Au revoir, Paris, Buongiorno, Roma!

As I write this, I’m wedged into my EasyJet seat, flying high over the French countryside. We’ve had a great week in Paris and are wondering what will come next.

But I’m also still digesting our Paris experience, both literally and figuratively. I had my last pain au chocolate at the airport this morning. For just 4 euros (less than what we paid at the airport) I could have another, but somehow it just doesn’t seem right any more.

Three days ago we visited the Louvre. They’ve got a new deal for photographers there — in the most popular exhibition halls, there’s no photography whatsoever — flash or no flash. Since 90 percent of all tourists don’t know how to turn their flash off, this is probably a reasonable requirement. The signs in the museum claimed that all works on display at the Louvre are freely available on their website, but since I’m on a plane at 35,000 feet, I can’t confirm that right now.

But some of the “lesser” exhibits still allow photography. Nora was quite impressed with this gigantic column capital from Darius’ palace in ancient Persia. I have to say, I was too.

Another cool thing they’re starting to do in the Louvre is incorporate a few pieces of modern art among ancient masterworks. This elegant carnival mirror made the antiquities of Babylon much more fun to visit:

The next day we made quick work of L’Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysées, and L’Orangerie, where Monet’s most spectacular Water Lilies reside in their custom-made home. I took a few photos, but nothing spectacular. The coolest thing was a movie I made of the traffic in the roundabout encircling L’Arc de Triomphe, but for some reason I can’t get iMovie to work on this computer, so I won’t be posting it now. Maybe I’ll figure out what’s wrong later in the trip and post the movie then.

We had a bit of extra time, and our six-day museum pass hadn’t expired, so we decided to make an unplanned visit to the Centre de Georges Pompidou, the national museum of modern art. Here’s the family approaching its distinctive “inside-out” façade.

I was really impressed by the collection here, and also by the thoughtful way it was displayed. I’ve got one post about the museum over at CogDaily, but my favorite work was probably this one:

It’s a work by Cai Guo-Quiang, entitled Bon Voyage: 10,000 Collectables from the Airport, 2004. Here’s the description from the museum placard:

Several metres above the ground, a winged monster, lit from within, seems to be diving headlong towards us. Its carapace is a gigantic nest of wickerwork and woven vine in which are embedded thousands of sharp or pointed objects, some gleaming brightly. Collected day after day by the security service at São Paulo airport, these are the evidence of a world gone mad. “This work represents the uneasy and absurd world we live in, where enemies may come out of every direction, big or small, and weapons may be in our own pockets. The dichotomy lies in our inability to travel and survive without the system that has created this situation.”

The number of Swiss Army knives alone in this thing is astonishing. Take a look at this close-up view:

I took a few more photos in Paris yesterday, but they’re still in my camera, which had to be checked due to EasyJet’s extra-stringent carry-on rules. If I get a chance, I’ll post them later in the trip.

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