I’ve finished the overall plan. The main doc looks like a month-at-a-glance calendar, with short color-coded notes on where and when to go. Individual docs cover each week with more detailed information.
Let’s break it down.
Tuesday evening: 1 April Fools Day – After checking one bag, I’ll board Air France with a small carryon packed with a change of clothes, all my electronics, and a few toiletries – most important, a soft padded eyeshade and Boules Quies wax earplugs http://www.quies.com/produit/wax-earplugs/. In a perfect world, I’d snore my way across the Atlantic. More likely I’ll doze in and out a few hours, feeling battered by the rumble and roar of the engines. It’s an 8 and a half hour flight. The first five aren’t so bad, but the last three feel interminable. Add to that the sleepless overnight factor and it’s a grim prospect. Over the years it’s become more of a challenge, and that’s why I go for a chunk of time.
Wednesday 2 – Staggering off the plane at midday, with gritty eyes and rumpled clothes, I’ll be met by the pre-arranged driver at récupération des bagages and taken to the apartment that will be my home for the next three weeks. Three floors up and no elevator (take that, macaroons!). I’ll drop off my bags, make sure the plumbing functions, and head out in search of an ATM. I’ll stroll around the neighborhood, noting where I can find bread, fruit, cheese and milk. Perhaps a coffee, definitely a pastry. If the weather is pretty, I’ll meander over to the Seine. Mostly I will take it easy. Early to bed.
Thursday 3 – Skip out the door to stand at the counter of a café and wolf down a croissant and café creme. Depending on the weather, I’ll either Uber over or take the Metro to the Louvre. I joined des Amis de Louvre last June and membership entitles me to free access to the museum. I’ll wave my card, scamper in the Richelieu entrance, check my coat and dive in. The first destination on my dance card – the Dutch, German and Flemish painters. Hours of staring and sketching and sighing with pleasure. Lunch at a museum café/restaurant TBD. Afterward, a peek at the apartments of Napoleon III, then follow one of the Louvres museum trails via an app on my iPhone or the museum’s audio tour. I’m thinking The Art of Eating, Rituals and Symbolism. http://www.louvre.fr/en/routes/art-eating By 4pm I will be dizzy with jetlag/fatigue and ready to trudge back to the apartment, picking up my dinner from a stops at a boulangerie, fromager and charcuturie en route.
Friday 4 – If I manage to sleep in – unlikely, but possible – and the weather is mild and fair, I’ll explore the Marais, my neighborhood, with the audio tour Walk and Talk Paris . I’ll stop for lunch at one of the multiple possibilities I’ve saved on my TripAdvisor map. app. http://www.tripadvisor.com/apps-icityguides and then try for a big fat nap. My experience in the MFA in Boston taught me that my eyes will give out – feel burry, gritty, dry and weak – by 8pm if I stalk the museum halls all day. Thus the long nap. The Louvre is open until 9:45 tonight, so I’ll drift over around 4pm and do the Still Life audio tour, then eat dinner in the museum. Afterwards I’ll follow the Italian Renaissance audio tour. I think it’s my best shot to see the Italian works in the Denon wing without being crushed underfoot by the throngs of determinded tourists making a beeline for the Mona Lisa.
Saturday 5 – FIguring the Louvre will be jam-packed on the weekend, I have alternative plans. First, browsing at a street market, the Marche Bastille (Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, 9-6, arts & crafts), around the corner from my apartment. If the weather is fine I’ll go there first. If it’s foul I’ll go straight to The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (open 11-6) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mus%C3%A9e_de_la_Chasse_et_de_la_Nature. A museum that ‘celebrates the relationships between humans and the natural environment through the traditions and practices of hunting’. I’m paintings a series with similar elements (Catch & Release series) and I’m curious to see how other artists have approached this material.
Sunday 6 – By now I should have my feet under me. So, if it rains, I’ll go to the Musée Carnavalet (23 rue de Sévigné, 10-6) http://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/en/homepage which “tells the story of Paris from a bygone era (a prehistoric dugout canoe dating from 4600 BC) to the present day, in all its immense variety…in keeping with the spirit of the genius of Paris.” It will be a pleasure to visit a compact, curated museum after walking miles in the stone and marble halls of the Louvre. If it’s a pretty day, I’ll do a couple of the Walk and Talk Paris audio guides: La Huchette and St Julien le Pauvre. If my stamina and the weather holds out, I’ll walk to the Pont Alexandre III at sunset. (8:30pm) and watch the lights turn on each of the bridges in succession, until the Eiffel tower lights up. Pow!