No class today! Some of the group headed off to London for the weekend and those of us who stayed have free rein of the place until they get back... I slept in this morning - well, as much as possible when there was a live band playing outside our hotel window on the Place d'Italie. Apparently today was a French national holiday, so a few rousing (literally) numbers were played for about a half hour. After my roommates departed for London, I hopped in the shower and afterwards was promptly greeted by a text from my friend Kellie, also on the trip and not going to London for the weekend.
Kellie and I met outside her Metro stop (she's at the other hotel) and decided to go to the Louvre for the day. We found our way on the Metro and disembarked at the Carrousel du Louvre, an underground shopping and visitors complex underground which leads to the entrance of the museum. After a few attempts at the self-service ticket machine, we made our plan and headed toward the Grand Salon to see La Jaconde (as she's called here in France, or as we know her, the Mona Lisa) and other fabulous Italian paintings housed there in the Denon wing of the museum.
After finishing there, we trekked to the other two wings, the Richelieu and Sully, this time accompanied by the audio guide (we learned after the first wing that it was pretty essential if we wanted to learn anything about the artifacts or paintings as all of the accompanying signs on the wall are in French - imagine that!). We saw 17th, 18th, and 19th century French paintings in the Sully wing, and decorative Renaissance Objets d'arte in the Richelieu. Between those two we stopped for a much needed rest and a coke (a respite, if you will).
Due to the holiday, the museum closed early (usually it is open until 9 or so on Friday nights), so we turned in our audio guides and headed back to Kellie's hotel area to find a cafe for dinner. Success! Managed to find a great little place on the Bastille roundabout where we sat and drank an entire bottle of red wine and ate fabulous pasta with gorgonzola sauce, sliced jambon, and sun dried tomatoes. Delish! Wandered around afterwards and managed to find a second Starbuck's (we found the first one in the Carrousel and had lunch there - I confess!) and stopped in for a last cuppa before heading home.
Tomorrow I visit....Giverny! Upon arriving back at my hotel tonight, some of my pals (who are the program staff and faculty from UF) were in the lobby for our nightly happy hour (which usually lasts longer than an hour) and told me of their plans to visit Monet's home outside of Paris. All the times I have been to Paris and to France, I've never had the opportunity to visit Giverny....it's a dream come true! And with great friends! I'm so excited!!! More info and photos from that journey soon....