Paris – 1st arrondissement

There's a small park near my house in San Mateo where people walk their dogs. It's pleasant and fine, but it's nothing like the area around the Louvre. I can't imagine being able to walk your dog here each morning.

The inside of the world famous museum is unfortunately nowhere near as peaceful these days. I like my iPhone a lot. It's a wonderful, helpful tool in many ways (even last night I was able to use the flashlight to read while my wife slept quietly next to me), but I enjoy taking a vacation from it now and again. No one in Paris seems to be overtaken by technology the way folks in the Bay Area have been. I've only once seen someone next to me in a restaurant texting while having their meal. Everyone stares straight ahead as they walk, no one is looking down while they drive, and the cafes are full of teenagers holding cigarettes instead. The Louvre, however, is the absolute worst place in the world to visit if you're looking to get away from smart phones. In fact, in 2015 it's basically a live-version infomercial about the potential perils of the tablet and it's terrible, dreadful effect on the civility of the human race. 

Seeing the Mona Lisa in person is already an underwhelming experience, but watching the throngs of tourists jockey and posture to take a picture in front of it while flashing a peace sign is unreal. It's comical at first, but after a few minutes you have to leave the room. There's a guard sitting in a chair next to the painting, facing the crowd, forced to watch the sordid soirée go down. Those workers must be so jaded in their view of humanity at this point. Almost as funny as getting to see the iconic image is watching the people who also are going solely to see the Mona Lisa slow down and act like they care about the rest of the artwork; as if to separate themselves from the other soulless pack. The whole experience is a serious show if you're a people watcher like me. While my wife and I were silently looking at the collection of jewelery in the Galerie d'Apollon, a woman armed with her smart phone burst into the room, cut directly in front of me, snapped two quick picks of the bling, and then left as quickly as she came in. I whispered to my wife, "If you don't even want to look at it, then why take a picture?" It's crazy. C'est la vie?

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll