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Groove at the Louvre OR "Pardon my French": Adventures in Paris, Day 2

Groove at the Louvre, OR, “Pardon my French”

You know your French sucks when you no longer have to follow “Bonjour” with “Parlez vous Englais?” because the person you’re speaking to switches to English just to make your slaughter of the Mother Tongue cease. Thus was the case today when my beloved and dependable Bus 69 decided to fully forego stopping at the Louvre and instead took a detour to somewhere near the Bastille. Realizing I was “le screwed”, I Bonjoured a young woman on the bus and somehow blanked on the whole “do you speak English? line before she quickly volunteered that she spoke English, mostly to make the nails-on-a-blackboard sound of my French go away. Very nicely, she pointed my wife and I to the Metro and told us to take the #9 and then something something something as the bus pulled away.

Finally, Museum Pass in hand -- and after being scanned, searched, poked and prodded -- we got into the museum . . . that’s when the fun started.

If you haven’t been to the Louvre, you’re still possessed of at least 25% of your lifetime sanity. It turns out that the place was designed by a lunatic from plans drawn up by the Marquis de Sade and implemented by the bastards that run CDG. That was my conclusion when I took one look at the floorplan map and then spent the next hour playing Lewis and Clark trying to find the old Greek stuff.

“Ask a docent,” my lovely wife suggested. The Voice of Reason has spoken.

“You’re on the wrong side of the museum. See the blue color on your map? You want the blue color,” the Docent explained in perfect English (lest I attempt anymore French with him).

“Oh,” I said, looking at the map like it was written in Cyrillic.

It turns out everything is on the wrong side of the museum. But I despaired not because -I- had a cunning plan: while 20 million tourists were crowding around the Mona Lisa and jousting with Selfie-Sticks, I would be enjoying the relatively uninhabited Ancient World parts of the museum in peace and comfort. And it worked like a charm!

Thus passed a merry afternoon. After lunch, my lovely wife suggested we visit the ancient Egyptian stuff. Hey -- more ancient stuff! Sure, we were a little tired by then, but how much Egyptian stuff could the French possibly have? I remembered some short French guy paid Egypt a visit in the 1800’s, but didn’t think much more about it until we actually found the wing.

Man, I thought the Brits had sticky fingers when it came to looting the Ancient World: those tea-drinkers had NOTHING on the French. The Met’s Egypt collection is impressive; the British Museum’s collection is staggering -- the Louvre’s collection is mind-blowing. It does go on, too. Room after room, wing after wing, until you feel like Anubis himself is going to jump out from behind one of the sarcophagus, and yell at you in hieroglyphics for disturbing his follower’s path to the afterlife.

After the 20th room, my wife and I decided we’d had enough fun for one day and that it was time to leave. That’s when we discovered something else about the Louvre: the exits were designed by the guy who created the Ikea store layout. Somehow, the way out lead us through Greece, Oceana, Rome, and Louis the XIV before we finally ended up back where we started from: Ancient Egypt.

Eventually, we did escape, even if doing so was like being trapped in an M.C. Escher print.

Back on the trusty 69 as it wallowed through traffic and somehow fit down the narrow Parisian streets until it came to a screeching halt on Rue Grennelle. A box truck was making a delivery and blocked the entire street. Now in America, such a blockage would have been met with horns, screams, obscene oaths and eventually gunfire. And here’s why I love the French: NONE of these things happened. People sat calmly in their cars, all except our bus driver. He grumbled, threw open the doors to the bus, stalked off and . . . had a smoke.

In his honor, I’ve attempted no more French today.

Posted by
9855 posts

how much Egyptian stuff could the French possibly have? I remembered some short French guy paid Egypt a visit in the 1800’s, but didn’t think much more about it until we actually found the wing.

hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Posted by
11479 posts

Mike

Do you write this before or after you evening bottle of cabernet?

Great Stuff!

Posted by
14580 posts

That famous guy was there under orders from the government in 1798-99 but the Rosetta Stone is in London even if les français discovered it.

Posted by
6370 posts

We were trapped in that same Escher print last time we were there. It took us hours to find our way out. And yes, we were in the antiquities wing.

Posted by
2499 posts

Hilarious account! Thanks for a lighthearted post.
The last time I was in the Louvre, it happened to be a Wednesday when it is open to 9 pm, and we went back about 6 pm and toured the Egyptian rooms and I agree, it does go on forever and you feel like you have escaped when you finally find your way out! I have been in the British Museum many times, too but it seems easier to find your way out than the Louvre. I don't think it used to be a palace like the Louvre! Maybe that's the difference?

Posted by
3941 posts

I rem our first visit to the Louvre...when we were finally ready to go - yup - impossible to find an out. My husband is a pretty good map reader but he'd be like...ok....around this corner is the ex...more stairs! Didn't we just go down stairs to find the exit?? Why are we going back upstairs??

Posted by
280 posts

My approach to managing in French is to say, in French, I speak only a little French with a terrible accent (je parle seulement un petit peu francaise, avec un accent terrible). I've found that apologizing in advance for massacring the language usually works well!

Posted by
9 posts

Almost as though I were in the Louvre myself, I was bouncing around in the forum and stumbled on your post. Love it. You have the Gary Larson touch. Thank you for the chuckle.

Posted by
1445 posts

I used to say the same thing about Hartford ct.... there are off ramps to deposit you in Hartford... but no on ramps so as to escape.

Posted by
11613 posts

Oh my, memories of the Louvre!

I did find the classical galleries right away, and had them to myself for almost an hour. And I managed to escape France without an arrest for assault on the French language. (Even the time I asked the bus driver if the bus went to the train station, but I think it came out as, Is this bus going to the war?)

Posted by
6370 posts

Zoe, your post made me laugh out loud. Does any English speaker ever master French vowels?

Posted by
14580 posts

I forget about falling back on English (certainly try to) and focus on memorizing the French pronunciation key as the way to deal with the vowels.

The French way to say "au" is different from the German "au" and these two sounds are also different from the German " äu"

Posted by
2765 posts

I love the Louvre, but ... why do they make it impossible to escape?

Another great report, but you have completely undermined my attempt to not return to Paris this October. I got a great deal on the Relais Bosquet yesterday and will be there for three days this fall :) SO much for "going someplace new"!

Posted by
9436 posts

"Does any English speaker ever master French vowels?"

Yes... : )

Posted by
2744 posts

Mike, You are a hoot! Let me know when you decide to run your own tours.

Posted by
11613 posts

Unfortunately, I can mimic sounds fairly well, and twice in Paris I was told I had a good pronunciation (bus incident aside). Unfortunate because after I utter my very carefully rehearsed question, I am unprepared for the tsunami of syllables that wash over me in response.

Posted by
1136 posts

You are too funny, Mike! I know what you mean about attempting French. I was at a Metro Station last week and started with " Bonjour Madame, deux billets Versailles" and she quickly responded in English to prevent further slaughtering of her native language lol.

Posted by
3941 posts

We were trying to get out of the Les Halles shopping mall and there was a way that was 'no go' for some reason. But we thought that was the way we needed to get out. The security guard tried to explain to us which way we should go, and apologized for her 'bad' English. I'm like - well, your English is much better than my French - which gave her quite a laugh.

Posted by
14244 posts

Oh gosh, I love the driver hopping off for a smoke!

Posted by
682 posts

Oh my goodness, even if I had no interest in traveling, I would love your posts. I'm hoping that you have months more of travel ahead😊

Posted by
13 posts

Mike,

I leave for Paris in a couple of days and your trip reports make me even more excited to go. Keep 'em coming!

Posted by
489 posts

thank you for all your writing... We will be in Paris in 5 weeks... can't wait.

Posted by
567 posts

Enjoy your writing very much.... you could always write these travel memoirs from a French cafe drinking away cases of wine like Hemingway!