I wish I had a more exciting answer but I actually have had a terrible cold! After my last post, I had a couple days of wonderful adventures but soon fell horribly ill! I’ve heard that other people have had a terrible cold recently so at least it’s not just me but it really knocked me out. I forgot that I haven’t had a cold or anything since the pandemic because of not being around that many people. I ended up with a bit of a lingering cough which is still bugging me but getting better. I’m almost glad I got ill while in France. It sounds crazy but I have always wanted to use the services of the magical pharmacies here and I got a solid chance to do so! By the end of my cold, I had been to three separate pharmacies on three separate visits so I got to meet all the pharmacists in my neighborhood! I’m lucky that I had a lovely host mom who made sure that I was taking care of myself and made so much soup to make my throat better. That helped as did the buckets of ice cream I ate…perhaps not the best food for a cold but it really hit the spot when I was down in the dumps. So in lieu of my weekly blog posts, I decided to aggregate the adventures of the past three weeks into one post. I had two great adventures before my illness and just got back from another weekend jaunt to Dijon. Without further ado, my adventures!
The Thursday following my last blog post, I was at the Louvre! Despite the lack of visitors to France in general, plenty of people are coming to the Louvre and the only ticket available was a 9am entry ticket. I got there bright and early and captured this lovely photo of the main triangle. I decided to tackle the Louvre with the help of Rick Steves’ audio tour which is available for free through his app. The tour was all about hitting the greatest hits of the Louvre and I felt very satisfied with my visit. The audio guide makes a disclaimer at the beginning that some exhibits may be moved or in storage and I’m glad that it was mentioned because this happened to me twice during the tour. Thankfully, I was able to figure my way around obstacles (hall renovations and missing statues) but if you aren’t able to, there are museum docents in almost every room in the more popular galleries. The audio tour focused on the Danton wing and covered masterpieces like the Venus de Milo to the Mona Lisa to Eugene Delacroix’s painting of Liberty Leading the People. It was AMAZING to see all of those pieces in the same place. I’ve been seeing them and studying them since I was a little girl and it was truly awesome to see them in person. With the audio guide, it took me about an hour and a half to see the greatest hits so I had some time to wander around. I really don’t think it’s possible to see the Louvre all in one day and I realized that since I’ll be in Paris for a bit, I can always go back if I realize that I missed something. I ended up touring the decorative arts section and the apartment recreations which were neat. The Louvre seemed pretty empty to me and I relished the chance to feel like I had the Louvre all to myself. It did start towards the end of my visit but none of the crowds that I saw seemed like pre-covid size. I left shortly before noon as I was all museum-ed out for the day. Again, one of the advantages of living in Paris means that I don’t feel as stressed about seeing everything all at once. I’m still not sure what my final verdict on the Louvre is! I definitely didn’t like it as much as the Musee D’Orsay because some galleries just seemed filled with the same stuff but again, it had so many amazing things! One of the advantages and disadvantages of using a giant palace for a museum is the space. I think both museums have their merits and if you are visiting, you should try to see both. However, I did like the Musee D’Orsay because it felt much less formal to visit. I had to prepare a lot before going to the Louvre and I would say that it was comparable to my experience at Versailles in terms of planning. I hope to finish seeing the Musee D’Orsay soon and I’ll definitely be back at the Louvre sometime soon but I have a few museums on my list before I get back there.
Next up on the adventures was seeing the Palais du Luxembourg! The weekend of the 17th and 18th were the Patrimony days in France which meant that many museums had free admission or places that weren’t normally open for tours allowed visitors. A friend, L, mentioned that the Senat, housed within the Palace, would be open for walk through tours and I jumped on the opportunity. It took us about three hours total from standing in line to leaving the petite palais but it was worth it! I got to see all the parts of the Senat and gawk at the incredible architecture and interior decorations. The ceilings were incredible! I also felt very welcome. They had English language materials which helped to introduce me to the French Senat and their work. It also had very helpful background on the building and the paintings within. It was a great experience and I’m very glad I went!
On Monday, L and I went to go see the Arc de Triomphe which was wrapped for the Christo and Jean Claude art installation. When I first got to Paris, a month and a half ago now, I saw the scaffolding on the Arc and thought they were just repairing parts of the Arc. However, now I know better! They were putting scaffolding on the exterior so they could better secure the fabric to the art. The wrapping of the Arc was the culmination of the work of Christo and Jean Claude who were known for wrapping other famous monuments such as the Reichstag in Germany and the Pont Neuf in Paris. There were very helpful guides everywhere, sponsored by the Christo and Jean Claude Foundation, who were handing out fabric swatches of the same material that the Arc is wrapped in. It was a neat thing to see and really a once in a lifetime experience. The Arc is now unwrapped and I think they’re still removing parts of the art installation. Hopefully I’ll get to see the original Arc soon but it was neat to see it wrapped.
After my Arc adventures, I ended up in bed for a whole week trying to recover from my cold which lingered into the next week. However, by the beginning of October, I was feeling suitably recovered and took a train visit to go see Mo in Dijon. I left on a late train on Friday and came back late on Sunday night. On Saturday, I took a bike tour with Actif Tours which has two offices in the Burgundy Region. The bike tour entailed two wine tastings and a lunch along with the bike rental, helmets, and baskets along with a pre-set gps route for us to follow. I ended up on the bike tour with a lovely couple fresh off their wedding and it was fun to chat with them. Leaving Dijon was a bit stressful but we managed! We left town and got onto the bike path that goes through the vineyards. It was around 10am when we left and we got to see some of the harvesting of the grapes which was neat. It was crazy how you could go straight from town into the vineyards on the bike trail. The bike paths were supposed to be paved which I think was a bit of a stretch for the imagination. The paths aren’t very well-maintained which made me glad for the heavy duty rentals and the bike helmets. One wrong turn could have landed any of us in some serious trouble so I would caution any potential tour takers of this risk! We rolled up a bit late to our first tasting but were still able to get in. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the tasting room, the staff, or the wines at the first stop so that was a bit of a let down. The next stop for us was lunch which was INCREDIBLE. We were booked for lunch at a Michelin starred restaurant La Millésime which was a welcome surprise. It was amazing and I cannot believe the quality of the food or the service. We started with shrimp tartare, then on to risotto with snails, and finished with a vanilla panna cotta with a divine raspberry jam on top. It was the best meal I’ve had in France so far. I was really blown away! We also had some great wine and coffee to go with our meal so kudos to the restaurant! After that, we slowly pedaled to our next tasting, at a much more leisurely pace with our very full bellies! We got to the last tasting stop at Côte de Nuits which was much better than the first. It was more set up for groups and we had a personal sommelier who walked us through the tasting. I ended up getting a few bottles which were pricier than I’d like but they’ll be a nice treat later in the year! We took a train back with our bikes and ended up safely back in Dijon! A wild weekend and a fun experience in Dijon. And that’s a wrap on my adventures for now, I do have to do school work at some point! Happy travels and stay safe out there!