Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day 4

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

Day 4:
April Fools! Poisson d'Avril (the French equivalent, translating to Fish of April) was celebrated with a sad start to the morning: getting locked out of our apartment. After going to Moulin de Rosa for breakfast (a chausson aux pommes) we got to the door of the apartment to find that we had left our keys inside.

I was charged with the ever difficult task of waiting on the staircase up to our apartment, in hopes that somebody would have a spare key, or that the woman who was in charge of the apartment would arrive (as we had asked her to come due to some difficulties with the washing machine). I sat on the stairs eating my chausson aux pommes, which was delicious and flaky and caused me to cover the steps in pastry crumbs.

Meanwhile, my aunt and cousin went back to the Moulin de Rosa to talk to the cashier and see if he knew of any internet cafes in the area that they could go to so that they could access their emails so that they could get the number of the woman who had an extra key. Regrettably, he informed them that there were no cafes nearby. Yet, despite knowing us for only a few minutes, he handed his iPhone across the counter and offered to let them use it. My aunt (with the help of my slightly more technologically adept cousin) was able to navigate to her email so that she could retrieve the phone number. The man then let my aunt use his phone to call her, and she arranged to have her come by the apartment in the next hour.

We had an hour to spare, and we were locked out, and it was cold, so we walked to the Maison du Victor Hugo where admission was free and the insides were warm. We didn't have enough time to see the temporary exhibit on the first floor, but we did see his apartments and a lot of correspondence between him and his favorite daughter Leopoldine. Last year in French class I had to memorize the poem Demain, des l'aube, which was written by Hugo in response to her untimely death. It was strange having the lines of a poem that he wrote because of her death running through my head while I looked at the words that the two had exchanged during her life.

After an hour we exited the museum, and while me and my cousin walked directly to the apartment, my aunt stopped for a third time at the Moulin de Rosa to buy a package of macaroons as a thank you for the woman with the key. She arrived, opened our door, and all was well.

After we got into our apartment, we drank our hot drinks (a cup of tea for me, and two cups of coffee for my aunt and cousin) and headed out the door again to see more of Paris. On our way to the Bastille, I saw something that was most fantastical.

Invader #1

Lets take a look at the image that you see above you. Do you see that beautiful wonderful fantastical tiled piece of art that is hovering over the graffiti? Meet Invader! I had learned about Invader a couple of weeks before I left for Paris, and was thrilled by the idea of finding some of his work. He puts up mosaics around Paris and France and the entire big blue world with pictures from Space Invaders and other 1970s video games.

This beauty was spotted, as I said before, on the way to the Bastille. The cross streets were "Boulevard Beaumarchais" and "Rue Jean Beausire". After I took a couple of pictures, we jumped onto our train heading toward Cite, where we got off.

We walked past Notre Dame and then went to Sainte Chapelle where we waited in line for a little while before gaining entrance.

here's a picture of the lower chapel... also known as the gift shop.

Going upstairs lead to the Upper Chapel, famed for its beautiful stained glass windows. However, the church was undergoing some renovations, and the windows were being cleaned, so it didn't appear as insanely beautiful as it really is. (To give you a mental image: scaffolding covered somewhere between three to five of the windows, and the scaffolding was covered in a white tarp branded by the company that had donated the money to provide for the cleaning.) This isn't to say that I wasn't thrilled to be there (because I was thrilled to be anywhere during my trip. I was in Paris! I was thrilled to be almost everywhere!) but it was a little disappointing. The windows that I did see were really fantastic looking:

detail from stained glass window

rose window of Sainte Chapelle

I think that I might have paid more attention to the patterns on the floor than the stained glass that was throwing them. whoops.

After Sainte Chapelle we went back to Notre Dame.

My aunt waited in the line to get to the tower while my cousin and I went to buy crepes. We took our places back in line, and my aunt went into a nearby cafe to wait because she didn't want to climb the stairs due to ankle problems. The line moved (albeit somewhat slowly) and we eventually found ourselves walking up the steps to the tower. We were (ever so briefly) locked into the gift shop, while the group before us left, because the steps were too narrow to have two groups going up and down them (or something like that.) Strange marketing ploys are strange.

After ten minutes or so, we were allowed to continue up the steps, which lead to the first level. I acquainted myself with some of the Chimeras (you know, the things that people think are Gargoyles but don't actually spew water out of their mouths?) and found that there is an elephant on the top of Notre Dame. Things I never knew.

My cousin and I went inside of one of the bell towers, where I got to meed Emmanuel, the largest bell in Notre Dame. (I geeked out.)

After this, we were allowed to go to the uppermost level of the tower, which gave us a spectacular view of Paris. (I'd suggest full view for those two- you'll miss the details if you don't.)

in the first picture you can see the Eiffel Tower on the far left, and the arch de la defense in the center. in the second picture you can see Sacre Coeur in the center atop the hill of Montmartre.

Due to a time limit, we were only allowed to stay on the upper level for five minutes, so after we got our pictures we headed back down the staircase. I lost count after two hundred steps.

We found my aunt in the cafe that she had been in, and then bought some souvenirs. (A couple of generic posters, postcards, and a silly grey beret- because every tourist needs one.) From Cite, we took the train to Place de la Concorde and saw the Obelisque. It was shiny. (and I mean that in both the literal and Firefly slang sense.)

We strolled through the Tuileries Gardens for a tiny bit, pausing sometimes to people watch. The Musee de l'Orangerie, home to Waterlilies by Monet, was within the gardens, so we stopped there ever so briefly. We got there forty minutes before closing, but because of our Museum Passes we didn't have to worry about paying admission fee. The paintings were more immense than I had anticipated, and I really liked them. We had enough time to run through and see most of the other artwork before closing, and after leaving we finished walking through the Tuileries Gardens. From the Tuileries Gardens we made a quick trip to the Gardins du Palais Royal, and then took the metro back to the Bastille.

We walked to the apartment, and (surprise!) I found another Invader!

Invader #2
located near the intersection of Rue du Pas de la Mule and Rue des Tournelles

We got back to our apartment where I tried to get in touch with a cousin of mine who is staying in Paris for her junior year.

We went out to dinner at Chez Janou to meet with the woman that we had met in a cafe on our second day. The dinner was good, but the dessert was to die for. We ordered the chocolate mousse, and it was served with a ladle. Yes, you read that right. It was served with a ladle. It was the most delicious dessert that I think I ate all trip. Chocolate upon chocolate upon chocolate. If you ever go, you have to try it.

While talking to the granddaughter, we found that we had more in common: we were both planning on visiting Versailles the next day! We invited her to come with us, which she accepted. We agreed to meet at 9 the next morning at the corner across from the restaurant that we were eating at, and left to go back to our respective apartments.

Things to know:

always make sure that you have a key on your person before locking the door. always.

be prepared to be locked in the gift shop when you're climbing up to the towers of Notre Dame. It's perfect (I hope) normal. also, be prepared to climb up to the towers of Notre Dame. There were quite a few people who weren't all that pleasantly surprised when they saw the number of steps.

also, some cool information about a cool guy:

in the event that you're in paris and you're hungry:

Chez Janou: 2, rue Roger Verlomme - 75003 Paris. Phone number: 01 42 72 28 41

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