Today was our first full day in Paris, and for as spectacular as yesterday was, today has been equally as bad. Our Airbnb was advertised as having AC, but apparently “AC” en francais means two fans and nothing else. This wouldn’t be bad if there wasn’t a heat wave. Yesterday it got up to 99 degrees, and today it’s a high of 98. We did laundry last night, so our apartment is hot and humid (fortunately the clothes dry fast), and I think we’re both tired of sweating.
We had tickets for the Louvre at 9:30am, so we packed up some cheese and bread that we bought yesterday, and headed over to the museum. We decided to walk to the museum, and it was so interesting to see the French architecture. I feel like every corner you turn in Paris brings another beautiful building, alleyway, statue, or terrace. This city is gorgeous.
We made good time getting to the Louvre, and there wasn’t much of a line yet. We were inside within 5 minutes of waiting, and we quickly made our way to see the most popular exhibit: the Mona Lisa. Fortunately, we beat most of the crowds and were able to get an incredible view of the painting. However, I feel that much of the appeal and hype about the Mona Lisa is rather overrated. It was nice to see the painting, and I’m very grateful that we were able to do so, but the magic was lost on me. It’s a beautiful work of art, but I don’t know what distinguishes it from other works. Perhaps I need an education in art or art history.
By this time we were starving, but the cafe was closed, so we wandered in search of another eating area for our bread and cheese. We walked through some very visually beautiful exhibits, but all of the plaques were in French, so it was challenging for Shelby and I to take away much information.
Soon the museum was packed, and just like in London, it seems that museums in Paris do not have AC. To escape the crowds and beat the heat, we went back out to the large, open lobby under the main Louvre pyramid and ate our food. After this, we decided not to reenter the Louvre. We had originally planned to spend the entire day walking through this museum, but the whole thing felt just like the Mona Lisa. Overrated. Don’t get me wrong–the Louvre is beautiful. Every room is exquisitely designed, and there is an incredible amount of breathtaking art everywhere you look. However, it kind of felt that the whole museum had this “famous for being famous” vibe. It’s hard to describe, but I think that all of the hype, disgruntled employees, and pushy tour groups detracted from the authentic beauty of the museum.
So we left.
But we didn’t get far. There is a large shopping mall underneath the Louvre, and it was reasonably cool, so we stayed there for a bit and walked around the shops. We knew it was 95 degrees outside and we couldn’t take much more heat, so we next decided to try our luck with the breeze of the Seine, and booked a hop-on-hop-off river taxi that stops at many major attractions.
The boat was a lot of fun, but not very cool. We sailed from the Louvre to Notre Dame, and when we reached the Louvre again, we hopped off to go back to the mall. The Starbucks in the mall had real AC (probably because it’s American), so we got drinks and spent 2 hours just waiting out the heat. After properly cooling down, we went back outside to yet find again, a new Paris. Just like how the scene on our street changed yesterday from cute local shops in the afternoon to a lively music and dining scene at night, so too had the scene changed outside of the Louvre. In the afternoon, the only people outside were tourists, but now in the evening, we saw many groups of people sitting out in the gardens of the museum, picnicking on the grass with wine.
We walked through the gardens and stopped at some chairs to relax and take it all in. After a while, we realized that we could probably make it to the Eiffel Tower before the boat taxis closed, so we walked to the Seiene and hopped on a boat.
The boat taxi was also reasonably cooler in the evening, and I should note, although its cooling down, the sun is still out. One of the weirdest things for Shelby and I has been adjusting to the sunset, which happens around 10pm in both London and Paris.
We hopped off the taxi at the Eiffel Tower, and started walking toward the park. This attraction is obviously touristy, but it was also incredible. Unlike the Mona Lisa, with the Eiffel Tower I get the hype. First, it’s much larger than I imagined. This thing is huge. There were a lot of people sitting in front of the tower picnicking just like at the Louvre. There were also a lot of men walking around with bags or buckets of wine and beer trying to sell it to everyone picknicing. Shelby and I decided to get crepes and then we haggled a vendor to sell us 2 beers for 5 euros, and we had our own impromptu picnic under the Eiffel Tower. Again, it’s cliche, it’s touristy, but everything they say about this place is true: it’s beautiful, romantic, and the perfect way to end our first full day in Paris.