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Published: June 20th 2017
We made a late-morning start today by catching the #69 bus, exiting at the Pont des Arts on the right bank of the Seine. This iconic little footbridge, which crosses the river between the Institut de France and the Louvre, was formerly festooned with thousands of monogrammed padlocks (known as "lovelocks") that were deposited on the railings of the bridge by visiting "lovers" from all over the world. It became a major problem over the years, as tons of padlocks had to be periodically removed by local officials. Finally, several years ago, the decision was made to end the practice by removing the railings and wire fences lining both sides of the bridge, and installing a wall that has no means of attaching locks. Now, for better or worse, the bridge is shorn of its "lovelocks" forever.
Our thought today had been to introduce Ashley to Mona Lisa
and some of the other treasures in the Musée du Louvre, one of the world's preeminent museums. As it turned out, however, the long lines of visitors waiting to gain entry discouraged us from doing so. Instead, we walked through the Cour Carree into the main courtyard, where Ashley got a sense
View of Institut de France
The Institut de France is a French learned society, grouping five académies, the most famous of which is the Académie française.
of the immense size and grandeur of this former royal palace. She also viewed the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, which sits adjacent to the Louvre; and the iconic glass pyramid created by I. M. Pei, which forms the entranceway into the museum.
By chance as much as design, we were able to find a bus stop on the Quai Mitterrand, where a #27 bus took us across the Île de la Cité to reach the beautiful Luxembourg Garden on the Left Bank. It was about 1:30 by the time we arrived, so our first priority was to grab a table on the terrace of the Pavillon de la Fontaine, a shade-covered outdoor cafe where Dee and I have eaten many times in the past. The place was extremely crowded today, and it took some time before one of the harried waiters was able to take our drink and lunch orders. But we were in no rush, as the shade and chairs provided welcome relief for our aching legs and perspiration-soaked bodies! Dee wanted Ashley to try the open-faced, melted cheese sandwich (tartine)
made with the signature sourdough bread produced locally by the Poilâne bakeries.
The Luxembourg Garden,
which has always been one of our favorite places in Paris, is simply a magnificent setting. It was created beginning in 1612 by Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, for a new residence she constructed, the Luxembourg Palace. The garden today is owned by the French Senate, which meets in the Palace. It covers almost 60 acres and is famous for its lawns, tree-lined promenades, statuary, flowerbeds, toy sailboats on its circular basin, and the picturesque Medici Fountain, built in 1620. After lunch, we toured part of the extensive grounds so that Ashley could take some photos. Although the blue skies and bright sunshine today made for ideal viewing conditions, the shaded areas seemed to be quite popular for locals and visitors alike.
By this time, around 4:30 in the afternoon, Dee and I were having difficulty coping with the humidity (even Ashley was "dripping"), so we headed for the #82 bus stop just outside the east entrance of the Luxembourg, and then rode a sweltering bus (no air conditioning in Paris busses during the summer) back to the Champ de Mars stop, where we found ourselves on the Avenue de Suffren, very close
to the Eiffel Tower. After a quick stop at the grocery store, our thoroughly-drenched group arrived home to bask (and dry-out) close to the air conditioner!
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