I was headed for Louvre but first I had to wait for the hostel manager because of room card issues. Finally by midday it was sorted and I headed to the Louvre. Took a few wrong turns but luckily the Louvre pyramid is rather easy to spot.
Once inside I found a bit confusing to know how to get to the collections. I went to the souvenir wing by mistake and asked if the long queue was for the museum. ‘Oui’ she informed me. I waited in the queue for about 10 mins. After I got my bag checked I exited to the same place I was before. That was odd. I must have gone to a completely unnecessary bag check. Anyway, I started in Sully wing after that and quickly gave up on following the map as I had no idea which way was which! It’s a bit of a maze. It’s kiiiind of like I pictured from the Da Vinci Code novel though.
Seeing the Greek statues was pretty breath taking, I think some were replicas but it was still fascinating to see. I just wish I could read the descriptions next to each artefact!
I felt sorry for the other paintings in the gallery that holds the Mona Lisa. Tourists rush into that room, cameras and phones at the ready and clamber to get a good shot. The other works don’t get much of a look in! I can’t really scoff since I had my phone out too, but it is kind of amusing. One would imagine that seeing it would be a nice, peaceful and cathartic experience but it’s hard to stay in that room long with the sound of children screaming and the the knowledge of discreet pickpocketers. I don’t normally mind kids being kids but why on earth are you bringing toddlers to the Louvre!?
A few hours later I felt satisfyingly Louvre’d out and headed to the Notre Dame cathedral. There was a queue winding its way through the front courtyard so I did what any curious solo traveller should do and joined it to see where I’d end up next. Amazingly it led us into the cathedral to take a look. Any visitor can go in for free, you just need to be silent and you can’t take photos.
Whether you’re religious or not, it’s a peaceful place. Candles fill various areas where you can queue to pray; you can worship Mary in one place and you can even confess to a priest in a glass confessional room.
I sat in a pew and enjoyed the serenity. After 30 mins, evening service started so I stood along with many others as they sang hymns in French. It was beautiful.
I left appreciating that churches accept anyone. They don’t need to know that you might be an aethiest or agnostic. You’re welcome anyway and there is no gift shop to exit through which makes for a very nice change!
I went outside and walked along the river and ended up at the Pont Des Arts bridge with ‘lovelocks’ all over it. You’re meant to write the initials of you and your loved one before throwing the key into the river. Cheesy but romantic nonetheless. I stopped to watch an acoustic reggae band and a young man asked if he could take my picture. By default my kiwi nature forgot about pesky hawkers and I said he could. He took two and then asked if I could hide my shopping bag. Instantly realising he wasn’t just a photographer but someone who probably wanted my money, I walked off. I was so annoyed.
I have to say, the sleazy men really did put a dampener on this weekend. I got acosted a lot and it did make me a bit upset. It’s just super irritating because I don’t know what has given the men this idea that you can have a woman by saying ‘hello you are pretty. What is your phone number’. Are there some women who are so flattered that it works on them?
It got so bad that when a woman asked me something in French while I was walking past I just said ‘no no no’ and carried on walking. She probably thought I was a rude Parisian, but I have to say I don’t think Parisians are rude by nature, I think they have to be assertive and unapproachable to avoid stupid meaningless conversations with creepy men.
I’d had enough so I went back to the hostel. Later I read what other women did to get by and they said ‘don’t make eye contact with a French man or he’ll see it as an invitation to approach you’. So that was the issue, I had been accidentally looking people in the eyes!
For my last day I vowed to avoid eye contact. Fingers crossed!