Sights with friends: part 2! (ou Les attractions touristiques avec des amies: partie deux!)

Diana and Lisa introduced me to Sean, an American who will be studying for his Masters in Paris in the fall, and Hugo, a Parisian  who has agreed to meet me for coffee on occasion to help me practice my French. You could tell instantly who was from where; Hugo kissed both cheeks, Sean shook hands. 🙂

 

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These four introduced me to the Jardin de Luxembourg, and we sat in the late evening sun before going for food at the fanciest ‘pub’ I’ve ever been to in the 5th Arrondissement. They had fois gras, caviar, & champagne on the menu. needless to say, none of us ordered those. 🙂

It was great to hang out in a group, and though the gents had plans for the next couple days (work and such), we girls went out again yesterday and did some more sightseeing.

Well, we started with shopping, as both Lisa and Diana were heading out of town the next day- Lisa to Budapest, and Diana back home to Vancouver. Time for souvenirs. Diana and I started in Monmartre, looking for a well-priced béret, some scarves, and other fun items family and friends might enjoy. I introduced her to “Pylônes”, one of my favourite shops I remembered from the last trip, and I showed her Refuge Des Fondus- the amazing restaurant I can’t wait to go back to. Diana found a lot of great stuff, though I didn’t buy anything. I was just her souvenir ‘enabler.’ 😉

image  image  Montmartre was very busy!

Another serendipitous discovery that was on my ‘must see’ list that we happened upon: the famous Passe Muraille sculpture!

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The art is based on “The Man Who Walked Through Walls” -a short story published by Marcel Aymé in 1943. The story goes something like this- There was a man named Dutilleul who lived in Montmartre who possessed the unusual ability to pass effortlessly through walls. Dutilleul used this to break into banks and jewellery shops and occasionally would allow himself to be caught in the act, but could easily escape prison over and over again. He then fell in love with a married woman, for whom he would sneak through the walls of her locked bedroom at night to see her. One morning while leaving her house through the wall, he discovered that he could not move, and became trapped: where he remains to this day

imageHis hand has been worn down to bony gold fingers from all the people trying to help him out of the wall. It was kind of creepy.

 

 

 

 

We then decided to make a quick stop at Galleries Lafayette, which was hugely busy and overwhelming- kind of like a gargantuan Holt Renfrew or something.

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We considered buying tiny €3.50 macarons, but we decided against it and bought them for €0.90 at a McDonalds later that day. I know I know, McDonald’s is not your classic Parisian patisserie, but I has to try. And have a cappuccino there, too. To make proper use of their wifi. 🙂

I would understand if you judge me here. ;)

I would understand if you judge me here. 😉

$$$ desserts  (€€€ dessertes)

$$$ desserts
(€€€ dessertes)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wanted to check out the Chateau de Vincennes, which is at the end of Metro Line 1. The Chapel was our first stop, and it was beautiful. Apparently it took over two hundred years to complete.

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Walking into the castle truly felt like we had gone back in time. We explored the king’s chambers, ‘walk-in’ fireplaces as we liked to call them, and numerous stairwells and rooms.
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Plus there was a random kid in a knights helmet, so there’s that….

We were looking forward to spending the evening by the Eiffel Tower with a picnic (une pique-nique), so we picked up three kinds of cheese, olives, wine, cherries, and baguette, and sat in the Park to the south to enjoy our dinner and wait for the sparkling lights again

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Note the classy wine- it was a pink grapefruit rosée… I’m not taking credit for that..

At one point, someone started blaring the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and we joked it was probably a flash mob.

And then a flash mob happened. It was quite a modest size group,  so it was cute but not too exciting. It was bound to happen at some point, I suppose.

We were all actually more hopeful we would see a proposal when the Eiffel Tower flashing lights came on, but no luck.

imageWe were offered wine, beer, and champagne at regular 2 minute increments by guys wandering around the park selling them out of grocery bags. Either that or tiny Eiffel Tower keychains or laser pointers. We declined, but enjoyed watching an American girl barter and get the guy down to 0.20€ for one keychain, which was quite impressive as they were starting at 1€ each. 

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With one last dessert together of “Nutella et Spéculos” crêpés, we hugged (we should have double-cheek kissed) and took our separate trains home. The good news- Lisa is coming back through Paris in ten days, so we will meet up then and I’ll hear about her Train travels back across Europe. I’m looking forward to seeing other friendly faces as they pass through Paris later this month and at the beginning of August!

The sights: with friends! Part 1 (ou, Les attractions touristiques: avec des amies! Partie 1)

It’s great to connect with friends on the other side of the world, not only for that friendly face, but because you likely speak the same language and don’t have to work hard to communicate. It was refreshing to meet up with Diana- with whom I worked at Cirque Du Soleil in Calgary on Amalula last summer. She is just in Paris this week with a friend so we have decided to get together several times to make use of good company.

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We planned our day around a couple ‘must-sees’ on Diana’s list, and I was happy to join in, as most of them were on mine. I met up with Diana and Lisa in Monmartre, so we could visit the Sacre Coeur and shops in the neighborhood. It was here that Diana and I discovered we had the same favourite movie – Amélie – and loved the references we knew in and around Monmartre. And as if we had planned it, there was a musician outside the Basillica playing the music from Amélie on his accordion.

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imageWe then looked around Monmartre and truly stumbled across the Musée  Monmartre. I love stumbling across things- often they are some of the best discoveries on a trip! I wish I had thought to say I am a student, as that would have got me a better price on my entry to the museum, but oh well. I’ll be able to use that for the next month while I attend classes at L’Alliance Fancaise!! 🙂 but it was very nice to have an audiobook be included in the price of admission, so as we walked through the garden and rooms of the museum, we could listen to all the extra details you wouldn’t know. I don’t often pay extra for this so it was a nice treat to have. There is a lot of art related to the history of Monmartre, Le Sacre Coeur, the Moulin Rouge, and many of the artists that lived in the house now transformed into the museum, like Pablo Picasso. There was also an installation dedicated to the new 4-book comic book (or really, graphic novel) completed in 2014 about Pablo Picasso in his early years.

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Le Lapin Agile, a representation of Monmartre

Le Lapin Agile

Le Cabaret Du Lapin Agile

Le Cabaret Du Lapin Agile

imageAfter that we grabbed some baguette sandwiches on our way to Notre Dame and the Bridge of Locks. I had heard of the bridge but had never been, so I’m glad Diana suggested it. Notre Dame was busy, and we didn’t go inside- though that has been highly recommend and I plan to do so later this summer. We delighted in the fact we had wifi (or “wee-fee” as the Parisians pronounce it), in the garden of Notre Dame. We also came across a British girls choir singing several pieces in the park, which was great.

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PONT DE L’ARCHEVÊCHÉ: The Love-Lock bridge of Paris

 

imageI could easily create a gallery of the photos from the bridge of locks, because there are so many cool angles you can get! Apparently you write your name and your sweetheart’s name on a lock, lock it onto the bridge (or at this point, to another lock) and toss your keys into the Seine, and your love will last forever. I also found out that ACTUALLY the Bidge at Pont de L’archevêché is the place to lock your lover’s lock, while the (MUCH more empty) Pont Ds Arts is for your ‘committed love’. Maybe people have just been misinformed… As we saw a bride and groom lock a padlock on this ‘lover’ bridge and take photos of it… Do they know?? 😉

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I wonder how many more locks that bridge can hold. It’s crazy! (They have been all cut off before, apparently.)

Ah L’Amour. Et puis, La Mort. We then took our travels to La Cimetière du Père Lachaise (Father Lachaise Cemetery). This is a huge Cemetery full of the oldest tombs I have ever seen. It was unbelievable and the atmosphere was romantic- in the Romeo-and-Juliet-tragic-romantic kind of way…

imageThere is a large map at the gate (and we also picked up a free paper map at the main office, but did discover that the numbers on each did not match up, FYI)… And went to see a few specific tombstones- like Edith Piaf, Chopin, and Oscar Wilde, to name a few. You could often find the most ‘popular’/famous grave sites by looking for the most flowers or gifts on them. Some graves are so old they are covered in moss and you cannot see the name on them any more. Others have built-in planters with well-manicured or overgrown plants and flowers. We also saw one site that had been completely taken over by a large tree that had grown out of the centre of the plot.

The cemetery truly goes as far as the eye can see.

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I had no idea that it became ‘the thing to do’ for women visiting Oscar Wilde’s tomb to kiss it, so they had to put a protective glass box around it to keep it from getting covered in lipstick. Now, people kiss the glass…

"Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."           -Oscar Wilde

“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.” -Oscar Wilde

 

It was then we decided on Mexican food for dinner, and Nutella and Speculaas crêpes for dessert. I had never had one, and was told that they are the greatest things ever, so of course we had to document it. So exciting!

The first one went to Lisa as she was the most excited...

The first one went to Lisa as she was the most excited…

Diana taking a picture of Lisa with her crêpe

Diana taking a picture of Lisa with her crêpe

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My crêpe. It was ridiculously delicious.

It was fun to introduce the girls to my favourite view of the Eiffel Tower, as they had only seen it from the south side. We took the metro to Trocadero Station, and got some good photos in before heading down to the base at the perfect time to catch the first sparkling lights of the evening at 10:00pm.

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La deuxième partie à suivre! (Part two to follow!)