I’m going to try and catch up for the last three days (Wednesday until Friday).
Fairly early (for me) on Wednesday morning, I took the Metro to the Palais Royale/Louvre stop. I was standing there in the Place with a gape-mouthed-tourist-looking-at the-antiquities-section of the Louvre (below) when I saw a dark-haired woman out of the corner of my eye bending down and straightening up. She turned to me and said that she’d found what looked like a wedding ring. She tried it on and it didn’t seem to fit. Then she turned to me and said I should have it. That she didn’t want to be a married person. This is all in French you understand and I didn’t completely understand her — just in specks. She tried it on my hand and it fit. She insisted that she wanted me to keep it.
Just that morning I had been reading in the Go-To book that Lynn Friedman had lent me for the journey that it could be a good idea if you didn’t want to be hit on to wear a wedding ring. So I looked at it and thought (well probably not too intelligently) that “Maybe this might be OK.” Hmm. Then she starting talking about having children (les enfants) and saying something about eating (manger), and then asked me for money. I looked in my purse and was going to give her all my coinage, not much, about 2 and a half euros. But, no, she wanted more. So, I started to take the ring off, and she said, “no, no.” She wanted me to have it. So I said “combien?” How much, and she said “dix euros,” 10 Euros. I said, “no, non trop cher.” (too much) and tried to take it off again. Then she said “Cinq Euro,” so I looked in my bill collection, while she watched (I’ve been using a pouch around my neck for my passport and metro pass and have split up my cash so that most of it is in a hidden spot and what I think I want to spend is in a more accessible spot, and managed to find a 5 Euro bill. So I gave it to her. I think that she was saying that she needed money to feed her children — or at least that’s what I decided she was trying to say. It was a creative way to beg and if it was a scam, she’d earned it. I wore it that day and it didn’t seem to turn my finger green and it does have some kind of “franking” marks on the inside (but they’re too small for me to read). So, I either have a very pricey ring or a nice piece of costume jewelry in case I want to pretend I’m married. (Or, you never know, we have seen a very similar ring not too long ago — in a three-part series no less.)
Then I went to the main Louvre. I sat for a bit in the Place getting some very expensive sparkling Perrier — I think it was 6 E — watching three military men with machine guns circling the pyramid, which, not to be too jaded, definitely looked better in The De Vinci Code — though that was also shot at night and there didn’t seem to be any people about. Well, looking at the photo, it did look pretty good. There wasn’t any line-up and I was able to descend the stairs into the huge Napoleon reception space.
The Three Things
Before I left for Paris, I met with my friend from the L’Alliance at Julienne’s in the Hydrostone Market, to talk about her experience. She told me that she had found three big differences between Paris and Canada.
1. Everywhere you go you see people kissing. I said, “oh, you mean that French way of kiss, kiss, kiss the air on each side of your face?” “No, no,” she said. “Real kissing. Making-out kissing.” Ok. Didn’t see much of that, but here’s one I did see inside the Louvre (painted by Bordonne (1500-1571, Berlumne et Pomone):
2. The second big difference was that even though France has passed a law forbidding smoking in public buildings, everyone was smoking anyway, everywhere.
3. And the third was that no one picked up after their dogs. “Dog poop is everywhere,” not like in Halifax, she said.
Well, I haven’t noticed these things too much–maybe I’m too jaded. People do smoke, but only on the street, though there are a lot of sidewalk cafes, so there is smoking there. And, I’ve seen a lot of people walking their dogs, mostly little ones, two at a time. And, they don’t seem to be carrying those plastic bags.
The Amazing Louvre
Incredibe to me, there seemed to be no restrictions on taking photos. Flashes were going off everywhere. So, I'[m afraid I went along, at least a bit. I figured I had to at least see the Mona Lisa and Winged Victory (but I did miss Venus Di Milo), the major attractions. I saw a number of other Di Vinci’s, virtually abandoned.
In this museum, the only place I saw a sign restricting photos was in Napoleon’s bedroom, where no flashes were allowed. Don’t know why that was. It was blue and a bedroom? Someone did it anyway, and a guard ran over to reprimand her. (Not me, I respected that sign.)
I also really quite liked looking at how Napoleon lived. So for a very ratna drawing room, see the pic on the left. And for fine dining, a droit.
Don’t forget you can double click on a photo to see a larger version.