On our second day we decided to roam around the Paris roads; feel the city of Paris and visit Louvre. So, after a hearty breakfast of mouth-melting croissant with fruit and nuts, and a cup of expresso we were on the road to Gare Du Nord.
The walk on the cobbled stone lanes walled with charming buildings was very enjoyable. The city was getting ready for the day. Vegetable and grocery stalls, cafés were coming to life with fresh displays. Shutters of shops were opening to greet their early visitors. As we approached Gare Du Nord station, the road saw an increase in the going-ons. Suddenly we noticed that the shops looked more familiar and we realized it’s an Indian Street. The displays of Sarees, Jaipuri Artifacts, Ganapati Statues and most Interesting the ‘Madras Café’. Wow! Its amazing to see the whole street with Shops offering Indian specialties in Paris. Feeling more connected we reached the RED BUS STOP to catch Hop On – Hop Off Bus. The first bus stop was at Boulevard de Magenta in a lane opposite to Gare du Nord station.
We boarded the open-top bus and took our seats in the front row. Our tour started dot on time. As we entered the classic Red route, we could feel the buzz and excitement. Listening to an audio commentary on personal headphones and watching the panoramic view of the famous monuments was like time-travel. Each Iconic landmark goes back a century. It’s like watching a Kaleidoscope.
The Grand Palais, an iconic structure was built for Universal Exhibition in 1900 and is representation of glorious history of French Art, their passion and creation. This massive palace has classical stone façade with a riot of Art Nouveau ironwork, and a number of allegorical statue groups. Watching the golden statues shining at the entrance I could imagine the desire it inspires in numerous artists around the world.
Our next stop was The Musee d’Orsay museum. I was quite fascinated to know that this structure was a railway station once and today it is one of the richest and known as most exciting museums. Viewing a beautiful 10 ft painting show cased on the walls, I could only wonder about the ART connect from history. It’s not only their passion but it’s way of life inculcated from the history.
I was lost in these thoughts when our Bus took a halt in front of a barricaded structure – Notre-Dame. We could see the burnt areas and the restoration work going on. It was painful to see such a historical place burnt and damaged. Hoping to see it again in its full glory we proceeded to next stop Louvre where we will be getting down to take a tour of the celebrated Louvre.
The first sight of the Louvre impresses curiosity. The triangular structure and massive palace behind creates anticipation. Passing through security checks as we entered the museum we were greeted by the melodious violin notes. Lost in her own world, a Lady was playing violin; the music was melodious yet felt disturbing. Once again I experienced this uniqueness of Paris: ‘what-next’ never cease. From the day it opened on 10 August 1793, Louvre has been an Institution for the artists all over the world. Today with more than 38,000 artifacts from prehistory to the 21st century exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres it’s world’s most visited museum. One can not see all of this in a day, the brain just can’t take all this in one go. Louvre tour needs planning before entering. We were focused on visiting the Greek & Roman sculptures and the famous Mona Lisa Painting. It was an overwhelming experience. I could get the glimpses of the mighty empires, their traditions, the power plays and the intellect prevailed that time from the sculptures. I could not take eyes off one sculpture – ‘The veiled Lady’. It was awesome; the facial features crafted under the veil, the detailing was just amazing. Each sculpture was beauty itself and was representing a legend from the lost empires. The visit left me speechless. In the same overwhelmed frame of mind, we entered the most secured room – 803, the destination of Mona Lisa. The room was packed to the brim with people jostling to get a peek at her. With some elbowing we could reach the front row enough see this mysterious lady. This creation of Leonardo da Vinci’s left a lasting impression: ‘What could have been the reason of this enigmatic smile?’
After our visit to Mona Lisa Lourve felt like an Iceberg. You see the top and can understand the vastness. Exploring Louvre will take more than a month still one will feel that this is not enough. With this astounding feeling we left Louvre when sun was setting and the museum was glowing in red and golden colours.
Visiting and revisiting the moments we decided to roam on Champs-Élysées without speaking just soaking in the environment. The glitz and the glamour was seen in it’s element. The cupid has woven it’s spell on the street. In the mild drizzle of the rain the street looked enchanting. The boutiques and fashion houses were luring the visitors with their bold displays. This street defines fashion, sets the trends and graciously carries it. Just walking on it was again a very different experience, its loosing yourself and going with the flow.
At the end of street stood Arc de Triumphe, honouring those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers from World War I.
It’s the Irony of the human life, the hatred, selfishness, fight for spreading the boundaries, seeking power and its outcome in the form of Arc de Triomphe followed by the celebration of human life in the form of art, passion and fashion which does not recognize any boundaries and spreads only joy.
Ah! Paris, the passionate charming city, we took leave of it to visit Switzerland our next destination.