Le Dernier Weekend à Paris
Leaving Marrakech was the most tumultuous experience I've ever had at an aiport. Our flight left at 6 a.m. To be safe, we pulled an all-nighter, watching movies and trying to figure out how we were going to pack our bags of spices, bottles of argan oil and bundles of jewelry. We were also terrified of oversleeping and miss our flight. I love Marrakech, but had no interest in being stranded there.
Running late and exhausted, we arrived at baggage check in the nick of time, only to discover that both of our suitcases exceeded the weight limit. In a frenzy we were pulling anything and everything from our luggage and stuffing it in our carry-on bags.
In a thoughtless moment, I stuffed my entire toiletry bag in Isabel's carry on (she had more room than me), we checked our bags and made it another 20 feet before being stopped and checked by TSA security. Nearly every item in my toiletry bad exceeded the 3.4 ounce limit on liquids. Delirious with exhaustion, I tearfully watched TSA confiscate my skin care products. I argued and even considered paying $100 to check another bag to avoid the loss.
I was most upset about the huge bottle of fresh gardenia-infused argan oil, that I cost next to nothing from a small factory somewhere deep in the medina. Isabel again was the voice of reason, forcing me to move on both physically and emotionally down the terminal and on to the plane. I was in tears and we barely made our flight. Travel is not always glamorous and exciting.
I was grateful by the time we had landed back in Paris and checked in to our hotel. For our remaining time in the city, we chose to stay in the Hotel André Latin. Situated on a quiet corner of Paris' 5th arrondissement and comfortably close to the Panthéon and Luxembourg Gardens. André Latin is tiny and quiet and provided some much needed peace after a chaotic week in Morocco.
By the time we arrived back in Paris, we had been on two long flights and flown from an entirely different continent. To relax and unwind we bought a bottle of Beaujoulais, ambled by the Panthéon and wandered around the Luxembourg Gardens. We sat on the plush greenery, among clusters of picnicking students and families. It was a perfectly serene evening.
Isabel and I spent our first full day in Paris tackling a giant. I finally beheld le Musée du Louvre.
There has never been an art gallery renowned as the Louvre. Brimming with priceless treasures, the museum itself is also a chef d'oeuvre of Paris, and is by far the most-visited museum in the world. Housed in the Palais du Louvre and originally a 12th century fortress, it eventually became the home to French kings before being restored as a museum.
Half submerged underground, the palace is spread out on over four floors with hundreds of winding staircases. There are
three separate wings that house over 35,000 invaluable works of art from Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Greek antiquities to masterpieces by artists such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rembrandt. I imagine that it would take six months to actually view and scrutinize every masterpiece the Louvre.
We only had one full day, it was amazing, exhausting and not enough. The collections at the Louvre have been amassed by subsequent French governments for hundreds of years, and include some of the world's most illustrious pieces
such as DaVinci's La Jaconde or Mona Lisa, Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People and artifacts from ancient Egypt like The Great Sphinx of Tanis which dates all the way back to 2600 BC.
What's more, the creators behind the Louvre are geniuses. The museum is a labyrinth of different wings, rooms housing
statues and paintings, and even an underground interactive wing that shows exactly how the fortress transitioned to a palace and finally became a museum.
I could move here and that's the point. You become so engrossed and so immersed by the centuries pf perennial art bedecking every square inch of the over 650,000 square foot museum. The hours slip by and suddenly you don't even know what year it is, but you're weary and starving.
Fear not. The Louvre has you covered, boasting 15 restaurants and cafes dispersed all throughout the museum. No matter where you are when the hunger and panic set in, there is likely a slightly overpriced but delicious cafe nearby.
We were exploring the both gorgeous and ostentatious gilded Napoleon III Apartments, when our famine hit. Nearby was the indoor-outdoor Le Café Richelieu / Angelina with three tasteful and elegant rooms inside the museum. Slate-blue walls, marble-topped tables and gilded mirrors; the terrace overlooks the Cour Napeoléan with stunning views of the Pyramid and the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
We dined open-air, admiring the palace's grounds from what used to the office for the French Minister of Finance. For lunch I sipped on rosé, snacked on a Croque Monsieur and shared some Pommes Grenouille with Isabel. Afterward, she sipped on Angelina's famously rich and thick Chocolat Chaud Angelina while I indulged my sweet tooth with Angelina's classic Paris-New York pâtisserie, with choux pastry, pecan praline light cream and crunchy clusters of pecan praline. I don't know if I'll ever be happier than I was in that moment eating that pâtisserie.