So, after two weeks of living in the shadows of the usual tourist spots of Paris, today was the day I finally decided to check out the two sights that tend to top most visitors’ to-do lists; The Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower. Situated in the 1st arrondissement, tight to the Right Bank of the River Seine, the Louvre stands in its almighty enormity, stretching across a large chunk of the 1st. To say the museum was a tad on the large side would be a huge understatement.
The Louvre swallows up each and every other museum in Paris with regards to its sheer size. I have never seen such a magnificent, monumental museum; it was the mountain that made the Musée Picasso, a mansion in and of itself, appear a mole-hill.
Safe to say, upon the eventual arrival at its entrance, the queue was an equal in scale. Forty minutes trudged by, in what felt like forty days in the sweltering heat.
I entered the infamous pyramid that lay perched in the square between the flanks of the museum, and descended into a lobby the size of most other museums. This place was ridiculous. You could spend days in each of its three galleries; Denon, Sully and Richelieu. Whilst I cared little for the museum’s most prized work, the Mona Lisa, obviously I felt the need to check it out whilst I was there. I walked towards the growing tremors of tourist movement, and the shutter-sounds of iPhones and SLRs. Needless to say, the Mona Lisa is the most underwhelming piece of art I have ever set my eyes on, though I don’t think the same could be said for many of the others in the room with me, as they didn’t actually set their eyes on the work at all; no, a hundred-odd tourists gawked away at the world’s most famous painting through their camera screens, eyes not for a second fleeting away to gaze upon the art in its reality. Moving on, I found my favourite piece of the museum’s collection tucked away in one of its deserted corners; a truly spectacular rendition of the the horizon at sea.
Seaport at Sunset, 1639, by Claude Lorraine:
Next up was the centrepiece of all of tourism, the poster-sight for a plague of camera flashes; La tour Eiffel. After a fifteen-minute, brisk walk from the Louvre, across to the Left Bank of the Seine, I happened upon the iron giant; a 324m-high monster of metal, poking its scalp through the sea of clouds:
The Eiffel Tower queue made me reminisce about the good times, like the forty-minute queue for the Louvre. This was a different kettle of fish; an hour of being one of many sardines packed into a reticulated python of barriers the width of one arm.
A torturous hour later, I had made it to the front of the queue for a lift to the tippy-top of the most-visited, paid monument in the world. 265m into the air I ascended, and here’s what I saw:
After an hour or so of surveying Paris’ beautiful horizon, the evening light began to fade and the sun’s final minutes cloaked the Eiffel Tower, wrapping its foundations in a shawl of pink, purple and orange hues;
And soon the light gave way to the dark, and something spectacular happened.
The tower lit up, beaming out into the blue of the night.