Mona is a rock star!
We decided last evening that we are going to the Louvre today...a Louvre day for her and me! How totally cool is that?
I just cherry-picked all of the info from my travel binder for the Louvre, for breakfast at Cafe Marly, for every single thing I think we'll need to know to get there and to enjoy the whole experience. Uncle Mikey told us yesterday that we should aim for arrival about 8:30 A.M. to beat the line-up and then we'd be in ahead of the masses. So, that's what we've planned.
Early to bed last night, up with the sun this morning, showered and quickly out the door...walked to the Louvre, came around the corner into the courtyard and there are only a few people in the lineup at the pyramid! That's a bonus. I was planning on going through the courtyard to the Palais Royal entrance for a shorter wait for our tickets, but there are very few people lined up, so we head right for the entrance.
A shock of shocks...the Louvre is closed today!
No wonder there are no line-ups...only a few scattered and stunned-looking early morning tourists like us, wondering why the hell we got up so early for a day at the closed Louvre.
I feel quite like a dummy. How did I miss this information in all of my reading and asking questions, browsing on the Louvre's website.
Is it remotely possible that this was not posted on the site?
I bet I missed it totally, or at the very least, read it and promptly forgot about it.
Quelle surprise! Quelle idiot.
We take a few photos here and there, beside the infinity pond, beside a gorgeous wrought iron gate grille...
What to do? What to do?
After staggering blindly through the myriad of cafes across the street from the north side of the Louvre, we finally decide on a Starbuck's because it is familiar. No yelling at me, please? I know it's heresy to admit to going to a Starbuck's while in Paris, the home of the fabulous coffee, espresso, cafe creme...but we did it, so there. It wasn't fantastic...it wasn't even adequate, but somehow it felt like a safe place for a bite to eat when we were starving and couldn't find anything else that we liked.
Fruit salad for me and a sub for the girl. Not the best of breakfasts but good enough for now. Green tea for me and a coffee for her. Hardly the impressive and auspicious early morning meal that I envisioned for the two of us at Cafe Marly!
Over breakfast, we decide that Plan B should be carrying out Taryn's souvenir shopping blitz, so I guide her to the blocks of shops along the street across from the Louvre. She hits paydirt! Eiffel Tower key chains by the dozen, funky art prints, cool handbags, loads of souvenir-type things that are perfect for what she wants! We are both delighted. She is excited by her treasures and I am relieved that she found what she wanted.
I spot Angelina's ahead of us and make plans with Taryn to meet there for a delectable hot chocolate that this tea room is famous for. I stop in, ask the host at the front counter if we need reservations for later on and he kindly tells me, "Oh, no, Madame! I will always find room for you, no worries!"
Back to the streets of Rivoli for more gift purchases for Taryn...
It's amazing the number of people in this area. You could start a small city with the population of the shops along rue Rivoli.
Just a few interesting people that I notice today...
Two women, likely in their late 70's, are buying gelato from the vendor, a young girl about 16 or 17...they cannot make up their minds which flavor they want, so they are buying several in a variety of flavors, all in cones! I am going to stick around and see just how they manage to carry those gelato-filled sugar cones on this hot, humid July day!
A thin young woman, dressed in dirty and ragged clothing, walks way too close for comfort past my right side, making me clutch my belongings very close to my body. As she passes, she drops.....oh, no! It can't be!...a "gold" ring. She stops suddenly, scoops it up and spins around toward me, asking in fractured English, "Do you speak English? You dropped this, Madame! You dropped this!"
Like hell I did!
Thanks to my good friends on my travel site, Slowtrav, I've read about this scam and although she catches me off-guard, I react in a way to make ST'ers proud. I look her in the eye and say a loud and resounding, "NO! Not interested. Leave me along!"
Funny thing is....she does. Moving quickly ahead to the next victim, she is gone into the crowd, as quickly as she has appeared.
I'm still in shock about how slick this scam is worked.
I want to shout, "Get a job!" to her as she leaves, but my good manners prevail and I stifle the urge, although I've no idea why. Seems to me that this is why the scammers get to keep scamming people, because no one lets them know what they are doing is a pain in the ass. We're all too well-mannered to say anything and it is allowed because no one speaks up. Anyway...I'll get off my soap box, now, before someone pushes me off...
Parents with two small children, all very obviously suffering from the heat and the sun and too much junk food, are struggling to get control of the kids and not make a fuss while doing it. They are definitely not successful.
As the baby begins to cry, the older child's eyes fill with tears as she looks at both parents and then...the tears roll down her sticky, sweaty face. Clearly overwhelmed by the heat and the crush of people, both children are letting their parents know in the only way they can that they've had enough.
I stop by the mother, tell her quietly that there is a Starbuck's just ahead and that it has air conditioning, bathrooms and cold drinks. She looks at me with tears in HER eyes and whispers, "Thank you!" Seems like I'm on a Starbucks' cheerleader squad today!
Now it's time for us to take our well-earned break from the heat and the people and the craziness that is visible in this area today...Angelina's is next.
We are met at the entry by the host who remembers that we were in about an hour ago, takes us to a table way far in the back of the restaurant, where it is quiet and cool and there are very few people. They guy must be reading our minds!
We order hot chocolate for the missy, green tea for me...and macarons, one pistache and one chocolat. As we wait for our treats, I am struck by the contrast between the street outside and the calm and serene atmosphere inside...this is bliss! This is heavenly.
The order comes, the hot chocolate is served in a dainty white pitcher with a gold rim, and the name 'Angelina's' in gold script on the side. Along with the pitcher of hot chocolate and her cup and saucer, Taryn is served a small matching china oval of whipped cream.
The server bends down, whispers conspiratorially to Taryn, "I'm not supposed to have any opinion about this, BUT in my opinion, the hot chocolate doesn't need the whipped cream. Of course, that's just my opinion, Madamoiselle!"
Then, he serves my green tea in a silver pot, along with the cup and saucer and two matching plates of macarons, one pistache and one chocolat.
The hot chocolate is sweet, thick and deep dark chocolate-coloured. Taryn sips hers, I taste with a dip of my spoon. Unbelievably sweet, rich and chocolate-y...unbelievable!
My tea is excellent, just the right strength and hot as can be. Perfect.
We try our macarons, and for my taste, they are a lot too sweet. I can handle some of the pistache macaron, but the chocolat macaron is incredibly sweet, and is too much for me. Taryn also agrees, and we are sad to do it, but there will be quite a bit of the macaron left on our plates.
The hot chocolate is deadly, so rich and sweet that Taryn can only manage to sip it a little. I try to cut it with whipped cream, even thought the waiter suggested not to do that, and it's still too much for either of us to drink any more of it. Our bill arrives with a little tray of 2 mini-macarons from the server. We look at each other, grit our teeth and manage to eat one each. We are now on a sugar-high, like no other! My tummy is actually hurting from the richness of everything!
After a quick trip upstairs to the toilette, we pay our bill and leave. I'm totally happy that we stopped at Angelina's, even though we were unable to finish our treats. A lovely respite in the middle of a hot and humid Parisien afternoon...lovely.
From the Rivoli shops, we walk towards Tuilleries Jardins for photos, then back across the bridge and home.
Tomorrow, we'll try this all over again!
Stairway down from the toilette at Angelina's
"There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles." ~ Unknown