I can’t believe I only have 3 more weeks here!! It’s going by too fast! Summer is going by too fast!! Ahhhh!! Get ready for a long post with a lot of pictures!
Welll, after class on Friday I bought an éclair à la violette (violet eclair), ginger ale (havn’t had it since I was home), and the newspaper and went over to the esplanade in front of l’Hôtel des Invalides (like last Friday) and watched the old men play pétanque. I do have to say while the violet éclair is pretty and purple I prefer the chocolate ones, but I had to try it at some point! It was a pretty day and I enjoyed the down time; I even came across an article in Le Monde about Texas (!) and the draught and its effect on the cotton. So that was pretty exciting.
After a while I decided to go back to Shakespeare and Co. in the Latin Quarter to finally buy the book A Moveable Feast by Hemingway and really take in the atmosphere there. I ended up reading a book chronicling the life of an artist through her drawings from Age 2 to Age 28. I loved reading up in the back room full of ancient books, with a nice breeze coming in through the windows. So pleasant. I then walked down a pedestrian only street with tons of restaurants and a few shops. I stopped in a gelato shop which ALWAYS has a line and tried the mango and citron (my signature flavors in France) sorbets. So good! I enjoyed my cup of ice cream at the St. Michel fountain.
For dinner, Yasha, Indra, and I went to Candelaria (www.candelariaparis.com)- a Mexican food restaurant. As a general rule, I don’t eat Mexican food outside of Texas because it’s clearly not going to be good enough, but this restaurant came recommended by a fellow Greenhill alum who lives here full-time and she said it was good, so I had to try it! It’s located in the 3rd, tucked away down a quiet side street, and actually took a while to get to. When we got there, we were surprised to see only 1 table, 6 stools at a bar, and a line out the door. We went in any way, had the menu on the chalk board on the wall explained to us, and waited in line for what felt like forever! We finally got to the bar and ordered. They cook everything behind the counter and have fresh guac…so yummy!! There were quite a few American’s there. The tacos/tostados were really good but not quite as a good as Fuel City in Dallas, which is my new standard for tacos. The restaurant was off of Rue Bretagne…had to take a pic!!
After dinner, the French guys upstairs were having a mini party so my friend Dari and I joined them. Got to practice my French, meet some new people…There were two Brazilians, Tulio and Nathalia, who have been studying and working in France/Paris for almost year in the group. Their French was very, very good and they were a lot of fun to hang out with: mes nouveaux amis!!! lotz of fun! We ended up leaving Campuséa to go hang out by the Seine. One thing I’ve noticed about young French people is their ability to make friends slash hang out with people they don’t know. We obviously passed a lot of people and pretty much every time we passed them, someone in our group would stop and talk/joke with them. When we finally found a good spot on the Seine near St. Michel (on Ile de la cité, I believe), there was a group of Frenchies our age and half of our group just joined their group and hung out with them for a couple of hours. At one point, this crazy, drunk French guy hopped the fence from the park on the barge and just started dancing to a song he made up right in front of us. As he was dancing he was asking us to pick a song for him to sing. They finally chose “Champs Elysées” and they all sung and he danced and we all clapped. He then burst into “Hit the Road, Jack”. This was probably one of my favorite moments in France. His crazy dancing and suave look and the chorus to Hit the Road Jack was just so fun. By the time Dari and I were ready to go home (it was cold and late!) the metro was obviously closed so we stood on the corner of St. Michel trying to hail a cab (along with everyone else) when we FINALLY got one, he wouldn’t take us to the 13th (booo). At this time, we only had an hour and a half before the metro opened so we went into the 24hour café Le Depart St. Michel and enjoyed a coffee. Then our French friends joined us! And our little group was reunited, eating crepes as we watched the sun rise! It’s amazing how many people are on the metro when it opens at 5:30. It was such a fun night and it was great to be able to talk to them in French and such a good time to practice.
I had to sleep in Saturday so I ended up staring my day pretty late. I decided to go to Le Grand Palais which is a big exhibition hall, built for the 1900 World’s Fair. I had read that its hours were a bit erratic and I couldn’t get in the main entrance. I walked around to the other side, passing a cute little garden with a river and fountain, and went to the Palais de la découverte which is basically a science museum. The Nerd in me was so excited! I learned about how animals communicate, remember things, and eat. There was a rat demonstration and a lecture on frogs, starfish, and a mini octopus! There was a special exhibit on about the animals that survive in extreme conditions i.e. freezing cold, desert, complete dark, under water. There were also hands on mini-activities on how we perceive shapes, physics, etc. It was all very hands-on and informative…reminded me of Eureka in Manchester (I think Alan and I begged our grandparents to take us there every time we were in England from the age of 7 to 13). It was really, really cool. I wish I had gotten there earlier cause I only had an hour and a half to wander around before it closed.
The entrance to the Grand Palais. I plan on going to see the Impressionist’s paintings and have lunch in the Petit Palais just across the street.
Today I visited the Cimetèire du Père Lachaise. I had this on my list of things to see before I left and then took it off when I got here because I decided I didn’t really want to wander through a graveyard butttt I found out Molière’s grave was there and HAD to make a trip. I’m so glad I did. It was such a unique experience. It’s a 100 acre cemetery with thousands (70,000) of tombs everywhere but with pathways and big cobble-stoned walkways; side note: I’m beginning to realize why the French don’t wear flip-flops…on cobble stoned streets, of which there are many, your feet go every which way and your flip-flop does not… Anyways, people can still be buried there, but it’ll cost ya 11,000 euros.
I ended up walking in the opposite entrance of the Rick Steve’s tour which I later read was more confusing and all uphill (no match for my Lehigh legs!) and while this added confusion, I managed. Of the more notable graves, I saw Edith Piaf, Frédéric Chopin, Colette, Théodore Géricault, Amadeo Modigliani, and Yves Montand and Simone Signoret. I also saw the giant crematorium (GIANT). I’m going to talk about the pretty famous graves I saw, with the help of Rick Steves.
1. Oscar Wilde. His tomb is a very odd-looking sculpture with a castrated angel and an english engraving on the back. There are also lipstick kisses EVERYWHERE and little messages in all different languages. It was quite something to see but I heard a French lady say, “pourquoi, pourquoi?” which means “why, why?” which I do have to wonder…this is his grave…I don’t think people should write and kiss it buttt there were quite a few interesting messages. Part of his epitaph reads, “For his mourners will be outcast men/ And outcasts always mourn.” This struck a chord with me. Here are some pics of some of the messages.
“Life imitates art better than art imitates life”
“good americans die, then go to Paris”
2. Gertrude Stein. Her grave was so easy to miss! It’s so simple and plain. While traveling through Europe in her twenties, she dropped out of med-school and moved to Paris. Every Saturday night, Paris’ artists (Picasso, Hemingway, etc..) had dinner at her apartment. You should really see Midnight in Paris to get a sense of her influence on them. She wrote a book of her memoirs which made her famous in the US. Her last words, when asked “What is the answer?” she replied, “What is the question?”
3. Mur des Fédérés- this literally translates to the “Communards’ Wall”. It commemorates the deaths of the people who were shot by French soldiers on May 28th, 1871 after a week of street fighting (La Semaine Sanglante). In 1870, Prussia invaded France and the country collapsed, surrounding its land except for the city of Paris. For six months, Paris held off Prussia’s attacks, even opposing the French government, which had fled to Versailles to collaborate with the Germans. The Parisians had formed an opposition government called the Paris Commune. At the end of La Semaine Sanglante, the remaining resisters, holed up inside the walls of Père Lachaise, made an Alamo-type last stand before they were shot. After this, the city entered five years of martial law.
4. Jim Morrison. Singer for the rock band The Doors, Morrison arrived in Paris in 1971 to leave celebrity behind, get healthy, and seriously write. He lived under an assumed name and wrote at Le Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots (both famous cafés now), jammed with street musicians, drank, and did drugs. Typical Paris bhaha. His tomb originally had a funky bust which was stolen by a fan and now has a more toned-down tombstone. Well little I did know (until just now, writing this) today was the 40th anniversary of his death. This explains the huge crowds of people smoking, drinking, and singing, sitting vigil for him at his grave site. I literally didn’t even see his tomb because there were so many people. You could literally hear them from all throughout the cemetery. And when it closed and everyone had to leave, people living in the apartment just outside started blasting one of his songs through speakers. There were a lot of hippies gathered in the streets and cafés at the exit of the cemetery. Here are some pics of the crowd.
5. Rossini. An Italian composer who wrote the Lone Ranger theme and the opera Barber of Seville. There is a little sepulchre but it is actually empty because his remains were moved to Florence.
6. Baron Haussmann. He is the man responsible for modernizing Paris and making it the city we know today. He widened the Medieval roads, sewers, bridges, and water systems were repaired, built the Opéra Garnier, Bois de Boulogne park, and the avenues radiating from the Arc de Triomphe. The next government fired him because he had no way to pay for all of this.
7. Molière. Well as I’ve mentioned before. Molière is one of my all time favorite play wrights (I’m waiting for the day when I can play Dorine in Tartuffe again!) which was the main reason for my visit to the cemetery. Well because I was following Rick Steves’ guide backwards, I got a little lost and it took me a good 20 min to finally find Molière’s grave! His tomb is in a gated area next to another writer and friend La Fontaine’s. “We die only once, and for such a long time.”
If anyone wants to sit vigil with me at Molière’s tomb and read his plays all day, call me, I’ll be there in a heartbeat!
When I returned to the 13th (after a very crowded metro ride, literally smushed between smelly, hot people, which I thought wouldn’t be that bad since it’s a Sunday…) I went to the Bubble tea place Indra discovered, down the street from the Pho place. I wanted Mango and Passion fruit Green tea, but they ran out (their most popular flavor in the month of June) so I tried the Ginger and Lime…good but not great. By the end, I think there was only ginger left and it was too spicy for me to finish. There also wern’t enough bubbles! (Missing Fat Straws) I plan on going back to try the mango and passion fruit AND the Nutella flavor, because where else can you get Nutella bubble tea??
For the 4th of July, I’m trying to find Ex-Pat bars that will hopefully be celebrating the holiday!
Side note: I don’t know if it’s the walking I’ve done this weekend, or the cobble stone streets, working out, or the stairs but my hip and knees are in so much pain…these old bones.