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As the Wind Blows

Week 34: Dijon and Paris

FRANCE | Monday, 12 December 2011 | Views [1806]

When most people think of Dijon, they most likely will think of mustard. From now on, when I hear the word Dijon, I’ll think chaos. In theory it should not even had embedded itself in my memory for longer than the 12 hours we were there, however the difficulties our poor driver Bernard had in navigating a coach when half the streets were dug up to build tram tracks and every other street was closed down wouldn’t have been fun. Luckily calm old Bernard just ignored all the consistent blaring car horns and with the help of a local driver managed to get the coach to the hotel in one piece.

Understandably, the next morning we all wanted to leave Dijon and it’s dug up streets far behind. However the town seemed determined to hold us there for as long as possible. The lift of the hotel refused to let two of my travel companions leave thus delaying our departure. I’m just glad I took the stairs. Two flights of stairs or being stuck in a lift? Hmmm
We had to wait an hour for a man with a tool box to turn one screw and let them out of the lift. Some tradespeople have the easiest job.

And again I found myself in Paris.  

The first Sunday of the month in France means free entry into several tourist attractions, for example the Louvre. Only having an hour for lunch, I ignored my tour director’s misgivings about not having enough time to see the world’s most famous painting (she did after all almost leave me behind in a foreign land) and wandered off to see the converted palace.
I’ll admit that the only entrance I know to the Louvre is the secret one. If you asked me where the actual entrance is, I’d just stare at you blankly and wonder how everyone else got in, because there were no other tourists going in the secret entrance when I went but there were a sure lot of people inside.

The Mona Lisa is quite easy to find, there are signs everywhere and if all else fails there are bored guards standing around to help you out. The crowd to see the Mona Lisa was at least nine people deep when I was there, most just taking photos and not really observing the brushstroke, or what it is you do when you look at paintings. And with limited time, (because I didn’t trust the tour director to leave without me again), I followed suit.

But that painting is not what impressed me during my all too quick visit to the Louvre, it was the building itself and the Spanish Gallery. No-one ever really talks about Spanish artists; it’s all about the Italians and for a person who doesn’t know the first thing about art (well I do know about primary and secondary colours but that’s about it :P) I was definitely impressed by the Spanish paintings. I know this because the paintings made me stop and forgot about rushing for a minute or two. Then of course I reached my senses and rushed back to the meeting point. I would have stayed longer and sprinted, but I’m pretty sure security would have had a thing or two to say about that.

And this time I managed to let the Eiffel Tower take my breath away – literally because it’s so ridiculously windy up there! I wouldn’t recommend being up there in autumn, it is so cold at night! The only advantage though is that the lines aren’t as long in autumn, it only takes an hour waiting in line and the tickets to the top don’t sell out. That said Paris is so popular that there were long lines to every major attraction I past in the city although it wasn’t even term break. I wonder what makes Paris so popular and more particularly if I’ll ever see what everyone else sees in this most famous of cities.

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