Saturday, August 1, 2015. This morning began earlier than expected when at 3:30 am some young women started screeching loudly to blaring music outside our window. They could wake the dead, including me. Must have come home drunk and wanted the party to continue. When it didn’t stop in a few minutes, I yelled out the window “Taisez vous!” Fat lot of good that did. I clomped downstairs to the desk in my pj’s to ask the desk to call the police. His response had been to shut the doors of the hotel to keep the noise out of his space. Unfortunately our bedroom windows did not muffle the noise as well as his doors, but that was his only suggestion for dealing with the problem, which lasted another 20 minutes after I tried to go to sleep. Eventually I did fall asleep, but had some very bloodthirsty dreams. Wonder why.
We walked over to the Louvre after breakfast and did the circuit from about 10 am to 1 pm. Broke for lunch. Then continued with the painters from the Low Countries and Germany. Our first stop was a huge room lined on all four walls with 24 paintings by Rubens commissioned by Marie de Médicis, the wife of Henry IV and the mother of Louis XIII. Each painting is roughly about 10 feet wide by 13 feet high. Each was more over-the-top than the previous one in presenting Marie as the apotheosis of beauty, style, and power. Even if you didn’t know her history, you could see that she completely loved and worshipped herself. Her history is that she was rumored to have been involved in the assassination of her husband, definitely ran France during her son’s youth, and finally had to be kicked out of the country when she kept interfering with Louis after he became king. In this context the many selfies we saw people taking of themselves in front of the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, et al. were minor indulgences.
We collapsed back at the hotel after the Louvre. After short naps, we took the Metro up to Montmartre to take in the view from Sacre Coeur. While we were up on the plaza in front of the Basilica, we could hear some lively drum and tuba music down at another plaza near the base of the funiculaire. What we found when we got down was a large band and group of lively marchers from the Kimbanguist religious sect of the Congo. Many of the women marching in the Choreki wore white shirts with a picture of their founder printed in front. Other women and men wore darker clothes with words printed in yellow script all over. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and a few of the white tourists joined in the marching. I thought the musicians must be getting tired since they’d been playing constantly since we’d arrived to get up to the Basilica on the funiculaire about an hour before, but they kept going. Finally we saw people walking away about 20 minutes later as we were eating supper at a cafe down the road.
Then as dusk was falling we experienced some of the magic of Paris. We walked through Les Jardins des Tuileries down to Place de la Concorde. As we were crossing the bridge towards Assemblée Nationale, we could see the Eiffel Tower lit up in the night.
When we crossed the bridge and started to head back towards the Louvre, the full moon shone through the haze over the city.
Carlos, Now I’m doubly sorry we missed you in Paris. Once Anne Mei found out that the “Université de Paris” sweatshirts in the souvenir stores were not authentic, she wasn’t interested in getting one. Thanks again for all your hospitality. We had a wonderful time in Madrid, Segovia, Escorial, and Toledo. Thanks to you.
Hey, Ken. I was there that same very afternoon that the black church musicians were playing the music at Montmartre… But the crowd was so huge, that I dindn’t even imagine you too would also be there… Did you get into the Sacre Coeur?
*True (commenting another post) that you could better find Sorbonne University t-shirts and sweatshirts better at traditional souvenir stores in Paris (that are all over the place), that trying to but it at the “University store” (that only happens in the US)… 😉
I’ve really been enjoying your writing, Ken. Drunk students seem to be a fixture in urban France. We saw plenty in Toulouse when we rented an apartment there.
It was quite the Full Moon the World over, so it seems from various sources, yours included. A Blue Moon, as it’s come to be known, but only under the Gregorian calendars; because in the cultures that base their “months” upon the natural movement of Earth, as it spins and orbits about in Space, it is the Moon’s cycles that are the standard for measurement of Time.