Last meal: Coffee. Before that, pastries on the steps of Sacré Coeur.
Song in my head: Parlez-vous Français – Art vs. Science (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRZ-jLOrFfk)
Drink of choice: Coffee.
A memorable quote: “Fuck this town, what a shitty hilly place.” -Olivia Sparrow, about Montmartre, on her morning grump.
Oh Paris. Paris, Paris, Paris. What do I say? Where do I even begin? Your people have frown lines between their eyebrows; your streets all look the same yet different; and they are lined with vomit, dog poo and poorly parked cars. And yet, you are so so gooooooooooood.
DAY 1 (Tuesday/Mardi)
We solidly slept after a quick dinner the first night (the couscous), and awoke at a ridiculous hour to go to a bakery in the 10th when it opened (obviously at Justin’s insistence). Derishus! It’s actually really cool (it’s been a bakery since the 1800s) and not too far away, and we’ve gone back every morning since too. Totes recommend.
When we came back, I had my first nosebleed (I PROMISE I wasn’t picking. It’s the change in temperature, but Justin doesn’t believe me), then we did boring stuff like buy me a phone and plan stuff etc. PS Lebara mobile rocks. It has amazing rates.
We bought Vélib passes online, which has possibly been the best €16 spent thus far (excepting the pastries of course – €5), which we’ve used constantly since. Naturally, we rewarded ourselves for the spend with a hot chocolate from a cute café across the road.
First vélib ride = fear.
Not only is riding on the right difficult enough, Parisien drivers are INSANE! They park amazingly well (by amazingly well, we might in fact mean that sometimes they can get into some pretty sweet spots, but mostly they park in contact with another vehicle or just illegally) and thank goodness they’re used to helmet-less riders on the roads, but they drive like … I can’t even think of a simile, that’s how intense it is. There are no rules. Motorbikes and scooters are the worst, the cars just don’t stick to lanes, and roundabouts are a nightmare. I truly love the road rage though – they just don’t hold back. Horns blaring, yelling in the streets, it’s great! And we accidentally stumbled across some cool landmarks (République statue, Bastille statue, Jardin des Tuileries, the Louvre square). So that was fun.
To end the day, we bought dinner and our first cheese! Excitement…
And yet again, an early night for an early next morning.
DAY 2 (Wednesday/Mercredi)
We started off the day by running to the bakery! Yes that’s right, running! Running! Well, my version of running anyway. Shut up.
Justin doesn’t like the cheese (so uncultured).
2nd nosebleed. I’M NOT PICKING – IT’S THE ABRUPT CHANGE IN TEMPERATURE!
I received my first email from Bwuise too, who has pledged to send one each and every day that I’m overseas. I thoroughly admire her courage.
Today we cycled to the Champs Elysées via the Gare de l’Est and the Georges Pompidou Centre. If you look them up on a map, you’ll notice that they’re nowhere near each other. Reason for this = we are retarded. Anyway, we walked up half of the Champs Elysées (Peugeot Centre was a highlight for Justin *rolls eyes*) to the Arc de Triomphe. That’s where shit gets crazy. Place Charles de Gaulle (the road surrounding it) has to win the prize for the worst designed road EVER.
At the markets along the Champs Elysées, we bought our first crêpes – nutella and Grand Marnier. uhMAZING. We also had our first kebab later in the day. I think I can safely say that kebabs are a bad decision in any country.
We have FINALLY organised Venice flights. Oh herro Italia!
DAY 3 (Thursday/Jeudi)
Ran to bakery again. We are champs.
However, we (i.e. me) then proceeded to waste half the day lazing around the flat (i.e. recovering) until we forced ourselves (i.e. oh you can guess) to leave the house. Made our way on vélibs to the Seine via the Bastille and Georges Pompidou Centre (near to where we purchased our first croque monsieur! Jus thinks too much cheese, I think he’s ignorant).
And then to Notre Dame Cathedral on the Île de la Cité. It is really really beautiful, inside and out, but it’s really quite horrifying how tourist-oriented it is. It actually made me feel a bit sick. Outside there were hundreds of tourists taking photos (understandable), but inside no one was following the “no camera flash” rules nor security enforcing the rule/s, there was a constant buzz of voices, a loud speaker announcement repeated in 4 different languages, people scuffing their shoes on the MARBLE FLOORS, and every two metres there was an opportunity to spend money (literally: poker-machine-like stands programmed to give out memorabilia coins, candles for €2-10, even a donations box!). And there was a tiny cordoned off area where it said “No entry except for prayer”. IT’S A CHURCH! Whatever, the place was pretty.
We ventured south of the Seine to have a quick geez. Jus insisted that I should look for a rain jacket (he’s a little bit right, but I’m still reluctant to be excited about it) so we attempted to go into this shop called Le Vieux Campeur in the 5th, which had about 12 small shops within 2 blocks, each with its own speciality. We accidentally walked into the thermals one, where a stupid camping lady assistant was mean to us because we couldn’t understand her (putain!), but then we found the right one. But then I didn’t buy a jacket because I was a crank face.
Nachos for dinner, after an exciting catch of an incorrect price at the supermarket, and negotiations for its correction! Highlight of the day. Wow, I am a loser. Early night.
DAY 4 (Friday/Vendredi)
Today we planned to go to Montmartre first thing in the morning (explanation ensuing), so we decided to vélib to the bakery, and we didn’t realise at the time but it was to be our last visit there (if you go, be sure to purchase an apple turnover).
Since my sense of direction is evidently similar to that of a Barnacle Goose (I just looked up ‘bird with a good sense of direction’ into google, and wiki spat that out at me), we ended up getting waylaid on our way by getting up onto the NE side of the 19th! Crazy kids. And then I was a gronk going to Montmartre because there were some rather steep inclines but no vélib station at the top! Hence the angry quote at the beginning of this post.
Of course though, Sacré Coeur is magnificent. The view, the basilica, the steep winding roads, it is all perfect. It was a far more enjoyable experience than Notre Dame, if only for the fact that there weren’t poker machines everywhere dispensing coins (there was one, but not in the main part of the church)! Also far fewer people since it was 9am. We ate our croissants and apple do-dads on the stairs outside, overlooking Paris.
We had to be back home by 1215 for a haircut for Justin. Ooh, la mode! So there was this trendy little hairdresser diagonally below us, and Jus wanted a haircut, so there we were. Rather funny/awkward, me trying to explain to the hairdresser what Justin wanted (‘just above the ears’ and ‘a bit shorter’) then, whilst reading magazines decorated with unsurprisingly scantily clad young women, hearing Justin’s reply of ‘oui’ to a notably non-yes/no question. Looks good though.
In the afternoon, we headed over the Seine to the Musée du Moyen-Âge, recommended to us by Jus’ well-traveled aunt and uncle Jenny and David. Essentially we want to be them, so we thought we’d try to follow in their footsteps as much as possible. The museum was lovely and not very busy, but we got there rather late in the afternoon (it was difficult to find – allegedly it has two different names, wtf?) and it was closing just before 6.
I think we walked about or just generally bummed around for a few hours afterwards, via Galeries Lafayette, because by the time we were anywhere near home, we were narky and ravenous. We ended up buying a €9 pizza that was mindblowing, then promptly falling asleep.
DAY 5 (Saturday/Samedi)
Remember my amazing random-french-woman-in-Kino-who-was-so-nice-and-gave-me-her-email-and-everything contact? Yay, we actually did get in touch and organised to have brunch for this morning! They are SO SO ridiculously nice. So nice. They offered to drive over (literally through Paris – they live next to the Eiffel Tower) to pick us up then take us back to their place for brunch. Instead though, we took the métro to the Eiffel Tower and took “happy snaps”. I use inverted commas because I’m not sure if happy could adequately describe the bizarre mixture of romanticism, excitement, freezing cold from the wind and rain, and tourist that I was feeling. Françoise’s husband came to pick us up from there to show us to their place.
They are so COOL! They have a son who is bilingual, and they live right near where the part of Inception where the road and buildings fold up onto themselves in Ellen Page’s/Leo de Caprio’s dream was filmed! Gah!! So we all met and ate food, and kept eating, and then ate some more. Mid-afternoon, they drove us to the Louvre on the way to do something in the city. So nice!
And oh my god, I didn’t really believe it before, but it is actually true: the Louvre really IS ginorme. I still can’t even comprehend it. We didn’t even finish one wing in the 3.5 hours or so that we were there until close. It is crazy big. And we didn’t even see any of the quintessential famous artworks. No da Vinci. No Botticelli. Just good old medieval sculpture and Dutch painters.
After our art overload, we headed back home to prepare for dinner with Françoise et al. They planned to take us to a MICHELIN-STARRED restaurant, which one of their FRIENDS owned/was the chef of, so we obviously had to dress slightly better than jeans and slightly immature t-shirt kinda gear. And holy moly. The french know how to cook. Words cannot even describe the taste sensations. And it’s all so filling! There was even a moment like in Monty Python where the waiter comes along to the fat man and says “a little wafer” and then the fat man explodes. The fat man was me. Thankfully I didn’t explode.
It was really awesome though because by that time of the evening, everyone had had a bit to drink/was comatose from food intake, so Françoise and husband taught us how to say “i’m about to explode” politely in french (je suis répu or it sounds like that at least), which naturally led onto other french turns-of-phrase, which inevitably led to poo. I love them!
DAY 6 (Sunday/Dimanche)
Today was our last day in Paris. Packing up the apartment to the Amélie soundtrack was a lil heartbreaking to be honest. The place was so cute and our temporary home for the week, so there were some feelings. If anyone is planning a trip to Paris, we would thoroughly recommend this place or another run by the guy we used (albeit a bit eccentric and perhaps breaking a few immigration laws?), so just ask us for deets.
We then caught the métro to Françoise’s house again so say a quick goodbye and buy some last Parisien pastries (they were so naughty and purchased them for us – and in such bulk quantity! We felt obliged to eat most of it on the trainride)!
Then we had to be off to catch a 1420 train to Rouen. We were running so late, we ended up getting to the station at 1412, and we ran to information and just as we were approaching, the lady behind the counter picked up the phone. She was on there for SO long, and we could plainly see that she was just talking to the lady in the other information booth, and then she FINALLY hung up and we asked her where to go (rather rushedly) she took her sweet time and we ended up running to the platform. Then the lines for ticket collection were WAY long, so we got on the train without physical tickets (we’d bought them online). We were freaking out a bit, then a nice girl told us to talk to the conductor, which I did, who told me to go and sit down and he’d see to us. And we never saw him again.
And that is the end of our Paris chapter for now!
PS ulcers have not improved.