A few summer days in Lausanne.

So this one time I went to Switzerland.

😁

One of my friends from my 2014 French class lives in Lausanne with her husband and their daughter. Chinatsu grew up in Japan and went to university (and learned English) in San Fransisco, where she met Stephane from France, and they ended up falling in love and moving to Paris. Stephane was offered a new job in Lausanne this year so they moved in the spring to Prilly, just next to the city of Lausanne. 


Chinatsu invited me to come visit her this summer, and since there was no direct train or bus from L’Isle Jourdain (or Poitiers or Limoges) to Lausanne, I booked trips with Blablacar. 
Blablacar is a ride-sharing travel option in Europe and I think it is BRILLIANT. I booked one trip from Limoges to Lyon, and the following trip from Lyon to Lausanne. Both drivers had excellent ratings and no actual cash has to exchange hands – it’s pre-paid, and the website you sign up on gives you a code to give them at the end of the trip so you get where you want to go.
The fun part was, my drivers were French. And spoke only French. So I got to put on my focus-and-concentrate face and really exercise my French communication skills for about 7 hours over the two trips. 😁😳


I arrived in Lausanne to beautiful weather and was picked up by Chinatzu at the downtown train station. It was excellent to catch up and meet her adorable 21-month old daughter Nanako.


Nanako was shy at first, but I soon won her over playing with a hand fan and some of her stuffed animals. We had the best time  playing together all week and Nanako is an absolute joy to be around because she gasps in delight at just about everything. Birds, people, planes, lightbulbs, dogs, the sky in general, the floor…..


I went off exploring on my own for a couple of days, and walked down to the Ouchy harbour, on the shores of Lake Geneva.


Seeing the mountains across the lake was wonderful. I have also never seen so many swans (and grey swans too; like ‘ugly ducklings’ that grew up to be swans, but kept their duckling colour).



Also, you can rent a paddle boat here, but not just any paddle boat: a paddle boat with a SLIDE! Amazing. 

There were a bunch of highschool students that just jumped into the lake as I was walking by.

I walked further down the shoreline and into the Olympic Museum, and it was really fun to see old Olympic torches, posters, team uniforms, costumes, and the current temporary exhibit all about Rio and the life and culture there. 


The old town centre has an animated clock that goes every hour during the day. I walked through this square 5 times while I was in Lausanne and the time was always 1:25, or 5:31, or 3:20, or 4:18…. Never near the hour, so I never saw it working! Whoops!


I walked the Market Steps up to find the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral at the top of the hill above the Old Town.




Oh yeah, there are a lot of stairs and hills in this city. Wow. 
Apparently the steepest existing metro track runs north from the bottom point of Ouchy-Olympic up to the main train station. Did I take it? No, I did not because apparently I’m deserving of some sort of punishment so I walked up the entire uphill length of Avenue D’Ouchy on this 28 degree day…. 😅


I arrived in St Paul’s square and had a look inside the large church. Then I sat outside and enjoyed some free wifi. 🙂


On Chinatsu’s suggestion, I went to the Musee D’Art Brut, where work is displayed by artists who were never famous or formally trained, and often they were outcasts or people in institutions. It was quite unique and there were some really amazing pieces.
My favourites included some beautiful pottery, driftwood sculptures, pen and ink detailed portraits of women, and found material miniature bus sculptures… 


I think the most memorable part was a small display of three eccentric and ornate costumes with an accompanying video about an Armenian 76-year old gentleman who would make elaborate hats, canes, and outfits out of everything from feather dusters to Christmas ornaments to lawn darts to shower curtain rings, then get dressed up and go on a one-man parade around his neighbourhood. 

There was also a room full of art by a man named Paul Amar who builds the most incredibly detailed sculptures entirely out of shells (clams, mussels, oysters….) and other pieces of shellfish, and paints them bright saturated colours with nail polish and paint and hot glues them to create under the sea scenes, or groups of animals, or dioramas of explorers and sailing ships.  

I wasn’t allowed photos inside or else I would show you a hint of some of the awesomeness. 

Postcards in the gift shop.


I came across a free exhibition that was part of the”Festival De Bande Dessine”, and it was titled “Migration”; and the subject surrounding immigration, emigration, war, and refugees. This particular exhibition had posters of short cartoons and images. Some had full stories and dialogue, while others were more abstract.



I made it to the Palais de Rumine, and the free (!) Archeology and  Zoology exhibits. 




Chinatsu and her family were wonderful hosts and treated me to some delicious homemade meals. The second night I was there she made us traditional Swiss fondue and we stuffed ourselves with cheese and bread and potatoes and vegetables. We also had a great Japanese dinner of miso and pan-seared pork with ginger and rice.  

Before I left at the end of the week we decided to go for a chocolat chaud at Le Barbare, just at the top of the Market Steps.

It was a rainy day and also the coolest weather since I’ve been in Europe, and a rich chocolat chaud was just perfect to warm us up before a walk around Old Town and down to the ‘new and modern’ area of Flon. (We had our chocolat chaud ‘nature’, which meant just the classic chocolate, without any added cream mixed in and whip cream on top. )

 




This city is beautiful and it’s wonderful to have friends here *that I absolutely plan to come back and visit*! After all, all it takes is a couple of blablacars to get here from France… 🙂


  

Grand Lyon! Je suis revenue !

Lovely Lyon!!


When I was last in Lyon it was pouring rain and we spent our time under umbrellas and ducking in and out of shops and boulangeries in the Old Town area. We even loved the city sopping wet, and grey, and gloomy, so I looked forward to seeing this place again, and I got to see it in sunshine! 


I stayed at the beautiful airbnb of Carine, a French music teacher in the 7th Arrondissement, and she immediately invited me out to a concert that night of Armenian and Persian music. 

On our way we walked past the Lyon Opera.

 

The group was called NaZani and was a trio, with one musician playing several hand drums and a lute-type instrument, and one playing a Qanoun, and the third dancing. 

Not an exceptional photo, but you get the idea. 🙂


Small space, an excellent little black-box theatre venue, it ended up with a full house, most of whom had a subscription to the music series here. 

We met up with a friend of Carine’s at the concert and walked around Lyon afterwards, to have drinks at Place Bertone in the 1er Arrondissement. 


There were absolutely loads of people out (it being Saturday night), and the streets and squares and all along the Rhône River were busy. There were groups of people having riverside picnics and drinks and we walked past a hearing-impaired meet-up group right by Pont de la Guillotière ( I saw ads for it on the metr- as a regular thing.)


I spent two sunny days exploring Lyon, starting with taking the verniculaire up through Vieux Lyon to the Cathedrale, my favourite church in the world.

You are welcome to walk up from Old Lyon, but this way is soooooo nice. 🙂

Just as I stepped out of the metro entrance, the bells started ringing. 😊
I went inside just before the 11’oclock Mass began, and I sat at the back where the tourists/guests sit. Basically, unless you are there to attend Mass, if you only want to ‘see’ what it’s like and stay for only part (or even the entire service), they ask you to stay in the back pews. 

That is fine with me, and was perfect to gaze up in quiet awe at the breathtaking ceiling and walls adorned with detailed mosaics, rainbows of stained glass, and carved statues, wood and marble, gilded and gorgeous. No photos are allowed inside, which just makes you appreciate the moment even more.


I actually stayed through the entire service (my very first Mass).
There was beautiful choral music, a feisty sermon (some of which I understood) delivered by a passionate priest through a mic that offered just the right amount of reverb to sound extra formidable, and I had the sudden  understanding of the strength of burning incense filling a space (*cough cough*). 

 

Some exterior photos give you a hint to the detail inside, but this is as close as I came to taking photos inside this grand place. Outside an accordion player greeted tourists at the gate, and a small church group (of unknown denomination to me), sang a Capella over by a statue in the courtyard in front of the church.

And then of course, there is this view.

Following that start to the day, I found the ancient stage and ended up standing on the stage all by myself for a brief and awe-inspiring few minutes. 




Old Lyon is full of boulangeries specializing in anything and everything praline, meaning a lot of pink pastries. 

I think the last time I took a photo of this Boulangerie stain glassed sign, there was nothing but dark grey clouds above.



The Musée Miniature et Cinema  was recommended to me by Carine and I spent the better part of two hours inside. From the actual very-aromatic (and totally creepy) sets from “Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer”, to original movie costumes, animatronics, and props (like guns and wands), to the most intricate movie set miniatures I have ever seen, this place is fantastic!!!

Believe it or not, these are ALL miniatures. Every single one.

I then discovered that though I had missed the usual Sunday market hours (that finish at 2pm or earlier), there was a HUGE pottery market/festival in Old Lyon spreading out in all directions from Place Saint-Jean. 

Dishes, sculptures, jewelry, art… Happy place. 🙂

Oh if I had room in my suitcase…… There was something for everyone here. Sooooooo fantastic.







I then walked across the river to a music festival in Place Bellecour. 


With tents from around the world, and information about the culture, music, local products, and food of each country.

 The winning tents in my opinion: Pakistan- for live music and dancing, Belgium- for samples of cold beer on this super-hot day, and Turkey- free Turkish ice cream samples complete with a performance!


There were performances on the main stage every half hour, and I caught a group of dancers performing J-Pop (from Japan), and a Swedish choir that included a couple of my host Carine’s voice students.

This city has so much charm I’m happy I got to come back and see it again. 


And now, on to Switzerland!!

4 days in Paris and a packed schedule, of course.


After a nice and easy flight from Toronto and upon finding my Airbnb in the City of Lights, I did what any good returning Parisian-at-heart would do – I bought a croissant and a coffee and sat in a park to take it in. 

can you see why you’d want to have one of everything? 🙂

Four days in Paris and then off to the country I go!

On my list of things: go to the Jardin Du Luxembourg, see Monet’s Water Lilies at the Orangerie Museum, buy cheese and a baguette for dinner, and people-watch in one garden or another. 

My Airbnb host Émilie was lovely to practice my French with and spoke almost entirely to me en français the whole time I stayed with her. We actually both had a craving to go see a movie and decided to see La Monde Du Dory (Finding Dory) O.V. avec sous-titres. (Meaning: “Original Version in English with French subtitles.) Pixar excelled again, of course, and the movie is wonderful and touching and adorable.

Émilie also suggested that before I return to the Luxembourg garden, I should check out Le Jardin des Buttes-Chaumont only a ten minute walk from her apartment. 

yes, there is even a waterfall.

Well I was not prepared for the fact that it may be my new favourite place in Paris. Multiple pathways, grassy hills, and big beautiful trees to sit under, I was delighted for the recommendation. This is why you ask locals!

After spending the entire afternoon there, walking every pathway, across the bridges, along the man-made streams, checking out the waterfall, painting a bit, and doing a lot of people watching, I was content to have a night in. I was determined to have an earlier start the next morning.
I’m on vacation, right? So I was all packed up and leaving for the afternoon at about 1. 😁😳
I decided to focus on the Orangerie visit, with a meander through the Tuilleries Garden, and anything else would be a bonus. The garden was busy because it’s the yearly festival/carnival and there are rides all along the north side of the garden. 



Following a delightful (and surprisingly not-too-crowded) visit to my favourite water lilies in the Orangerie, I indulged in some gelato (du mange, du framboise, et dû noix du coco) sat by one of the fountains, and definitely was in my happy place. 🙂


It was time to move locations, and get my gear to the FIAP Jean Monnet hostel in the 14th arrondissement. 

By far it is the absolute nicest and cleanest hostel I have ever been in ever. High security and a big place, this is clearly a regular spot for large school groups, conferences, and teams. I got to my 6-bed dorm room and had 3 quiet roommates who all arrived just as I was heading to bed.
That night I met up with my friend Robert from the French classes I took in 2014 and it was like no time had passed (and truly, two years seem to have just flown by). He has since finished school and an apprenticeship in marketing and is now fluent in French! I’m super impressed and a little jealous. 🙂 We met at La Rhumerie for drinks and the evening just whizzed by as we caught up on what happened in our respective lives over the last 730 days… 

The cool courtyard at the hostel- and a giant garden chess game.

 

A free breakfast at the hostel started my day early whether I wanted it to or not – breakfast was only served until 8:45am. Ha! That bumped up the beginning of my day a fair bit! 
I decided that I needed to return to the Orsay museum, sit by the Seine, and then go see the Rodin Museum


The garden at the museum is absolutely gorgeous.

I completely see why the Rodin Museum was highly recommended, so along with that  addition to the itinerary, I added a return trip to the Orsay, for more time with my favourite impressionist art (including Renoir’s dancers, Cezanne’s portraits, and more of Monet’s garden and water lilies), and a wander past the Eiffel Tower (tricky to do as it the Champ de Mars is currently entirely surrounded by fencing as part of an event for the EuroCup.)



My last half-day in the city included a quick but sweet visit to the Jardin Du Luxembourg, and some time at my quiet spot by the fountain before the mid/day crowd arrived. 


Then it was time to head to the country via the OuiBus (at the budget-friendly cost of €15) for the next couple of months, if all plans were to turn out. My first Workaway adventure. 🙂


A bientôt, Paris! 

Looking back: A must-see-and-do list for Paris.

My friend Jessie was heading to Paris and asked if I had any advice on where to stay, what to see, and the must-do items I learned from my travels, so I created this list.

(Of course they are far more things to see/do than this list, but here are a few things to get you started! And remember, I was there from June-August so this is a ‘summer list’.)

First and foremost:
Get this Paris offline map on your phone!!
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Download this bit of brilliance to your phone. I have found it indispensable- you don’t need to be connected to wifi and it doesn’t use data roaming to work– you can find the nearest metro, a Starbucks (if you need wifi), a grocery store (like a ‘franprix’ or ‘carrefour’), museums, galleries, (and many other things), and always find where you are and which direction you are facing. It’s free. And awesome.
(There is also the same kind of free app for Amsterdam, London, Prague… Etc)
IMG_5013The Sunken Chip
-delicious fish and chips, UK style. And if weather permits, taking it over to the banks of the Canal St Martin to eat it.
(Nearest metro: Chateau D’Eau (line 4) or Jacques Bonsergent (line 5)
IMG_3436The Artazart bookstore and boutique by the canal St Martin- honestly the coolest selection of books ever. Plus other cool things, but dear god the books. I could have bought a dozen.
(Nearest metro: Chateau D’Eau (line 4) or Jacques Bonsergent (line 5)
IMG_1971The Loire Dans La Théière:
A busy little tea shop with unbelievable desserts. In the Marais area, where there are all sorts of other fantastic eats. Laptops not allowed.
(Nearest metro: St-Paul (line 1)
The Musée des arts et Métiers:
Full of inventions, toys, design, engineering and architecture, it’s extremely cool to check out.
(Nearest metro: Arts et Métiers (line 3 or line 11)
 
IMG_5094The Pere Lachaise Cemetery
This place is huge and remarkable. I liked it best on a cloudy day; you can spend hours here exploring ancient gravestones and famous resting places. I was interested in this place far more for the beauty than the celebrities.
L’Orangerie
I know there are numerous art gallery/museums that will be recommended to you so this shall be mine. This beautiful gallery has a lower level of many artists, and my favourite part on the main floor: two rooms with wrapping floor-to-ceiling paintings of Monet’s water lilies like you’ve never seen them.
You can also walk through the Jardin De Tuilleries afterwards, on your way to the Louvre or towards the Marais area.
Nearest metro: Concorde (line 1, 12 or 8)
IMG_5765Rent ‘Velib’ bikes – if it isn’t too cold or rainy, this is a great way to get across town quickly and leisurely.
You can rent a bicycle online or at a velib station with a credit card- it’s 1.70€ for 24 hours, and you can use a bike for up to 30 minutes at a time (as many times as you want) for no extra charge, so it’s great to get places a little quicker, or enjoy a ride along the Seine. We found it perfect in the evening- the least amount of traffic on the roads. The roads often have bike lanes and we always felt comfortable on the roads here- drivers and cyclists cooperate. The stations are all over the place, and there’s an app for that as well.
IMG_2974Have a picnic. (Just about anywhere):
There is nothing like buying some good cheese, a baguette, grabbing a bottle of wine and finding an outdoor spot to eat. Way cheaper than a restaurant and you can enjoy the beautiful evenings that Paris often has. Three of my favourite places are: along the Seine (by the Musee D’Orsay, or at Pont Neuf), in Champs Des Mars- the park at the base of the Eiffel Tower, or the Jardin du Luxembourg.
IMG_1719Speaking of the Jardin du Luxembourg: go there. 🙂 It’s huge, beautiful, and a fabulous place to walk through, or sit and people watch. My favourite place in the garden is by the Medici Fountain.
(Nearest train line RER B- Luxembourg, or Metro: Notre-Dame-Des-Champs)- you can also walk here from the Odeon station.
 
IMG_5242Parc de la Villette
This was a very late discovery and we went there to check out their outdoor movie festival, but the park and area have even more to offer than that. In addition to all the pathways and walkways and playgrounds and artwork here, there is the largest Science Museum in Europe, The City of Music museum, IMAX theatre (in La Géode, pictured above), and numerous venues for music and events.
You can walk a lot in Paris, but if you take the metro, my suggestion is to buy a pack of ten tickets. I think you can use the same ticket for 60 minutes (any direction) on the metro but don’t quote me on that. I don’t know the bus system very well aside from the fact you need tickets (or exact change) for buses too.
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In terms of food, there are endless possibilities. Crèpe stands are all over and the price is often very reasonable, boulangeries (bakeries) are common and amazing, and fruit stands (even sometimes in the metro stations!) often have the absolute best fruit you’ve ever had. If you want the most concentrated restaurant options, get off the Metro at Saint-Michel(just southwest of Nortre Dame) and head south. There are a lot of cool restaurants in the Marais area, just west of the Etienne Marcel metro stop, and Rue Mouffetard (right by the Place Monge Metro stop) is another awesome spot for a variety of options. There are markets all over, and they happen regularly, often on a schedule like Sunday/Wednesday/Friday or Monday/Saturday. Fun to wander through and amazing selections of food, flowers, and sometimes housewares and crafts.
Festivals abound, but some I got to and loved:
1) Fête de La Musique (3rd Saturday in June)  (Free music festival with concerts galore!)
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2) La Plage Sur La Seine (August)
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An Eiffel Tower statue made out of metal lawn chairs

3) En Plein Air (Outdoor Cinema Festival) @ Parc De La Villette (July-August)

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Bring a picnic dinner, drinks, and your own blankets (or rent chairs and blankets for a reasonable price) and enjoy!

There are new exhibits and events going on all the time, so check out TimeOut www.timeout.com/Paris/en for their ‘hot list’- a list of things to do and see each week. I found this site really useful.

Hope this list has some things you find helpful. Let me know what you have found and would suggest! I’d love to learn about more must-see things for my next visit there! 🙂

Museums and rainy days… A perfect combo.

The family vacation has begun! My mum and sister arrived on Saturday afternoon, and after their first fresh croissants of the trip and a jet-lag induced snooze, we had a relaxing evening with a short walk around the 5th Arrondissement around the Pantheon, down by the Sorbonne, and complete with crêpes on our way home.

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It was a beautiful night, as it often is, but we didn’t stay out too late as we planned a free-museum Sunday packed with plans.
Our apartment is awesome, but if you don’t have earplugs, and aren’t a heavy sleeper, you are hooped. There was some sort of event at the bar below that went later than the usual patio restaurant din that lasts till 1 or 2am, and the noise and celebration went on past 3am. As well, first thing the next morning there were some sort of renovations happening in our building above us, so needless to say it was a rough first-night sleep for the travelers, and they slept in while I went down the street to pick up some breakfast pastries.

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We ended up not doing a museum day after all as the adjustment to Paris time was harder than expected. 😉 That was fine, as we chatted about our plans for the rest of the trip, researched museums we hadn’t been to before, and my sister and I went on a walk down to and along the Seine. We discovered several spots along the Seine with groups of people dancing, so we watched for a while.

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I  had seen this one group before from the other side of the river on a walk a few weeks ago. They just have a small speaker set up and couples practice various styles of ballroom dance. It’s a little semicircle of steps to the edge of the wall, which makes it a perfect place to sit and watch, or join in.

 

That was the end of the clear skies for a while. And now: for the weeks’ activities! Time sure flies. 🙂 Especially when it rains for almost an entire week in Paris! 🙂

We had to get our mum to see the Eiffel Tower, and there were rumors the rain was letting up, so we headed to Trocadero metro station for the fantastic best first view. Unfortunately the rumors were wrong and it rained a lot. All that really means is that most of our photos include umbrellas! (And perhaps, the reason we decided to wear pants the next day….)

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We needed a warm up and lunch so headed to a small spot on the south side of the river. We had quiche and tea, and my sister had her first chocolate chaud, which was not as thick as the melted chocolate bars I spoke of earlier, and she only added a bit of milk. I was impressed. 🙂 And then we had our first macarons of the family time trip: pistachio, raspberry, and coffee.

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We then headed to the Musee D’Orsay.

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I have really noticed a huge surge in the number of people everywhere in Paris. Parisians are on summer vacation, and all the tourists from Europe and elsewhere have now arrived. And it is busy! Lines are way longer and museums are quite congested, and on top of that, there are all sorts of outdoor venues being set up for Bastille Day (July 14). The line for the Orsay was gargantuan, but it still moved surprisingly quickly, and we were only in line for about 30 minutes. Inside was packed, but we were still able to enjoy an afternoon snack in the Cafe D’Ours (The Bear Cafe) on the main floor, explore my favourite Impressionist paintings and sculptures on the 5th floor, and marvel at all the incredible marble figures and the Post-Impressionist gallery before heading back out into the rain.

imageWe then spent the good part of a day at the Louvre, with our main focus in the Egypt exhibit. That place is so huge we stayed primarily in the Sully Wing and we were there for hours!

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It was pouring outside, so we were content to spend the day in such a fantastic place.

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I think it was this night we walked across the street from our apartment (and when I say ‘across the street’, I mean, a few steps away from our front door) and had a delicious fondue dinner.

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Next up: L’Orangerie! I was thrilled to go back, and would be happy to go often if I lived here year round… 🙂

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The Jardin Du Tuilleries, L’Orangerie in the background on the left, and a cloudy sky around the Tour Eiffel. 🙂

And like the others, this museum was busy, so much busier than when I was there last, and unfortunately the quiet atmosphere of the last time I was there wasn’t the case this time. The “silence please” signs were entirely ignored, and there were loud conversations, noisy kids running around and even one woman chatting on a cellphone (who was thankfully asked to take her conversation outside by a security guard) and it was a lot less calm than it had been a month earlier. Luckily, the waterlillies paintings still had a magic effect on us, and we all loved our visit. I did not take a single photo here, so you’ll just have to come and see for yourself. No really. Come to this place. It’s at the top of my must-see list.

Thursday spot: the Musee D’Arts et Métiers – a museum full of inventions and design in the Marais. They were open late on Thursday which was perfect for us again, as we had a late lunch and were happy to spend the evening there.

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Our favourite room was the Automaton Theatre, full of animatronics, from toys to clocks to music boxes, it was filled with amazing and detailed work dating as far back as the 18th century.
We went to the Arts and Métiers Museum, which was fantastic! Inventions and design, industry and innovation, for practical or entertainment reasons, this place touched on it all. We actually discovered that the main exhibit wad free, and only the temporary exhibit on the history of cinema cost money to get it. We decided we would come back for that as we arrived three hours before the late-night museum hours ended. We saw all sorts of amazing things from ancient sun dials, gears and prints machines to hidden cameras and space station robotics.

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We truly were part of the last few people escorted out of the museum as they closed, so we felt we made the best bang of our buck… Oh wait- it was free admission. Even better! We may head back for the media exhibit there later this week if time permits…

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Friday we went to Notre Dame, figuring if there was a good time to visit an ancient Gothic Church it would be on a gloomy rainy afternoon. Apparently, most of Paris had this idea, so this meant more long lines in the rain.

We walked through the lovely Marché aux Fleurs on our way.

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(oh yes, and also, we discovered a cream puff shop. )

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We were prepared with rain jackets and umbrellas but it was remarkably chilly and all of us felt we could have brought warmer clothes for July (?!) weather in Paris. No 30 degree weather, here, Canada!

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It it was after standing for about 20 minutes in pouring rain in yet another line to climb to the top that we decided to instead go for dessert and tea in the Marais. (We learned the wait was over an hour, and thought- “another time!”) We walked along the the south side of the building through the park, and I showed them the bridge of locks before we went on our way.

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Back at the Loire dans La Théière, we found a cozy table with mis-matched chairs on one side, and a couch on the other. Tea and dessert (and a decaf cappuccino for mum) were just perfect.

Dessert options: we went with the lemon meringue tart, of course.

Dessert options: we went with the lemon meringue tart, of course.

We also walked by the Carnavalet Museum I had been to before, and since it was free, we decided to venture in.

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Friday night the skies cleared up a bit and we went to the Jardin Du Luxembourg to enjoy it when it is a bit quieter.

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Saturday we had a break from the rain at about 3pm, so after a lazy morning  we packed a picnic lunch to bring to the Parc Floral to take in a free jazz concert. The good news is, we pack excellent picnics. The bad news is, the concert was way less ‘jazz’ and way more ‘new music’, or as I like to call it, noise.

image We found a spot near the giant rock feature water fountain, which was lovely, and we people watched and relaxed in the grass, as well as exploring a little garden exposition nearby.

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All in all, we got in some great museum action, saw the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and spent time in gardens here, as well as having some great meals. Week one down, bring on week two!! (And maybe some sunshine and hot days?) 😀

My sister took this photo and I love it. She has a blog too, and if I did this right, you should be able to get to her page by the link from this photo!

Art and food. (I’m sure this will be one of many posts regarding both.)

More exploring,  mais maitenant, en seule.
On saturday the sun finally came out again, escaping the numerous threatening rain clouds that have been looming over Paris this week. I really was expecting warmer weather for the end of May, but I’m sure that will come soon enough. And with the mention of sun, I have  jinxed my current situation and it has ducked behind more rolling grey clouds. This wimpy Canadian is chilly again.
imageI succeeded in buying a Navigo pass, and got photos taken at a Metro photo booth (yes, just like in Amelie- without the zoro mask and hat). It will save me so much money to have a local pass instead of buying separate tickets or a Paris Visite pass! It turns out that the Navigo pass is not advertised on the English websites for Paris Metro because it was never intended to be used by tourists. I feel so… What’s the word… Débrouillarde! 😉
I also purchased some art supplies- a sketchbook, some sketching pencils, chalk, and charcoal. Let the art begin!! (I really wish I had thought of this before so I could just bring supplies from home that I already had.)

 

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The Jardin du Luxembourg is quickly moving up the ranks of favourite places in Paris, and challenging the Jardin du Tuilleries, and this weekend it was very, very busy. The locals and tourists alike were out in droves to celebrate the sunshine. (This photo of the fountain was from last week when it was quiet!) There was also a photography installation on the grounds that I took in- WWI documentation, photos from the archives of  the French newspaper EXCELSIOR. There were photos over the years documenting the first days deployment, to women in the workforce at home, to remains of buildings, to veterans returning. It was very interesting, and there were some startling and beautiful photos.

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Today I walked by a gluten free shop. Yes, even they exist in Paris. It was in the Marais (in case this is useful information for you 🙂 ), the 4th Arrondissement where I went looking for free museums today, as it is the first Sunday of the month. There are a lot of museums on the full list, but today I wanted to stay in one area- the 3rd and 4th Arrondissements, where there were many! I originally wanted to have a go to the Louvre but unlike last time I was here, it is no longer the ‘off-season’ and therefore, you have to pay for it. As I discovered last Sunday, weekends are extra nuts in Paris, so I think I’ll wait for a slightly quieter weekday…

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One museum  in particular I wanted to see today was Musée Picasso, but it is still closed for renovations. Hopefully in July they will be complete. 🙂 I stopped in at a museum not on my list, and spent almost two hours there: Musée Carnavalet. The garden in the centre court was stunning, and so of course I had to take many many photos…. It had some incredible models of many major buildings in Paris, and I’m not even sure I saw it all as it went on for ages. I then saw another, smaller museum, Musée Cognacq-Jay, just down the street. I also thought I might go to L’Orangerie again, but then I found a chair on the side of one fountain in the Jardin du Tuilleries, and tried sketching a statue.

image It has been a long, long time, since I have done any sketching of any sort, and I feel a bit rusty!! After that I did a little people watching, and wondered if it really was this common to see so many people in (navy&white or black&white horizontal) striped shirts go by as I sat there. I stopped counting at 17 in the 15 minutes I was keeping track… :)

 

I also discovered more street markets, of course, mostly selling food, but also jewelry and toys and artwork, but again I only took pictures of the food…. 🙂

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Yes, those giant Willy Wonka blobs of color are meringues….

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It is really hard to not get excited about all the cafés and bakeries and crepe stands and gelato places, and all the amazing food here, and not buy numerous things every daythat are not ‘necessary’, just extremely delicious snacks. Today I gave myself an allowance of 5 Euros, and I am proud to say, I kept to it, only buying a crepe and a drink as I wandered around the city.

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I went to Place Des Vosges to sit and have lunch (that I had made!), and this was when the almost-storm seemed to back off a bit, and though there were a lot of people at the big tourist spots like the Louvre, this are felt a bit more calm. still majestic, though. and all my OCD friends will be happy to know how perfectly symmetrical so many gardens and courts and other meeting places here are. 🙂

The architecture of Paris is so fantastic I just can’t get over it. Back home I’m the born-and-raised Calgarian who still can’t get over the mountains, and I’m sure no matter how long I stayed in Paris or how often I came back I would still “ooh” and “ahh” over the buildings and sculptures in this city!image

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Next up: my first French class in Paris, and I’m excited and nervous! First day of school again!