Nothing to kick off a successful weekend of second tier attractions better than a panoramic vue from my favorite second tier museum. Wait. I just realized. By calling them second tier I by no means want to discredit these lovely places. In fact, I love them even more than the mainstream ones. I just want to acknowledge that we have officially graduated from the first tier of attractions and moved on to things that people will probably only visit if they stay for a week or two at least. Whereas a weekend in Paris would probably consist of visiting the Louvre and Musée D'Orsay, climbing up the Arc de Triomphe and picnicking in the Champs de Mars and shopping on Champs-Elysées, we started off the weekend with Centre Pompidou, dined in Montmartre, thrifted a bit by Porte de Clignancourt, picnicked in Jardin du Luxembourg, visited the legends under the Pantheon, eating Szechuan food and world famous falafel, and of course, visiting the legendary UCLA alum, Jim Morrison, in Père Lachaise.
Of course, the best days begin with some fruitful wandering, such as finding unfamiliar ways to get to familiar places. I'm all about narrow alleys and quiet morning walks. Paris mornings are on the slow side, but in a nice and relaxing kind of way. Like waking up at 10 and not feeling hurried kind of way. It's nice. Totally random, but why on earth is Thai and Sushi a thing? Why are they so often packaged together here? I find it rather bizarre, considering Thailand and Japan aren't even nearby... but hey, you do you, Paris. I'll take my Thai and sushi separate back in LA. And of course...street art... And antique stores? bonjour, centre pompidou but first, a bite to eat at a random sandwhich/crepe hole in wall nearby. And then it was in to the Pompidou we go! Of course, I had already paid it a visit earlier on in my trip, but that time, I missed something very important. A place I can pretty confidently say is my favorite view of Paris, favorite photo spot, favorite lounging spot, favorite selfie spot, snapchat op, most instagrammable, basically I'm newly obsessed with the Pompidou because if this view. As I mentioned in my first Centre Pompidou post, the museum occupies the 4th and 5th floors of the building. When you ascend to the second level within the museum, there is a magical door (and one that is easily missed, as I did the first time!) that leads to an outdoor fountain balcony area. There are also some benches and people lounging around the fountain, enjoying the shaded fresh air and reading, drawing, etc. If I lived in Paris, I would love to be able to come to the Pompidou for the very purpose of lingering with this panoramic view. I had a lot of fun pointing out familiar structures and matching this view to my memories on the streets. Another thing that I've grown to love, and a thing that I could have easily missed spending time on the streets and underground, are the rooftops of Paris. The orange brown dotting the blue grey roofs in the hazy horizon. Unexpectedly charming. Now I have the urge to climb up to the top of every city and see the view of the roofs--not just the skyline, but the normal apartment building, life hosting roofs. As you can probably tell, I spent a good percentage of my second trip to the Pompidou out here. And I got a little carried away with the pictures. Normally, I don't post so many pictures of one place, but honestly, how could I choose? This will definitely be a place I come back to every time I go to Paris. Continuing upstairs through the escalators, the glass coverings often make it feel like you're ascending through a greenhouse. But today, they opened up a few panels to allow (minimal) airflow. Meaning (to me) yay, time to stick my camera outside and get clear photos sans window grime!! Across from the centre, we began gift shopping in the various stores, many of which featured interesting art pieces and books. While wandering towards Les Halles for the RER station, I noticed that the area near the border of the 1st and 4th have a bunch of artsy shops, whether they sell vintage clothes or trinkets or Then, it was on to the RER B to get to the Jardin du Luxembourg. But before we even entered the garden, I made a pit stop at the first bakery chain I saw, at grabbed a little snack to enjoy in the garden. I don't even care that Brioche Dorée is like French fast food. If I could take time out of every day to sit in a (crowded yet charming) garden and listen to live music while eating raspberry tarts under shady trees, my life would be exponentially happier and healthier. Emotionally. Probably not nutritionally. But I just love how the French value little enjoyments in life like this: a couple hours in the afternoon lounging in beautiful gardens. I regret not coming here earlier. This was actually my first time back since orientation way back when! After enjoying the garden for a little bit, we walked about 5 minutes over to the Pantheon. The Panthéon was originally built as a church by Henry XV back in the 18th century. It has since been converted to a secular mausoleum and hold the remains of revered legends including Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Marie Curie. Entrance was again gratuit due to our art history advantage. The inside was absolutely breathtaking, even while under construction. In all its neoclassical glory (ahem, my favorite art period), the architecture seemed to swallow up the space with intricacy while at the same time giving the impression of grandeur and expansiveness. Downstairs, the further you walk in, the muskier and damper the chilling air feels, despite the slew of quiet tourists paying their respects. Considering I didn't do any research, this was a surprise to me. Actually, now that I think of it, I'm not sure what I was expecting to do by visiting the Panthéon outside of simply walking in. Nevertheless it was a thrilling surprise to be in the presence of such universally prominent legends, creepy though it may be. It was a quick visit. Then it was alllll the way up to Montmartre. Were we working on a tight schedule? Not really, considering it was half spontaneous. But I would like to say that most of it still followed my mental agenda. Kind of.
Donc, day un: Musée
All the way up at the end of métro ligne 4 is Porte de Clignancourt, which is located right about at the northern edge of Paris in the 18th arrondissement. A short walk past the Paris border into Saint-Ouen is the mother of all flea markets, le marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen. After following the crowds under the overpass and officially entering Saint-Ouen, we walked past a smaller swap meet into the main flea market. At first, there are a bunch of vendors selling cheap clothes, African artifacts and random watches and phone cases à la night market, but a little past that we began to see more antique stands. The first thing that caught our eyes was a table full of photo albums filled with old postcards. After sifting through some albums, organized by place, I came upon a postcard of Place des Victoires. Even though it hadn't been used, it was the perfect 2€ souvenir for me. Rather than finding a map or doing research to go through the maché aux puces methodologically, we just wandered and looked around at anything that looked interesting. For the most part the vendors were pretty passive, and decently helpful with our questions, most of which were some form of "C'est combien, ça?" and then walking away after hearing the price. I can see why antique lovers flock here religiously. The sheer amount of stuff here is awe-inspiring. They even have stations to set up shipping so it can go straight home. Shopping galore. Thank goodness I had to carry everything I bought and only brought 40€ in cash or things would have been bad and my apartment would have turned into a 17th century French retreat... There is definitely something for every budget, from leather satchels at 20€ to thousand euro furniture to 2€ records, the stands offer just about everything, old and new, divided into smaller marchés that kind of blend into each other, labeled by painted archways and signs. In one of the first galleries we walked into, we came across a bookstore that sold old leather-bound books. They had a table outside with books for 5€ where I found an original 1899 print of Dicken's Pickwick Papers. I'm not the biggest fan of Dickens, but it was the only English language book I found and for 5€ it would make a perfect gift! The shopkeeper was a sweet elderly man who cautiously approached us as we browsed through the stacks of books. Upon realizing we spoke French he happily old us the prices of the books and to approach him or the woman sitting on the other side of the shop to answer any questions. He also exclaimed that he was afraid we wouldn't know French at first, when he heard us conversing in English, but was relieved when we did understand him. It's funny how some of the best service I experienced in France has been outside of Paris. Interactions with people like this man make me appreciate being abroad so much more. It made me feel like I was living there, rather than visiting, as I often felt in Paris. I loved how with each part of the market, there was noticeable difference in the people there. At the beginning it was loud and raucous, there were a lot of immigrants and tourists walking around. But as soon as we got past that into the antiques area, it got more quiet and peaceful. The shop owners were often sitting and reading rather than standing in the street and shouting at shoppers. Most of the shoppers in this area were either locals or antique collectors, and the shop owners would often mingle together. In some of the more popular antique marchés, there were more consumers and more active interaction between the sellers and buyers. As the morning went on, it did get more crowded, but for the most part the antiques areas were not too bad, whereas the beginning part which involved some pushing and shoving. Every marché had a slightly different personality, and even though the vendors seemed to be selling similar things all throughout the flea market, the atmosphere of each area still felt distinct which was very interesting. It's easy to start circling around the same areas over and over again without even realizing it is the same area, but it was unexpectedly easy to navigate without paying attention to where we were going. Most of the marchés are on Rue de Rosier and it is just a matter of walking in the right general direction to get back towards the entrance area. I was a sucker for all the little charms and trinkets there. I ended up purchasing a few gold charms from a lady who set up a tiny stand outside. Since I was only getting little things, I wasn't too worried about things being overpriced for what they're worth. Of course, if you were to buy antique furniture and such, it would be wise to practice bargaining skills. For lunch, we stopped at one of the cafés within the markets. After walking around a bit, we found one that seemed cheapest and were seated immediately by an unusually enthusiastic waiter/owner. Of course unusually enthusiastic French waiters is probably equivalent to a grumpy American waiter on a bad day, but by this time in the trip, our standards were pretty low. The highlight of my day was probably when the shopkeeper from the bookstore came to the same café with a friend and went out of his way to stop at our table and say "Bonjour," telling his friends that we were the girls who stopped by his shop earlier in the day. He asked us how our food was and whether we were enjoying our day in the market. WHY CAN'T PARISIANS BE THIS FRIENDLY? Anyways, it was very sweet of him, and good to know that we picked a good place that the locals dined at. Also, side note, we got ice cream for dessert (because heat), and it was possible the best tasting thing I have ever had. It was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, no visual because we got too excited to eat as soon as it came! On our way out, we stumbled upon Marché Dauphine that looked pretty busy and stepped inside to find this monster. A futuro house from 1968, according to a press release, was just chilling in the middle of it. Marché Dauphine was probably the most diverse place we went to. They seemed to have everything, from tucked away restaurants and cafés to antiques, to a second floor that seemed to be dedicated to old media: old maps, magazines, posters, books, newspapers, etc. Needless to say, I wanted it all. After buying some century-old magazines, we decided to call it a day and head back to the apartment to rest after a whole morning/early afternoon of walking. For dinner, my roommate and I decided to go to a Szechuan place she found near Arts et Métiers. It was unusually authentic looking and the rich spices made me miss the restaurants my family and I frequent back in California. For dessert, because when in France dessert is always necessary, we went to Flunch, a quick service restaurant at the corner near Centre Pompidou, it is right by the exit (I want to say exit 2, but don't quote me on that) of Rambuteau station. The cafeteria style restaurant is right down the stairs and has food organized into separate stations. We went to the ice cream station, where you can pay there, and ordered the cheapest ice cream we've seen in Paris. Though I can't recall the prices exactly, I don't remember paying more than 3€ for a large boule of ice cream topped with a generous portion of dreamy whipped cream. I will literally dream of French whipped cream back in America, I know it. Afterwards, we walked towards Hôtel de Ville to take ligne 1 to Champs-Elysées yet again. Hello Arc again! I didn't climb up the stair marathon for three days in a row, though, but we did wander all the way back to Invalides, enjoying every picturesque view on the way. If I could live on a bridge... And then métro back to Opéra, still my favorite building in Paris. Bonne nuit, Bourse, you'll always have a place in my heart as my métro station.
Day Deux: Marché
July 28th was the end of the Tour de France. By the time we arrived at Champs-Elysées (which was a feat in itself, considering how many stations were closed), there were already crowds lining the street all the way back to the Tuileries. All along the street, several official vendors were selling fan packs out of decked out vans. Even though I am not huge on biking, I got secondhand excitement from all the devoted fans experiencing this event. I've never seen Champs Elysées this lively. That includes Bastille Day. For lunch, we made our way over to the Marais for the world famous L'As du Fallafel on Rue des Rosiers. The line was even longer than usual. In fact, the entire street seemed super crowded. To speed up the ordering process, workers would hand out the simple check mark menu and take our orders while in line. This monstrosity knocked me out cold. Or hot. I can't even tell anymore. We had to stop by a little market for a drink to cool down after eating this in the heat. When we got to Bastille we finally decided to visit Père Lachaise for the afternoon. Père Lachaise is probably the most well known and visited cemetery in the world, as legends including Oscar Wilde, Frédéric Chopin and UCLA alum, Jim Morrison (it feels so weird to write that). Located in the 20e arrondissement, it was just a short métro away, at the Père Lachaise station on lignes 2 et 3. Right outside the métro station, there was a small marché aux puces, and nearby was a side entrance into the garden cemetery. While the garden-cemetery is a peaceful place to stroll through in general, it is a good idea to keep a copy of the map on you as you make your way through if you are interested in visiting certain graves. While some areas are very organized, others are a little more cluttered and hard to navigate. I think that the area is worth going independently, and relatively straightforward with a map, but they do also have tours that take you to all the main points. We ended up gravitating toward tours that we came by as that usually meant there was someone important buried nearby. (This is sounding weirder and weirder...) I never knew a cemetery could be so beautiful. Even with the many visitors, it was very peaceful and quiet as the tourists were extremely respectful. Some people were even sitting on the grass and reading. I do appreciate that this is a "second tier" tourist attraction that many people skip over because it adds to the raw atmosphere of the place. It was very easy to overcome the fact that I was visiting a cemetery. My favorite thing about Père Lachaise is all of the large trees diffusing the sunlight along the paths. While in the cemetery, it didn't feel like summer, it felt more like mid-autumn which was really cool, especially coming from LA, where there really isn't much of an autumn. My least favorite thing about it was the cobblestone. Though some parts were better maintained, other parts wore me out 10 times as fast while hiking through the cemetery. The first place we visited was Oscar Wilde's unusual tombs. On the side of it, there is a patch of kisses where visitors left kiss prints. Now, with the glass barrier, the tradition has been ended, but the kiss prints still linger on the stone. At 5 pm, the workers started ringing bells and making rounds through the cemetery, notifying visitors that it was closing time. We followed the (small) crowd and exited from the main entrance. After dinner, we walked to the Seine. Why? Because we can. And pretty soon, we won't be able to. And that was the final weekend in France.
Day Trois: Cimetière
[ quatre | on continue \\ partout ]
Due to a schedule change, we had class on Tuesday and not on Friday. But even Thursday was full of activity, starting off with one of my favorites: Marché de la Bastille. I was mentally kicking myself for not checking this out ea ...
[ quatre | art, shopping, et plus de randonée ]
What better place to go than L’Orangerie after trip to Giverny? It’s the second to last week. I can already feel the time crunch. So everything from here on out is about maximizing our time (awake) in Paris. That means ...