September 10, 2014 – After breakfast at the hotel we were on our way to the Strasbourg SNCF Station for our first TGV train of the trip. At this point we learned that (a) our seats were facing backwards and (b) we didn’t have our own window. To add insult to this, the people with the window didn’t want to look out of it, so they closed the blind. Well. We solved this problem by heading to the cafe car for half the ride. Two espresso with sugar and little chocolate sticks = an hour of standing at a table watching the countryside fly by.
In about two hours we were in Paris. Large, pretty buildings, tree-lined streets, and with some decent quiche (though we preferred the quiche we got in the smaller shops in the smaller towns). Our plan was to take our quiche down to the river, but were pleasantly surprised to get a text that our room was ready early. We decided to go through Airbnb for the stay, since we could rent an entire flat in a great neighborhood (directly across from some restaurants, a few blocks from a supermarket, and within a 15 minute walk from the Louvre… the location was pretty ideal). The flat was five levels up, and had a nice kitchen and living room.
There was only one thing planned for the afternoon – the Louvre. We walked 15 minutes from our flat over to the block that the museum occupies, and used the pyramid entrance (we had the Paris Museum pass, so we could skip the longer security line). The Louvre is really, really huge, with three multi-floor wings, plus an underground section.
We originally tried out the audio guide, but it was a little distracting since only one of us had it… and because we were moving fairly quickly. And it was a bit heavy too. After we dropped the audio guide back off things went a bit smoother, with the Egyptian and Middle Eastern sections being some of our favorite parts of the day. Hammurabi’s Code anyone? Oh, and Venus de Milo, just hanging out. This is why the Louvre was one of Louisa’s all-time favorite museums – literally priceless works of art around every corner. One of the things that surprised us about the Lourve was the architecture of the building itself. From gilded columns to frescoes on the ceiling, the building itself is also a work of art.
We took a break for cafe creme, and then another for dinner at a nearby restaurant where we had escargot (Tony was much better with the escargot holders than Louisa), steak frites, and cassoulet. We really enjoyed the escargot, which were served in shells with pesto on top. The fries were excellent, and the steak was cooked well (and enjoyed even more once it was topped with salt and pepper). The cassoulet was rich and hearty, the meat was fork tender, and the thick broth was perfect for sopping up with the dark bread that was brought to the table. We also got a small carafe of slightly sweet white wine.
After dinner we went back to the Louvre – tonight was the night it was open late. We went by Winged Victory again, and down to the underground section of the museum where you can see the original castle supports.