The Historic Heart of Paris Apr 09, 2018
We’ll begin our day with a walking tour through Paris’ diverse, history-layered Marais district. As we walk we’ll learn about enlightened 17th-century urban planning at the beautiful Place des Vosges, the cultural roots of the Jewish Quarter, and how the French Revolution grew from this neighborhood. This evening, Europe’s greatest museum — the Louvre — is open late, and we’ll take full advantage of that. You’ll come face to face with the works of Raphael, Delacroix, and Leonardo, and timeless treasures that include Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and hundreds more. Walking: strenuous.
Today, Debra wanted to stay in the room and just recover for the cold river ride, plus she wanted to be rested up for the Louvre. As a group, we had a leisurely morning, and enjoyed breakfast and then once again we were off on an adventure.
The Marais translates into “the marsh or swamp”, the elevation is not much higher than the Seine river, yet I did not see any evidence of a marsh. The Marais District has more pre-revolutionary buildings and streets left intact than any other area in Paris. This section of Paris is well preserved and you can see how this was the neighborhood of the rich and well to do, not only the buildings but the streets themselves are still the original cobblestone streets.
Before this trip, I watched a BBC series on Netflix called “Versailles”, besides being filmed at the palace of Versailles a few of the scenes are filmed in The Marais District. Versailles is a historical fiction account of King Louis the 14th. There was nothing that I was able to tell from this series that strayed too far from historical events. The series for me, brought this walking tour to life and perspective that I enjoyed on this tour. During casual chats with the group I mentioned the Netflix series, usually in anticipation of going to Versailles. More than one time, seeing something from the series gave me an “ah ha moment”, as I got to witness where these events took place. If you are enjoying this web site so far, I am sure that you would enjoy this series also, and it will give this tour even more meaning as I am sure you will gasp at seeing familiar and historical sites portrayed in the series.
We were told to have a late lunch or early dinner, so I brought back lunch to the hotel to share with Debra. It felt so Parisian. Since I have been here, it was not uncommon to see someone walking from a small bakery or store with a baguette peeking out over the top of a bag. Like with true love and my marriage, I found myself enjoying the simplest act and falling in love with it. Who knew the simplest act of bring a picnic lunch to a hotel lobby to share with my wife would be such a nice experience?
After a fast nap we were up and ready to see the Louvre. The first surprise was that the Louvre had it own metro station. This is a picture of the Louvre’s train stop. Wow! Many of the metro stations are just standard utility in nature; however, there are a few exceptions that are working art, function and beauty.
At the Louvre, the group was once again able to zip past the standard line as we meet our tour guide for the Louvre, Elizabeth. Elizabeth had been working for the museum for several decades and was a historical expert of art and the Louvre and she did not disappoint. If you were to cast a movie for a European woman who was an expert in the arts with grace and elegance, give Elizabeth a call. Looking through the entire pictures that we took there was not one complete picture of Elizabeth, yet she made it in to our journals. The following pictures are just a small sample of the priceless art that we so enjoyed.
In the center picture above, you’ll see a gentleman from our group. I recognized this stance of amazement. His heart is skipping a beat as he stands near breathless admiring the painting. He stood there for over five minutes just looking. We talked about this later and seeing things that take your breath away was not just happening to us. The art is so beautiful you don’t just see it with your eyes, but also with your soul.
What a great trip to this world famous Louvre. All I can say is if you can, go. Tomorrow is Versailles.