23 Jun 2015

Even Paris sleeps

I didn't post last night since we got back to the hotel so late. We went to a restaurant with the lab group near Notre Dame but didn't get out of there until nearly 1am. It was so late that the metro was closed! I hailed a taxi so we could all get back to our hotels without an hour long walk.  Murray and I were not really able to walk due to very sore feet and legs (yeah, we accept that we are the old guys), so it was the only option.

We started off the day with breakfast close to Montparnasse station the went to line up at the Louvre. The lines there were absolutely crazy! We first got into a lineup right at the metro station heading into the bottom of the glass pyramid but asked a worker whether this was the right line for those with a museum pass. He directed us to 'go up and outside then to come back in' since we were in the lineup to buy tickets. Off we went as directed, only to come upon an even bigger mass of humanity outside. You can't see it in this picture, but there are thousands of people lined up to get in.

Fortunately we found that there was a shorter line for those with museum passes.  So short, in fact, that we barely waited a few minutes before reaching the security checkpoint. The guard there looked at us with just a brief glance then waved us in. As we entered, we arrived back at exactly the same spot where we had started - at the lineup to pay! Thinking this was yet another example of how the French seem to lack in the concept of crowd control, we were happy to find that we could walk right into the Denon wing and start our visit. On our way past the "normal" lineup we see that they have to get all there bags xray'd and have a pat down. That feeling of being special was worth the price of the pass right there

The crowds inside the Louvre were as wild as outside. The only place not busy was where we had lunch. We went into a lineup in the middle of one of the songs because there was a Cafe there. We noticed a sign that said the terrace was closed, so we resigned ourselves to waiting in line to eat or just getting a drink and eating layer. A lady working there asked if we wanted lunch or just drinks - we said drinks, since it would be faster - she told us to go to the terrace (which was signed sneering closed). Out we went dutifully (like the Canadians we are) and found that they were selling snacks and drinks. Bonus! We had muffins, wine and water and were ready to continue our tour.

We did most of the museum but strategically avoided the Mona Lisa (we have both seen it and been disapoointed).

The sculpture courtyards were as good as expected.

Ok, there seems to be a few things about Paris streets that are a bit unexpected.  One was the strange gas stations, another is that you can buy an umbrella from a machine, wine is far cheaper than water, and the most surprising is the proliferation of condom machines - on the street - everywhere!

We went for dinner with the team at 10pm at a restaurant near Notre Dame. Here's the group all together at last.

Dinner was unusual but great! You just went over to an area where there was a variety of meats and salads (buffet style) and got what you wanted. Wine was bottomless (fill pitchers yourself from a large keg) and the appetizers were all you can eat. They came a around later to a so what you wanted for 'your meats' and there were many choices. Deserts were also from a large assortment. Rob, below, had lemon sorbet in frozen lemons. With all the drunk singing from a nearby table, things got quite entertaining! 

This is us closing down the place just before 1am.

We crossed a bridge to get to the metro but waited to see the Eiffel tower sparkle at 1am. A few moments after this picture they turned off the lights illuminating Notre Dame (first picture below).  The city of light? Not so much at this time of the morning!

The bridge we crossed was completely covered with locks, and is obviously one of the places where they have not removed them yet.

This is the point where we discovered that we were too late for the metro, so I hailed a cab and off 2 went into the early morning of a sleeping Paris.

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