Europe 2012 (i) : Paris

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Right after we got off the plane at Charles de Gaulle we went to have coffee and croissants at a roadside cafe near the Palais Garnier, still groggy from the plane ride and loaded with our luggage. Because we were going on a holiday with lots of train travel (hence lots of steps) we all each carried our own small luggage that carried our own stuff for two weeks (except my sister, she had been there for school stuff, and so we met her in Paris). By some miracle, thank God, I managed to squeeze my two-weeks worth of stuff into my tiny luggage and wheeled it around the streets of Paris on our first day. Weirdly enough, the thing I remember the most on the first day is feeling so overwhelmed by the whole Parisian atmosphere that I didn't notice my neck-pillow that was slung around my luggage handle was being dragged on the pavement as I pulled my luggage behind me. I didn't see it until my dad pointed it out, and the whole fluffy red top part of my pillow was all icky and matted and grey with dust. Parisian dust.
The view from the small balcony outside our hotel room. We had a kind of bay window type thing with white frames, except they were doors that opened out to this view. I remember the feeling the first time I stepped out, the soles of my feet hit the cold stone floor of the balcony and the morning air was so fresh.
As it turns out, we stayed a walking distance away from the Madeleine Metro station, which is near, of course, the Madeleine, as well as the Palais Garnier! It was our daily route every day to walk down the narrow street of our hotel usually just managing to squeeze on the pavements with businessmen dressed in suits or groups of women chattering with wisps of smoke curling around them, past the park with the disconcertingly large number of pigeons, to the Madeleine station.
We went on one of those touristy open-air busses with lime green earphones that you plug into the bus walls to listen to the history of the places the bus drives past. I loved listening to all of the stories behind all of these places so much. It was actually a very fun way to experience all of the city in a short period of time but I think what I remember most is the horrible horrible music that they played in between significant landmarks (especially when there were people taking forever to get on or off the bus).  Imagine that you are seated there in the bitterly cold top deck (it was still cold in June) and your cheeks are feeling all numb and prickly from the cold and a woman is breathily crooning in your ear, "summer in Paris...." I think maybe my parents and I had more discussions about the music they played rather that the actual history. 
Musee D'Orsay
Notre Dame
The wonderful Shakespeare and Co which we took forever to find but was SO worth it in the end. It was here that I also accidentally walked into the private staff area of a nearby cafe and this French guy was like, "CAN I HELP YOU? WHAT DO YOU WANT? WHAT DO YOU WANT?" And I was so freaked out I pointed at the sign and said, "toilet." 
If you're ever thinking about going for a show at the Moulin Rouge after seeing the movie, don't. It's not nearly as glamorous as that. It was just a bunch of topless women traipsing around on stage with flamboyant feathery headpieces and glitzy underwear and bad 80s karaoke while you eat dinner. Oh, and at one point one of the performers was thrown into a tank of snakes that looked kinda drugged and I didn't even know what was going on for the most of it, but it was quite funny and good fun.
It was cold and rainy when we stepped out of the Moulin Rouge. My eyelids were heavy and my contacts were drying up. I regretted wearing my sandals out because my toes were getting all cold and wet from the rain and puddles on the ground, but I can tell you this: Paris is romantic on a rainy night
I think my favourite part of Paris would be Montmartre. It's full of windy streets, steep stairs and slopes, and there is a wonderful square full of artists that do some really interesting art. This is what Paris looks like from Sacre Coeur  
My mom and I were tired from walking up and down slopes and so we sat on the little pole things at the side of the road, and we nearly got hit by a giant tour bus (take into account that these are narrow cobblestoned streets with sharp turns). Weirdly, enough (though we didn't know it while we sat there), we were in front of a cafe called La Maison Rose, which is a cute little place in a row of shops that has its walls painted a rosy pink colour. It was only after we met up with my sister in our stay in Paris that she pointed out to us that the building behind us in our photos [please take everything I say from now on with a grain of salt, I can't remember the details and the information isn't from the most reliable source] was a building that was originally white, until it was painted by this artist who was apparently colourblind and painted it pink. After the painting was sold, the owner of the cafe was like, "oh! You know what? I think I quite like that!" and he painted the outside of the building pink. And that was the last and only building in Paris to have its exterior walls painted, because shortly after that the government imposed a law that says you can't paint the outside of your building (? okay this is sounding ridiculous, maybe it's not true. But even so, it's a good story). Hence the gorgeous uniform sandstone-coloured Parisian buildings.
The steps of St Etienne du Mont (which appears in Anna and the French Kiss aaaaaghhhh!) where Midnight in Paris was shot (ie. the place where the car comes at midnight to pick Owen Wilson up)
"It's juxtaposition."
I don't understand how anyone is supposed to focus on any of the artwork in the Louvre when you have things like that on the ceiling, and that isn't even supposed to be the main feature of the room!
Obligatory shot of the Mona Lisa
Photobombing the wedding at Cana. What I loved most at the Louvre, besides the gorgeous Greek statues was the fact that I got to see two of my favourite paintings ever: Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People and Gericault's Raft of Medusa
And then we picked up some crappy Chinese take-out at Gare du Nord (I swear I had some cool photos of the station with the rows of trains lining up next to each other on the different platforms, but I can't find them!) and we headed on our way out of France to Milan. At some point on the journey, through dark tunnels and and ear-popping, we travelled along the border of Switzerland and I had Bon Iver, Bon Iver playing on my IPod and when I looked up out of the window, the scenery outside was even more gorgeous than the album cover hahahah (: 
This is the only photo I got of snowy mountain peaks from my phone from while stumbling along between cabins and swooshy automatic doors to get to the cater cabin.
Instagram journal:

By the way, the next post is going to be Versailles/Giverny, then the Loire Valley chateaus before I get to Italy because I wanted to split my photos by where they were taken rather than when.


Post a Comment

krinjgy All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger