Saturday, July 5, 2014

Miss Betty at the Louvre and more decadent desserts…

Thursday July 3 and it was back to a program – thankfully one with only one major goal – visit the Louvre.

Our hotel, The Hôtel Elysées Union, ( so kindly organized and recommended by Teresa of AAA (in Redlands? To be confirmed by J) has been above the average in terms of the friendliness of the staff and the provision of whatever we needed: a wheelchair borrowed by the family to go to Versailles and again this morning for the Louvre.

Part of one wing of the Louvre

From inside the entry pyramid - conceived by Pei

With four of us, two using canes, taxis were by far the best way of getting around – so after another copious breakfast off we went.  What a blessing to have the “handicapped” with us, as D & I became accompanying persons and the four of us entered free. But that was the minor blessing: the real one was being able to actually move and clear a path on the lower floors. Whilst fresh we decided to show Miss Betty the Mona Lisa as it had been many years since last she (Miss Betty) had seen her - the Mona Lisa (I mean maybe once they were on a personal basis, back before she got put under glass and cordoned off): what a trial – and not to be offensive or politically incorrect – the Asians pushed, shoved and tripped over the wheelchair without thought or pause in their “need” to see this famous painting. Luckily for us, a guardian saw what was happening and before we could say Jack Robinson, dashed over,
through the front rows and beckoned us beyond the cord barrier directly in front of the painting: I had goose bumps and not wishing to make a nuisance of myself, didn’t even take a picture – it was enough to have had the privilege of being so close. Bless the French guardians at the Louvre!

With then split paths (I and Miss Betty from her two daughters J and D), and I with the lovely excuse of Miss Betty, was allowed to wander in search of more quiet corners. After some trial and error – and yet another lovely guardian – we managed to find the elevator to the top floor and the lesser frequented, but just as mind boggling paintings.  We spent considerable time in one particular room with Ruben’s 24 paintings, commandeered by Marie de Medici in honour of her life: paintings which were commissioned to decorate the walls of one of her halls in the palace in which she lived – facing that of her husband Henri IV. They married first by proxy; she supplied the funds, he led the life, but she also more importantly supplied him with an heir – Louis XIII. Born in Florence, Italy, she reigned in France until her son was able to take over the throne; intrigues and exile followed; then a reconciliation; in the end she traveled to Cologne, Germany, staying in the house of Pierre-Paul Rubens where she passed away.

Still in love with reflections, this a window overlooking a hall of sculptures

In this part of the Louvre I was finally able to allow (graciously you understand to make up for the rather abrupt: “you will stay in the wheelchair” of the lower floor) Miss Betty to walk around using her cane or the back of the wheelchair, a by far more comfortable solution.  It was also there, sitting on the benches provided for viewing down the center of the room, that we saw her daughters. I could have said that the “devil made me do it” but I prefer the “Miss Betty made me do it” version: borrowing her cane, I went and poked them both from the rear (on their you-know-what’s). Such fun. We decided that since all parties had seen what they most wanted to see, that we would leave the crowded halls and ferocious crowds to their own and head for a highly-recommended spot for a bite of lunch: Angelina’s


Upper gallery at Angelina's
Miss Betty and daughter D

To bless, or to curse, C – that is the question: she’s the one who had us heading there. Lunch was a wonder of tastes ranging from a truffle omelet to an asparagus risotto via two different types of quiches.  In fact it was so filling that we had to take away our desserts for later.  A bit of a search for the taxi stand and it was crash at the hotel.

Asparagus risotto

Then needing (believe it or not!) sustenance yet again around 19:30 we tried another restaurant on the main boulevard just around the corner. An air-conditioned room, a live singer and a far corner were welcome after the heat of the day, but we stayed reasonable in our choices knowing that dessert was awaiting us in the garden in front of our room.

Restaurant Kleber on Avenue Kleber

And what a dessert it was: we had picked four different ones and after purchasing paper plates and begging 4 forks and a knife from the mini-mart next door we were able to share the delights.

Paris New-York, a pecan confection

Raspberry tart

Peach Melba with vanilla custard

St. Honoré
 C – you are currently being blessed!

Flower store along our route