Over the last few days MJ and I have taken ourselves to museums and other sites only to find them closed. Centre Pompidou was our first disappointing discovery, and the numerous photocopied signs taped all over the windows made it pretty clear that the staff were on strike. To salvage our afternoon we visited the Maison de Victor Hugo, which is about 250 metres from our apartment and rebelliously open to visitors. I wonder if the workers there were doing the equivalent of crossing a picket line.
The following morning (OK noon) Sainte Chapelle had a long queue outside when we arrived so we decided to cross the street for croque-monsieur. You know, to build up our waiting-in-line energy. But on our return the queue had dispersed and it was closed too.
Little did we know at the time that these events were connected. If we’d mustered up motivation to visit the Louvre, we’d have been disappointed on finding it closed too (and now, even if it is open, it will be faced with a backlog of visitors). Musee D’Orsay, my pick for the week, is closed too. Fortunately we stumbled across the information that Versailles is affected by a strike as well before we caught the train out of town – but we’re planning to go tomorrow anyway because the gardens are still free and open to all even if certain parts of the palace aren’t.
There are news reports about the strike including stories of tourists who have waited years to see the Mona Lisa only to arrive when the Louvre is closed. That seems pretty sad, but fortunately I am much more adaptable. And by ‘adaptable’ I suppose I mean that I don’t mind too much if we’re forced to skip the museums.
So what have we done instead of enjoying the fine art and architecture of Paris? Yesterday, after days of lovely low-cost walking around the Marais and St Germain, we discovered another lovely pass time – shopping. I mentioned to MJ that we were near some place called Le Bon Marche (now there is a link worth following). ‘Le Bon Marche?! Le Bon Marche!Let’s go’ So we went and enjoyed afternoon tea overlooking the garden, and got started on some Christmas (and personal) shopping.
Today, after a slow start to the morning (OK, the day started at lunch) we wandered into Bazar de l’Hotel de Ville (BHV) and came out after dark. Did we just spend most of a day in Paris in one department store? Yes, but most of that time was spent in the toy section.