Friday, April 18, 2008

Going With the Flow

I haven't visited many of the classic Parisian sights since arriving here mid-February. Places like The Louvre, Montmartre, The Luxembourg Gardens and Notre Dame Cathedral have generally stayed off my radar. This is mainly because I've already seen them on prior visits, but it is also partially due to the fact that, this time around, I don't feel like just a visitor. I live here. I go to movies, shop at my local market, attend classes, workout at my local gym and spend time with friends. So, when I caught the sightseeing bug this week and decided I had to see the Musée d'Orsay again, I was really looking forward to playing the part of an American tourist.

Unfortunately, my museum visit was not to be. While trying to purchase advance tickets Thursday afternoon for Thursday evening, I was unceremoniously told that the museum personnel had gone on strike, and that only the ground floor would be open. Translation: no Impressionist paintings, which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the tiny little fact that people go to the Musée d'Orsay specifically to see Impressionist paintings. To make things worse, when I didn't hear the man explain about the strike, la grève in French, because of some nearby noise, he felt the need to loudly shout, "Strike! Strike!" so that I, the poor little American tourist, would understand. Um, thank you very much Monsieur, but I've already spent a good deal of time in France. Trust me, I know what a grève is.

How could I not have known about a major museum strike, you ask? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that the strike was called that very same morning. Apparently, when it comes to visiting classic Parisian sights, my timing in terrible. Hopefully it will end soon and I will be free to admire the works of Renoir, Degas and Pissaro once again. Until then, I'll choose to regard my experience not as an inconvenience, but as an excellent first-hand exercise in local custom.

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