Today’s destination was the Louvre. We had timed tickets for 10 a.m. but uncertain as to how long we may wait to get in, we decided to arrive early via a public bus. Like the Eiffel tower, we rolled up and were ushered right into the museum a full half our before our tickets’ time, bypassing the lines of other people holding 10 a.m. tickets. The glass pyramid you see in most pictures of the exterior of the Louvre is actually a giant skylight over the basement entrance and even at this early hour, with no air conditioning, it was getting mighty warm in there.
We headed to level one of the museum and started by going through the rooms in elaborate 18th century decor. Edie was in heaven. Then we moved into some ancient Egyptian artifacts and medeival art, including Charlemagne’s sword and crown (Tony’s favorite). We decided to take a break for lunch in the cafeteria back on the ground floor. The food was incredible; as good as any sit down restaurant (though Teddy thought the cheese on his cheeseburger was too strong-and where was the ketchup???).
After lunch we took the elevator back to the same level but to the Denon wing which features French and Italian paintings in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. All our jaws literally dropped open, and we stood slack jawed as the elevator opened and we were in a room three stories tall filled with huge paintings and ornamentation (part of what’s known as ‘The Red Rooms’). We wandered around trying to enjoy paintings amongst the large crowds. Some pieces we recognized, others were new. As we approached the room where the Mona Lisa was on display we noticed a large line coming out the door, and a huge queue of people waiting inside for a glimpse at the famous piece. Fulton and I stood in the doorway a moment, wondering if it was worth it, when a security guard came up and instructed us to follow her. We moved up the side of the room and the guard unhooked a rope and allowed Fulton and I to park directly in front of the painting in an area reserved for disabled viewing. I couldn’t believe we were closer than all the people who’d stood in line for who knows how long. Fulton, was not too impressed and wondered out loud, “What’s the big deal? I’m ready to go.” Byron also was able to escort Teddy up to the same viewing area following our turn, and Teddy had the same response. All those years of art appreciation for nothing!
We stuck it out until about 3 when we tried to find our bus back. It took us awhile to locate the correct stop, and when we did, our bus was running behind due to traffic. When it did finally arrive, the door opened and I was heard to loudly exclaim (in my exhaustion, thirst, and frustration) “There’s already two wheelchairs on this bus!!” Since people in France do not, apparently yell when upset, the kids were mortified by my behavior and, not being able to get on this bus, we all descended into multiple arguments and tantrums. At this point, the next bus was not projected to arrive for 40 minutes, and so we decided to walk back to the hotel (as it would take the same, or less time and there was no guarantee the next bus wouldn’t be as crowded). After purchasing cold drinks, apologizing to one another and generally calming down, we trudged back.
We collapsed and made sandwiches for dinner then watched an American TV show on Edie’s tablet. The boys were ready for bed early and so Tony and I were able to head out for drinks at a local cafe.
This was supposed to be our last full day in Paris. We took it easy during the morning and in the afternoon, Tony and all the boys went out to visit some game stores, while Edie and I took a taxi to the Miraculous Medal chapel. I remember learning about St. Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal early on in my conversion so it was wonderful to finally visit the place where the apparition happened, and to see St. Catherine under the altar.
When we all arrived back at the hotel, Tony and I learned our 1:30 pm flight to Venice for the next day had been cancelled due to a scheduled transportation strike in Italy. After unsuccessfully searching for other airline, train or bus tickets we resigned ourselves to staying another night in Paris, losing a full day in Venice, and flying out a day later at 6:30 p.m. Thankfully our hotel was able to keep us in our current rooms and our travel agent updated our Venetian hotel and tour guide without incident. At this point, we were very grateful we’d bought comprehensive travel insurance.
So what were we going to do with our additional day in Paris? We gave the kids the option of something historical or something artsy, and the majority chose art. We headed to the Musee d’Orsay which features 19th and 20th century art (and air conditioning) and once again were quickly ushered through the lines and into the museum without needing to pay admission for anyone. As we looked around inside and decided where to head first (it has a sort of confusing layout with lots of stairs and out of the way elevators), someone walked up to me and asked if I was Kelly. I was totally taken aback and confirmed yes, I was, and this sweet lady identified herself as a blog reader!!! We exchanged a couple of pleasantries before we headed our separate ways. My kids’ minds were blown. The funny thing is, we were just having a conversation about “influencers” and I was like, I’m not an influencer, and then we travel to another continent and in a crowded museum, someone recognizes me. HA! (I think the fact that I travel with such a larger “entourage”, plus two wheelchairs makes me easier to spot than most.)
We headed to the level five galleries which were smaller and more cramped than some of the rooms of the Louvre. It was tough to see some of the works, and I often had to gently shove folks aside with copious exclamations of “Pardon!” and “Excuse me!” for Fulton and Teddy to see anything. But as we worked around the floor, the rooms opened up a bit. We decided to get a late lunch in one of the restaurants, only to learn they’d just stopped serving lunch and were then serving tea. We settled for desserts and fancy beverages and no one seemed all that upset about it.
Afterwards, the older kids and I moved through the galleries on the second level, while Tony and the younger two went through the expansive gift shops. We got several books before all meeting up and heading out. (Even though we had walked through most of the museum, it’s impossible to take in everything. I feel like I didn’t give most of the art the attention it deserved at both the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre.) The bus situation was worse than usual – regular routes were closed due to some large event – so we started walking back. We stopped and had sandwiches for supper at a bakery on the way.
I got up early and walked to a nearby laundromat with all our dirty laundry. (No air conditioning there either but luckily a fan automatically turned on and started to cool things off once I started the dryers.) Thankfully, I was able to take up both large washers and all the dryers to get everything done quickly and back to the hotel for breakfast and checkout. We checked our bags at the hotel and visited the nearby parish of St. Ambrose. Despite this being Fulton’s patron saint, he couldn’t get in the church as the handicap entrance was closed during the week. We got lunch and hung out around the church until we needed to head back for our shuttle to the airport. Thankfully, it arrived early, and we all easily fit in the two large vans.