Monday, April 12, 2010

Take-off, and day one in Paris

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

*remember what I said about the numbering of the days in my last post? yeah, that was a lie. Day one means day one.

Leaving home:

Sunday morning, I woke up and tried to eat a bagel for breakfast... only to end up cutting myself on the butter knife. (typical.) Scrambled around the house trying to collect addresses, then loaded baggage into the car and drove to the house of my Aunt and Uncle. I read Charlotte's Web while in the car, and my heart broke just a little bit when Charlotte dies. (my love of children's literature knows no bounds.)

I ate lunch at my cousin's house, and then we watched Amelie. I think that my Aunt was very impressed by my French when I explained what was going on at different parts of the movie (we were watching without subtitles). I wasn't sure how to tell her that I had watched the movie so many times that I had practically memorized the script. We left for the airport in the late afternoon, and got our bags checked very quickly and moved to the little sitting area to wait.

On the plane:
When we boarded the plane, we accidentally sat four rows ahead of our seats. (oops.) The plane was delayed an hour by a light drizzle, and I sat on the runway reading Hamlet. Takeoff! I love the feeling of leaving the ground. That swooping sensation in your stomach is how I imagine being in love feels like. Or maybe motion sickness. (is there really a difference between the two?) The plane passed quickly through the low hanging clouds, so that everything that I saw of the world beneath me was obstructed by the giant billowing gray shapes.

There were two half-Asian boys in the seats behind me that looked to be about my age, and I wanted to talk to them because the plane ride was going to be long and I was going to get bored and I shouldn't lie to myself, I really just wanted to talk to them because they were really rather attractive. I realized very quickly that the plane was not a model of my school, and that I couldn't expect instantaneous friendships to form because of shared/similar ethnic backgrounds. (LOL because this is how things work at school.)

Dinner was served at around nine o'clock, after which it began to grow dark. The change was quick, and nighttime was without stars. I managed to fall asleep leaning against the tray table three times, until I had the sense to lean against the window. Slept for an hour or so, until midnight US time, when I woke up for good. Was served breakfast in the next hour, during which I received something that was almost, but not entirely, completely unlike tea. (Dear airline: your tea tastes like hot leaf water. this is not what tea is supposed to taste like.) Got served breakfast, and watched the sunrise. The plane descended through candyfloss pink clouds at 2 AM US time, which was around 8AM Paris time.

In Paris:
Bought a 4-day museum pass for my cousin and aunt (I didn't require one, on account of being under the age of 18.) in the airport. Hailed a taxi, and went to the apartment. Spent some time in the apartment unpacking, and then left to explore! (I love exploring and adventuring. we did a little bit of both.) We bought our lunch at a bistro in the neighborhood that went by the name of "le Rempart", where I ate my first croque-madame. My aunt, having recently watched Amelie, likened our waiter to Nino Quincampoix. (He did share a slight resemblance if you were to squint and turn your head and maybe close your eyes.) She mentioned this to him, but, because she couldn't remember the name (I was too embarrassed to tell her) she only told him that he resembled the actor in Amelie. "Je suis Amelie Poulain!" (I am Amelie Poulain!) he joyously exclaimed.

From the bistro we went to the post office and bought a couple of stamps for my cousin to use on some postcards. We walked another block to the nearest train station, which was the Bastille, where we saw the July Column.

At the train station we inquired about the pros and cons of the Navigo pass and buying a carnet. For those who are curious, a Navigo pass is a metro pass, that allows unlimited access to public transportation during the week that you purchase it for. A carnet is a strip of ten tickets, considerably cheaper than a Navigo, and each ticket is good for one trip. (regardless of the number of connections that you make on the single trip, so long as you do not exit the metro.) We decided to buy a Navigo, which was one of the best things that we bought during our stay (perhaps passed only by the Museum Pass. That thing was ballin'. And you know it's good when I use the word ballin' to describe it.) Because the Navigo requires a photo, I got to climb into a photobooth and have my picture taken. (I felt like Amelie. Just, you know, without the gnome, the short haircut, or the enchantingly quirky love story.) I thus spent my first five euros.

We returned to the apartment so that my aunt and cousin could get their pictures (they both had spare passport pictures) and then went back to the station and bought the passes. We quickly made use of them, because we jumped onto the 69 bus. For whatever reason, that particular bus stopped at the Hotel de Ville stop, and we had to switch buses to another 69. The new bus drove past quite a few major sights, such as the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, and the Eiffel Tower. There was probably more things that it passed, but I fell asleep rather quickly. (WHOOPS.) I woke up (read: was woken) at the end of the line, which was right next to the Eiffel Tower.

If you're ever near the 69 line, I'd suggest taking it. You do get a quick view of lots of pretty things, and it doesn't cost the obscene amount that guided tours do. After walking under the Eiffel Tower, we walked to the nearest metro stop and went to the Arc de Triomphe. We looked at it for a short while from across the roundabout, and then started walking down the Champs-Elysees.

My cousin and I posed for a picture in front of the Haagen-Daaz store for my Grandpa (he always keeps several pints in his freezer... more if there is a sale at the store.), and took shelter in a cafe (L'Alsace Champs Elysees) when it started to rain. I ordered my first chocolat chaud, and was positively delighted by it.

When the rain let up a little bit, we walked to the nearest metro stop and navigated our way to a Monoprix, where we bought some fruit, wine, and jam. We hopped on another train back to Bastille and accidentally exited the station at Rue Fauborgue St. Antoine instead of Rue St. Antoine, which left us somewhat far from our apartment. We got stuck in a torrential downpour (complete with thunder and lightning!) for several minutes, and we ran to the apartment when it lessened. Changed into dry clothing at the apartment and walked around the neighborhood to find a place to eat dinner. Ate at "Bistrot de l'Oulette", where I had a delicious chocolate cake. (I like chocolate.)

The waiter was very nice (I'm starting to see a trend?) and he didn't charge us for a bottle of wine that we had bought. After paying we went back to the apartment. Because calling was free to any landline, I gave my mom a call at work. After that, I took a shower and collapsed into my bed and slept like a rock.

Things to know:
If you intend to go around Paris at all, I'd suggest a Navigo. It's entirely likely that you didn't read anything above, but if you had you may (or may not) notice that I took the train a lot. It helped to have a Navigo, because while they were three times more expensive than a carnet, they did function for a week. I would likely have gone through an entire carnet a day, so it really was a smart investment. It was also good to have because you could climb onto any train or bus at any time, even if you were only going a couple of blocks. If we had been using tickets, I'm sure that we would have felt pressured to walk the several blocks so to conserve tickets, but because of the constantly changing weather it was comforting to know that we had the option of taking the train.

If you've never been to Paris before, I'd suggest getting a museum pass. (again, if you're under 18, or if you're a member of the European Union and under the age of 25, you get in for free.) The passes begin working on the first day that you use them, so you can (like we did) decide not to activate them on the first day that you're there. While it may seem expensive (the price for the four day pass was almost 50 euros) it is definitely worth it. The pass gives you access to 60 museums and monuments, and you're allowed to skip lines at most of them. (Being able to skip the lines was flippin' sweet. I felt really cool.) You weren't pressured to stay at any museum for very long, because re-admittance was free. Being able to leave the museum, buy a decent lunch, and return to finish looking at all of the art is a great thing. Museum sandwiches are nasty. Even in Paris.

in the event that you're in Paris and you're hungry:
le Rempart: 15, rue Saint-Antoine - 75004 Paris. Phone number: 01 42 72 17 06

L'Alsace Champs Elysees: 39, av. des Champs Elysees - 75008 Paris - Phone number: 01 53 93 97 00

Bistrot de l'Oulette: 38, rue des Tournelles - 75004 Paris. Phone number: 01 42 71 43 33

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


  1. I'm highly envious of you right now!! i've always wanted to go to Paris... And I love the thing about the museum pass.

  2. I could hardly believe when my aunt invited me to go with her! It was like a dream! When you go (as I'm sure that you will) you're going to have a great time!

    If it interests you, I'm going to be posting more about my trip in the next several days. I'm hoping to make the posts as informative as possible, so maybe you'll find some helpful information for planning out your trip! :)

  3. well, I just wikipedia'd it. apparently I spelled it wrong. It's Haagen-Dazs, and it's Polish and American.

    but still, it was ever so pretty in Paris.

  4. Glad you enjoyed yourself, then.

    I could of just as easily Googled it myself, thinking back, and saving you the trouble.

    Ah well.
    C'est la vie. (also Wikipedia.)