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devil duck

Paris stuff

The Louvre is a really big building.  Not one of these picayune museums like the Natural History or the Met in New York; this place was a medieval fortress, then a Baroque palace larger than Versailles, before becoming a public art museum.  Much of the medieval and Renaissance stuff was closed today, so we toured the medieval foundations (rediscovered in the 1980's while they were digging the foundations of the new pyramid underground entrance), wandered through a few rooms of Greek, Roman, & Etruscan antiquities, and saw the medieval "objets d'art" collection (enamelled boxes, bishops' croziers, ivory mirror cases and writing tablets, encaustic floor tiles, etc.)  We were starting to wear out, even after leaving for lunch and coming back, but we managed to see the collections of 15th-16th-c. French and Low Countries painting, before giving up and returning to the hotel.  The Louvre is organized oddly (to my mind): first into the categories of "antiquities", "sculpture", "paintings", and "objets d'art", then by nationality, and only then by chronology... so if you want to see 14th-century stuff you have to look in a dozen different parts of the museum.

I took 20-25 photographs in the Louvre, almost using up the first roll of film.

We've encountered a few practical problems in Paris.  The one we expected is the amount of cigarette smoke: only in heavily touristed areas is it even possible to sit in a "no smoking" section of a restaurant.  And the beverages: by volume, water and soda are sometimes as expensive as wine.  But we didn't anticipate a cash shortage: all the guidebooks say the most convenient source of cash (and at decent exchange rates) is ATM's, most of which are on the same networks as most ATM's in the US; but we've tried half a dozen different machines at different banks, and not one is willing to give us cash.  I brought travellers' checks (5x$100, Amex starting RA289-384-825), but $500 won't get us through two weeks.
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