It has been about a month and a half now since Em and I went to Paris for a weekend, right before second semester started (Feb 7th to 10th). This was my second time in Paris. I had 6 years ago with my high school during a trip to France and Switzerland. This trip was more or less accidental due to my failed abilities to book proper plane tickets to visit my friend Cayda, who I thought was studying near Paris but lo and behold is not.
Em and I flew different companies and met up in Paris at our hostel in Montmatre, an artsy district. That flight from Madrid to Paris-Beauvais was actually my first time flying alone. Wasn’t so bad. The hardest part of the whole trip by bus to plane to bus to metro which figuring out which was the right metro stop to get into. But I found my way around the Paris subway easy enough.
Em came an hour after I arrived and we went to a nearby restaurant for a late dinner of chicken and fries – so French. We spent the night in the hostel lobby talking with one of the guys from our room (an Argentinian optometrist) and other people who were there (a recent high school grad from New Jersey and a college grad from Maine). There was good conversation about sports teams, meeting f.u.n. and Janelle Monae and where we were on 9/11.
The next morning we did a “free” tour of Paris. Can I please just state how much I LOVE “free” tours!! I write “free” because they aren’t really – you tip at the end between 10-15 euros really, but if you really want to be a jerk you don’t have to tip at all (but that’s like at a kidnapping kittens and selling them for meat level of jerkiness).
(I would also like to mention that I am writing this blog post on a train to Lyon, France from Geneva, Switzerland listening to Biffy Clyro while going past the Alps. I think this is the best place I’ve ever written a blog from.)
Any who, our tour guide was awesome. His name was Onno, which coincidently is the name of our internet provider (Ono)…hmmm… He showed us around lots of touristy parts of Paris, including the outside of Notre Dame, other things on the Île de Cité, the Louvre, the street of the fishing cat, Fontaine St. Michel and more. It was 3 hours long and despite the bitter cold, it was fun. We met another Canadian (from Belleville for all you Ontarians) and a reallllllly chill guy from Alaska. After the tour the group went to a restaurant we ate a really good French onion soup.
Em and I decided to walk to the Arc de Triomphe from there. On the way we encountered a Ferris wheel. The following conversation happened:
“Have you ever been on a Ferris wheel?”
“Not that I can remember.”
“Wanna go on?”
And on we went. You could see everywhere. And lucky for us it started hailing/raining but by time we got out like7 minutes later it had stopped! There was a cotton candy thing nearby and we got a “small” (it was huge). We spent the next hour or so making our way to the Arc de Triomphe via the Champs D’Elysée, the big shopping street. We found the arch but couldn’t figure out how to cross the roundabout so we never actually went up close and personal.
Later that night, we headed back to the hostel to meet up with New Jersey girl from the night before to go to the Louvre together – it I free on Friday evening for people under 26 – but she had left early. When we were in our room we found that we had a new roommate, a lovely Brazilian by the name of Paula. She joined us and we explored the Egyptian and Islamic art parts of the museum – AND the Mona Lisa – before hitting a McD’s for some sandwiches. Em and I then headed to a movie theatre on the Champs which we had seen earlier. We decided to embrace the opportunity to see a movie in English (only dubbed Spanish ones play in Salamanca). A minute into Django Unchained” directed by Quentin Tarentino” popped up on screen and then I remembered my dislike for him (inglorious Bastards anyone? Horrible film). But it was actually pretty good nonetheless.
The next morning the three of us headed to the Catacombs of Paris, the underground graves where 6 million bodies have been buried. It was a bit creepy, cool, and amazing. After being below ground for 2 hours we treated ourselves with crepes (nutella and banana) before heading to the Eiffel Tower. We took the stereotypical photos and acted like tourists, but ultimately didn’t go up. Back near the hostel we had a great Chinese wok meal and then chilled at the hostel until Em and I went on a tour of Montmatre that evening.
|Entrance to the graves part of the Catacombs
Montmatre is where the Moulin Rouge and Sacre Coeur are. The tour was good, with the same company as before, although it was freeeeeeezing outside. We ended in the café where they filmed the movie Amélie and had a glass of wine. Some day I’ll watch that movie.
Our last day in Paris was spent with Paula and her boyfriend (who came the day before). We went back to Notre Dame and went inside this time. This is also the point that the amazing Trip Advisor app that Paula/Tiago had on their phones came in handy, providing us with information and useful facts. From there we walked to the Pantheon and Em left soon after to head to the airport. I spent the next three hours with them walking through the Luxembourg Gardens, which would be a lot prettier in the spring, and making our way to Les Invalides, the museum where Napoleon. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to actually go in so I said goodbye to our new Brazilian friends and escaped the cold (only to be greeted by the stench that is the Paris Metro) and headed back to the hostel.
Paris is a little higher in my books now, but after all the things I learned about Brazil and the nice Brazilians we met, it’s definitely on my radar. I don’t know how to end this so I will just post French artist Yelle’s new song, more photos and bid y’all adieu.