That Trip… Quatorzième Jour: Midnight in Paris

On our last day in Paris, I wanted to shop. We started with Rue Montorgueil, which was interesting enough, with its cafés and food supply shops. Onward to Galleries Lafayette, with a detour to l’Opera first. Very very grand everything, from the grand staircase to the halls, and the main auditorium. Elaborate details everywhere you looked – the chandeliers, the set designs, the floor, the clock. Beautiful Chagall on the ceiling. Morning well spent.

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Galleries Lafayette was my worst nightmare come true. Because of the sales in all shops, there is a flood of people, and Galleries Lafayette was full of Asians looking for bargains on their favourite brands. We hadn’t even venture into the Louis Vuitton store because of the long queue there! We ran out in record time, had a big lunch of soup/ sandwich/ burger, and headed off to look for Berthillon ice cream on Île de la Cité. Had our scoops, and started to walk home, zigzagging through every connecting street between Rue de Temple and Rue des Archives.

Completely dissatisfied with the (non) shopping, I searched for the Merci shop, one of the last items on the recommendations list, and finally found the spot. This concept store had some fun, quirky stuff that I was so happy to buy.

We had a little rest after that, and post dinner of à emporter neighbourhood pizza, we set out with the camera and tripod for some night photography of our favourite tower.

All the way to Trocadéro just before 11 pm in time to set up the camera and get some shots of the sparkling Eiffel Tower:

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Our final stop was at the Louvre, for some pictures if the illuminated pyramids. Not as grand as the Eiffel Tower, but a quiet dignity nevertheless.

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And just as we were being shooed out of the Louvre, we had our final glimpse of the sparkling tower. What a way to end an exciting holiday!

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That Trip…Douzième Jour: Swinging Fortunes

When you wake up and see a clear sunny morning, you think nothing can go wrong on this day. So you walk energetically all the way to the catacombs, and find a mile-long queue with no hope of getting in for 3 hours at least. 😦

Luckily, you’ve passed some Lebanese food shops on the way, so you are motivated to walk back, pick up some kebabs and falafel, and you realise you’re so close to Jardin du Luxembourg, so you go and have a repeat picnic. 🙂

Then you scramble to get a refund for the Eiffel Tower tickets because they are on strike, and suddenly you find that your tickets are for the next day, so you can jolly well hold on for another day! 🙂

By now you’re standing on Île de la Cité, but the queues are long for Saint Chapelle and the Notre Dame tower. So you queue up for entering the cathedral, and get in quickly enough. You’re tired and need a pick me up, and you walk right into a pretty alley and find a cupcakery. 🙂

The coffee and cupcake make you delusional, and you believe that the Paris Opera is close enough to walk. You hobble over, walk all around to the entrance and find that they closed 1 minute ago. 😦 You can barely move, you rest on the steps of the opera and watch a man drag and set up a piano all by himself, then play some classical pieces effortlessly. 🙂

You take a deep breath and decide to tackle the mighty Louvre, but not before peeking into a few shops, all of which have gone on SOLDÉS -50%! 😕

There is no queue to enter the Louvre, so you lower yourself into the base of the pyramid, use their lovely loos, then head straight for Venus de Milo. 🙂

You’re really there to see the most famous painting in the world, not for its art alone, but for the scandal generated when someone tried to steal it. You have to go past a whole lot of peintures Italienne and see that Leonardo had a few more beautiful portraits that nobody cares about. Mona Lisa has a wry smile watching all the people elbowing each other to get a photo with her. :-/

You’re in the Impressionist phase and want to look at the French paintings, but to get there you need the stamina of a marathoner, to climb 150 steps. Then you need the stamina of a I-don’t-know-what to look at rows and rows of art, without finding a single Monet or Renoir. 😦 So you ask someone and they point you in the opposite direction from where you came. So you go back all the way seeing all those paintings all over again, and find what you want, and flop on the bench, not willing to move. You would like to see some of the Dutch paintings in the next pavilion, but your body really doesn’t want to move. 😦

After another deep breath (this is your 1264th), you haul yourself out of the pyramid and give yourself a foot massage at ground zero. :-{

You start the long walk home, looking for dinner that’s not (a) cold sandwiches, and (b) Nutella crepe. You jump for joy on spotting a couscous takeaway, and order a lot of food. You get home, eat a sizeable portion of that steaming hot food, chase it down with a glass of wine or two, and collapse into bed, dreaming about the gargoyles of Notre Dame :-O

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That Trip… Septième Jour: The Longest Day

When in Paris, do give yourself plenty of time to let your feet recover – the BEST way to see the city is in foot. And I’ve just learnt that it’s more difficult for me to walk 10-15 km in a day than it is to cycle 30 or even 60 km. Then again, the grass is always greener on the other side. While in Alsace, we prayed for a respite from the heat. So God granted our wish and we’re experiencing 20 deg lower than last week. That means bundling up in those layers, and hoping for no rain.

Whining done, we’ve actually had a couple of glorious days in Paris. Out on the Rues and the Boulevards, everywhere you look there are historical monuments rubbing shoulders with glamorous brands, that make you leave behind any sort of discomfort you might have started out in. I write this because I’ve been groaning while going to bed, then waking up in the morning with cramps in my feet, real or imagined, then a few minutes on the road, probably after the coffee and croissant, all that is forgotten.

Our first full day in Paris, and we were drawn to the top 5 famous sights of the city. I specifically chose to be here on June 21, the longest day, because of the Fete de Musique, but more about that later. We started from home, and walked past Hotel de Ville, along Rue Rivoli, and were lured in by the Louvre. No tickets to go in, but the grounds were engaging enough, particularly the pyramids.

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Walked on further through les Jardin de Tuileries

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Then through the Place de la Concorde

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Up the Champs Élysées,

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Crossing ‘under’ to the Arc de Triomphe

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Climbing to the top of the Arc for views of the city

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Then walking down Av. George V across Pont d’ Alma, past the Musée du Quai Branly for this view of the Eiffel Tower:

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After spending some time in a quiet spot around the Tour Eiffel, we walked back to Place de la Concorde to meet our neighbours from Delhi over a glass of chilled Chablis and a bowl of hot French soupe à l’oignon.

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Who’s noticed the difference in meals from our Alsace days? We’ve cut out 3 of those 4 courses, and are happy enough eating just the one. Lunch was a shared Nutella crepe (most popular tourist snack) and hot dog/ sandwich on the go at Champs Élysées.

Then on our way back home from dinner, we ran into the music festival. I’d heard about this festival from a friend, a few years ago, about how musicians perform on the streets, and had been intrigued. All our day long walks yielded no music performances, but at night it all started to get going. Unfortunately, the reality was quite different from my imagination. We came across a few loud, many tuneless rock bands, some techno stuff, only some of it was performed live. One of the low points was hearing Beyonce and Bruno Mars songs, the appeal of which was redeemed, somewhat, by male strippers dancing in the window! The atmosphere was party-like, lots of wine flowing and people getting drunk :-/. Disappointing.

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Then a couple of lanes away from home we found what we were looking for. Some honest melodious musique, played from the heart, without amplifiers, fancy lighting or other pointless tricks.

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