Claire in London

Claire is a junior majoring in history and anthropology, with a minor in political science, in Dedman College. In fall 2011 she is studying at King’s College London with IFSA-Butler, in partnership with SMU Abroad.

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Paris, Part 2

Let me start off this post by saying Go Ponies! I am so proud of my team, and anyone who knows me knows how badly I would’ve loved to have been there last night. As a long-time diehard SMU fan, one of the things I knew I would miss the most while I was away was football season! Last night was just more proof that good always triumphs over evil!

We started off the morning by heading straight to the Musée du Louvre. I was so excited to get there, and as we walked into the courtyard, my mouth dropped. The queue snaked all around the courtyard and doubled back on itself several times. I immediately thought I would be standing in the hot sun all day waiting to get in to the museum; Tenley, on the other hand, had the foresight to purchase a museum pass so she breezed right in!

I trudged over to the back of the line and quickly made friends with the people in front of me – an American couple and their friend. The couple was from Kansas City, and the friend was originally from the south of France but had recently moved to DALLAS!! Now what are the odds of that?! We talked for a while and before I knew it, I was at the front of the line! I was surprised how quickly it moved, but mostly just thankful to get into the air conditioning. (Can you tell I’m from Texas?)

The museum itself is quite impressive, from the iconic glass pyramids in the courtyard to the huge stone halls and the big shops underneath (including an Apple store??).  I really enjoyed the beautiful sculptures and touring through the Napoleon Apartments – in which, I learned, Napoleon never actually lived. The Mona Lisa was more than a bit disappointing. The whole scene was a little repulsive, with people shouting and shoving and holding up their camera phones just to snap a photo. No one was interested in actually looking at the portrait, just getting a picture to show that they had been there.

I gave up trying to make my way to the front after I got whacked, hard, by several people (unintentionally… I think). In my mind, the Mona Lisa is a bit like Paris Hilton – only famous for being famous. The Louvre had much more interesting and beautiful works of art to admire, without having a sweaty German man elbow you in the face!

In fact, the only place I encountered any rudeness in France was at the Louvre. When I asked about the student rate at the ticket counter (after saying hello and politely asking if she spoke English, in French), she said you had to be a European citizen to get the student rate. I pulled out my money to pay for the full-price ticket and she asked me what school I went to. When I told her “King’s College in London,” she rolled her eyes and spat, “England is in Europe.” I smiled sweetly and apologized while she checked my student ID, all while resisting the urge to explain to her that enrollment and citizenship are two very different things.

I also purchased an audio guide – which I would not recommend. It cost me 6 euros and I found the reference numbers for only three commentaries. I asked other people who had them and they were just as frustrated. If you could find some sort of Louvre guidebook, that would be a much better purchase and much more helpful!

From the Louvre, we walked down through the garden and had lunch in the park. Sandwiches on baguettes, of course, what else!? We crossed the river via the Pont des Arts and got to see all the thousands of padlocks that lovers have written their names on and attached to the railings, before tossing the key into the river below.

Then we made our way down the road to the Musée d’Orsay, which I loved! I am so glad we decided to stop in! It was less crowded, well-organized, quiet, calmer and people were really enjoying the art rather than rushing through. I got to see some amazing and iconic pieces by Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as a few smaller sculptures by Rodin and so many other beautiful impressionist paintings. It is definitely worth a visit!

After d’Orsay, we jumped on the Metro (since we are basically underground professionals now) and rode to the Arc de Triomphe. From the monument, we walked down the Avenue des Champs Élysées and I had my eyes peeled for the black and white doors of Sephora!! Inside, I showed incredible self-restraint and purchased only ONE bottle of nail polish, “Lotus Rouge.”

We made our way back to Monmarte and up to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur – the highest point in the city. Inside, we got to hear a nun singing and watch part of a service. A woman in front of me pretended as if she couldn’t read the big signs (along with descriptive pictures) saying “NO PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED!” Yet she immediately understood when a man came over to her and said, also in English, “No pictures. Delete those photos, please.” And he stood over her and waited for her to delete them off her camera! I wanted to high-five him! It was awesome. The basilica is gorgeous but it is the view from its front steps that is absolutely stunning.

We finished off the night by watching the sun set over the city and then finding an outdoor cafe. It was the perfect way to finish off such a wonderful adventure! I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to go and that I was lucky enough to have such a great guide/navigator with me! Thanks again, Tenley!

I start school tomorrow for the first time since early May and I am both excited and terrified! Wish me luck!

Cheers,

Claire

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