“Paris is the only city in the world where starving to death is still considered an art.”
I have been back in Canada for a few weeks now. Surprising how I was away for so long, yet I’m not suffering from post-vacation blues at all. Guess it must be because Vancouver is just as beautiful a city as anywhere else. Anyhow, thought I’d open my post today with this little quote by Carlos Ruiz Zafón from his book The Shadow of the Wind.
About two weeks after my first visit to Paris, I headed back again to celebrate my birthday (which you can read all about here: Forever XXI). Including my birthday, I spent another three nights, making a total of six nights in Paris.
The morning after I turned 21, we headed for breakfast/brunch at Angelina. Having seen photos online, this was definitely one of my must-go places. Plus, my host mom in Lyon had been raving to me about how delicious their cakes were so I was even more so determined to pay a visit. I tried calling to book reservations beforehand, but they always seemed too busy to pick up the phone. When we arrived, the lineup was crazy long and we overheard that the wait would still be at least an hour long. So scratch that, we just grabbed some cakes to go and enjoyed a little picnic right across the street in Tuileries Garden.
We ordered three pieces: millefeuille à la vanilla bourbon, thin layers of caramelized puffy pastry with light bourbon vanilla cream (top left); le cheesecake, crunchy shortbread with madeleine biscuit, candied apricot, and cream cheese (middle); and le fraisier, hazelnut biscuit with light bourbon vanilla cream and fresh strawberries (bottom right). Cakes for breakfast, salute to Kate Spade!
Oh and yes, these were all devoured within seconds. (Feels like I’m writing a foodie journal, not a travel blog hahaa.)
It was super cloudy, not exactly an ideal day for parks, but that didn’t stop us from relaxing by the fountain.
Following this, we visited Les Invalides again and this time we finally had the chance to explore Musée de l’Armée.
And of course, we paid a visit to Dôme des Invalides and saw Napoleon I’s tomb.
The frescoes on the dome’s ceiling were absolutely astonishing. I was torn between whether or not to take photos of the tomb itself though. I asked and photography was allowed, but I still felt iffy about it.
The stairway leading to the tomb had an interesting story. Since most people look at their feet while descending down stairs, this creates a bowing effect. It was said that everyone, including his enemies, would have had to bow down to Napoleon if they wanted to see his tomb.
The tourist voice in my head urged me to take photos for memory so I did end up taking one or two shots.
Our next destination was Champ de Mars. Along the way, we picked up some of these yummy cheese puff pastries.
There was a big tennis game that day. A TV was set up and people came together to support their favourite player. We joined in the crowd and enjoyed our little afternoon snack here.
Despite having been to Trocadero a million times already, we went again since we have never been when it’s still bright out.
We then went on a boat tour after. It was organized by Bateaux-Mouches, which was a 5-10 minute walk away from where we were staying. I was not convinced that this would be worth our time, however, since we visited most of the major attractions already and I didn’t understand how viewing these sights from the waters could be any different.
I was so wrong! It was such a special experience and it was so heartwarming to see strangers waving at us as we passed them by! (Thank you Jessica for this wonderful suggestion!)
The boat sailed along the Seine river where we saw Concorde, Louvre, Hôtel de Ville, Conciergerie, Île de la Cité, Notre Dame, St-Louis, Pont Neuf, Musée d’Orsay, Invalides, Eiffel Tower, and Palais de Chaillot. Whenever we went under a bridge, the little kids on the boat would yell “ey oh” and it would echo, très mignon.
It was unfortunate though because it was cloudy the entire day. When the sky finally cleared up and the sun showed its face, the boat was already closing in on the dock.
We grabbed a quick bite from a restaurant nearby. Like I’ve said, in France, you really can’t go wrong with food, everything just tastes fantastic!
Upon my request, we ventured out to see Moulin Rouge.
I had wanted to watch a show here, but Jessica wasn’t too keen on seeing naked ladies, which was fine because the tickets were uber expensive anyways (poop). Oh well, guess I have something to look forward to my next visit back here (hehehehhh).
As night drew closer, we embarked (dun dun dun, haha such a serious word) on our journey to our last destinations before heading back.
The Louvre at night had a beauty different from that of day and there was just something magical about these lit up attraction sights that really spoke to me. Totally envious of locals who could sit by these dreamy, movie-like sets and relax all day, any day.
Unfortunately, construction at Arc de Triomphe was still unfinished. And such a shame that I couldn’t capture the light trails from the passing cars! I had no tripod and my hands were shaky like I was an old man who’d been drinking too much for his own good.
On our last day here in Paris, we started our morning with a visit to Notre-Dame de Paris. Even though we were not there super early (say 8am), the line was much shorter compared to the last time we came (which was late afternoon, almost around dinner time). The wait was perhaps around 15-20 minutes more or less, but the visit was free so couldn’t complain about that!
The next stop was my favourite – Shakespeare & Co!!
I grew up reading Shakespeare and I hated it. Probably because I was made to study it for tutor and most likely also due to the fact that I was simply too young to appreciate the beauty of his écriture (writing, in French, because it sounds fancier and more poetic that way). Now that I’m older, yah I guess I could spend an afternoon here, no problem. The atmosphere was relaxing and people would just sit on the ground and read. Photography wasn’t allowed inside, but I could definitely see hipsters camping day and night in there.
Prior to heading to lunch, we passed by Sacré-Cœur. Before we even got anywhere close to the basilica, there was a group of men whom one had grabbed me by the arm and refused to let go. Every one of these guys had threads in their hands, and this would be a typical scam in Paris where these “ring sellers” would try to braid a ring around your finger with the threads they were carrying and whilst still connecting the ring, and your finger, to the threads left in his hand, he would start asking for money. Obviously you would be tied down and unable to go anywhere so if you didn’t pay, they would not let you go. I attempted so many times to push this man away, but he just chased after me like no tomorrow! Damn was he persistent! What enraged me even more was that he gave me attitude and was ticked off that I kept running away. I was almost ready to land a punch in his face. Way to ruin a good day, hympp!
Much to my delight, there was a children’s band/symphony performing and their performance certainly calmed me down. Couldn’t catch a video or even a photo of them in action though because by the time I finally made my way through the crowd to the front, they had finished already.
We only made it to the top of where the basilica was, not actually to the top of the basilica itself. The area was jam packed with tourists as well as locals and my fear of crowd was starting to kick in. (Alright, maybe demophobia would be a bit of an exaggeration, but I was honestly starting to feel uncomfortable.) Regardless, from where we stood, we were still able to enjoy a marvellous view of the city.
Lunch was a let down. Our bad luck with sudden closures continued as when we arrived at Crêperie Brocéliande, we ran into a “temporarily closed” sign. I found out about this restaurant from TripAdvisor and it was ranked top 8th restaurant in Paris. They were known for their reasonably priced yummy crêpes so I was, without a doubt, looking forward. Anyhow, we ended up dining across the street at La Poutre.
What I love about French restaurants is that they have an option where from a list of dishes, you get to pick one appetizer, one main dish, and one desert for a certain set price. They have other à la carte items as well, but this is like a package and they will not sell you one dish alone.
I had cocktail shrimps for starters, spaghetti alla bolognese as main, finishing off with crème brûlée for dessert.
After we had eaten, we passed by Crêperie Brocéliande on our way to Place du Tertre. It was open, could you believe that!?!??!?!!!! Sadly, we could only walk by and sniff at the tempting smell of crêpes and watch them go into someone else’s mouths.
Place du Tertre, in summary, would basically a square where artists would gather around with their easels and just paint. Whether it be scenery or portraits, they just sat there and painted. I found a lot of the artists’ works to be similar, especially if they were sitting next to each other, but nonetheless, every piece, every canvas, was just breathtaking.
Luxembourg Gardens was next on the list. Jessica and I actually had a mini fight at our previous attempt to visit this garden. That day was super packed with places to visit so even though we’d scheduled Luxembourg in our plans, we couldn’t make there in time. I told her the park would close at 9:30pm, but she insisted that parks didn’t have closing times. Luxembourg Gardens was pretty out of our way to get to as well, but we tried going anyways. We arrived around 9:40-9:45 only to find that yes, it was really closed. Now looking back, we were silly. I wish I hadn’t said “oh I told you so” and I truly wish that we hadn’t argued. I am a very straightforward and honest person, but I guess sometimes that just turns into rudeness and inconsiderateness. Honestly, she was trying to help and we really didn’t have anything to, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Plus, our metro passes were whole day passes so it really wouldn’t have made a difference if we’d gone or not. That being said, I’m so thankful she was able to put up with me hahaa and I really wish I had realized this earlier and spent more of our time enjoying ourselves together, laughing and just having fun, rather than constantly arguing.
Dinner was somewhere close by, as per usual.
The restaurant was called La Gueuze and we ordered steak with fries as well as mussels. No idea how many times we had mussels in France, but mm mmm it was delish! It was so funny too because the waiter didn’t give us the stone grill for the steak for the longest time that we started thinking if we misunderstood the menu and actually ordered some kinda uncut beef tartare.
La Gueuze also had a very, very, very wide range of selections for Belgium beer, which was extremely tempting, but at the same time a tiny bit pricey so I passed.
To end off our last night in Paris, I begged Jessica to visit Trocadero with me again so we could see the tower sparkle. We saw it once already, and we saw Eiffel Tower countless times, but I just so selfishly wanted to see it again! I must’ve been put under a spell, because I fell in love with Eiffel Tower, with its atmosphere, with French food, the people, and everything; I fell in love with Paris.
For those looking to be a little more adventurous and venture off the beaten path, check out these hidden gems in France.
And that’s it for today! Paris, je t’aime. Until next time.