some of the day and spoke excellent English. He was also naturally charming, and cute. We will see about this one...

A toute a l'heure, mes amis.

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