Our daily Parisian formula was pretty consistent: baguettes, museums, walking, crepe, museums, walking, coffee, walking, museum, cheese, walking. On Wednesday, our wonderful museum passes let us skip the line at Paris’ modern art museum, Centre Pompidou. Most modern art is not my cup of tea, but this view from the top floor was pretty spectacular. For lunch, I ordered this cheese and butter sandwich and tucked the second half into my coat pocket for a snack at the Louvre later on. While in Italy you wouldn’t see locals eating on the go, I loved seeing all the Parisians walking around munching on baguettes. Another common sight on the streets were armed soldiers. Dad noticed that they had a poor strategy of bunching up and would all stand facing one direction with their backs exposed. Mom and I noticed that they were exceptionally good looking. We saw one tourist request a photo with a pair of them, but we never had the guts. When your diet is 80 percent bread, cheese and chocolate for a week, it’s advisable to eat an apple every now and then. Fueled up and ready to conquer more museums. But first, that cheese baguette was burning a hole in my pocket. We headed to one of my new favorites, Musee de l’Orangerie. Tucked away in the gardens behind the Lourve, this small museum boasts two oval rooms with sweeping Monet murals. It was so serene to sit in the middle of these light, airy rooms surrounded by these dreamy, pastel pools.
Back at the Louvre, I explained to Mom and Dad that everyone was taking pictures which created the illusion they were touching the top of the pyramid. Naturally, they had to attempt their own version, off point by only a hair. Mom and Dad had watched ten hours of lectures on pieces in the Louvre, so we spent the last hours of the evening tracking down some of those pieces.
Too tired for a more formal dinner, we picked up bread, cheese, salted butter, olives and cookies at the grocery store on the way home.
Thursday was devoted entirely to the Palace of Versailles. But first let us appreciate Dad’s voluminous hair — courtesy of his hat. And because Notre Dame is his alma mater, we had to take many pictures of dad with every Notre Dame reference. We spent the entire day walking the gilded rooms of the palace and all came to the conclusion that life there seemed cold and depressing. Dad thought that life wouldn’t have been cozy enough there because there wasn’t enough “mess and clutter.” Ha, ever so revealing. Before heading out into the chilly, not-so-green gardens we had coffees and read from the beloved Rick Steves. Once again, we took comfort in his travel philosophy, “Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something’s not to your liking, change your liking.” Perhaps, the infamous gardens would be spectacular in the bloom, but we decided “our liking” was to see them barren, in an almost eery mist.
My favorite part of the gardens was spotting this cute school group in matching red coats with the Chinese flag sewn on their sleeve. Besides being impossibly cute, it was rather genius. You’d be hard pressed to lose one of them in the crowds. Dad and I were so envious of mom’s red coat. Thank goodness Mom had brought her red coat for this trip because she’d often stop to look at something and fall behind. The bright red coat made it much easier for Dad and I to find her again. We spent a good two hours exploring the gardens and the smaller palace for Marie Antoinette. Really I should send this pic, Fanatic Optimism in February, to Rick Steves. The statues may have been covered in tarps for the season and the bulbs were still hiding underground, but we’re all smiles here. Eventually, the pink sun set on Versailles and we bought one-euro macarons at McDonald’s for the train ride home.