Friday, June 18, 2010

Paris Day 4

What do you think of when you think of buildings of the Louvre? I think I.M.Pei was brilliant to put in that glass pyramid.

We finally went to the Louvre, the most famous museum in the world. By the end of the museum tour, I was fully awed but had this thought: is the Louvre all about Mona Lisa and looted stuff?

On a tour, you can't control the time (except be on time, and the group was very punctual. We had to be, our the bus wouldn't wait, period) and we didn't get to the Louvre until 10:30 am. We were given 3 hours, can you imagine, in a museum that'll take 9 months to cover if you look at each of the 80,000 items for 3 minutes each. Or some estimate like that. Then again, unless you are an archaeologist or historian, you would, like me, skip all the Egyptian exhibits and other stuff and head for the three most famous items in the Louvre: the Winged Victory of SamothraceVenus de Milo and Mona Lisa

Btw, don't get your entrance tickets at the main ticket booths. Get them from the shops below the glass pyramid: no lines.

Winged Victory of Samothrace (carved out of marble but the robes look like they are blowing in the wind), 190 BC.

Aphrodite de milos, 130 to 100 BC. Armless but perky.

If I was a cavewoman and these famous works of art were unknown to me, I'd probably rate the Winged Victory of Samothrace first and Venus (who correctly should be Aphrodite, since the statue was Greek. I told you, the Louvre's all about looted stuff. None of the top important pieces are French) and Mona Lisa second. There are hundreds of beautiful scultures in The Louvre and thousands of beautiful, amazing paintings but apparently the history behind the piece of art contributes to its fame. The Mona Lisa for example, was once stolen from the Lourve by an Italian who believed that the painting should rightfully belong in Italy. It was also attacked a couple of times while on display.

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These sculptures are equally beautiful. The one on the right has a surprise for you on the other side. Hint: hermaphrodite aroused. Hmm. Sculptures tell a lot.


Mona Lisa was behind bullet-proof glass and roped off about 20 feet away. When you enter the room, you'll know where it is not because you see it straightaway but because there's a BIG crowd around it, snapping photos crazily. Museum guards are everywhere. Although flash is not allowed, people used it and the guards didn't mind.


On my way out of the museum hours later, I passed by the room and the crowd had abated. Mona Lisa's on the little patch of green wall. The architect specially designed the ceiling to give light that shone on the side of the walls so as not to harm the painting and also to give it the best lighting.

La Gioconda, 1503.

My first thought was the size of the painting. It was small. When I finally jostled to the front and faced the painting, I thought, gee, what's the big deal with this painting? It's grossly over-rated! She looked like some people I know, the ones without eyebrows. I aimed my little camera (wished for the millionth time that I had brought my daughter's SLR, and a tripod) and zoomed into Mona Lisa's face. It was so familiar, I've seen it in movies, in postcards, in magazines...Suddenly, I felt goose bumps on my arms. I lowered my camera and raised it again, and zoomed. Same thing happened. I felt goosebumps as she stared at me. In the eye of my camera, I could only see that face and nothing else in the room. I was spooked. It was like she was telling me to give her some respect, that she wasn't over-rated. I looked for Hub to take a photo of me so near the world's most famous painting but couldn't find him in the crowd.

I struggled out from the crowd and searched. Hub was still there where I last saw him, directly across the room from Mona Lisa, staring at a very large painting--the largest in the world?--called The Wedding At Cana by the painter Paolo Veronese. Hub said, look, it's a painting of Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding. Just like him not to be taken in by all the fuss over Mona Lisa but rather on other paintings that are even more interesting and dare I say beautiful.

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A classroom of 6th graders were seated on the floor in front of the painting. That made me envious. I've seen so many groups of kids with their teachers here and there in Paris and my kids have never ever been on a school art or history outing.

We left The Lourve after 3 hours (walked non-stop, it was so tiring!) knowing that we'll be back again one day. The afternoon was free for shopping at Galleries Lafayette but I wasn't interested. First of all, I won't shop in Europe unless things are on discount, which would they would be in June/July. Second, we needed to travel light on a tour. Why not check out the Latin Quarters to get a bit of old French world and also Saint Chapelle, which was rated 'must see' by Rick Steves?

We got to Saint Chapelle but the line was further than we could see. There was no way we could queue, do the chapel and still do the Latin Quarters and get back to the bus in time. That was a sorrowful moment for me. I'll have to come back to Paris for Saint Chapelle.

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Guess what? The Latin Quarters were so touristy (and put on) for me. Where's the real Paris?? I had a set meal for 9 euros: mussels (very tiny) in wine, pork chop that was excellent, tender and yummy and a chocolate mousse. Hub had pigged out on sandwiches and couldn't eat again.

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We had the cherry, the melon and the raspberry.3 euros each, I think.

Still trusting in Rick, we went looking for what he said is Paris' best ice-cream, Berthillon, on the island in the middle of the Seine River called Ile St. Loius.

Not just that they were overly sweet but they tasted like sorbets. I like sorbets after a meal but hey, sorbets aren't as good as ice creams, no matter how good the rating. Since Hub can't have too much sugar and I don't like overly sweet things, I had to throw the unfinished ice creams away. Two wrong choices, Latin Quarters and Berthillon. I was both upset and regretful that I didn't go to Galleries Lafayette instead.

We rushed to Galleries Lafayette by 5:30 pm. The tour bus would leave at 7 pm for the hotel. I had to do what all Asians do in Paris: get an LV bag.

I stood there waiting 40 minutes for service because all the salespersons were busy. I was so angry I walked up to one of the senior salesman and told him (in English) that their service was terrible. He was charming, holding my elbow and apologizing very suavely. I had to fill a form and show him my passport. He advised me to rush down to have the VAT done (12% rebate) while he gets me a new bag. As I rushed down the floors, I saw another bigger LV store and the line was so long, they roped the entrance off. Crazy. I stood in line again and sat down to do my VAT. All that for a bag! It was extremely stressful and we nearly missed the bus. Getting back to Radisson by taxi would cost euro100, something at least two groups of our tour members have done.

I was a little down when my daughter said "Why LV?? So Asian!" But I love my Artsy bag so there. I realize now that it's not fun to shop for designer bags especially if you want to claim the VAT so I must record my thanks to Yo. Friends who help you shop in Europe are true friends...

We traded dinner time for shopping so we ended up eating  baguette sandwich again (we were sick of hard breads by then) which I didn't mind because I had a new bag. Hub was happy too because he thought my shopping urge was satisfied by the bag. He doesn't know that I am actually a shoes person more than a bag person. That's why I'm going to Italy in July.


Chocolate, Cookies & Candies said...

Lol. Your Paris trip sounds a lot like my first and second. I was gobsmacked to see the crazy queues outside every LV store I've walked past. I'd love to see a photo of your new bag.

I'm heading back to Paris in less than 2 weeks time for the sale and I'm determined to get a few pairs of shoes. Handbags be damned, just give me the shoes.

terri@adailyobsession said...

huh? am i heading for the wrong city?

terri@adailyobsession said...

cc&c: how's the shopping in florence??

Milosh said...

Ah, Paris, the place where Amelie found her love!

Anonymous said...

By just reading just posts make me feel like I am in Paris too. Sounds so much fun and the cakes..Yum Yum. Hey,which LV Artsy bag did you buy? Artsy GM or Artsy MM?

red | hongyi said...

heyheyhey, don't make me sound so racist! it IS a lovely bag, and u wear it very well. it's just that u see so many people using knock-offs these days, esp asians...

zurin said...

Im jealous.

NEE said...

I enjoy all these paris posts. Greg and i did not manage to cover so much. must go back again.

and you will be very happy to hear that Artsy MM cost around 5.3 K in kl and GM prob 6k plus. So with the wait on vat return, you will prob pay nothing more than 4K. i m so jealous now. one of my favourite bag too..would prob get one one of these days hahaha....

kwng08 said...

r, nee: what artsy gm, mm?? i didn't even know the name of the bag until two weeks after i bought it when i got mail frm a friend who asked if i bought it. shoot! i didn't know they hav a smaller one. i asked if they have diff sizes n the guy said only one size, the big one n i saw a lady with it on champs elysee, tt's when i thot i must hav it. so yeah, i have the big one. it's great, lots of pockets n the handle's beautiful, made of 7 layers of leather. but it's more a tote bag so there's no zip or snap button to close it.

i can't believe the diff in prices!!! i bought it for 900 euros n there's a 12% rebate so it's like 1/2 the price in KL??? wait till i tell hub how clever his wife is. maybe i shd buy more n sell....any takers????

terri@adailyobsession said...

r: my mail to u was returned 3 times...ur mail box too full.

tina said...

Terri, thanks for your commentary on Paris. Have been in London 10 years and have yet to go to Paris. :(

Looking forward to reading your next posts! Take care

Chocolate, Cookies & Candies said...

Sale officially starts in Paris (and France) on 30 June. It's usually 30% off in the first 2 weeks and the deduction grows until end of july. You may be able to zip back for a quick shopping jaunt.

NEE said... are clever indeed to think of the business aspect of it. yes that is how big the diff is. maybe you can sell enough LV it will cover your trip ahahaha..

and i have a friend who is an air steward for shop for people and sometimes he buy some and sell. he does not do vat return and he charged surcharge. yet still cheaper compared to kl and singapore or even hongkong.

900 euro is the Artsy MM the medium one. the GM is one size up really really big you can put two dogs in there and go shopping. i like the MM one. want to buy for me? you can keep your 12% hahaha....just kidding.

Anonymous said...

I almost died when I saw the price. 900 euros and there's rebate! Should have asked you to buy. My hub got me the MM in KL. I am not telling you how much until you come back. Grrr

terri@adailyobsession said...

tina: i replied ur mail. reply me!

ccc: no lah, i'll get everything in florence...i want to get the necklace u got in greece. seen anything similar in london?

nee: yes i got the mm n i thot it was too big. can put 2 cats n a dog. with the rebate, it's about rm3200:DDD hee hee hee!i can buy for your but 12% rebate is too little for so much trouble:DD

r: WHAT? u got same bag ah?? now i'm not the first one to hav it in KK?? how dare you upseat me?? :DD u girls very updated on lv. i didn't even know this style until i saw a lady used it n then i noticed it in the lv shops. nice bag ya? the handle gets more flexible as you use it. i can see you in a white shirt, blue jeans, black flats n the bag. sunglasses of cos. heck, i better do tt b4 u upseat me again haha!!

my next one will be a miumiu or prada, don';t tell my hub.

terri@adailyobsession said...

r: don't feel bad about getting it in kl. an lv expert frm hk who saw my bag (she bought a diff one bc there was no time, n she regretted it when she saw my artsy) said the artsy mm is a fantastic purchase, judging by the handle and the embellishment (the embellishment like a small lock costs 200 euro!i saw it n thot it was a typo mistake). handles that r thin, n lining made of cloth like the neverful, r considered cheap n casual so those r for marketing :DD.u can use ur artsy even in the boardroom...

Chocolate, Cookies & Candies said...

Oops, forgot to answer your question. I'm sure the sale will start in Firenze about the same time. Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nicks are all on sale starting from this week.

Which necklace is that? You mean the Dimitriades? If you don't have much luck in Italy, I'm sure you can order online and send it to Yi's place. BTW, just purchased a pair of Tod's embellished sandals at the outlet mall here in London. Woohoo.

Chocolate, Cookies & Candies said...

Terri, don't forget to drop into Gucci Mall at Montevarchi and the Space Warehouse (Prada) nearby when you're in Florence. The prices aren't as cheap as they used to be but just far cheaper than anywhere else. I used to buy Prada heels there for 50€ a pair.

Kelly said...

I love LV. I have blogged an entire post on LV before. I own the Neverfull and it is great for what it is, a casual bag for carrying groceries. But the straps are too thin, wish it was thicker.

I really like the one you got, you look very well carrying it.

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