Despite the cool weather and ominous skies, I got up early and arrived at the Eiffel Tower not long after they opened. There were three guys in military uniforms carrying machine guns around down the street from the tower, which freaked me out, although they didn’t look as serious as the riot control police in Frankfurt. The line wasn’t too bad, since I guess the weather scared people off. By the time I got back down about an hour later, the line was incredibly long by comparison.
Oh, and all I could think about while standing under the arch was the end of “The Great Race.”
After that I made my way to the Arc de Triomphe and then to Musée d’Orsay. The arch was impressive, but that was about it – an arch in the middle of a plaza. How many triumphal arches do we really need? I mean, yes, everyone wants to show how their power is descended from the Roman Empire, but seriously? And the line at Musée d’Orsay was long, and my legs were pretty tired by the time I got my ticket. The art was interesting though; they had some famous pieces and plenty of famous artists.
I was happy to see they had a small exhibit on Art Nouveau furniture, though evidently there’s a full exhibit on the movement coming in October. I’m a little bummed I was too early for it – I love Art Nouveau. There’s also one on James Ensor coming at the same time. Ah well. Instead they had an exhibit on Max Ernst, an artist (especially in engraving, I think) from the 1930s. We saw a little from him in my art history core class. He seems to have been one messed up guy, from his work.
I wandered around for about an hour trying to find the metro station, and in the meantime stumbled on this tower in the middle of a plaza which is evidently where all the really expensive shopping in Paris is. or something. The tower itself was clearly inspired by Trajan’s Column in Rome (bah I evidently paid way too much attention in art history, and I keep recognizing things here in Paris). I saw two Rolex shops, a Dior shop, shops with obviously ridiculously expensive jewelry, and places selling beautiful designer clothes. Those clothes make me want to be successful just so I can afford quality like that… True, they weren’t that different from what you could buy in a normal store at first glance, but you could tell they were far better quality and cut. Since I’m still working on shelling out $30 for a pair of pants, I’m not sure I would really buy that stuff even if I were rich, but it sounds appealing…
And then, for an awesome end to my day, I found my metro station to discover it was one of the famous Art Nouveau stations that you see old pictures of. Also I had no problems with transportation during the day!