my soft spot

just a mom who plays hockey and knits

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Arc de Triomphe again, Notre Dame de Paris, Deportation memorial, Louvre

Although I had gone to the Arc de Triomphe before, without Charlie, he really wanted to see (and climb) it himself. So, back we went. This time, it was a bit rainy.

We got up top, he looked around, and said, "OK, let's go." I said, "No, we have to take a photo!" So we did the classic tourist photo, with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

After we came down, I just had to take a photo of the underside of the descending staircase. It seems endless while you're walking down.

There is a super cool steampunk Metro station in Paris. I had researched it and found it was Arts et Métiers, but when we went through on the 3 line, the station was made of the usual white subway tile. I figured out you have to go through on the 11 line, so today, we did that. Worth it! Hm, I know I took a photo. Have to put it here.

We next went to the Père Lachaise cemetery. Chopin and Jim Morrison are buried here, but neither of those names mean anything to Charlie, so we pretty much just walked around. We had lunch there and admired the crypts, which range from impressive to creepy to fancy enough to be a small church.

From there, we made our way to Notre Dame de Paris. I tried to get Charlie excited about it by talking about Quasimodo. He was more excited about the towers, so we stood in a very slow line to climb up. Fortunately, there are cool gargoyles to look at while you wait.

You climb and climb and climb and finally get to the room where you buy your ticket (and souvenirs if you like) and watch a short movie while you wait. And if you are us, you suddenly realize the room is empty and the group already left. Fortunately, the kind lady ushered us out the door and we caught up. Climb and climb and climb, and then you see this guy.

And this view.

Charlie, hanging with his stone besties.

This guy's eating some creature--who is returning the favor.

The characters are fascinating to me.

Just too awesome.

I especially love this one: 

Sadly, although there is another flight up and an amazing panoramic view from the very top, by then I was completely frazzled and couldn't even think of going higher. I sent Charlie with the group and waited. When they started to come back down the stairs, I stood by the doorway and waited... forever. Finally, I called up the stairs to see if he was even coming. "I'm right here!" he says from just around the bend.

Behind the Notre Dame is the memorial to those who were deported from Paris to the concentration camps--not just the Jews, but gays, Romany, transsexuals, "antisocials," repeat criminals, and more. I won't post any photos here, because although they let you take photos, they ask that you not post them on the Internet. I'm happy to email them. There is a brass plaque in the floor that says "Ils allerent à l'autre bout de la terre et ils ne sont pas revenus"--they went to the other end of the earth and they did not return. Up on the walls, it says, "Pardonne. N'oublie pas..." (forgive, don't forget) and "Pour que vive le souvenir des deux cent mille français sombrés dans la nuit et le brouillard, exterminés dans les camps nazis" (For the memory of the two hundred thousand French sleeping in the night and the fog, exterminated in the Nazi concentration camps). It is very sobering.

Afterward, we went onto a bridge covered with locks. It isn't actually the usual locked bridge, I don't think, but Charlie was fascinated nonetheless.

We got out of there and made our way over toward the Louvre. On the way, we got hungry for lunch. I had told Charlie that despite the many McDonalds signs, if we went, it would be only once. We hadn't gone yet, so chose to visit our friendly neighborhood Paris McDonalds... where you can order your lunch on a touch screen, if you like, including "potato sauce" (turned out to be sour cream), "curry sauce" (which was delicious), and "Asian sauce" (which we didn't try but it was something more than soy sauce). Our meal included the best wedge fries I've ever had, a generic Big Mac for Charlie, and a pretty generic Filet O Fish for me. The drinks counter, though, had not only tasty smoothies and coffee shake things, but also cookies and French macaroons. I very nearly ordered some.

We headed out again to get to the Louvre, me stopping at the Lush store to buy a soap I liked. The sales person was just as personable and charming as they are in the U.S., and gave me a sample of a translucent red soap that is delish.

I can't find any photos I took at the Louvre. I may not have taken any. We went from the Metro station right into the mall that's there and then under the glass pyramid. Went in with a map, having marked the spots where Charlie wanted to go (Mona Lisa, The Raft of Medusa, and I think he wanted to see La Liberté). There are tours you can rent, with headphones--they are all on Nintendo 3DS game consoles!

We went directly to the Mona Lisa first. The room was packed, and the area in front of her, even more. I got tired of the crowd pretty fast, so told Charlie I'd meet him by the side of the room when he was done. After he got his fill, he found one of the stiff plastic guides for the room and sat down and read about Italian artists for a long time. (They are featured in his Assassin's Creed games. Well, any way to get kids interested in classic art!) I dragged him to see the famous painting of Napoleon crowning himself, then we went back out of the room and down to the cafe. I paid way too much for coffee and a so-so apple tart, but it was nice to get off of our feet. We went down to see the Raft of Medusa and La Liberté, and then Charlie was Done. 2 hours, including the coffee break. At least his ticket was free!

On the way out, we went to the Apple Store, where we discovered a cute new game called Rayman Run, which I downloaded when we got back to the apartment. Charlie is way ahead of me on it already, of course. :)


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