September 28, 2015
My pen has miraculously come to life! Right now I’m sitting in line at Notre Dame waiting until 10:00 when it opens. The two women beside me are talking really loudly about their relationship problems ( I could probably write a soap opera about it at this point) and the old man to my left just asked me what I was writing about but he didn’t speak English and I don’t remember enough French to have a conversation with him. Thankfully I get to go to the top for free once again thanks to being an EU citizen under 25! (or maybe it’s 26, I can’t remember).
Later – After Notre Dame
The view from Notre Dame was amazing. In the words of Victor Hugo: All Paris was spread out at his feet, with her thousand turrets, her river winding under the bridges, her stream of people flowing to and from the streets; with the cloud of smoke rising from her many chimneys; with her chain of crested roofs pressing in ever tightening coils around Notre Dame. It’s always amazing how different a city can look from the top. And it was so fascinating to be atop one of the most impressive churches in the world. It’s just about 11 – perfect timing for the tour of the Left Bank/Latin Quater.
Even Later – Night time
My friend Mohammad (whom I met last night at dinner with Omar) joined me for the tour. We met outside Notre Dame by the big statue of Charlemagne – whom I remember learning about in grade 8 but I can’t remember what exactly it was that was important about him. Something about schools, I think? Reading/writing? I need to look this up. Anyway, the tour guide’s name was Thibault and he honestly looked like he fought in the French Revolution alongside Enjolras. Dark curly hair that fell over his dark but merry eyes, dignified nose, defined jawline, boisterous personality…he was so French! The tour was so interesting! We saw the Shakespeare and Company Book store (I ended up buying a book by William Makepeace Thackery for 4 Euros later on). I love this bookstore, I really do. Did you know that you can sleep there for free if you follow the three rules: read a book a day, help out in the shop, and write a one page autobiography. The most fascinating thing for me was that Hemingway and Fitzgerald actually met here. REALLY!
We also saw the oldest church in Paris, the oldest tree, and Rue du Fouarre. Rue du Fouarre means Street of the Straw because students used to sit on haystacks while the teachers taught from the windows. I think that would have been incredibly itchy. I’d probably be sneezing the whole lecture. We saw the place where Dante used to study and learned about ‘belly houses’ – because they stick out. He also told us about Cyrano de Bergerac – the story of the man with the long nose and his good-looking friend Christian who wins the girl. (Spoiler alert) “I had one love and lost it twice”–> famous quote! I think I need to read this story at some point in my life.
Then we went to Place de la Sorbonne (where all the students protested when it was going to be shut down: “Under the cobble stones, the beach”) and the Pantheon. All the university kids were eating lunch outside in the sun. It made me miss school a little bit. I didn’t go inside the Pantheon because I didn’t feel like spending money to see dead people, but I still think it’s cool that Victor Hugo and Voltaire and Rousseau are inside the crypts! Next time I go to Paris, I will probably visit it. I like seeing buildings that say “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” on them. French Revolution pride. It’s crazy to think that Paris was once a mess of starving poor people – I keep imagining when they drank wine off the street in A Tale of Two Cities. It’s even crazier to think that the last time they used the guillotine was in 1977…when the death penalty was abolished. Weird. Also, the reason that they used the guillotine in the first place was so that all deaths were equal.
After the tour, Mohammad (I will call him Mo henceforth) and I wandered around Il St. Louis and then had coffee at a cafe. Drinking coffee at a cafe was very nice – it made me feel very Parisian. Oh, I forgot to mention that we found an old suitcase in a “junk pile” that looked like it contained some big mystery but when we came back to investigate it, it was gone! Looks like somebody else also thought it contained a secret. Darn. Then we went back to the Eiffel Tower and took some pictures at Trocadero – good viewing spot!! He helped me with French and getting the accent…I have such a long way to go!
September 29, 2015
I am sitting on the banks of the Seine and pretty soon I will continue on my way to the Eiffel Tower before I have to leave Paris. The weather has warmed considerably since this morning and I had to take off my beret and scarf. Sadly I don’t look very Parisian anymore.
I spent the morning wandering, as I love best. It was a perfect, windy fall day and I was glad to have the beret to keep my ears warm. I started at the Arc de Triomphe, made my way down the Champs Elysees to Place de La Concorde, onwards to the Tuileries Gardens, the Louvre and then walked all the way along the Seine to try to find Notre Dame but I couldn’t find it. My flight leaves for Munich at 6:55 tonight. I suppose I should be at the airport by 5:30 at the latest. Oh bother, I wish I could stay in Paris forever! Well, not forever, but a good while longer.
I just realized I never told you about Montmarte. The tour guide told us about the bohos that make up the area, and we learned the sad story of the French Star Dalida. Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and a “professional farter” all performed at the Moulin Rouge. Finally, we saw Moulin de la Galette, the cafe where Amelie worked/was filmed, and of course, the best baguette in town. If I lived in Paris, I think Montmarte would be my favourite place. It has the perfect atmosphere, especially at night time. There’s so many artists selling their work, and musicians making music, and happy people drinking wine at restaurants.
It is 1pm. I can see the head of the Eiffel Tower in the distance but I’m not sure how long it will take me to walk there. I reckon at least thirty minutes. I just love sitting here by the river with the wind blowing down the leaves and a girl reading to my left and a man painting just behind her. I don’t want to get up. This morning, as I was walking down the Champs Elysees, a French man started speaking to me. Despite my bad memory of French and my atrocious accent, I managed to answer his questions and tell him that I was Canadian, a tourist and going to Munich for Oktoberfest. I also told him that I love Paris, which I think he appreciated. Then he smiled at me, said ‘au revoir’ and continued on his way. Why do people say Parisians are rude? I’ve only encountered kind ones.
I really must continue my journey to the Eiffel Tower now. I WILL NOT leave without seeing it again – à bientôt, mon ami!!
Later – 2:05pm
“Here we are, baby!” said a man to his girlfriend (or wife actually – I just looked and saw a ring) on the bench next to me. Here we are indeed – in front of the Eiffel tower for the last time for a while, quite possibly. People are still walking with baguettes, pushing their babies in strollers, jogging like crazy people do, or sitting down either on benches or the grass resting their tired feet like I am. I did a lot of walking today. Paris has been the perfect mixture of alone time and hanging out with people time. Today I was completely alone except for talking to random people on the street, etc.
Last night I saw the most beautiful sunset in the world. Words cannot describe it but I will try to anyway. The deepest, richest colors of pink, yellow, orange and purple. And it set over the Eiffel tower. I watched it from Pont Alexandre III Bridge and it was stunning! It filled my soul with so much wonder and awe and I sincerely stood there captivated by it. I wish you could have seen it. I had to ask people to take photos for me because my phone inconveniently ran out of battery but even though the pictures are beautiful, they don’t do it justice. I think it was love. I think a million little hearts burst with so much happiness last night that they sprinkled that love in the sky. What else could have been that beautiful?
Then Mo and I walked down to the Eiffel Tower (which was now pink for breast cancer awareness), laughed at the “fake” people pretending to win money at the game where you have to guess where the ball is, and down to Notre Dame where we saw the blood moon. No wonder it was so big the other night! Then we wandered to a little bar where we had a glass of rosé and talked about our dreams. I hope they all come true.
6:52pm – On the Plane to Munich
I always stress myself out by leaving later than I should and getting lost and then blaming myself for leaving late. Alas, I have made it on my flight but it was still a stressful journey getting here consisting of my suitcase getting stuck in the gates, me going to multiple wrong platforms, and when I finally made it to the airport, having my bag pulled aside (I forgot about my water bottle in my bag) and this annoying guy in front of me taking forever because he was complaining about his “really expensive perfume” which he wasn’t allowed to bring on. Anyway, the important thing is that I made it on the flight in which I strategically chose the window seat before because why would I want to sit anywhere else when we take off into the Paris sunset?
Let me finishing telling you about Paris. Yesterday at 4pm, Mo and I split up because I was meeting Rochelle and Kristoff at the Arc de Triomphe. They are the couple I met on the bus from Prague to Vienna who told me I should give them a call if I ever came to Paris, so I did. I came out of the subway and I saw them standing there waiting for me, huge smiles on their faces! We walked to their apartment – it’s so close to the Arc de Triomphe! Basically just around the corner. And it was so beautiful. The ceiling was painted with angels like it was an opera house and the kitchen was painted with birds flying in the sky. The home decor and the artwork felt like I was in another time period. Their son was home when I arrived and we all had tea and French pastries. I had a raspberry-macaroon-type-thing. (Not really sure what it was called but it was delicious). The son has his eye doctor’s degree but is actually a juggler (I thought he was joking when he told me that at first!) with Cirque du Soleil. He also performs in Cabarets, knows magic tricks, and does balloon art. The balloon art was cool – he showed me pictures on his phone. After tea, we said good bye to the son (I am getting better at this two kiss on the cheek thing) and Rochelle and Kristoff took me for a ride around the city in her Jaguar. (The car, not the animal). What a crazy city to drive in!! I didn’t like it one bit. It was madness. No lanes around the arc so everybody goes when they want. The smaller cars butt their way through – it was terrifying! I don’t get how people can be so fearless – motorcyclists and bikers weren’t even wearing helmets. Crazy! We drove past the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Palais Royal, Hotel de Ville, Les Invalides, Le Madeline, George Pompidou library, etc. They let me get out of the car to take pictures. Also, they really wanted me to stay for dinner but I didn’t want to miss the sunset on my last night so I promised them ‘next time.’ Then we hugged and kissed and they called me a ‘good girl’ and told me I’m welcome to stay with them the next time I go to Paris because they are my ‘parents in Paris’. Some people are just too kind.
As much as I love France, I’m rather excited to be going back to Germany. We just rose into the air! I always get a little bit scared that we will crash or that something bad will happen but I suppose that’s only natural. I just looked out my window; Paris looks so small and faraway and I miss it already. Good-bye Paris! Au revoir! Je t’adore!!