Friday was my last visit to the Louvre. After a maudlin start, I knew I could either be all elegiac Canon In D Major sad, or bask in my good fortunate Pharell Happy. I chose happy. Packed my backpack carefully, refilled my bottle with Perrier, made sure I had my sketchbook and pencils*, Nook, maps, and back-up battery pack**. No line at the Metro ticket machine, and a seat was open on the train, double win.
Galloped into the Louvre, with my iPod blasting Handel’s ‘Arrival of the Queen of Sheba,’ blessing my Des Ami des Louvre card, straight into the arms of the Flemish, Dutch and Germans on the second floor of the Richelieu wing. I followed my eyes and heart. At some point, I began taking photos of women with books or swords.
Bonus points if they carried both.
That carried me through the next three hours. My mood cycled from happy to be there, to sorry to be going. Finally, it occurred to me that the harder it is to part, the luckier I was to have been there. I had just taken a photo from the window with the Tuileries ahead, Eiffel Tower to the left and the city gleaming white in the distance, when an ear-splitting alarm went off, followed by a voice telling everyone to evacuate the Louvre, for reasons of safety.
The announcement, in multiple languages, alternated with the alarm. I wondered if someone had started humping the Venus de Milo, or if there was a shooter loose, maybe a bomb threat. I watched people wander by in the direction of the escalators as the announcement kept repeating, but it was like trying to turn the Titanic. No one seemed to feel any urgency. I started towards the stairs but didn’t rush any. I saw a security guard and asked him what gives. He shrugged one weary shoulder, blew a puff of exasperated air out of his lips as only the French can, and said, “It is a drill. You may ignore it.”
All righty then. No problem. I decided to consider it the lunch bell, since it was past 1pm. I went to Angelina’s and tucked into grilled sole and lemon hollandaise, with a basket woven out of shaved carrots in three colors, followed by noisette, and a macaroon for dessert. I did another little drawing of Joséphine on a postcard, this time for Robin. Afterward, I went back to where I started on Day One, the sculpture court, and sketched my favorite view of Roland, Furioso.
I walked in and out of the various levels of the sculpture court until I finally made myself quit stalling and leave. I took the Metro back to Saint-Paul, and, en route, took a sip of water. Or planned too, but when I unscrewed the top, it blew off with a bang, like I’d popped a champagne cork or fired a Glock. I sat there, stunned, sprinkled with l’eau mineral. No one was injured, and the guy next to me thought it was very amusing. I was obviously shocked down to my shoes. So kids, today’s lesson is don’t put water that’s carbonated in your water bottle, then walk all over Paris before you open it.
I left the metro without further incident, and walked over to a shop with scarves I’d liked and bought one in vivid Mandarin orange with white polka dots of varying sizes. Then I walked to Le Marché des Enfants Rouges, thinking I’d have pigeon pie and mint tea for an early supper, but no, too late. Headed back and passed a Scandinavian clothes shop called Cheap Monday and bought a white tee shirt with C H E A P P A R I S printed on it in black lettering. Maybe you had to be there, but it cracked me up. I ended up eating a savory buckwheat crepe at Breizh café, a joint everyone raves about, but not me. Meh, is the best I can say. I scouted Monoprix for a cheap and sturdy tote in case my purchases max out my suitcase and pulled some Euros out of the ATM. Home to the apartment, where I started the laundry, nuked a couple of apples in the microwave and wrote this up. Tomorrow is my final day in Paris. I figure I’ll pack then just wander. Maybe do a ParisWalk from the audio guide.
*I’ve only needed one sketchbook, but it’s the one I bought at Sennelier (not too big, not too small, etc).
** I haven’t had to use the battery pack since I started charging the iPhone and its Mophie case at bedtime. The iPhone battery is down to 20% around 3pm, the way I’ve been using it. Hit the Mophie recharge and there’s usually 60% or so left by the time I’m done for the day by 6 or7pm. Mophie is a game changer, in a good way.