Tuesday, 13 June 2006

j'adore paris

My former flatmate and friend, F (listed as "France" in the pix from my hen night), offered us her empty flat in Paris for the weekend. Well, we couldn't very well let it sit unoccupied, could we?!

For all that S has traveled to far and exotic places around the world, he had never been to Paris before. Ooh la la! So many reasons to go...

The weather was hot - just hot enough to deserve two ice cream stops per day, but not unbearable enough to stop us from an ambitious amount of sightseeing. It was 86ºF/30ºC on Saturday, and hit 90ºF/32ºC on Sunday. La chaleur!

F has a flat in the 11ème arrondissement, just down the street from Père Lachaise Cemetery. She lives on the 5th floor overlooking a lovely Amelie-esque courtyard.

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The downside is that there is no lift...

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Saturday

We started our Parisian adventure at the much-maligned Centre Georges Pompidou. I don't care what the critics say; it has always been one of my favorite buildings in Paris.

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A group of Mongolian musicians performing throatsinging. Reminded me of my neighbor last year who was learning how to do it.
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Admittedly, the acid-green water in the fountain outside was a bit worrying...

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Next, we walked around Notre-Dame.

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From there, to L'Île St-Louis, home of Berthillon ice cream. Think of the best, most authentic Italian gelato you have ever had, and times that by ten. You'll be close to imagining just how good Berthillon is - and I have had some pretty amazing gelato in Italy, so that's saying something. I had red currant and coconut; S had grapefruit and rhubarb. I'm not sure I needed to know that they have a website!

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Then, over to the Left Bank and along Boulevard St Germain.

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Apparently, S isn't thrilled that I paste his photo all over my blog, so here is a nice shot of the back of his head.

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Push the button!
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Red light...
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Green light!
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Signs for sale
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Even the lampposts are happy to be in Paris
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The Louvre Pyramids - perhaps not the best place to play hide and seek

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This tiny bird fought so hard to steal a few crumbs from the pigeons that I had to admire its persistence.

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Another in a series of shadow pictures. S suggested that I have an exhibition of them someday. Hmmm.

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Our first view of the Tour Eiffel, peeking out from behind the Musée d'Orsay.

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A family tradition: there are pictures of my sister and me at various ages with the rhino outside the Musée d'Orsay and now S joins our esteemed ranks.

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What happened to the man who fell in the river? He went inSeine!
(Not my joke, by the way...)

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It was about 4:30 by the time we started walking from Place de la Concorde, up the Champs-Élysées toward L'Arc de Triomphe and the temperature was at its hottest of the day. Thank goodness for the cool(er) shade of the trees.

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As we approached L'Arc de Triomphe, a parade of veterans spontaneously appeared with a marching band - how perfect to hear La Marseillaise at that moment. It did, however, make for a monumental jam of human and vehicular traffic.

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S, depite being British, hates queueing, so we wandered around to t'other side where we discovered that for a mere 8 euro each, we could walk up 284 steps to the top of the Arc. Did I mention how I had nearly fainted from heatstroke a few minutes before? We made it to the top, however, where we were rewarded with beautiful views and an unexpectedly delicious breeze.

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Even managed a decent pic on my mobile.
parismobile

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The Eiffel Tower...nearly there!

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We ended our day by returning to the Left Bank for dinner at a café with a view of Notre-Dame. Sufficiently knackered, we dragged ourselves back up to F's flat and promptly collapsed.


Sunday

F's neighborhood came to life in a typically Parisian way.

Locals at the café
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Boules - or is it pétanque?
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Flea market wares
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We spent the morning wandering around Montmartre, starting at Sacré-Coeur. It is hard not to think of the movies Amelie and Moulin Rouge and half expect to run into Audrey Tautou or Ewan McGregor.

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While the Hollywood celebs kept their distance, we did catch close-ups of some insanely intrepid mountain bikers racing their way up and down the streets - and stairs - of Montmartre in 90 degree heat.

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We took the Funiculaire instead.

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Art market
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Church of St-Jean-l'Évangéliste across from Abbesses Metro station

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Moulin Rouge

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Our last tourist destination was Père Lachaise. Somehow we managed to miss all its famous residents (including Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde). Was it a fitting way to say au revoir to Paris for now?

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Four generations of Groleaux have made marble tombstones just outside the cemetery.
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It seemed somehow appropriate that a street leading to the cemetery would be called "Street of Repose"
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Perhaps someone can explain this sign to me. Why would you need a temporary plot?

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Time to leave - sniff! But we had to endure one final queue for the Eurostar, so long that it doubled back on itself.

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Merci beaucoup, F, for the use of your flat!

See more pix on S's "quick and dirty" website by clicking here

1 comment:

purl pirate said...

*sigh* It's so long since I last visited Paris, and the boy has never been. I see a trip coming up soon...