Friday morning Jaclyn and I both woke up early and set off to see a few last things we wanted to catch before leaving Paris. It was exciting and sad at the same time. Jaclyn headed off to a park her History of Paris teacher told her about and I headed to Le Musee des Arts et Matiers, a technology museum.

Right when I got off the Metro I knew it was going to be awesome. The Metro station is decorated like The Nautilus from Jules Vernes’ “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” complete with copper walls, porthole windows and wooden deck seats for waiting. I loved it.

The museum was really cool too. It divided technology into 7 different types: communication (my favorite), construction, energy, scientific instruments, materials, mechanical engineering and transport. All the ares were so cool. The scientific instruments were especially cool because it was a bunch of the old marine time clocks and devices for measuring distance at sea and such. It’s amazing that the people back then could figure out such complicated mathematical things and that they made them so beautiful. Every clock or astroglobe or even set of surgical instruments was beautiful as well as functional, when was the last time you looked at a Texas Instruments calculator and thought, “man is that machine pretty!”?

Scientific instruments also included the realm of computers and how they were created and have advanced over time. It made me feel a little old to see an Apple II computer, complete with 4.5 inch floppy disk, on display as ancient technology. It also made me realize just how easy we have it today. Everything is handed to us on a megabit encrusted plate.

The communication exhibit was awesome too. I’ve never seen so many old printing presses in my life and I realize just how much I owe to those glorious machines. With the invention of the printing press came an entirely new lifestyle and way of seeing the world, education was spread to the masses and a whole new curiosity and desire for information was born, leading to journalism. Along with printing presses were typewriters. As much as I love my Mac and word-processing programs, I do miss playing around on my parents’ typewriter when I was little. I loved to sit down and type up crazy stories on neon colored paper, there was just something about the sound of the keys clicking and the paper sliding back and forth that was exciting.

The history of the camera was on display too, from the early Draguerrotype camera obscuras to the exciting world of digital SLRs. The Canon equivalent of my old 35mm film camera was on display too but that was cool, not aging.

Seeing all the construction, transport, engineering and energy exhibits really made me wish my friends in the engineering department and my brother-in-law could have been there. They would have loved seeing how machinery has changed over time to allow man to create better, more advanced buildings and vehicles. I found the exhibits interesting but I know they would have all gotten more out of it.

After my trip to the museum Jaclyn called me and I headed to the Luxembourg Gardens to meet her, Katie, Harrison and Andres. Harrison was bent on finding the smaller statue of the Statue of Liberty that we didn’t find the first time we went to the gardens to explore. I hopped on the Metro and then the RER and made it to the gardens. The first order of business was actually lunch, which I was fine with, and then the statue. It took us a while but we did find it and get the obligatory pictures. We were all very touched to see a young oak tree planted next to the statue with an explanatory plaque saying it was in honor of all the Americans killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Smaller Statue of Liberty in the Luxembourg Gardens.

Smaller Statue of Liberty in the Luxembourg Gardens.

On the way to the statue we went by the big fountain/relflecting pool in the middle of the gardens and this time it was full of little boats. There was a stand where you could rent a tiny sailboat and tons of little kids were playing with them. They were the most adorable thing ever and I really wanted to rent a boat but I settled with taking a bunch of pictures.

This little boat wanted to be a Mizzou boat, black and yellow with a big "M" in the middle!

This little boat wanted to be a Mizzou boat, black and yellow with a big "M" in the middle!

I just loved the bright colors!

I just loved the bright colors!

With the statue found and pictures taken, Harrison left to do some shopping before the rest of our evening plans. Katie was a good student and did some studying in the gardens while Andres and Jaclyn wanted to walk to a nearby historical site they had learned about in class. I felt like walking so I went with them but got distracted on the way by a small bookshop. I’m really glad I stopped though because I found the find of a lifetime in the bottom of a box of old books: a 1922, hand-illustrated, copy of “The Swiss Family Robinson” in French. That book was one of my favorites as a child and this copy is just incredible. The shop owner saw me looking at it for a long time and chatted with me and gave it to me for an incredible price. I’m pretty sure I ripped the guy off but o well, I got my book!

When we went back to the gardens to meet Katie we all set off across the gardens towards the Louvre to take advantage of the free Friday nights. Harrison met us at the museum, as did two other students, Anne and Nicole. This time we saw the Venus de Milo but that was about the most exciting thing. We looked for Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring” for a long time before being told by a guard that it’s not in the Louvre, it’s in London, our bad.

The inverted pyramid, pretty cool!

The inverted pyramid, pretty cool!

Venus de Milo, she's big and impressive and totally worth seeing.

Venus de Milo, she's big and impressive and totally worth seeing.

By the time we finished with the Louvre we were all starving so we set off in search of a cheap meal. In case you couldn’t guess already we wound up going to the Latin Quarter…again. We got some good Greek food and had a good time chilling, literally, in some air conditioning. Finding a place with air conditioning is a monumental thing so we’re all super happy when it happens. Shortly after dinner Katie went home to study, Harrison left to call his parents and the rest of us went to a pub. Another girl from the program, Sara, met up with us on the way. It was nice to talk to a few new people and we all decided it was a little sad that we waited until the last weekend to start hanging out. But Sara at least is coming with Jaclyn, Katie, Andres and me on our extra travels after the program. After some laughs everyone finished their drinks and so ended our last Friday night in Paris.

Advertisements