Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ten Days in Paris

I just returned from spending 10 glorious days in the city of my dreams.  As you know, I went to Paris with my friend Donna who was celebrating her 50th birthday and asked if I'd accompany her.  Bien sur, mon amie!

We were clacking photos before we even left the airport.  My mom came out to say bon voyage and slipped each of us girls a 10 euro bill to buy ourselves a glass of wine.  Then we ran into my former Kitsilano neighbour Rachel who was on the same flight as us!  It is a small world after all.

I took over 1,000 photos during those ten days and I've chosen a few of them that best represent our time in the City of Light.


We stayed in the same apartment at 73 rue Galande that Joe and I rented last summer.  It is beautiful.  It is across the river from Notre Dame.  It is in the historic heart of the city.  You step onto the street and are immediately transported back to the middle ages.  As they say in the world of real estate "Location!  Location!  Location!"

Rue Galande at night.

Our apartment is tucked in behind the park.

The view of Notre Dame from this apartment is incredible.  Especially at night.


It rained every day we were in Paris.  If not all day, at least part of every day.  IT. RAINED. EVERY. BLOODY. DAY.  We had just lived through the rainiest winter and spring on record back home.  And to make matters worse, the day we left Vancouver the sun came out in B.C!

Needless to say, the rain got rather tiresome.  But we made the best of it.  The bad weather did not slow us down in the least.

I loved this girl's spirit.  It was pouring rain and she was determined to sit in the Tuileries Garden.

The view from Le Trocadero.

The line-up for the Louvre.

My 'Midnight in Paris' shot.

Self portrait taken in Luxembourg Gardens.

Our new friends from Romania kept us dry while we were waiting to climb the bell towers of Notre Dame.

A conversation in the rain on the Pont des Arts.

Grandpere tried his best to keep his granddaughter dry in Luxembourg Gardens.

Waiting out a squall in Jardin du Luxembourg.

Waiting for 'Le Grand Bal des Sapeurs Pompiers' to begin.

Being the hardy 'west coast' types that we are, Donna and I attempted to eat dinner one night at a sidewalk cafe.  But as soon as space became available inside, we ditched the great outdoors for a cozy table in the warm restaurant.

When we first got to Paris we were extremely judgemental of all the tourists wearing big, ugly rain slickers.  "Do they realize how bad they look in those things?" we'd ask each other incredulously.  Well, after suffering through storm after storm and getting completely drenched wearing the rain jackets we brought from home, we succumbed and bought ourselves bright pink raincoats.  Best five euros I ever spent. 


As I said before, we did not let the rain slow us down.  We saw all the major sights.  And many of the minor ones too.

Notre Dame at night.

Notre Dame by day.

Feeding the sparrows at Notre Dame.
(Photo credit:  Birdman of Notre Dame.)

Up with the gargoyles of Notre Dame.  (I know I take the exact same picture every year, but I just can't help myself.)

L'Arc de Triomphe

Le Champs Elysees

Le Louvre

Le Tour Eiffel

La Sainte Chapelle

Sacre Coeur


We visited many, many churches.

The most amazing department store: Galeries Lafayette.



Art is everywhere in Paris.  Art is appreciated and supported and nurtured in Paris.  Art surrounds you in Paris.  Whether it's music, sculpture, paintings, dance or theatre, Paris is for art lovers.

Musee d'Orsay

Tired art lover in the Musee d'Orsay.

Monet's water lilies at the Musee de l'Orangerie.  
(Photo credit Arthur van Beveren.)

Place du Tertre, Montmartre

Trust the French to create a pair of high heels out of pots and pans.

One of the things I had always wanted to do  in Paris, but never had, was go to the 'Theatre des Marionnettes' in Luxembourg Gardens.  I told this to Donna as we were wandering around the gardens.  Well, what do you know?  We stumbled upon the theatre five minutes before show time!  We quickly paid our 4 euros and found ourselves a seat.

These quaint puppet shows have been performed since 1923.  Nothing has changed about them.  Donna and I were instantly whisked away to another time and place.  We imagined that's what it must have been like to be a child in Paris a hundred years ago.

Lion statues draped in lace doilies.

'The Thinker' in the garden of the Rodin Museum.

Mona Lisa is one popular chick!  Look at her surrounded by the tourist paparazzi!

Donna and Mona.  This is the closest we could get to her.

Nipple pinching in the Louvre!

Everywhere we went there were people painting, drawing or sketching.

Playing the piano at the Saint Michel fountain.

We went for dinner at the restaurant across the street from our apartment one night.  While we ate, we enjoyed listening to the opera singer and her accompanist.  This man was obviously smitten with the singer.  He kept wandering in from the street and the owner kept throwing him out.

Mark Rothko's 'Untitled (Black, Red over Black on Red)' from 1964 at the Pompidou Centre of Modern Art.


Food can be hit and miss in Paris.  Lucky for us, we had more hits than misses.

Coquilles Saint Jacques

Under this golden dome of puff pastry goodness were escargots and mushrooms swimming together in a delicious cream sauce.

We drank many a cafe creme in sidewalk cafes.  But let me tell ya, it ain't cheap.  One small cup of coffee will set you back 5 euros  ($6.20 Cdn).

Many restaurants will start you off with an 'amuse bouche'.  Something to make your mouth happy.

Smoked salmon

Foie gras with plum jam and toast.

Braised beef

Cafe culture is alive and well and living in Paris.

L'As Du Fallafel in the 4th arrondissement (The Marais) is always busy, always good.  We went here for lunch one day.

One of my jobs was to go out and buy our daily bread every morning.  I'd come back with a baguette, a couple of croissants and some sort of 'twinkie' for us to groan with pleasure while we ate it.

Les macarons

Famous pastry chef and cookbook author, David Lebovitz, had a pop-up book signing one evening.  I went and bought Joe a copy of 'The Sweet Life in Paris'.

Tapenade and goat cheese salad.

Salade gourmande with foie gras and smoked duck breast.

Happy hour was a daily occurrence in the apartment.


I love the public gardens of Paris.  They are small, they are huge, they are tiny.  All are beautiful.

The Tuileries Garden as seen from the ferris wheel.

Tuileries Garden

Picnic in the park.

Luxembourg Gardens.  My ashes are going to be scattered here.

Checkin' out my final resting place.

One of life's simple pleasures.  Pushing a boat around a pond with a stick.

People started to gather on the Champs de Mars at 7:30pm for the Bastille Day fireworks at 11:00pm.

Waiting for the firework festivities to begin.

Fantastic Bastille Day fireworks.


The people of Paris loved Donna.  Men, women and children all responded to her very warmly.

Street performers loved her.

The birdman of Notre Dame loved her.

Asunion, the make-up artist at Galeries Lafayette, loved her.

George, a security guard at the Louvre, loved her.  He said, "You are beautiful."

The owner of a restaurant loved her.  He carried out our desserts with sparklers blazing.  As he set Donna's dessert down in front of her, he leaned in close, whispered "Happy birthday" in her ear, then kissed her on the cheek.

This little girl loved her.  The girl's mother was getting tired from holding her daughter up to see the Bastille Day fireworks, so Donna offered to take a shift.

The chef from Le Bistro d'Henri loved her.

Pianists loved her.


Only in Paris do drinking fountains look like this.

Only in Paris do the vintage carousel operators hold out the rings for the children to grab with their sticks.

Only in Paris are public displays of affection accepted and encouraged.

Only in Paris do you have to stay off the grass in parks.

Only in Paris do they use goats to cut the grass in public parks.

Only in Paris does the knife-sharpener push his cart down the street and ring his hand-bell in front of every apartment building waiting for people to bring him their knives to sharpen on his treadle-operated whetstone.  (Talk about a blast from the medieval past when I witnessed this scene from our open window!)

Only in Paris do they have a shop devoted to taxidermy.  (Note to self: Not a great place to bring an animal activist.)

Only in Paris do construction workers hang planters of geraniums at their worksite.

Only in Paris do kids play soccer in a setting like this.

Only in Paris can street signs look like this.

Only in Paris does graffiti look like this.

Only in Paris do you have to lay on the floor with your legs in the air to get the blood flowing out of your feet and back down to your body after walking for ten hours straight.  (Self-timer photo.  I had to run like hell to get back down on the floor before the shutter on the camera clicked.)


After spending 10 glorious (haven't I used that word already?) days together in Paris, it was time to bid each other and Paris adieu.  I was flying home to Joe.  Donna was heading south for more adventures.  

On the road again.

Seeing as this was my first gig as a tour guide, I think I did okay.  My client sure seemed to be happy with me.  Now all I have to get is one of those fuzzy flowers to hold high over my head so that my next tour group can follow me!

Au revoir, my friend!  Thanks for all the fun.

*As always, click on the photos for greater detail.