March 23, 2002
Tres triste, Saturday was our last day in Paris. We bought some fresh fruit from an outdoor weekend market for breakfast and surveyed our neighborhood one last time. Naturally, we could not leave the city without a jaunt through the Louvre Museum. Taking the advice offered by Lonely Planet, we had purchased our tickets to the Louvre from Fnac at Place de la Bastille the night before so by the time we reached the museum, we could skate right in. Upon entering the complex, the first sights that greeted us were the Mini-Me version of the Arc de Triomphe and the famous Pyramide du Louvre. The controversial pyramid designed by I. M. Pei is nearly dwarfed by the Renaissance era Sully, Denon, and Richelieu Wings that embrace the courtyard. But once inside the museum, all eyes are drawn heavenward to the towering window panes; the patrons tilt their heads back and gawk open-mouthed at the bright light and blazing glass overhead, like awed children mesmerized by shiny, glittery objects. Or maybe it was just me.

We spent about half of the day trekking from wing to wing, century to century. Venus de Milo, check. Winged Victory of Samothrace, check. Da Vinci's Mona Lisa (who, in true prima donna form, had her very own room, was encased in bulletproof glass, and, at 77 centimeters high, was much smaller in real life than one would imagine), check. Tourists, myself included, flocked to these famous works of art and clustered around them like buzzing bees dancing around their queen. Or, in this case, three queens. Not surprisingly, the Islamic Art section was not teeming with visitors, so we were able to absorb and appreciate the art at a leisurely pace.

The Egyptian antiquities section was pretty extensive but a far cry from the selection in the insanely crowded museum in Cairo where you are overwhelmed by the sheer number of items. There, you feel almost as though you are just dodging the seemingly carelessly tossed together exhibits and rummaging around the jam-packed collection in someone's dusty, musty, unventilated attic. Here, the exhibits are well-tended to, prettily displayed, and nicely spaced out in an orderly manner. Plus, you can breathe. Bravo, Le Louvre!

Starved, we had lunch at the closest brasserie we could find and indulged in our favorite dish: fromage et pain. We hit up the nearby Monoprix to load up on last-minute goodies and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening walking along the Seine River, dining at Diep again, and cramming all of our belongings into our straining, groaning luggage. So there you have it, folks: my and Lil Baji's trip to France.



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