I’m going to apologize in advance because this is by far the longest post I have ever made. God speed, dear readers.
So today is the 14th Juillet, which is independence day in France, but right now it’s the middle of the afternoon and I don’t have anything to do so I thought this would be a good time to update this on my trip to Paris. I was in Paris from Friday afternoon until last night and it was so much fun. We arrived in Paris Friday afternoon and headed straight to our hotel to drop off our stuff. In comparison to the hostel we stayed at in Paris at the end of our Italy trip, this was a dream come true. It was in an old building and had a hostel feel but the furniture was definitely hotel-like. We even had TVs and bathrooms in our rooms. Since there were three of us, I got a room to myself, which was nice and relaxing. Anyway after dropping off our stuff we decided to go to the Arc de Triomphe. That was really, really cool. It was a lot bigger than I expected it to be and getting to the top was definitely a workout. There are 284 stairs in order to get to the top and we did the stairs non-stop at a very steady pace. My calves burned for a bit after that. The view from the top was amazing though. We could see Sacré Coeur, La Defense, and the Eiffel Tower very clearly. Plus we could watch the traffic in the traffic circle that goes around the Arc de Triomphe. It was pure madness watching that because there are no lines so people are driving in the same general direction, but not the same exact direction so you have cars that look like they’re all going to drive into each other. We even saw a mild car accident happen. I could never drive in Paris, or any of France for that matter. After that we walked down the Champs Elysées towards the Louvre. It was a pretty long walk but it was nice because there were French flags all along the road and you could see the whole set up they had for Bastille Day, which was interesting to see. After that we walked past Place de la Concorde and then we walked through a park near the Louvre. The park had really weird sculpture art in it and I didn’t really get it. Also, in that park we seriously saw like five or six couples making out on benches. Not just kissing, but seriously like making out. It was disgusting. Do they not realize people can see them? How awkward. In the park we ended up eating at a little outdoor café/restaurant thing. I ate quiche and it was delicious but our waiter was out of control. He was nice, but crazy. He kept calling us his “bébés” so that was weird. Also when Jessie asked for a pitcher of water in French, which is a carafe d’eau, she said carafe de l’eau, because it’s hard to know when to drop the l’ and when to not with those sorts of things and he freaked out, in a joking manner, saying (in French) “Everyone always asks for a carafe de l’eau, why? It’s a carafe d’eau. Why does everyone think it’s ‘de l’eau’?” And then he told Jessie she needs to start saying “d’eau” and he lightly smacked her with the menu. It was weird. After he walked away we were all sort of shocked by what had just happened and we started cracking up. It was crazy. Jessie said “I was just assaulted by our waiter!” From our table we could see this gigantic Ferris wheel by the Louvre and so we decided the best thing to do was to ride the Ferris wheel! It was evening time so a lot of things were lit up, including the wheel itself, which is called the Grande Roue de Paris. It was really awesome. It was a little scary at first but once you get past the heights and the fact that the little cart moves, it was an awesome view and it led to some good pictures of the Louvre and the city. I’m definitely glad we decided to do that. We also walked around the little carnival there that was happening. It sort of reminded Jessie and I of the Peach Festival in Romeo, so that was cool to see that carnivals like that happen in Paris too. After the wheel, we went over to the Louvre to check out the big glass pyramid. It was too late to go inside so we just hung outside of it for a bit taking pictures. After that we walked towards the Seine (the river in Paris) and we walked along it until we got to the dock where we were going to be taking a river cruise from. The boat ride was awesome because it was at night and so everything was lit up. We saw Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower all lit up. I even saw a shooting star while we were heading towards the Eiffel Tower and that was really awesome to see. After the cruise we headed towards this place called La Defense which has a really big white squared arch. It was super eerie because it was in the more business-y area of Paris and so no one was there, since it was night. It was really eerie. The arch itself looks like something out of Contact with Jodie Foster or something, because it’s just a big square modern looking white arch with some weird white artwork/sculpture thing in the middle of it. We took some pictures of it and as soon as we headed up the stairs the lights on it all turned off too making it even eerier. Not to mention La Defense is literally on the edge of the map of Paris so that was a little weird too because we could look into unknown territory that wasn’t on the map. I seriously had bad vibes from that place the whole time. I kept thinking all of a sudden it was going to break free from the ground and fly off into outer space (not really, but it was creepy). After that we decided it was time to head back to the hotel and go to bed. That night before going to bed I got to talk to Joe for a while which was nice because I hadn’t talked to him in a few days.
The next day was our full day in Paris and so we had a lot planned. First we ate a delicious breakfast of bananas, nutella, and brioche that we had bought at a local grocery store. Our first plan for the day was to go to Musée d’Orsay which is the art museum in Paris with all of the Impressionist art. That was really cool. The museum is in an old train station that’s been restored so it looked really awesome inside. We got to see paintings by Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Cezanne and Toulouse-Lautrec. It was really awesome to see so many paintings that are so famous and that you learn about even in Elementary school. To me that was cooler than going to the Louvre. While it would be cool and all to see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, I prefer the artwork by Van Gogh and Monet, so I’m glad we decided to go there. Plus there was no wait to get in and we really didn’t want to wait in lines since we were only there for two days. After the Musée d’Orsay we walked over towards Notre Dame Cathedral. Along the way there were a lot of kiosque sort of things to buy souvenirs at and I was on a search for cat postcards so the walk took a bit longer than I had planned but Jessie was able to find a really cool old book in French that she bought. (Note: The cat thing started in Italy when I found postcards in both Cinque Terre and Rome with cats photoshopped in front of monuments, landscapes, etc. Last weekend Kristen went to Paris and found the most splendid cat postcard I’ve ever seen and so I was on a mission to find it. In doing so though, I found five lovely cat postcards of Paris that make absolutely no sense and so I bought all five). Notre Dame was really awesome to see too because it’s something you learn about a lot at school especially in high school French. The line was too long though and so we didn’t go inside but we could see inside and we took pictures of the outside and walked around to the back to hang out in the little park back there. We got some crepes before heading to the park though and so in the park we ate crepes and watch some high school choir group sing songs at a gazebo. It turns out the group is from Great Britain and is one of many groups that play at that gazebo during the summer. The sang songs from the Beatles to a medley of songs from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. One boy actually sang a solo while playing the guitar and it was really cute because he started it off by saying “Okay, je m’appelle Sam,” and everyone laughed. The song he sang was in English and was really cute so I wrote down the lyrics and I’m hoping google will help me figure out what song it is exactly. Anyway after Notre Dame we wanted to go to the Pere Lachaise Cemetary, which is the cemetery where a lot of famous people are buried at. We got there sort of late in the day though and so we only got to visit three graves while we were there before getting kicked out, but we were able to visit the grave of Honoré de Balzac, which is cool because I am reading one of his books right now for school, we also saw Oscar Wilde’s grave, which was covered in hundreds of lipstick kisses. People also wrote things to Oscar Wilde in lipstick on it. It was kind of weird to see a huge tombstone all covered in writing and kisses but at the same time it was kind of cool because everything that was written on it was positive things about people’s feelings about Oscar Wilde. There was even an envelope addressed to Oscar Wilde next to a flower. I really wonder what that letter says. Then we saw Edith Piaf’s grave which was interesting. I had wanted to see Chopin’s grave because I play piano and all but we didn’t have time and so I guess next time I’m in Paris I’ll just have to go back! We had plans to go to the Eiffel Tower that night to meet up with a friend of Jen’s from MSU who was interning in Paris and so after the cemetery we stopped at a wine store and bought three limited edition bottles of wine, that only cost 2,80 euro. That’s some pretty cheap limited edition wine! One of the bottles even had an Oscar Wilde quote on it which was cool since we had just seen his grave. After that we headed towards Montmartre to see Sacré Coeur and the Moulin Rouge. When we got to Montmartre we ate at a little restaurant called Les Oiseaux (the birds) and that was nice. Then we headed up towards Sacré Coeur. After climbing all of the steps to Sacré Coeur we could see the whole city almost and it was really cool to see the city from someplace we had seen from the Arc de Triomphe. We even saw a couple who had just gotten married inside which was really cute. Then we went inside and the inside is beautiful. There was a huge mosaic of Jesus in a half-dome about the alter. We were able to walk around for a bit, but we couldn’t talk much and we couldn’t take pictures. I ended up lighting a candle there for my family. After that we went to the Moulin Rouge and the walk from the Sacré Coeur to there was totally sketchy. It’s the red light district of Paris (ironically enough, since it’s right by Sacré Coeur) and so we saw a lot of weird shops and “theatres.” It was gross. We got to the Moulin Rouge and it looked different from what I expected. It wasn’t nearly as nice looking as I had thought it would be, but I assume that’s just because the front has been changed a bit over the years. It was still cool to see but I was a little disappointed because in pictures they always crop it enough so the Moulin Rouge looks really pretty and it was cool, but not very pretty. I’m glad we went over that way though because then we had the opportunity to find the little Café from the movie Amélie, which was only a block away from Moulin Rouge. We drank some coffee and hot chocolate right in the little café and it was really cool because it felt less touristy there then other places and I don’t know anyone else who has ever visited there. After that we met Mike under the Eiffel Tower, which is lit up all in blue at night, and it was awesome. We sat on the lawn by the Eiffel Tower, drank a bit of wine and talked. He brought a friend with him too who only speaks French so it really made us have to speak in French, which was good. The Eiffel Tower is honestly crazy to see in person, especially at night. It looked so pretty all in blue, but it really is gigantic. Everyone knows it’s huge but when you actually stand under it or right near it and look at it it’s sort of overwhelming how absolutely enormous it is. At about 12:30 we called it a night so we wouldn’t miss the last metro back to our hotel.
The next day, yesterday, we had most of the day in Paris before having to go to the train station to come back to Tours. We went to the Centre Pompidou and had made plans to meet Mike and his friend there. While waiting for him I finally found that one cat postcard Kristen had found last weekend. Right after I bought it we heard some loud drum sounds so we decided to go look for it. It ended up being a group of about eight people with different percussion instruments performing in the street. The all looked like they were in their mid twenties and they all wore shirts that sort of matched but were different colors, that I am pretty sure they had made for their group. They were really, really good and I think it’s always cool to see street performances when the artists are actually really talented. I ended up giving them a euro because after watching them for about fifteen minutes I decided they earned my euro. Plus I can appreciate their music, since I play an instrument myself. Then we headed towards the Centre because Mike was on his way. Once inside we decided to start at the exhibition on the six floor and work our way down. In retrospect that was a bad choice, because the exhibition was seriously weird, like disturbingly, nauseatingly weird at some points. It started off being just really weird artwork, like one canvas was just covered in dead bugs that were tarred on there. That was gross and weird, but it still didn’t prepare me for what I would end up seeing. Some of the artwork I actually liked, like some of the really strange colorful abstract art actually looked cool, despite the fact that I didn’t understand what the heck they meant. Some of the art was just videos. For example there was a “film” of a man’s feet climbing up stone steps and it just looped over and over again and it was called “Ascension.” Artwork like that I just don’t understand. We also saw artwork which I’m pretty sure was acid art, because it looked very similar to the artwork I saw in books while researching LSD and Timothy Leary back for History 201. Plus the titles had works like Hallucination and stuff in them. That’s when the really weird artwork began. One room had four spinning colorful discs on the wall with black lights pointing at them. It was really bizarre and they actually had a warning on the wall for epileptics, warning them to not stay in the theatre. After that I unfortunately discovered “art” which was three large squares of glass, each square was really two slabs of glass put together, like a slide for a microscope, and in between the slabs was old dried blood. It was gross. On the wall above the slabs was a poster of a person having blood drawn and underneath it was a recipe involving blood and onions and other odd things. I read the description of the artwork and it had something to do with religion and communion and other weird stuff and so that was really sick. It made me mildly nauseous and I didn’t think we could find anything weirder than that but unfortunately while I discovered the blood thing, Mike and Jen discovered the weirdest, most disturbing thing I have ever seen. It was two screens next to each other with a woman on both screens. One the left screen it was just her kneeling naked in a white room with her back towards the camera. On the other screen it showed her doing various odd things to herself like whipping herself so hard that she made herself bleed. It was seriously messed up. I read the description and apparently it’s a twenty minute long clip of what she does. First she gets naked, then she drinks wine from a glass, then she breaks the glass and cuts a star into her stomach, then she lays on a slab of ice with a heater pointed at her stomach to make the cuts bleed more and then she just lays on the slab of ice until it melts. Somehow this really messed up combination of acts that she does is supposed to signify her pain and angst involving her family and her past or something. To me that’s just someone who has a lot of issues and belongs in a psych unit somewhere. It was seriously gross and I can’t believe that’s actually considered art. That just proves that there are some really dark, dark corners of the art world that I wish I knew didn’t exist. The rest of the museum was cool but after what we had first seen there we really couldn’t concentrate much on the rest of the art, nor did we feel interesting in staying there longer. So we left and ate lunch to make ourselves feel better. After that we headed towards the Eiffel Tower because we had planned on going up to the top of it before leaving. We go to the Tower and unfortunately, since it’s the weekend before Bastille day, the line was like ten times longer than it normally is and we didn’t have enough time to go up it. That just gives me an excuse to come back. So me, Jen, Jessie and Mike played Uno in front of the Eiffel Tower for a couple hours while listening to sound checks and a rehearsal for a concert that was took place last night after we left. After that we said our goodbyes to Mike and headed back to Tours. Last night when we returned we all went out to the outdoor bar by the Loire and danced for a long time. Normally I hate dancing, but after having such a good weekend in Paris and because the music was really fun, I danced for about a half hour with everyone. It was a lot of fun. Anyway that brings me to the present time now. It’s about 3:37 now (it took me a long time to write this, plus I was uploading Paris photos onto my computer at the same time) and I think I’m going to be doing a bit of homework before heading out for the night. I’m all by myself at the apartment right now and I actually kind of like that because I feel like I never get any alone time. Not that I want to be a loner or anything, but it’s just nice to have some time to myself every once in a while. So I guess that’s it for now. Adios.4 years ago