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Monday, June 10, 2013


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Freedom!!! Finally we had the day to ourselves: no school, no company visits, no meetings. My friends and I put on our touring shoes and wielded our Metro maps to take the streets of Paris by storm. 

Several of my classmates and I chose to join a group to visit an art museum, Musee d' Orsay, across from the Louvre. At that point I had already decided that the Louvre, as much as I would love to visit it, would not be an option because I would prefer to dedicate at least one whole day to really experiencing the magnitude of it and its pieces. Anyway, I was still surprisingly impressed by the works at the Orsay. The museum houses (at least temporarily) Van Gogh's Self Portrait and several others of his paintings. The sculptures, especially the many by Rodin, and architecture pieces had me floored--the ornate attention to detail is unrivaled by any art or building of modern culture. My favorite exhibit was the impressionist section. Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Sisley... I wanted to stay and state forever, imagining myself in scenes like a quiet bridge, a hill in a bright park, or a dimly lit dance classroom. I bought the visitor's guide to the museum just so I could return to some of the pieces I really favored. I really admire Impressionism simply for its dedication to imagination and personal vision of the artist based on real objects, rather than a realist rendition of the same things. To me, the memory and feeling you have about a place is much more resonating and important than a snapshot of it. 

From the front of the Orsay. 

The large clock at the front of the Orsay Museum. The museum once was a train station. 

In the afternoon, some of us decided I go to the north side of the city in Montmartre to shop and see the red windmill from Moulin Rouge. It started raining around 2 or 3, so a friend and I took shelter in a small cafe and had a three course lunch (yes, lunch) with the most charming waiter. It was easily my favorite meal out in France. The food seemed more authentic than anything I'd had yet (excluding dinner at the Beaujolais winery) and the server was very engaging. He asked us back for dinner in broken English; I wish we could have, because it was so cute! I tried real French onion soup, had a chicken dish in a delicious creamy lemon butter sauce, and chocolate mousse for dessert. 

The rest of our time in Monmartre my friend and I decided to visit the Sacre Coeur Basilica that is not only gorgeous, but offers a fantastic hill-top view of Paris. Can you tell I have an affinity for Catholic places of worship? The churches in France were top of my list of places to see. I was lucky to see so many. Another church at the bottom of the hill in Monmartre had an atypical stained glass window picturing a skeleton or reaper of sorts. 

View from Sacre Coeur of Paris. 

View from Sacre Coeur of Paris. 

View from Sacre Coeur of Paris. 

Inside the Sacre Coeur.

Inside Sacre Coeur. Here you can see the large organ and stained glass with skeleton. 

It's somewhat paradoxical that after visiting two churches we decided to visit a burlesque club. However, we only stood outside and took photos of Moulin Rouge for the sake of its infamy. 

The infamous Moulin Rouge. 

In the evening we took a short break at the hotel and gathered a group to go see the Eiffel Tower. We stopped for a few bottles of cheap French wine and boarded the Metro to the Tower. We arrived just in time to watch it sparkle. We were even charmed by a group of singers from a school in The Netherlands. I only wish my fiancĂ©e had been there. As cheesy as it may seem, it would have been incredibly romantic! 

The Eiffel Tower in Spring, among the blossoming trees.  


Our lovely group of romantics. 

Candace being charmed by the singers from The Netherlands. 

All lit up!

Yours truly!

Our escorts... I mean boys. :)

One last glance.

The rest of the night was quiet. I had a late dinner (and some more wine) and made sure I had all my things together so I could take the Metro to the airport directly after Mass at Notre Dame in the morning. The full day left me feeling the old clichĂ©, "Ah, France!" 

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