Tag Archives: france

Day 27: Versailles and some expensive Mexican food


posing in front of Versaille with the Daily Pilot

posing in front of Versaille with the Daily Pilot

Today my mom and I took the RER C out to Versaille for a day of touring the opulent palace and gardens that go on forever–and we walked most of that forever! 

The last time I visited Versailles, which was in February (2004), I have to say, I was not that impressed. Thing is, big, fancy summer homes are not my thing–unless, I guess, I get to vacation in them…

This time, though, the fountains were on in the gardens and it was a pretty spectacular sight. I’m still not that into the inside of the palace, but my mom and I spent about three hours walking around the gardens, to the far corners, seeing Marie Antoinette’s area, which was actually quite beautiful. 

We did make sure to take our picture with the Daily Pilot (our local paper), in hopes that we might get it published, as they print photos of Daily Pilot readers from around the world. 

After a long day at Versaille we had our hearts set on a Mexican food place, La Perla, that I had seen recommended and that we had walked past a few days ago. Let’s just say, $50 later, it was the most expensive Mexican food we have ever had, and definitely not the best…

I know, I know, who goes for Mexican food in Paris anyway?! I guess I had gotten cocky after having great Mexican food at Miguel’s in  Chiang Mai  and at Boojum in Belfast.

Day 26: impromptu ‘concerts,’ water lilies, and such

No more lollygagging…if we’re going to see the museums of Paris, it’s time to get serious. 

this girl stood was engrossed

this girl stood engrossed before the water lilies

So, today, we started off with the Musée de l’Orangerie, arguably one of the best  collections of Impressionist art anywhere (except for, perhaps Musée d’Orsay which is on the schedule for Tuesday). 

After a yummy potato omelet at a cafe alongside the Pompidou Center, we hopped on the metro toward Concord. The metro we happened to hop on came with musical entertainment–a man, his electric guitar, and an amp, serenading the passengers with Spanish songs. It was surprisingly good, and definitely an enjoyable start to the day. 

After seeing works by Monet (like), Utrillo (like–we saw a painting of his with the very view from our dinner table in Montmarte last night!), Renior (not a big fan), Matisse (like, but a bit odd), and Picasso (never knew he did non-cubist stuff) we headed to a cafe in the Tulleries garden for a snack–beer and french fries. 

From there we decided to walk up the Champs-Elysees, with a brief detour to see some more Monet (for free!) in the Petit Palais, and a view of the Invalides and Eiffel Tower from the pont Alexander III

wedding party taking photos on Pont Alexander III

wedding party taking photos on Pont Alexander III

The walk from the Tulleries garden toward the  Arc d’Triumph, took us past the US Embassy (no pictures allowed?!), through gardens with blossoming tulips (and other flowers, but I don’t know their names) and gi-normous artichoke plants. There were also TONS of people walking along the Champs-Elysees, in both directions. 

We decided to stop for a bite to eat (salad, pizza, red wine) at a restaurant just before the Arc d’Triumph, figuring we might need the sustenance for the 284 step climb to the top.

When you eat at outdoor cafes in Paris you are basically lined up, perched at tiny round tables, facing the street, watching the people go by. If you are one with a need for a lot of personal space, this is not for you. We were close enough to our neighbors for me to know that on one side, they were from Ireland and on the other side, for the guy to offer to pay me for my mom (I said I’d sell her for 200 euro, he offered 300. So, though it was great to hang out with her in Paris, looks like I’ll be alone…kidding). 

girl band plays at the top of the  Arc d'Triumph

girl band plays at the top of the Arc d'Triumph

Once at the top (with a few rest stops up the 284 stairs) we were treated not only with the expected 360 views of the city (though a bit hazy) but also with a girl band, wearing silver/white ‘bob’ wigs, playing trumpets, tubas, drums…still not sure why, as they were not collecting money, but everyone up at the top gathered around listened, and joined in the fun. From the name on the drum they appear to be les muses tanguent. 

So, all in all a great day, book-ended by two impromptu, free, and fun in their spontaneity concerts!

Day 25: Hemingway, Obama pizza, lost items, and the Sacre Coeur

Today was a full day of touring–and it’s after midnight, so we’ll see how coherent this post is!

Walking tour of Hemingway's Paris

Walking tour of Hemingway's Paris

We began the day with a walking tour of Hemingway’s Paris, in the Latin Quarter, where, in addition to seeing places Hemingway worked, drank and lived, we also heard a gruesome tale that was the basis of Sweeney Todd, which I didn’t realize was a true story…

Apparently there were these priests who really liked these meat pies from a particular vendor, who was good friends with a particular barber, who seemed to ‘lose’ his clients quite regularly. Well, even though the priests did not know that they were eating meat pies that were a bit too realistically the body and blood, they were excommunicated for having eaten human flesh.

Having no other income, they became beggars but one day a bishop came long their street, heard the story, and allowed them to open a market to earn a living. This street is still a market street today. Rather than take our chances, we decided on some delicious looking but definitely vegetarian pizza. 

The guy who gave us our pizza asked, “Where are you from?” When I said, America, California, his first response was, “What do you think about your president?” In every place I’ve been along my trip people have asked me that–one guy, a Frenchman sitting next to me on the plane from Bangkok to Cairo, even shook my had to congratulate me for helping to elect Obama. Well, when the pizza guy asked us, I said I was very glad, but admitted that my mom is less than enthusiastic. He proceeded to tell us his opinions on the subject, which I happened to agree with, but which were entirely unprompted. It’s fascinating how willing, and how eager people are to talk about subjects that might be shied away from at home. 

After our visit to the lost and found, we stopped for a rest at this cafe where the man next to me, 83 and with a heart transplant (at least that's what I think he said, in French) befriended us.

After our visit to the lost and found, we stopped for a rest at this cafe where the man next to me, 83 and with a heart transplant (at least that's what I think he said, in French) befriended us.

After the pizza and a nutella crepe for lunch, we headed to the Service des Objets Trouves, Paris’ lost and found. Apparently stuff actually does make its way there, as did we after a few metro transfers, only to find out that if my camera had been found on the bus, and turned in, it would take them a week to get it. Argh. I’m not overly optimistic that it will be found, but I figured I should at least check. So, looks like we’ll be back to the Service des Objets Trouves again on Wednesday before leaving town…

We finished off the day with a Rick Steve’s recommended bus tour, and dinner in Montmartre after an evening view of Paris and a walk through the Sacré-Cœur–a quick one, since we were hungry after so much walking, touring, and only a bit of pizza at lunch! 

The walk back to the metro from the Sacré-Cœur was thru the Pigalle area, including the Moulin Rouge as well as many establishments that my mom and I were not going to visit!

Day 24, part 4: finally, a bit of good news

After quite a hectic day of transportation issue, and the camera loss, my mom and I did manage to have a very nice afternoon and evening in Paris. 

Though I didn't have a camera today (see the previous post) I did happen to take a few pictures of it yesterday.

Though I didn't have a camera today (see the previous post) I did happen to take a few pictures of it yesterday.

We started out walking from the flat through the Marais over to the Île de la Cité to visit Notre Dame. There were long lines to go up into the towers, and my mom doesn’t like heights, so we contented ourselves with a tour through the inside to see the beautiful rose windows. The name Notre Dame means ‘our lady’ in French. It was one of the first gothic cathedrals, and was started in the 12th century but not finished until the 14th. Talk about a building project.  

From there we went on a boat tour on the Seine, seeing views of the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Palace, American Church in Paris, and, of course the Eiffel Tower. We will return to all those places for an actual visit–today was just the overview, and a lighter touring day, due to the hours of travel my mom had experienced. 

We also made sure to visit the ‘best gelato place in Paris’ recommended by my good friend Julianne (as well as many guide books). Only problem was, I didn’t realize they were two different places. My iPhone app recommended Amorino which we found and enjoyed thoroughly, but Julianne had recommended Berthillon in her post about her trip to Paris. Too bad–looks like we are going to have to have some more ice cream!

mom smiles before she gets soundly beaten in Rummy

mom smiles before she gets soundly beaten in Rummy

On our way home to the flat from Île Saint-Louis we picked up some cheese (a brie and a gouda), a baguette and some wine to have ‘dinner’ on the balcony while playing Rummy. Let’s just say, though we both enjoyed the cheese, bread and wine, I enjoyed the game of Rummy significantly more than my mom did!

It’s been a long day, so time for bed. Tomorrow we are thinking of a Hemingway walking tour and a trip to the Sacré-Cœur. We’ll see what else unfolds…perhaps a trip to a camera store as well?