Thursday, January 06, 2005

Paris for New Year's Eve

I spent New Year's Eve in Paris, France. What a city. Paris is beautiful. The people are friendly. The food was superb. I enjoyed myself.

So, if you have never been there, here's a few observations --

Tourists -- I wonder if these people look in the mirror and think how silly they look. With their big cameras around their necks and their guidebooks always out, they are just begging to be made fun and robbed. I can't believe how easy most of them were to spot.

It was interesting to watch people and try to figure out where they were from. Sometimes, it was too easy. I ran into the "Ugly American" tourist at the Moulin Rouge. She and her family had been seated at a decent table and she is yelling halfway across the place at the waiter that they weren't happy with their seats. First, they were good seats. Second, she couldn't get up and find someone to talk to. She was a bit ridiculous.

Another American couple I ended up talking with were asking my friend and I about seeing things in Paris. We urged them to get the Museum Pass. They said "we aren't museum people." They didn't intend to see any museums in Paris, not even the Louve. I was a bit appalled. I don't think they will get any idea of what Paris is like without seeing some museums. I don't know what they planned to see and do in Paris if they didn't see some museums. I urged them to at least check out the Rodin Museum and the Pantheon, along with Notre Dame and St. Chappelle, all of which are part of the pass.

Couples -- Is there something in the water there? Everywhere we went, there were couples making out. And it wasn't a quick peck on the cheek. It was as if everyone was wanting to recreate that Robert Dussiane (sp?) photo.

Porn vs. Art -- At the Pompidou, there was a photogragh called "F**k" or something like that. Let's just say there is no way for a person to ever see themselves like this naturally. It was a shot from the bottom up, let's just say. It was just over the line for me. I didn't find it interesting or sensual. I found it vulgar. I would not want any child of mine (if I had any) to see it. For adults, it definitely was a conversation piece.

However, the Rodin Museum provided a multitude of sculptures that showed such sensuality. They were love and passion. "The Eternal Idol" left me breathless and I just kept going back to it. It was so full of life. The passion exuded from the sculpture just made you to study every curve of the two bodies, every hair on their heads, and the lines of the legs. I truly was moved.

Museums -- Paris has done an amazing job of insuring that each museum houses the appropriate art. For example, the Picasso Museum building feels like Picasso, with its odd shaped hallways and rooms. Not a huge fan, but I did enjoy his cat sculpture. The Museum of Medieval Art has a castle feel to it, with the guard walls to protect it. The Unicorn tapestries kept here are just beautiful. The Pompidou is very modern with all its infrastructure (water, air, etc...) on the outside. D'Orsay is housed in an old railway station which is truly beautiful. It has a good collection, allowing you to get a feel for an artist.

The Louve -- Supposedly the most intimidating (and as a result the most avoided) museum in the world. It was big and at first may seem intimidating. However, I spent about 4 hours there and felt I saw everything I needed to see. I am not a "museum person" - in that I don't understand a lot of art terms and have no real art appreciation background. But, I know what I like and what moves me. I enjoy sculpture as a medium above all else, so I focused on the major sculptures. I did see the Mona Lisa -- a most disappointing experience. It's much smaller than I expected. I actually saw another DaVinci painting, which I felt the woman was even more mysterious than the Mona Lisa. The Hermaphidite reclining sculpture was also interesting. I would suggest that everyone see part of the Louve -- it is an amazing collection of art.

The museums overall do a great job with tourists. Most offer these information boards in several languages that tell you about the exhibit. I found them extremely useful.

New Year's in Paris -- Fireworks and festivities were fun. However, everything is ferme (closed) on the first. Many restaurants aren't even open. This made things difficult. I would definitely recommend either arriving the day before, partying hard and sleeping most of the day or leaving on the first, rather than planning a holiday with that day in the middle.

What May Surprise Americans about Paris - The food and seats on Air France are actually good. The hotel rooms are smaller than in the U.S. You can also get rooms with single beds. There is what Americans would consider porn on the hotel channels. Every shop and restaurant you will normally be greeted with Bonjour (hello). The waiters are not overly attentive. They leave you in peace and don't rush you through your meal. However, sometimes that mean you have to wave them down when you need something helpful. Lots of dishes come with eggs -- read carefully. People do throw trash on the ground and Parisians don't always clean up after their dogs. However the street cleaners are very efficient. There will be people on the metro and in the metro stations with guitars, violins and other musical instruments asking for money. The metro is not difficult to take and it is very cheap. They do allow dogs on the metro and in restaurants. Around the holidays always check with concierge about what is open before trooping across town. The Moulin Rouge is a great show, but the girls are topless. It is not vulgar, it's almost as if it doesn't matter.

Overall, I highly recommend Paris as a place to visit. I know I will be going back during the spring or summer sometime in the future just to see the beautiful gardens.


At 6:05 PM EST, Blogger Jay said...

Oh, I am so completely jealous!
I cannot imagine going to Paris and not going to a museum, that's the whole point!
Lucky you!


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