Today was our first official day of exploring in Paris. And wouldn't you know it, its snowing - perfect (although the locals don't see it that way). Today we visit the Louvre Museum (http://www.louvre.fr/llv/musee/alaune.jsp?bmLocale=en).
The day starts off well as we manage to decipher the Paris Metro system and catch the right train to get there. Steeping off the train we navigated our way through the station to the street and are immediately met by a blast of icy wind blowing straight down the Seine. Walking turns out to be rather treacherous as the overnight snow has turned to ice, turning the pavements into mini ice rinks.
soon we are standing in the forecourt of the Louvre - and what a tremendous sight it is. From the giant glass pyramid to the vast expanse of the snow covered courtyard surrounded on all sides by magnificent buildings, it all says PARIS.
Entry is through the pyramid and down the escalators to the warm interior. Purchasing entry tickets (9 euro) is a breeze using the automated ticketing system and we're in. First thing to notice is that the Louvre layout is just as confusing as the streets - down stairs to go up, upstairs that don't really go up, doors that lead back to where you just came from. But, it IS the Louvre. The paintings are amazing. Finally we get to the Mona Lisa (just follow the trail of tourists - seems like the Mona Lisa is all they came to see). First impression is "That's it?". But stand there long enough and you begin to see the small nuances of the painting. "Aaaahhhh, now I see it" you say to yourself.
After about 4 hours of wandering and and gazing we made our way out to find a warm spot for a bit of lunch.
Looking at our guide map, we spot the Galleries Lafayette - reputed to be the second best department store in the world. So off we go, back out into the cold to find this shopping mecca. When we finally get there, it seems like every person in Paris has the same idea - think Boxing Day sales at Myers and then multiply it. Anyway, after wandering around aimlessly for an hour or so we called it quits and decided to head back to the apartment.
This is where the real adventure begins. Looking at the map we calculate it's no more than 1 - 2km to go, so walking seemed like a good option. Outside it is wet, cold, snowing, and getting dark (still only 3pm). To make matters worse, we exited the store onto a different street than the one we entered. The map didn't make sense (half the streets weren't on it), and we couldn't get our bearings properly. So, another hour wandering around aimlessly (wouldn't you know it, today is the only day when we can't find anyone who speaks English to point us in the right direction). By now its dark and getting colder, so discretion rather than valor is opted for. We hail a cab, point on the map where we want to go to, ans sit back to enjoy the warmth of the cab's heater.
Anyway, all ends well as we are soon back home safe and sound. Tomorrow we will venture out again, maybe to see the Eiffel Tower, or find some open air markets to visit.