Bonjour mes amies.
Finally, post #2 on Paris!
Let’s see, where did I leave off?
Of course, I was very proud of myself at this point, because I hadn’t felt a whiff of jet lag. Proud of my brain’s ability to overcome silly things like time differences, I woke up on Day 4 ready to embrace the day. But, jet lag decided to arrive to the party late and I had a moment of complete panic when I realized it was 1:00 in the afternoon. Those who know me will understand my shock. I rarely sleep past 9:30… let alone til one!
We decided not to waste the day, and had our now ritual morning breakfast of deux croissants with raspberry jam and espresso from Alice’s espresso machine. After getting dressed, we ventured through Paris, making our way to Avenue des Champs-Élysées. We made a few tourist stops along the way: L’église de la Madeleine, Église de la Sainte-Trinité, Place de la Concorde, and Arc Du Triomph. Of course, our addiction to window shopping could not be denied and we had to pop into Ralph Lauren, Kenzo, and St. James for a peek at the goods.
We rested our feet for a while on Champs-Élysées and people watched. After making our way up to Arc du Triomph we were both craving a crepe–BIG time. We made our way through an upscale neighborhood to Le Tour Eiffel, and bought two crepes and one can of Coca Cola to eat in front of the Tower. After snapping a few quintessential tourist pics on the lawn in front of the tower, we hopped on the metro home–unknowingly throwing ourselves in the midst of rush hour. A very nice French man warned us “It can get very crowded.” That was an understatement. I’d braved the MUNI (yes, even the T Train) during rush hour in SF many a time, but that was nothing compared to the Metro in Paris around 7:00. People were squashed in like sardines, literally throwing themselves into the crowd in hopes that there was a square inch of space. Once we finally made it out (squished but alive), we saw tourists at Gare du Nord snapping photos of the dozens of people hanging on for dear life on the trains.
Finally, we got back to Montemarte. I made a dinner of gnocchi with tomato cream sauce, salad, a baguette, and the remaining gruyere. And of course, two bottles of cheap bordeaux. We played cards and listened to French radio before finally falling asleep.
The weather prediction was outstandingly gloomy for this day. Rain, rain, and more rain. So–we decided to embrace it and use the rain as an excuse to peruse the catacombs and visit Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. We had our ritual morning breakfast, and took our time getting ready and listening to French radio. Now Metro pros–we hopped on and jetted over to the Catacombs. It was delightfully gruesome and gloomy. We had a fantastic time walking through the winding tunnels and feeling uber touristy. It was wild to think about the history of the place–we had done our homework before and Wikipedia-ed the Paris Catacombs, so we were up to date on the story of the miles and miles of underground graves.
We weren’t far from the Cemetery and it wasn’t raining when we emerged from the caves, so we walked through the 12 and 13 arrondissements. Of course, as soon as we had made it to the 13 arr. it started to pour. While I was pretty tired of having wet Sperry’s, the rain ended up making our tour of the cemetery that much better. The air felt fresh and clean, and the mist rising off of all the maus0leums and graves seriously added to the mood. Surprisingly though, the cemetery wasn’t that scary, or even sad. It was actually really great to think about how much people had loved–and still love–the important people in their lives. All of these graves were beautiful (and expensive) monuments to celebrate someone’s life. And so many of them had fresh flowers and candles around them. It was really special to see how lost loved ones hadn’t been forgotten.
Eventually we made ourselves to Jim Morrison’s grave, and admired all the messages written by fans on a graveside tree. We took a few pictures and suddenly realized we were ravenous. We ran to the nearest Metro and went to Montmarte, having yet another crepe du jambon et fromage (this time I added oeuf. Amazing!) and took a short catnap while watching Toy Story 3 online (so good. A must see if you haven’t already).
After a couple hours, we woke up and raced up the hill and up and down at least 8 flights of stairs to try and get to a famous Fromagerie before it closed. We didnt quite make it, but we did pick up some brie and a fresh baguette at a local grocery store, and picked up some salumi at an adorable charcuterie (the owner spoke no English but was so incredibly sweet).
We caught a gorgeous Montemart sunset on the way back. We made dinner, drank wine, and played cards til late–making it to La Fourmi just in time to grab a beer before it closed.
I desperately wanted to have a very French picnic in one of Paris’s many parks and gardens. Since there was a low chance of rain this day, I decided that now was the perfect time. We left Alice’s apartment early in the day, walking through Paris on Rue Montorgueil, and stopping in a few random stores along the way. We found a Farmer’s Market before crossing the river, so we picked up some fromage (brie of course), grapes, olives, and a baguette. Right as we were paying for the olives, I started to feel a few drops on my arm–and (due to lack of umbrella) we sprinted to the nearest cafe. Called “Le Chien de Fumer” (the dog who smokes), we indulged in some amazingly cheesy french onion soup while we waited out the rain. The sun came out shortly, and we walked the rest of the way to the Luxembourg Gardens.
The gardens were heavenly. There were metal chairs littered all over the place for people to sit down and enjoy the gorgeous scene. We plopped ourselves down by the fountain and opened our brie and grapes. Of course (with our luck) literally five minutes later, we started to feel the raindrops, and the clouds opened up in a quote and unquote by the boyfriend “apocalyptic downpour.”
There were a few minutes of madly sprinted around the park looking for refuge. We finally found it in a little gazebo by the entrance, where we huddled wit other tourists, eating grapes until the storm passed.
20 minutes later, the rain had stopped and we headed out to enjoy the high end shopping area around the Luxembourg gardens. We popped into a few stores (boyfriend had to visit APC) but didn’t buy anything. Right as our feet started to hurt, it started to rain again, so it was time to Metro to our little Parisian Home.
Of course, we had to eat our new favorite meal: bread, cheese, and salad (I made a nicoise with fresh eggs and the olives we had bought with green beans and tomatoes from the store), and got ready to head out to the Latin Quarter, where some friends had recommended a fun bar.
We metro-ed over to the Latin Quarter, and after wandering about, found Chez Georges. The bar was hidden down a few connecting alleyways, and as soon as we turned the corner there was a massive crowd of students in the street, spilling out from the bars, smoking cigarrettes, taking pictures, sharing beers.
It was like college all over again.
We popped into Chez Georges and crawled down the tiny staircase into the cave like basement. Comprised of two teeny stone-walled rooms, the basement of Chez Georges was musty, ridiculously warm and full of sweaty people. Mediterranean music pumped out of the speakers by the DJ, and groups of girls were dancing and passing around bottles of wine. We ordered two beers from the bar hidden in a nook in the wall of the cave and settled down at a table in a nook of our own. The heat became pretty unbearable and after we finished a few beers we decided to venture out onto the street and see what else we could find.
A bar across the way, O’Neills, was open, and was offering a special for the University of Paris business school. We ordered a few cheap beers, and had just settled in a booth, when two french boys literally fell on top of us. Clearly quite drunk, they were thrilled to find out we were from California (“California Girls! California Girls!”), and wanted to talk all about their favorite American TV Show—How I Met Your Mother. This was particulary enjoyable for me as I watch reruns ALL the time and the boyfriend constantly makes fun of me, claiming its the worst show on television.
After our friends had departed, we ordered one last beer, and decided to pay up and catch a taxi home.
Our last day in Paris.
We decided to use this day to just wander. At first, the initial goal was to go to the Musée Rodin, but we really didn’t want to rush anything. We marked a few places that we were interested in going on our very tattered map, and decided to just head out and do the best we could. It ended up being a great day. We stopped in Colette and admired the massive display of Beats (yay Dad!). We walked through the Jardin des Tuileries, and it was so gorgeous, we stopped for a bit, had a Coca Cola Light, and just enjoyed sitting in the sun.
We crossed the river, and had a great lunch (Omelette du jambon et fromage with salad for me, and croque monsieur for the boyfriend), and then wandered through the shopping district of St. Germain. There were a ton of furniture stores, so I did a bit of window shopping. We had to pick up some espresso for Alice, so we popped into the store that sold them, and bought a few. We were pretty exhausted after walking all over the city, so we went back to Montmarte, and packed and cleaned before heading out to dinner.
Of course ,the dinner we had the last night was probably my favorite. We walked around Montmarte until we stopped by a restaurant that was serving these amazing potatoes with every dish. The boyfriend and I took one look, and glanced at each other–yup–we were eating here. It was a delightfully indulgent last meal. I had demi poulet with the divine potatoes (super thinly sliced, they had roasted the potatoes in garlic and herbs), and the boyfriend had the ultimate indulgence: a big plate of potatoes with cheeses and french bacon. Topped off with a carafe of wine, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect send off.
(sorry so long… it was just too fun for me to relive all the minor details)
I already can’t wait to go back