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Budget Travel: Paris on a Shoestring - Page 2

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I got off near the Art Factory – the Pompidou Center. This is a fascinating 1pompidou2building with red, yellow, green and blue colored pipes going around. Instead of concealing the conduits that are used for water or electrical wiring, the building was built with pipes running on the outside. Inside is the museum of modern art with a rich collection of contemporary art. On the streets outside the Pompidou Centre you can purchase paintings by undiscovered artists.


It was getting dark so I made my way back to the hostel. I got into the room which was dark, located my bed and noticed that there were several others already asleep in their beds. Quietly, I, too, fell asleep.


Breakfast at the hostel consisted of a hard bread roll, some butter and jam and tea. I checked out of the hostel after breakfast as I had an afternoon flight to catch.


altA visit to Paris is incomplete without window shopping in the rue du Faubourg St-Honore. Although this is a narrow street it is considered to be one of the most fashionable streets in the world. This is where you find the likes of Chanel, Dior, Hermes and other unaffordable brands. No wonder, the Paris edition of Vogue magazine has its office here. The Elysee Palace - the official home of the French President is also on this street. I gawked at the fancy displays, thought of entering one of the shops but did not think that my sneakers and backpack were appropriate attire and decided to set off for the Louvre.


The Louvre is where you can take in culture - without a fat wallet. Paintings, sculptures and other works of art can keep you busy for hours. University and school students from France as well as overseas come here to imbibe culture. Many spend days here. I only had a few hours left.

I was in Paris. I had come here to see the 16th centuy portrait of a woman whose facial expression remains an enigma even today. I headed directly to the gallery where a painting 77cm in height and 53cm in width was the centre of attraction. It looked small in comparison to the enormous paintings I had walked by. But this was it. A portrait by Leonardo da Vinci of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, known as La Joconde in French - the1monalisa Mona Lisa. Surprising that the most important work of art in this French city that is steeped in culture is actually a painting by an Italian.


No wonder the French Embassy in London had scratched out my answer to “Purpose of Visit: See the Mona Lisa” and had instead written – “Tourist.”

 

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