Before I get to our last day, I forgot about the River Cruise we did Thursday night. We boarded our ferry in front of the Eiffel Tower and spent an hour cruising along the River Seine. It was hard to get good pictures (between the boat moving and it being dark) so we only have a couple here. On Tuesday we had met our tour guide on Pont Neuf (translated means New Bridge, even though its the oldest bridge in Paris). They named it Pont Neuf, to distinguish from the older/existing bridges that were lined with houses on both sides. (The reason the new bridge was not to have houses was because the King said that they would impede his view of the island from the Louvre, where he lived. What we didn't realize until the cruise is that the underneath is lined with faces. These carved faces (mascarons) are caricatures of the tradesmen common to the period when it was built(late 1500s)
Then back on land, Matt took this one as we headed out from underneath the Eiffel Tower
Thursday was our last full day in Paris, and we definitely made the most of it! We got an early start to head to the Louvre for our Paris Muse tour. The girls in front of the Louvre.
This tour is designed specifically for kids and the girls loved it. The tour is a treasure hunt that starts and ends underneath the glass pyramid. During the treasure hunt they have to find clues around the museum that lead them to their treasure at the end. We saw the highlights of the Louvre, learned quite a bit about the history, and had a great time!
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian code of law dating to 1700 BC. It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and this was an example of the laws on display for his people. At the top of the statue you can see Hammurabi receiving the laws from the sun god (we know the figure seated is a god because he has horns. In art from this time period anytime a god was depicted he had horns.) The code had 282 laws with scaled punishments, many are versions of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" and consequences are graded depending on social status, of slave versus free man. A few other interesting laws:
If you accuse a man of murder, but cannot prove it, you will be put to death.
If a builder builds a house and the house falls over and kills the man that lives there, the builder will be put to death.
If a son strikes his father his hand will be cut off.
The Code is inscribed in the Akkadian language, using cuneiform script. Here is a closer look at the ancient figures;
Based on what the girls would learn in one room, they would be given a clue and have to find an item in another room that fit the clue. Here is Ella searching for an answer...
The next item was not part of the game, but she showed it to us because it was one of her favorites, and subsequently it was Matt and Vivian's favorite piece as well! This guy is 9000 years old...
He is visiting from Jordan. France is helping the Jordanians with a museum so as a thank you they loaned the Louvre this guy for 30 years. This guardian was commonly found in coffins with people buried 9000 years ago to help their soul get to heaven - pretty cool - Matt and I would like someone to help our souls get to heaven :-)
The Louvre was the palace of the King before it was a museum. Although the current palace was built in the early 16th century. King Francois I decided to have the old palace torn down and replaced with a "more modern" one. This is a model of the previous castle
The area underneath the castle where the moat originally was is all that remains of the original castle (this dates back to the 12th century)
Another favorite of ours was the Venus de Milo - her history, and learning about the time period is also fascinating...
And of course, a trip to the Louvre would not be complete without visiting the most famous woman in the world...
Do you know why she is so famous? I always thought it was her smile that made her famous.... (I'll come back to this) This is the crowd taking pictures of her...
After this the girls had all their clues to figure out how and where to get there prize. So once they arrived at the destination, they had to ask someone in French a question to receive their prize.
It is a board game called "The Wild Goose Chase Game through Paris". Back to the Mona Lisa - about 100 years ago she was stolen by an Italian that believed that she should reside in Italy and not France. So the French publicly put out all kinds of posters, and publicity searching for this stolen treasure. Over the 2 years she was missing she received so much publicity that once she was found and return people starting coming to see her - and they have never stopped.
After a quick lunch break we were on to the Opera House (Home of the Phantom of the Opera).
This is the ceiling in the room people would enter the opera house. It is here they would check their coats and bags before proceeding in. Charles Garnier wanted to make sure his signature was on the Opera House and its hidden in the ceiling here - it says his full name Jean Louis Charles Garner 1861 1875 - see if you can see it (the numbers are easier to spot - they start about where the hour hand would be at 530 or a little after...)
The staircase was they area where all the women would show off their jewels and dresses - but you were only allowed to use this entrance if you were a season ticket holder otherwise you had to use the back stairwell.
The main foyer is where people would congregate during intermission. After the show the men would gather her to "conduct business" and meet the dancers and performers, the women went straight home.
The stage is so large in the auditorium - our guide told us that you could fit the Arc de Triomphe on the stage!
The Phantom of the Opera's box...
Chagall painted the ceiling (well technically his students everything but the self portrait that he did, but he is given the credit). It is quite different than the rest of the art throughout the building. Garnier wanted the auditorium to have lots of color and be full of life.
Next stop, the all English book shop Shakespeare and Company (a common hang out for Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce among others). When you buy a book there you can have it stamped to say Shakespeare and Company Paris (with a picture of Shakespeare) - so of course we each got at least 1 book there!
Somewhere in here we got some gelato (and we are kind of thinking the French might to gelato even better than the Italians, I'm just sayin'). Vivian saw this glass shop where they sell tiny glass animals for a couple of Euro each so since Tuesday (when we were on our tour) she had been wanting to go back to the shop - so she got a tiny hippo, an owl, and a swan. They are very loved glass animals, and they all the chips to prove how much they are loved already!
Next - off to the playground. We heard there was a great one at the Luxembourg Gardens (thanks Andrea M!), but sadly we arrived at 7pm right as they were closing! Who knew a playground would close at 7pm on a gorgeous evening in Paris??? So we found a spot buy they garden and read our books we had just picked up.
After a quick trip back to our apartment we were off for our last outing. The Eiffel Tower! We waited in the queue, but sadly by the time we arrived at the ticket window they were no longer selling tickets to the top - so we went to the second floor (almost half way up) - here are a few pics...
One last carousel ride - this time the one right in front of the Eiffel Tower (so this is the third Carousel in Paris)
Then we headed back to our apartment, and gazed out this window until the Eiffel Towered sparkled the last time at 1am! (This time they had turned the lights to the tower off - and only the sparkling lights were on - INCREDIBLE).
It was a FANTASTIC TRIP, and truly - I CANNOT WAIT to return to Paris! I just hope it doesn't take us another 17 years to get back! Thanks for joining us on our journey!