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.