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!

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!