When my merry band of Muppets and myself were in Paris, we had ONE day. ONE DAY! I know people who had FIVE days and did not see everything that Paris has to offer. I had to think and plan very carefully about what was important to me. I polled the Muppets, and asked what was important to them. To Genetic Offspring, the architecture of Paris was key. The Eiffel Tower was such an important piece for him. The structure itself helped change the way bridges around the world were made. So Eiffel Tower – CHECK! Chatter Box was DYING to shop. Clearly she has my sister’s Shopping Gene. CHECK! Honey was excited to see PARIS! Check! The rest of the crew were happy to see what Paris had to offer so off we went!
After Notre Dame, we walked along the Seine to the Louvre. Just so you know, it isn’t all that close. Google Maps said it was less then 2Km. We didn’t follow THAT route, not us! We went the long way. The long way included the views of the Seine which were gorgeous.
When we arrived, my mom and I made arrangements to split the group. Those who did not wish to see the Louvre left for an afternoon of lunch and shops and would meet on the bridge covered in locks in TWO HOURS. My offspring did not have a choice. I imposed a ban on free choice. We were IN PARIS standing in front of THE LOUVRE. Leonardo De Vinci and Michelangelo had some of their pieces in that building! Although the Offspring may not appreciate it today, I knew years down the road they could say “I stood in front of the Mona Lisa and looked upon her with my own eyes”.
Two Hours, okay I could do it. I needed a plan and I needed to stay focused. Honey and I decided to stick to the Denon wing. That is where Mona hangs out. She is famous enough that my offspring knew who she was. We entered through the side through Cour Carree. It seemed like miles before we saw it. Through the arch way we saw the glass pyramid, the entrance. Famous in it’s own right but for those of you who saw The DaVinci Code, you could recognize it immediately. This thrilled Chatterbox because Tom Hanks was there! YAY Tom Hanks! He was Woody in Toy Story 1,2 &3! Already the Louvre was making connections with my offspring. We stood in the endless line out side, gazing at the architecture of the old palace where one of the Louis lived. Once we went through security, just like the airport, we were in! Down the long escalator into the crowds of tourists all wanting to visit Mona, just like us.
I grabbed a map, and off we went. Ten minutes into our visit, it became clear to me I needed a more detailed game plan. I made a list of the works of art that were MUST SEES for me, I told Genetic Offspring and handed him the map. He studied it for about five minutes. Then folded it carefully and put it in his pocket. “Follow me” he replied with tremendous confidence. Of course we followed, I couldn’t let him get lost!
He led us to several Leonardo pieces including Mona Lisa, Captive by Michelangelo, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon, Psyche and Cupid by Canova and Colossal Statue of Ramesses II. Of course we saw more along the way and wings were closed which made navigating difficult, but Genetic Offspring sees the map in ways others don’t. He knew how to get around unscheduled changes and find uncrowded secret pathways.
The most significant moment for me was to be able to stand before La Vierge a l’Enfant avec Sainte Anne by Leonardo De Vinci. I was 1 foot away. I could reach out and touch it if I wanted to be arrested. I stood in the SAME place the Master himself did as he skillfully maneuvered his brush and manipulated the paint. I could feel the emotion of the painting and witnessed the depth in the background. It was clear to me he was a genius. I witnessed it with my own eyes. His contemporaries all had halos around their subjects. De Vinci painted with knowledge and conviction. He painted for himself and not what others thought he should paint. This is what brought out the emotion and passion. I must admit, I cried.
The Mona Lisa was beautiful, but being famous doesn’t make you the best. She was under glass a surrounded by a million people. I could not feel the same emotion I experienced with Sainte Anne. I was stunned by the volume of people. I am pretty sure it was the same number as the entire population of Canada.
From there we travelled the rest of the Denon Salon, and saw other great works on canvas and stone. None moved me like Sainte Anne.
All of this and more in 2 hours.