Wednesday took my mum and I to Paris! I told mum to pack light. I told her to bring maxi skirts and flat shoes. I told her she would want to shop here in the fashion capital. She shows up with too many pairs of the same jeans, two pairs of heels and no room for the items she ended up purchasing in London. So we are half running and half handicapped by her heavy bags as we transfer trains at 6am because our set broke down after boarding. The fast train took 2 hours and 15 minutes, through the English and French countryside, connected by the chunnel and terminated at Gare du Nord in Paris, France: city number two.
In Paris, we opted to use AirBnb to stay in a flat and it was absolutely perfect. Our host was so kind and having her home and amenities at our disposal was better than any hotel or hostel. We sat in a café to catch our breath before setting out for a ham baguette at Eric Kayser, a stroll around Notre Dam, ice cream from Berthillion (a scoop of salted caramel butter and a scoop of praline nuts in chocolate) and some wandering of the city. We got lost. We bought a baguette. We helplessly tried to purchase a Paris Museum Pass (€42 for 60+ fast pass entries to museums! I highly recommend this), we visited Ladurée, ate a Croque Madame at dinner and made it to the Eiffel Tower for a beverage and two macaroons from Ladurée (Rose Water and Lemon Verbana). After a day of walking, a day of frustration with banks and the language, and a day of being cheated of change, we so enjoyed watching the tower twinkle on the hour.
We had needed sleep and a 3-day unlimited metro pass because the next day was better. With a croissant and pain au chocolat from Patisserie de Cyril Lignac, we happily began our venture into St. Chapelle, up the towers of Notre Dam, into the cathedral and through the Louvre. Notre Dam was one of our favourites, the views were spectacular and the high gothic architecture was unlike anything we had seen yet. We tested out a Puits d’amours from Patisserie de Stohrer in the Louvre courtyard after an exhausting tour of losing ourselves in construction detours and art. The museum could benefit from a size reduction and one of those lazy people tram rides that exist in the zoo, but we conquered it and headed to Sacred Heart Bascillica in Montmartre. We were disappointed by the hazy view, the less than impressive cathedral (after seeing Notre Dam, everything will disappoint) and the seedy area. We weren’t having it. We tried a sidewalk café we had seen earlier in the morning in a less dodgy area, but the server wouldn’t allow me to order a coffee and his rudeness pushed us to a supermarket where the cashier tried to short us change again. Tourists are taken advantage of more than any of them realize. Frustrated and tired again, we rejuvenated ourselves with a picnic of cheese, olives, salami and chocolate at the Eiffel Tower. This is a tradition I could be okay with.
The next morning we tried a local shop in search of the best croissant and weren’t disappointed eating them at the Arc de Triomphe. The view above the 12 avenues was quite nice though most of the roof was under construction and had limited access. We did the Musee de Orangerie (our favourite), Musee de Orsay, Rodin and The Pantheon which was also wrapped in construction work. Our favourite part of Paris was our dinner at Creperie Bretonne. The service was incredible, the locals were more than helpful and the food was the best yet. We tried a buckwheat crepe with blue cheese, pear, pepper, lettuce and salted caramel butter with a carafe of wine, followed by a salted butter caramel crepe and a Nutella and apple crepe. I cannot tell you anymore because it’s painful to think of having this place at such a distance. We climbed 670 steps up the Eiffel Tower at dusk to watch the sun set and the City of Light to emerge that evening. I don’t think Paris could have ended any better.
We had a good chunk of the next day to grab a cappuccino, share a falafel from Mi Va Mi and get an eclair and some last pastries before Rome. Paris came and went much too quickly but we left feeling accomplished, full, and understanding of some things that only come with exploring a culture other than your own. We’ll miss each night in front of the tower, but if one more man is to offer me “Beer, wine, champagne, cigarettes” or “1 euro souvenir,” it will be too soon.
Paris was the first city I really felt like an outsider. English was more sparse than I imagined, my French was virtually nonexistent upon arrival and I didn’t always feel welcomed, but each negative experience only bettered the next. I had to seek more patience and realize when mum lags behind me in a museum, it is a great time to suggest a coffee. That or chocolate always does the trick. I think it’s safe to say we loved Paris. We have some lovely things to carry on with, most of which are memories and calories. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Final count for two people:
Assorted Pastries: 6
Metro tickets: 40
More pictures when my computer is up and running!