Monday, September 24, 2012

Je suis Americaine (part two)

You know? I learned French for 4-5 years, but that was 15+ years ago. It came in so handy as I'm really good at understanding not only the basic things the servers and store clerks ask us, but also the signs and announcements on the trains. Whenever I tried to speak in my very best French accent (I'd been told by all my French teachers that my French pronunciation was wonderful), they spoke back to me in English. HA! So I kept my speaking to a minimum because I noticed they just spoke back to me in English. I appreciated the ones that humored me in French and I'd continue with them for a brief moment. 

Day 3
Musée D'Orsay. Mostly 19th cent French art: Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Chavanne, Cezanne, Gauguin, Rodin, you name was lovely. The train station turned museum was definitely one of my favorite museums of all time. It was raining a lot that day so we chose to do mostly museum and whatever shopping there was to do. Apparently, so did everyone else because the line looked like we'd wait for at least 2 hours to buy tickets only to stand in another line to be let in. Luckily, we had already obtained tickets from our Parisian friends and I never waited in a line in Paris (see Pregnant in Paris post below).

Galleries Lafayette. The dome and the old elevators and all the shops there were certainly a sight to see, but with all the tourists and lines... I hate malls and crowds of people shopping back home and this was bustling with even more people than Christmas Eve at Macy's. We got my favorite tea Mariage Frères, some Pierre Hermè macarons, my Longchamp Planete bag-black on black- (cheaper than in the states), and we were out! 

...and they say we Americans make abnormally large sizes (and we do...)! This is the largest Nutella I've ever seen!

Day 4:

Musée du Louvre for 2+ hours. We took the plan and hit only the things we wanted to see: Mona Lisa, Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, italian painters and sculptors, and some Egyptian works. The rooms alone in the Louvre are majestic but some are filled with some massive paintings that I felt so small. 

do you see something that doesn't belong? :) 

The Mona Lisa had such a mob of people like papparazzi with their cameras held up high to take a photo all pushing their bodies up against each other to get to the front that the real estate on the walls surrounding were cheapened as those artworks were completely overlooked. 

the mob of people in front of Mona Lisa; the kind security guard let me in front of the ropes of this mob!

Notre dame. We got to the famous cathedral and the sun was mostly covered by big semi-gray clouds, an ominous warning of sorts as we sat down to eat lunch. Within 5 minutes of ordering, two young boys noisily placed a paper with scribble all over it on top of our table and shouted something briefly. It wasn't French.  We simply  ignored their sudden raucus, but we should've known better. Our friend Laure told us to be wary of pick pocketers who distract you by creating a diversion with either fake jewellry or by pointing at something for you to see and then swipe your belongings. In this case, it was James' iphone. He had all of his Paris photos on there. As my husband is an architect/designer, he takes a lot of pictures of little details all around the city for inspiration in his work. Much of the time we travel, he takes pictures more than 5 tourists combined--sometimes, I wait, but mostly, I just keep walking because I can't stand the constant stop and go--, but it's an occupational hazard. All those images swirling in his head help inspire projects and his beautiful creations. Needless to say, it put a damper on our mood for a bit, but we kept on going. I was told I shouldn't do the towers as it is 360 some odd steps altogether by the gaurd at the front, so we just walked through and around the cathedral. Those flying buttresses and gargoyles, I had to take photos. 

Bateaux Mouches. Right along where we were is the Seine and we boarded a boat tour on Pont-Neuf. This hour long boat ride was the icing on the cake because from it you had a view of the city: all the places we'd walked to and discovered up close all passed by like rolling memories. It was absolutely romantic and a savior to my dying legs. 

dubbed the most beautiful bridge in Paris: Pont Alexander III 
La Conciergerie (can't believe this was a prison)

All museum tickets range from 6 to 9 euros per person. The Eiffel tower is 14 euros (has different price points depending on how much you want to walk) to take both stages by lift. James and I got lucky because through our friend Sebastien, we received all of our tickets as a gift.  If you do a short trip, these are all doable in 4 days without killing yourself. I organized them based on the location. If you're willing to walk, do it. Walking through the city was a large part of the experience. 

Finally, we went back home to Rue Vielle du temple, and there happens to be a restaurant called Chez Robert et Louise that Anthony Bourdain visited on one of his No Res episodes. It's so unassuming (as most good eateries here seem to be), quaint, and deilcious. The sign outside says "Restaurant" so don't go looking for Chez Robert et Louise. You just have to know the address (click the restaurant name). The exposed kitchen and open fire, wooden interior and furnishings, and about the size of an American living room add a french country feel with its rustic potatoes, charcuterie, escargots, ribs, and lamb chops on the menu. Delicious. 

By the way, the French respect that you'll spend a few hours eating so they don't book tables by the hour. So even though they don't accept your reservation, you can go and sit at the bar until something happens to open up. They turned away guests while we were eating with no false hope to the anticipating new guests nor pressure to the guests already dining. In the states, we focus on turning tables so fast that we're given the bill as soon as we look like we're eating and we don't take our time to enjoy the food and have meaningful conversation. I love socializing with food so this was a breath of fresh air. Speaking of socializing, we met another American at the bar who happens to be from Carlsbad. Small world. 

Feel free to do what we did if you only have a few days and add more if you have more energy. If I can do this mostly walking everywhere at nearly 7 months pregnant, then anyone can. All of this helped me to fall in love with Paris in roughly four days. 

Au revoir Paris. A bientôt!

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