Monday, July 29, 2013


Our bags are unpacked and stacked in the outside storage room. We've recovered from the fog-flu of jetlag. And Madi has already created a family slideshow of our trip (which is over an hour long!). As it is with many incredible experiences, our France vacation seems almost like a dream.

So even though it was over one month ago that we sat at the feet of the Winged Victory in the Louvre, ordered bread and buttery pastries from the Boulangerie on the corner of the Boulevard Magenta, and saw the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, I will take a few entries to record some of our experience. Perhaps then it will seem a little less dreamlike and serve to keep the memory of the joy alive.

Our First Parisian Evening:
After checking into our hotel, The Hotel Magenta (which to our surprise was much nicer than its name suggests), we decided to walk to Notre Dame. The streets were damp from an afternoon rain shower. As we walked through a strange ghetto-like section of Paris (lots of wig stores catering to various ethnicities), we began to worry that our expectations of Paris were not going to be met.

However, once we crossed to the River Seine, we were met with a breathtaking view of both Notre Dame and in the distance, the Eiffel Tower.  

This is perhaps, my favorite picture taken of the entire trip:
Do you see the Eiffel Tower over my husband's shoulder? 
Ahhhh, Paris.  

Surprise at the Louvre:
The next morning we took the Metro to the Louvre. Here's what I remember most vividly: after emerging from the Metro and crossing the street, we walked through a stone tunnel lined with columns and ornate doors. It was dark, cool, and beautiful. I looked up at the towering ceiling (Madi just happened to catch this moment in the picture below). The ceiling was adorned with carvings - a mixture of floral and leaf patterns - and I felt as though I was walking through a church.

Framed by the exit of this tunnel-walkway, I caught my first glimpse of the glass pyramid of the Louvre. 

I was surprised by my emotional reaction. I got a bit choked up as we walked toward the iconic structure. I think I was overwhelmed with gratitude (maybe a little exhaustion too). You see, for as many years as I took French (2 in high school, 3 in college), I never actually expected to visit France. It was too foreign. Too exotic. Too expensive. But here I was. With the people I love most in the world, sharing this incredible experience.
The entry line was thankfully short. We bought our tickets and started our lightening-fast tour of the Louvre. We had 6 items on our list: Mona Lisa, Virgin of the Rocks, Virgin and Child with St. Anne, Winged Victory, Venus, and Coronation of Napoleon. I know it was such a short list, but we were doing Paris in 24 hours.Yes, there were crowds. Yes, we got lost a couple times. But it was wonderful, nonetheless.

Elise and Mona...need I say more?

A Jewel:
After finding and viewing the 6 masterpieces, CJ, Tman, and Amelia had had enough of the Louvre. Madi and Elise, however, had seen something on the map they wanted to find. So my good husband took the three youngest outside, and my girls and I went to find Vermeer.

Vermeer was tucked away on the opposite side of the Louvre on the top floor. As with all the Vermeers I've seen, it was small, but worth the extra time to find. I will always remember standing in front of this painting with my daughters talking about the light and the detail of the strings and the pins on the pin cushion. Unlike other parts of the Louvre, this room was nearly vacant. It was quiet, except for our whispers. It was a jewel worth hunting for and a precious moment with my girls.