Paris is often touted as the city of love although I personally don’t find it especially romantic. For me, Paris is a city to love. As a “world city”, I expected it to be as bustling and manic as London, but have been pleasantly surprised to find a quiet and remarkably clean city of 2.2 million people instead. Three weeks after our first trip to Paris we were back again – the first time we have returned to any of our destinations! The weekend, which included a visit to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, confirmed my love for this pleasant and undoubtedly aesthetically pleasing city.
Despite having a small population, Paris is usually flooded with tourists and I am very glad we purchased tickets in advance for the attractions we visited. In addition to the usual crowds we happened to be in Paris on the opening weekend of the UEFA Euro 2016. For people not from Europe, this is a football (*cough* soccer…) tournament that is a big deal for the football-mad countries here. The park in front of the Eiffel Tower was cordoned off to act as a huge fan zone and a large football dangled from the tower itself. In the late morning crush, we ascended to the halfway point of the tower and waited in a slow line to get to the very top. The crowds and lines even on the tower itself were a little annoying, although I suppose it could not have been helped. From the top, we were able to notice the sunspot design of the city; monuments or buildings would have roads radiating out in all directions. Many of those roads were avenues lined with large, lush trees making for an incredibly pretty cityscape indeed.
A tourists adventure in Paris would not be complete without a visit to the Louvre museum. I think this place is so iconic, that the word iconic doesn’t even do it justice. Again, we were glad to have tickets in advance allowing us to skip a huge line outside who had to wait in the rain. (If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know it has rained every time we’ve been in France!) It is a truly enormous establishment with a building that in itself is worth seeing, let alone all the priceless art within.
The Louvre attracts a staggering number of visitors (8.8 million last year) and is probably the most popular attraction in the whole city. The size of the museum means the density of people varies throughout the exhibitions. Crowds rush past much of the artwork to begin eagerly snapping countless photos and selfies around the most well-known pieces such as the Mona Lisa and statue of Aphrodite. Tour guides led clusters of people through the halls, creating a cacophony of languages and enthusiastic exclamations that followed them around like a cloud. What captured my attention more than anything else was a grand room filled with enormous paintings by Eugène Delacroix. Without any knowledge of art history or Delacroix, I found his paintings to be dark, brooding and emotionally raw. It was satisfying to have an experience like that to make the visit even more worthwhile!