Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 2

[Day 1][Day 2][Day 3]

Day 2:
I woke up at half past 8, and walked down the street to the boulangerie-patisserie "Moulin de Rosa". I bought a pain chocolat and returned to the apartment. My aunt and cousin made some coffee while I boiled water and brewed a cup of Tick-Tock rooibos tea (the package for which was left in the apartment by whoever had rented it last.)

(see what I did there? I added two photos together that were taken at different angles, resulting in the bizarre little image that you see above.)

After breakfast we left to go on a Paris Greeter tour that my cousin had arranged. The tour guides are all Parisians who volunteer to lead groups of six (or less) around the city for several hours, giving history lessons and recommendations all the while.We met our guide at the exit to the station Cite on Ile de la Cite. His name was Christian, and he was kind enough to speak French very slowly so that my cousin and I could understand what he was saying. A very nice Parisian woman named Danielle also joined us on the tour.

The tour took us first through the Marche aux Fleurs, which was absolutely beautiful and wonderful. (I really like flowers, what can I say?) We walked around the area of Ile de la Cite, and our guide took us to see the touristy places. We didn't go inside, as waiting in line would have limited the amount that we could have seen on the tour. We stopped at Notre Dame, passing Sainte-Chappelle while getting there. At the left entrance to Notre Dame the guide pointed out some interesting statues.

The picture on the left is the left side of the left portal, known as the Portal of the Virgin. The headless man is Saint Denis, who was beheaded for his beliefs on the hill of Montmartre in 250 A.D. After his head was cut off, he picked it up, dusted it off, and went on his merry way. He walked for six miles, and then died. His burial place was turned into a church, in which most kings from the 10th to 18th centuries are buried.

The center picture shows Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, as Eve takes the fateful first bite of the apple. But wait! What's that? Or rather, who is that? You know, that half snake half woman curling up the apple tree? That, my dear friends, is Lilith. The guide explained that she was the first woman created alongside Adam. Eve was created from the rib of Adam, yet woman had already been created in an earlier passage of Genesis. That woman, supposedly, was Lilith.
Don't really know how much of what he said was true (and how much was lost in translation). I don't really know all that much about Genesis save for what we learned in school during freshman English class. My cousin took an art history class sometime during college and she mentioned that she had also heard the story of Lilith. She's not very uncommon sight in art, apparently. Just look for the animagus stuck in the middle of her transformation.

The picture to the right shows the right side of the Portal of the Virgin. Our guide had very little to say about this side, so, I have very little to say to you.

The statues over the entrancesrepresent the Kings of Israel, and during the revolution the statues were beheaded. The ones currently adorning Notre Dame are replicas, and the ones that were beheaded are sitting in the Musee de Cluny.

I was thrilled that Disney did such a good job of creating Notre Dame in their movie 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'. I have (very regrettably) yet to read Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo, which is the novel that the movie is adapted from.

Check out that statue that Esmeralda is talking to at the beginning of the song. Now look at the picture. Above the Kings of Israel, sandwiched between those two angels. Oh yes. Who was giddy with excitement when I saw that? That's right. Me.

After Notre Dame we walked across a bridge and into the Latin Quarter. We walked around and received buckets of information about the architecture of Paris. (Architecture is fascinating, and Parisian architecture is beautiful. What more could one ask for?) We walked down Haussmann boulevards and the tiny winding side streets that he had left untouched.

(French house numbers, a lamp in a courtyard, and an adorable shop that we passed that went by the name of Terre de Sienne.)

Nearly three hours later, we collapsed into a cafe where we concluded our tour. Our guide and the other woman with us joined us for a drink, and I (being the crazy wild teenager that I am) ordered a large cup of hot chocolate.

My aunt pulled out a box of macaroons that she had bought earlier and we ate them with much gusto. We got some more restaurant recommendations, and when the last drops of coffee and, in my case, hot chocolate, had been drained, our guide and the other woman on our tour left to go their separate ways.

At this point, the woman who had been sitting at the table next to ours leaned over and began talking to us in New York accented English, mentioning that she had heard us talking about the Marais (the area where our apartment was), and commenting that she owned an apartment in that area. Surprised, we started to talk some more, and we discovered that our apartments were around the corner from each other.

(What strange coincidences!)

Because my cousin and I were close in age to her granddaughter (a high school senior who she had brought with her as an early graduation gift) she suggested that we meet up during our stay. We planned to get together that Thursday for dinner at the restaurant down the street from our apartments, which she raved about. She also suggested another restaurant that belonged to the owners of the restaurant that we had agreed to meet at, as it was also within a block of our apartment. We exchanged some contact information, and left to continue with our plans for the rest of the day.

From that cafe, we walked several blocks until we reached Saint Germain des Pres. I bought my first crepe from a sidewalk vendor and ate in the small park next to Saint Germain. In the center of the square a bust of Apollinaire served as a cozy roosting spot for pigeons.

After lunch we took the metro to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, getting off at the stop Gambetta. By getting off at Gambetta instead of Pere Lachaise, one is able to walk down through the Cemetery. This is easier. I like easy.

We bought a map of the cemetery for two euros from a florist near the entrance, and started in. Had I known at the time, I'd have saved my money and printed off a map from the internet. The one that we bought didn't have many of the names or locations on it that I had hoped to find, which resulted in us pulling out several guidebooks and gathering information that way. We looked very touristy and lost. I don't really like to do that. A light rain started as we walked to the grave of Oscar Wilde, and en route to that grave we saw the grave of the man for whom the street we were living on was named. Oscar Wilde's grave was covered in lipstick kisses and names grouped with plus signs within arrow impaled hearts.

The rain quickened and the raindrops fattened, so we fled the graveyard under the cover of flimsy collapsible umbrellas. We found refuge in a restaurant where my aunt and cousin shared an adult beverage, and I examined our map, putting boxes around names that I wanted to see and penning in the names that were inexplicably absent.

When we looked outside again, the rain had only become heavier. We took the metro to the BHV (the Bazar de l'Hotel de Ville) where we bought a plug adapter for the electrical converter for the laptop that my cousin brought. (The various plugs extended about six inches out of the wall.)

That night for dinner we went to Petit Marchee, the restaurant that was recommended to us by the woman we met in the cafe. The place was quiet when we arrived, but not empty, and couples and friends sat at tables carrying on soft conversations. The waitress that we had was very polite, and spoke English flawlessly (with a British accent!) and was kind enough to talk to the cooks (and even made a telephone call) when my Aunt inquired about a certain dish. Because the waitress wasn't sure what cut of meat it had been, she talked to the cooks, who also hadn't know, so they called up the person who they had bought it from, and she came back to the table that we were sitting at and told us all about it. She also recommended us a great dessert, and brought us many bottles of water. (I get thirsty.)

The food was delicious, and the dessert was delightful. (again, another chocolate cake, and a fruit tart.) A long while after entering the restaurant, we stumbled out, making sure to smile and wave to our waitress as we left. We walked the half block to our apartment, and I took a shower and went to bed.

Things to know:
Make sure that your umbrella is strong. Dollar store umbrellas are cheap and easy to get, but will fail to open properly when they are needed. This will result in you being wet and a little bit grumpy. Never be grumpy in Paris if you can avoid it.

Paris Greeter (Parisian d'un Jour):

in the event that you're in Paris and you're hungry:
Le Moulin de Rosa: 32, Rue de Turenne - 75003 Paris. Phone number: 01 42 78 07 31

Le petit Marchee: 9, rue de Bearn - 75003 Paris. Phone number: 01 42 72 06 67

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