We had a late start this morning. After extended breakfast with our new and very friendly b@b neighbors from London, we finally walked into the rainy streets and headed to Galleries Lafayette, one of the oldest Parisian department stores. Foreign department stories are Kenny’s favorite, I prefer boutiques. Still, I spent a good 45 minutes surveying the treasures of the shoe department. Fashion here tends to be a bit wacky, not everybody has enough taste to pull it off. Personally, I prefer Italian understatement to Parisian extravagance. Often, it crosses over into gaudiness.
Anyways, in our family Kenny is the shopper. I shop my favorite outlets and the Neiman Marcus Last Sale and do a lot of damage in an hour. Kenny, on the other hand, spends hours trying things on and ends up buying nothing.
So 3 hours later I finally extracted him from the men’s department (where he tried on a lot and bought nothing, needless to say) and insisted on a cultural program, which for today was the Louvre.
I am sad to report that the Louvre disappointed me somewhat. I haven’t been to the Louvre, really, in like 30 years (if you don’t count a brief stop there 12 years ago). The Louvre has probably more Raphaels and Leonardos than any other museum in the world, but the rest of the world masters are underrepresented. Also, the way the art is displayed here is outdated and is not conducive to staying longer and lingering. There was one hall where I experienced some of the Stendhal Syndrome symptoms, but the rest of the museum dampened them. We went to visit Mona Lisa. When I first met her 30 years ago, she was free from the piece of glass that imprisons her now and, crowds notwithstanding, I could get close to her, face to face. We gazed in each other’s eyes, and it was love at first sight. That is on my part. Now, she is locked inside her glass prison and separated from the crowd with several barriers. There is no more connection. What is even more infuriating is the insane mob that rushes to worship her, past all the other Leonardos, completely ignoring the Rafaels, not to mention the “minor” painters like Botticelli and Caravaggio, and on to raise their cameras high above other tourists’ heads and snap, and snap, and snap more and more photographs. Sad and nauseating. Some people really do get kicks from art, what can I say!
We ended the day at a neighborhood dive rubbing shoulders with the locals. I was strong today and held out against the sweets. Will compensate tomorrow.