Saturday, January 31, 2009

Quick Weekend in Paris (Jan 2 & 3)

Since Shannon will be busy in the coming months with tax season, we decided to take a quick trip to Paris to start off the New Year in style. Though, to be honest, I was a bit exhausted from our holiday travels the week before to Germany, Austria and Switzerland and was dragging my feet, but it proved to be a good time. Our main goals were to visit The Louvre ('Musée du Louvre' in French) and the Montmartre District of Paris, which we accomplished in our two days.

Our first day we visited The Louvre which took us around 4 hours and we still didn't even see all of it! As most of you know The Louvre is an enormous art museum within an amazing architectural structure which used to be a royal fortress back in the 12 century. With its universal collections, it appeals to over 6 million visitors a year. It's been a museum since 1793 and currently houses around 35,000 works of art displayed in over 60,000 square meters of exhibition space dedicated to the permanent collections. One of its most famous works is the 'Mona Lisa' by Leonardo da Vinci (there are also other works of his within the museum). The Louvre also contains several sculptures, including some by Michelangelo and the famous 'Aphrodite' sculpture from the 2nd century BC. Besides all the paintings and sculptures, there are numerous Egyptian, Roman and Greek Antiquities along with other types of art.

After a good night's sleep in the budget chain hotel, IBIS, we visited the Montmartre district which is on a hill in northern Paris. It's primarily known for the beautiful white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Coeur (church) on its summit and as a nightclub district. Just a block or so from the basilica you'll find Place du Tertre which is a square where many artists set up their easels each day for tourists. In the olden days this area was popular with famous artists like Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec who set up studios here. Anyway, there is a wide selection of artwork in this district which we found quite fun to stroll through, especially since Shannon is an art lover (I like it too, just not to his extent as his taste is quite expensive!). We restrained from any purchases this time around, but I'm sure there will be one or two in the future!

We also made a quick stop at Moulin Rouge (translates to 'Red Windmill' in English) for a photo opt. It would be fun to go to a performance sometime, but they are a bit too pricey for us. Moulin Rouge is a cabaret that was built in 1889 next to the Montmartre district in the Paris Red-Light District. It's best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. It's basically a seductive dance done by extraordinary dancers in fancy costumes. Notable performers at the Moulin Rouge have included Ella Fitzgerald, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Jane Avril, Liza Minelli, Josephine Baker, Edith Piaf and others. The Moulin Rouge is also the subject of paintings by post-impressionist painter Toulouse-Lautrec. Today the Moulin Rouge is a tourist destination, offering musical dance entertainment for adult visitors, currently showing "Feerie". In addition, "Moulin Rouge" is the title of a book by Pierre La Mure, which was adapted as a 1952 film called "Moulin Rouge". Several other films have had the same title, including 2001's "Moulin Rouge!", starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman.

In front of The Louvre and its signature glass pyramid structure where you enter the massive museum

Here is the most admired piece of work in The Louvre, "Mona Lisa". As you can see there was a mob of people trying to take pictures. You actually can't even take a good picture of it because it's behind a thick layer of glass. None of our photos turned out, so we thought this one was quite funny!
Inside The Louvre
When we left The Louvre it was dark. This photo was taken within the pyramid.
Moulin Rouge (translates to Red Windmill) is where people pay high prices to see talented, usually seductive, dancers in costumes performing a variety of shows throughout the year.
Moulin Rouge
Place du Tertre is an artist market / square in the Montmartre District
Shannon admiring some artwork in Place du Tertre
Painters mecca next to the Basilica in Montmartre
Basilica of the Sacré Coeur on Montmartre's hill
Basilica of the Sacré Coeur on Montmartre's hill

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