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 dĂ» 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 bientĂŽt, Paris! 

A dessert that could feed a small country and a rant about chocolate.

This entry is about desserts.

Okay, so it’s about many things, and dessert happens to be a feature. 🙂 Because, to be honest, I started this post with the intention of writing about walking around Paris, but then I realized that walking is simply a means to an end in Paris. To eat. (Okay, okay, and also to get to cool places. True story.) 😉

I definitely recommend comfortable shoes to explore Paris. Seriously. If you want to eat all these crĂȘpes and croissants and baguettes and cheese and desserts and whatever else is rich and delicious in France without having to buy drawstring-waist pants, ya gotta walk. A lot. On cobblestones. And if you want to keep up with Parisians during rush hour on the metro, you feel like you are training for a speed walk competition. (Although as a general rule I try to avoid rush hour on the metro; it’s just too many people, too little air, and too much stranger-body-contact-to-stranger-body-contact.) I have to admit, the footwear I brought are somewhat lacking in the ‘cushion’ department and there are mornings where I get up and feel like the soles of my feet have gone on strike and are violently protesting.

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On Friday night after class I decided to go for a walk (of course 😉 ) and revisit the 3rd Arrondissement (the Marais) , check out the Canal St Martin and scope out a couple cafĂ©s and restaurants that had been recommended to me. Not that I have to go very far for good restaurants- I walk by dozens of great places close to my apartment every day, and I passed three crĂȘperies and two gelato places on the same small street on my way to the Marais. It’s fantastic and dangerously tempting at the same time.


It turned into a very ‘romantic night for one’ as I walked across the Seine and along the St Martin canal through rose gardens and ivy arches, passing numerous couples and several groups of friends hanging out under the arches, at the base of old twisted trees and on park benches and garden edges.

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This is the first sculpture I have seen in Paris with is much (or any...?) graffiti on it.

This is the first sculpture I have seen in Paris with this much (or even any) graffiti on it.

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A zig-zag stroll through the Marais brought me past many fancy boutiques, funky jewelry shops, art galleries, tea houses, bars, and as usual, so much amazing architecture. The perfect Paris evening sky made it a gorgeous walk, and the streets were decorated with rainbow flags and banners, along with crowds of people lined up outside the busy night clubs celebrating Pride weekend.

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Saturday was the rainiest day of the weekend, and after the parade I wanted to warm up with some tea and the famous tarte au limon meringue at Le Loir Dans La ThéiÚre (aka the Doormouse In The Tea Pot).

It is a very popular spot and there was a huge lineup to get in, but this ‘party of one’ was seated rather quickly at a shared table by the window. 🙂 They have a sign at the front door stating that laptops are not allowed in the establishment, and though my blogging heart would have been happy to move in for the afternoon and type away in a corner, I like the fact that they encourage people there to enjoy each other’s company over tea and dessert. (My table-mates and I didn’t talk too much more than a) marveling over each other’s dessert selections and b) laughing at the fact our table had one off kilter leg that made us spill each other’s tea any time we moved even slightly in our cozy corner of the place.)

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I ordered an Earl Grey tea which was brought over in a beautiful heavy silver teapot, and then was served the largest piece of lemon meringue pie that I have ever seen in my life. I believe that the meringue alone would feed several people. And really, you should have seen the size of the entire pie- it was gargantuan. It was deliciously luxurious and rich, and everything that is indulgent on this rainy afternoon. But I think I should not have eaten at all that day- in preparation. Or worked my way up to it -over several weeks…Is there training to prepare oneself for such an epic dessert? Alas, after my best efforts, I could not finish it. I tried. I really did. It hurt. In the best and yet saddest way. Next time I’m bringing a friend (or a hidden take-home container). 🙂

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Sunday was an excellent day with market shopping, more walking, company, and another delicious – um, we’ll call it ‘dessert’- that I couldn’t finish.

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In the morning (who am I kidding- late morning….so, at noon) I went to the outdoor market down the street from my apartment and got some great fresh produce- and possibly the best strawberries and cherries I have ever tasted. You know you are a little over-excited about your food when you have a mini photo-shoot about it.

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Yup. And now I wait for all the food magazines to start calling me.

It was a little rainy for a couple of hours, and I got to Skype with my pal Erin who is in Italy right now, which was fantastic. I then met up with my friend Hugo to go for a walk and possibly check out a cheap movie as it was the FĂȘte du CinĂ©ma on Sunday. The sun had come out at this point, so we started with a walk, but about five minutes in, charcoal clouds took over and rain sort of chased us along our route up past Notre Dame and along the Seine. (Yup, this girl still can’t get over the fact that on regular occasions she strolls past Notre Dame. *loooooove*). Even in the rainy weather, tourists were all over that place. It was the perfect day to explore inside a gargoyle-covered ornate ancient church, obviously. (And stand in line for a good long time beforehand, of course.)

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We went to a restaurant in the OdĂ©on area called Le Hibou for something to drink, and both decided to try the Chocolat Chaud. Which turned out to be like eating an enormous dessert. It had been eight years since I’d had a chocolat chaud in Paris- with my sister at Le Chat Noir in Pigalle- and I will not forget again: a chocolat chaud is NOT like a hot chocolate. Unless you make your hot chocolate by melting down a giant Belgian chocolate bar and don’t add any milk. Or to be more accurate, you grind up your own cacao nibs and then melt them down and then pour that directly into a mug. It is likely the richest thing I have ever tasted. It is served with sugar sticks on the side, because, of course, you need to add sugar to your melted-chocolate-bar-in-a-mug. We asked for milk, and were brought a small creamer container, and we realized that we should have asked for a pitcher. Or a cow. I am certain that one chocolat chaud could easily be shared by four people (and a pitcher of milk). It was kind of ridiculous. And this girl loves chocolate, but come on, now. Hugo and I were beside ourselves, both bemused and considerably distressed at how on earth someone was actually expected to finish this ‘drink’ unless they were Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Neither of us could finish it for fear of being sick. Let that be a lesson to you all. And by all means, if you have had an entire chocolat chaud to yourself and lived to tell the tale, I want to know how you did it. End of chocolat chaud rant. 🙂

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We decided not to go see a movie, and as the sky brightened and that amazing Paris ‘evening magic’ happened again, I decided to explore OdĂ©on, and see what the fuss was about with all the sales going on. The biggest sales in Paris happen twice a year: in February, and now. Danger danger: Paris fashion at 20-70% off…. I may end up shipping a box home…. 😀

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Window shopping in Odéon

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Many stores were closed because it was Sunday evening, so I ended up window shopping (and croissant buying), and finding my way around to my favourite place, the Jardin Luxembourg. Again, after a rainy day, it’s a fair bit quieter in terms of crowds, but diehard park lovers like myself were enjoying themselves on the metal chairs and around the fountains. With some Roquefort cheese, a demi baguette, and some fresh cherries, I had a lazy evening enjoying the delight of after-rain weather.

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Check out that sky!! (And the less-than-aesthetically-pleasing architecture of the Montparnasse building in the background.)

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Getting some evening sun!

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That’s all for now, but perhaps I will have a few more things to share before next weekend, when I will be joined by my mum and sister! I cannot wait to see them!!!

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The unexpected long weekend, in two parts…

It wasn’t until mid-week when I was informed that Monday would be a holiday, so we had a long weekend coming up right away- no Monday classes! I kind of wished this information had been presented/advertised sooner, as I would have planned a weekend trip further out of town if I could have booked earlier. As it was I had several local adventures, including some theatre, another Basillica, a flea market, shopping in the Marais, the Seine walkway, a jazz concert, the Arc Du Triomphe, the Champs Elysees, Spoken Word, and a day trip to Fontainebleu! No complaints about that list!!
So from the beginning…or, Friday/Saturday…


Friday night I wanted to see some theatre so I picked up a “Pariscope”- a magazine with a detailed list of all events and arts going on in the city this summer- totally worth the 0.50€ it cost! I was hoping to see a show I had already seen in English so I had some context, and discovered that MoliĂšre’s L’Invalide Imaginaire was playing at Comedie Française, and I convinced a classmate to come with me. We saw that there were reduced price tickets for ‘restricted’ view seats, and when we went to purchase them we realized they are even cheaper than we thought – at 5€ each! C’Ă©tait bon!
The show was very funny, but one thing about comedies that is for certain: they are very fast- the actors speak very quickly most of the time, so it was quite challenging at times to understand exactly what was being said. We had to go over what happened afterwards when we went to a cafe (called MoliĂšre!) for drinks after the show. Friday was a warm day, and the evening weather here is often perfect for walking around and finding a good bar or cafe to have a ‘happy hour’ drink- I have noticed that many of the bars in Paris have 4 or 5-hour long ‘happy hours’! Basically, if you go after 5 or 6, luck is on your side. (And since pop/soda is about the same price as a beer or glass of wine (!), this makes a difference to this coca-cola drinking girl. (Also, here, you ask for a ‘coca’, not a coke, if you want to say it ‘correctly’.)

Complete side note: I am finding that Parisians are so nice!! I am currently at a cafe, and the girl next to me needed a phone charger as her android phone is about to die. I couldn’t help her, but a stranger on the other side of me heard her ask me and offered his charger. I also find that shop owners and locals are very encouraging when I fumble with my French, or ask where I am from because they can ‘hear a slight accent’ to my French. I’ll take that ‘*slight* accent’ as one for the ‘win’ column! 🙂

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On the very hot and sunny Saturday I went up to Basillique Saint-Denis, at the suggestion of my friend Diana. A lot of the exterior was under construction, but inside you could defintely appreciate the grandeur and majesty of the building. Plus, the temperature inside was very cool, which was delightful. 🙂

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The square outside was pretty busy, as there had been some sort of celebration/festival of Saint Denis going on. I was about to head back to the metro when I saw some tents on the other side of the square and discovered my first French flea market.

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This place was crazy! There were clothes, housewares, cleaning products, jewelry, scarves and saris of every color and style, and it was a busy place- vendors calling out “allez allez allez allez” and other such things to get people to come over to their stall. I think that most people would have a hard time not buying *anything at all* if you had any cash on you- it’s hard to resist 3€ pumps- even if they only last for one night out!! ;).

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Yes, those shoes are on sale for 3€. That’s less than 5 bucks.

I  took the busy metro back to the centre of Paris and walked along the Seine, enjoying the many people out walking, biking, skateboarding and rollerblading in the sunshine! A brass band started playing just as I came to the steps by the MusĂ©e D’Orsay, and played some great covers of pop music with tuba, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, and percussion.

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I also walked by the Bridge of Locks again, which, you may have heard on the news- had a section of the railing collapse from the weight of the locks on Sunday and police had to evacuate the bridge! Too many lovers…. Insert your own joke here… 😉

Another discovery in the Pariscope magazine is that it is Festival season in Paris! So now a jazz festival has begun. Saturday night I made my way to the Parc Floral De Paris to watch a jazz show on their outdoor stage; the concert is free with admission to the park – another evening of entertainment for 5€!

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The Park is at the south end of the Chateau Du Vincennes that we visited last week, and is probably very lovely during the day, and is free to visit on weekdays. I’ll definitely plan to make it back there! I didn’t explore too much of it as I wanted to get to the concert. The band performing was called Paolo Fresu Quintet, and they were fantastic!

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There were people all over the place sitting on the grass, on benches, and of course right by the stage where there was concert seating. I sat across the lake to listen, as the acoustics were great. It’s a common occurrence to see large groups of Parisians spending time with friends around the city, and here was no exception. Not only did I see an energetic group of people just outside the park playing badminton in a field, but there were a couple groups of people down the odd pathway playing la pĂ©tanque (bocce), but in the park at the concert there were numerous groups of anywhere from four to twelve people sitting on blankets, towels, and mats with a pile of food in the middle of them and boxes of beer and bottles of wine strewn around them. There were lots of families and some particularly hilarious kids were trying to do kart wheels and handstands nearby throughout the evening. It was a truly relaxed atmosphere (un air le dĂ©tendu), and I loved it.

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Be prepared- Sunday/Monday is the lopsided part of the weekend. Il y a beaucoup des photos!

This one can *easily* live on bread (and cheese) alone.

On Sunday I went all ‘touristy’ on Paris and had a fantastic day!

Starting with my first boulangerie purchase: un croissant- I decided it would taste better if I was at the Eiffel Tower, and you know what? It did. 😉

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I believe the best first sight of the Eiffel Tower is from the top of the hill at the Pallais de Chaillot. You get off at the Trocadero metro stop, and there it is, framed so elegantly by this majestic structure and gold statues.
There were a LOT of people there yesterday. Great people watching. 🙂

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After a wander down to the Seine, I decided to stroll all the way down to Le Jardin des Tuilleries, one of my favourite places in Paris. It was perfect weather, and almost every green metal lawn chair strewn around the ponds and trees was occupied. Numerous personal and rental bikes passed by me, and I am considering renting a bike one day to explore faster and farther than walking will get me. I just have to figure out the system…

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I almost got to the Louvre, but decided to save that exploration for the first Sunday of the next month, when it will be free admission- totally worth the wait (and you’d be surprised how quick it is if you get in line (aka ‘cue’) before mid afternoon). I plan to check out another couple museums that Sunday as well! It will be great when my sister and mum join me in July- they get here the day before the first Sunday in July- so we can jump right into Paris museum craziness their first weekend in town!

I took photos for a few people struggling to take a selfie as i walked along the Seine- I pretended to be a local, and only spoke in French- to some French speakers and some English speakers. I will continue to work on *my* ‘selfies’, but until I get better you do not get to see my awkward bad-angle photo with me squinting, under- or over-smiling with my head far too close to the camera, and the item I hope to showcase almost off-camera. Just: no.

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I bought a museum passeport to the Musee D’Orsay and the L’Orangerie. I can easily say that the Impressionist time period is my favourite kind of art, and the D’Orsay exhibit with Degas, Manet, Cezanne, Monet, among others, was my favourite. I can’t wait until we head out to Giverny to see Monet’s garden that inspired the water lilies!

When I left, the sunshine was spectacular, so I sat on the wood steps down to the Seine, and discovered a festival going on, celebrating the arts… and it was fun! Live music, giant painted sidewalk games, a chalkboard wall for drawing, artisan’s market, the Parisian version of ‘food trucks’, free board games set up along big tables, and cool art installations of various types all along the Seine. It was there that I discovered that if you have your own water bottle, you can fill up at water stations around Paris- I had not seen these before! Some also work as water fountains, awkwardly:

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The more elegant bottle-filling only style I found later that day:

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I watched a giant rollerblading swarm of people go by on the Quai Voltaire, followed by police cars to contain/protect the crowd from the delayed and likely frustrated Parisian drivers. I plan on being part of that swarm a couple Sundays from now… A fun and slightly dangerous (cobblestones, people!) way to see Paris another way…

It was then I decided to head to Montmartre, my favourite arrondissement of Paris, picked up some Brie and a baguette, and sat on the hill below the Sacre Coeur to have ‘mon diner’. Delicious. Now, Montmartre will get its own blog entry, because I have that much to say about it!! 🙂 To make it brief, I people watched, explored many of my favourite and several new-to-me shops, was bought a cafe au lait and chatted up (in French) by a Parisian bloke for almost an hour, bought a mango gelato and wandered by an outdoor theatre performing Servant of Two Masters (en Francais, bien sĂ»r !) and I wish I has been there from the start! Even though the actors spoken quickly, the physicalizations were very clear, and I had a good idea of what was going on, and it was very funny! It was their closing night, so I wont be able to see it again in full, sadly.

Eiffel Tower? Check. Croissant? Check. Museum? Check. Jardin des Tuilleries? Check. Bread and cheese dinner? Check. Montmartre? Check. Coffee with a handsome stranger? Check. Theatre? Check. Day 2? Good day!