The third day that we spent in Paris, just happened to be our 5th year anniversary. Eamon and I knew that we had to make it count! We went through all of the places that we had seen the day before on the bus tour. From this list, we chose our top 3 to go and see properly. Our top three were: The Louvre, Musée de l’Armée and Palais Garnier.
The first thing we decided to visit was Musée de l’Armée which is at Les Invalides. It is a war museum inside a series of buildings that contain a hospital and retirement home for war veterans. One thing I enjoy most about travelling is the learning that comes with it. We were lucky to be able to see the Napolean exhibit while we were there. The exhibit had amazing artefacts like the bed he died in when he was banished to St Helena island and his most prized possessions. Rooms upon rooms of guns, armour and clothes of all wars from antiquity to the 20th century. The collection is massive and I can safely say that I have never seen so many guns, canons and swords in one place.
My favourite part of the museum was visiting Napolean’s tomb, where he was moved in 1840. The dome that his remains are housed under is resplendent with its ornate gold leafing. It is absolutely breathtaking from outside, but then you go inside and your breath catches once again. Painted ceilings in the most detailed fashions. Ice-cold marble everywhere and the most beautiful stone angels watching over his sarcophagus. The attention to detail that was used in this building just shows the love Napolean instilled in his fellow man and the respect that was had for him. It was definitely one of my favourite moments in Paris.
After touring the museum and tomb, Eamon and I headed to the Palais Garnier opera house. We admired the hordes of people sitting on the steps, listening to the performers who were putting their talents on show for everyone on the street. Unfortunately the line was incredibly long and the famous opera house was packed with people. So, we decided to give this one a miss. I do regret not seeing the infamous crystal chandelier. Nothing would have made me happier than seeing a show there, but it was not meant to be. I would suggest to anyone going to Paris, to book ahead for this popular site and not make the same mistake I did. While it is beautiful from the outside, I am sure it is every bit of magnificent on the inside.
After my disappointment from the opera house, Eamon and I were not very optimistic about our chances at the Louvre. We decided to take our time getting there, because if we happened to not get in then at least the journey there would be worth it. We walked through all of the parks and even stopped for a lunch of salami and butter baguettes. As we were walking through the Tuileries Gardens, the heavens opened up and flooded Paris with rain. We stumbled into shelter under tree branches. As soon as the lightning started, we began to regret our decision.
The rain was so intense and we could see the ground becoming wet so fast. We knew it wasn’t going to let up anytime soon so we made a run for the museum. It was only once we got back to London, that we heard of the people who were injured by the lightning in that storm. Eamon and I are so blessed that we escaped the same fate.
We made it to the underground entrance in record time and the line was a quick wait to get into the museum. We were lucky to get inside so quickly and we took full advantage by staying in the museum until half an hour from closing. As an arts student, it is on your bucket list to go the Louvre. You yearn to see the Mona Lisa and all of the other beautiful pieces this huge museum holds. Eamon and I even took turns at re-imagining life and the logistics of navigating the huge building when it was originally a fortress and not a museum. The behemoth collection of artefacts and artworks is mind boggling and you definitely need more than a day to explore the museum if you want to see everything in detail.
After these three mini-adventures, we were HUNGRY! We took the metro to the Place de la République. We unknowingly walked in on a demonstration that has been going on since March 2015. It started at the time of the labour law protests in the country and has now become a medium for anyone to come and debate anything. There was singing, dancing and talking, lots of talking! We ate our last dinner in Paris watching the youth come together for something really incredible. It was the perfect end to our trip in Paris and gave us a taste of the REAL part of the city and not just the parts that the tourists see.
It was magical, and I could not have asked for anything better. For Eamon and I to spend our anniversary learning as much as we possibly could. We really did leave the next morning completely enriched.