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Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris
June 3rd 2012
Published: July 20th 2012
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June 3

We arrived at 9-00 in the morning to Paris Gallieni. I should note that I was not as much excited as during my first visit to Europe. Luda said she didn’t like the first views of Paris because the station was somewhat gloomy and dirty and also the weather. I said wait till you see the whole of it. Meanwhile, she liked Berlin very much and so did I.




We reached Aloha hostel quickly and check-in was at 4 o’clock, which neither of us liked, though this was said in the booking; but this rule should somehow be abandoned and replaced. It is very good to clean rooms but it is not convenient at all. Though, travelers mainly come to hostels to sleep and rest and chat, so what does it matter; and what could one wish for that price. We left the luggage and went to have a bite, calling up at the sixth or seventh restaurant meeting our eye – L’Auvergne a Paris. We ordered the “menu” – it is cheaper than separate items but I don’t quite remember what we ate. Water is served free of charge, but somewhere you have
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The man is not a statue but I really thought he was a statue
to pay for it. Luda was observing the eating citizens of the Republic and said why don’t they use napkins to wipe their mouths as we do. I don’t know. We came quite early, but then the room filled up with groups of people. It cost us about 50 Euros for two.




There was a park near the restaurant so after a lengthy meal we went there and rested and talked. Luda said she didn’t like it at all because she was tired and needed shower and weather was not quite fine. She also observed the French women and made some interesting remarks concerning the quite distinct differences in mentality (and the mode of dressing) between Russia and Europe.




After check-in, I slept a little and then visited Luda, she informing me of her throat ache due to irresponsible consumption of cold beer. We bought her some medicines and here I must emphasize the need of learning foreign languages. I don’t mean English (it’s hardly foreign to many people, both natives and those who study it all over the world), but, for instance, French, because they might not understand you. Luda was
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My favourite dessert from now on
very anxious not to fall ill. Fortunately, everything went well. I was gradually becoming gladder and gladder of having my “moveable feast” for the second time.




I should say Paris was green this time (summer), and more beautiful than during my first trip. The title of this entry reflects a possible interpretation of the French capital as Paradise, and I should say this word holds true for me, perhaps with only one or two limitations.

June 4

On June 4 we moved to Montclair Hostel in the Monmartre area. It took us a bit of time to find it. The check-in was unfortunately at 15.00 o’clock so we had no choice but to go straight to the Roland Garros tournament, court Philip Chatrier, Porte d’Auteil. The games would start at 14-00 and I went with Luda to help her find the way.





Before leaving, we had a substantial bite (rue Marcadet, it was called Grec or something like that – rice, fried potatoes, vegetables – big portions). I tried to use my poor French whenever possible and Luda also pronounced many words (she learnt French at school). It was quite easy to find the Court because there were, first of all, marks on the pavement and, second, crowds of people hurrying to the games. Luda managed to see Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova on that day. One of her dreams came true, and I was also most glad.





After seeing Luda off, I sat for a while musing whether to take metro or bus to the centre; I needed to find Visitscope (centre of Russian guided tours) near Opera, so on seeing the bus 52 bearing the sign “Opera”, I immediately boarded it. It was rather interesting driving along many short and narrow streets flowing one into each other; the road took some 40 minutes; I had to reach Opera from rue St. Honore because the bus terminus was a bit earlier than Opera itself. All streets seemed quite narrow and also there seemed to be few cars.





The building of Opera is too magnificent and majestic for words and I wish I were a genuine photographer to make photos of sterling merit. Visitscope is located between Opera and Quatre Septembre metro stations; Paris metro is definitely one of the best in the world regarding short distances. You can’t go almost anywhere without hitting on a metro station – it could just pop up from the ground somewhere unexpectedly.





The aim of going to Visitscope was to buy several guided tours for us in the Russian language. As a matter of fact, I’m beginning to favour guided tours because one can’t learn much by simple walking. I bought a survey guided tour, a Montmartre tour for Luda, a Louvre tour, a tour to Fontainebleau and two tickets for the Bateaux Parisiennes (an evening Seine boat cruise). That emptied my purse substantially but definitely was worth it. Too bad I didn’t have enough money for Chateaux de la Loire or Mt. St. Michel. Our guided tours were all in Russian.





After Visitscope I sat in an internet café reading about Loire Valley and also looked up some train prices and generally wasted a whole hour. I returned to the hostel shortly, translated another bit of the Baptism book (I did this work for several months and completed it only recently, though it was not a large book) and went to meet Luda after tennis. She was quite upset and angry about the weather because the wind ventilated her with all its might. She said weather was generally fine during Rolland Garros in past years when she watched it on TV. Also, she didn’t like her hostel room because it was too small for four girls. My room was large and there were some girls from Latin America.

June 5

We started on our first guided tour on bus with Visitscope at 9.30. The bus was half an hour late and some persons grumbled. As usual, the guide delivered much worthy information about Paris and its sights. I did not like the excursion very much because we had only two short stops (I should have bought a longer tour) and so saw all the sights from the windows only. But I must not be dissatisfied because I’ve walked there on foot in 2010.





The list of places seen includes Opera, Hotel de Ville, Bastille, St. Germain, Pantheon, Jardin du Luxemburg, Hotel des Invalides, Trocadero, Champs Elysees. We had two stops at Invalides and Trocadero, with its panorama of Eiffel Tower. Such things must be seen for oneself. The tour guide informed us that the Roland Garros tournament was broadcast live on a big screen at Hotel de Ville free of charge, so we decided to go and watch it.





The bus returned us to the starting point and we went to hostel. After 3 o'clock, we went to Hotel de Ville and watched Novak Djokovitch play against J.W.Tsonga, I wanted at first to walk away, but then decided to stay and regretted it later because the game was very emotional and even I was nervous about the winner. The French supported Tsonga, naturally, while only several persons cheered for the Serb. I was anxious lest Luda should be disappointed in case Djokovitch lost and she wouldn’t be able to see him live during the final game (she had only two tickets, one for quarter-final and one for the final).





There is a McDonalds right near Hotel de Ville where we had tea. In the evening, I went to the self-service laundry to wash the clothes. When I fell asleep at the hostel, some stupid girl was talking very loud on Skype. It was quite cold in the hostel in the morning.

June 6

As planned, Luda had a guided tour of Montmartre on foot while I also walked there alone and ascended the Dome of Sacre Coeur. I somehow did not want to have a guided tour though Montmartre is one of my favourite places in Paris. I bought the ticket to the Dome from a machine using my bank card (it is better to avoid the queue, though there was no queue). The ascent is long via a small spiral staircase and one could get the feeling of claustrophobia and maybe nausea. I was truly excited because this was a place unseen before. What can I say about the view from the dome, it’s fascinating.



After Montmartre we went to the hostel and then to the supermarket, planned to visit the flea market, Marche aux Puces, where we went by metro though actually it is faster to reach it by bus because it is not far away from Jules Joffrin. The market was closed that day but we saw the notice of its working hours and decided on the next visit. We needed jeans for me and generally wanted to have a look at the place.



From Porte de Clignancourt we went by bus to Charles de Gaulle – Etoile and walked the indeed outstanding Champs Elysees. As I’ve already noted all the trees were green and thus my impression of the Champs was more favourable than during the first visit. Luda wanted to find the Weleda shop to buy some very high-quality German cosmetics made of natural ingredients only and we found the shop address in the internet (the address given to us before proved incorrect). While Luda was buying the magical things I bought also magical tasty tartlets with strawberries at a Paul confectionery and we had tea right there on a bench in the street.



Next we were drinking wine in Jardin de Tuilerie. We found a secluded spot below the branches of the trees. It is not good to drink in public places, one might be fined and impair the aesthetic pleasure of others. The liquid aroused the overwhelming need to pee so we simply entered the first café (it was already evening, so the garden toilet was closed) and I ordered something to eat (50 Euro for two). It is not quite cheap for persons of our profession (Luda is involved in medicine so hers should be a large income, though it is not as large as it should be) but in any case the portions are large and arise no criticism. I wanted to ask for the bill in French so I looked it up in the web (l’addition, s’il vous plait), and Luda laughed heartily when I cited such phrases as “I’ll pay for everyone”, or “keep the change”. We most often have to keep the change to ourselves. By the way, speaking of profession, I’ve just remembered the seminar of Doug Lawrence on marketing translations I attended in October (or November 2011) in St. Petersburg, and I’m still not earning the amount I should earn. The policy of translation bureaus and the overall situation is a bit different in Russia and I’ve still haven’t learnt to value my time. Neither have the translation bureaus.



After the supper we went by metro to Tour d’Eiffel and had the boat cruise with Bateaux Parisiens. I didn’t quite like the Seine cruise because the buildings were rather dark and it was cold and generally the sights looked much more interesting during the day and not from the river. The seats are provided with an audio guide in various languages.



June 7

In the noon, we had a bite at an Italian café because I wanted soup (we ordered minestrone and salad with mozzarella). At this café simple cold water was served for some 3.50 Euros. It was raining quite heavily during the first half of the day and rain stopped only for short periods.





Luda decided to rest for several hours and I was bored and wondered in the vicinity of the hostel, bought two books and tartlets with strawberries. We decided to start to Versailles at 15.30 which was a bit late, to my mind. But girls will be girls.





I wanted to see the Chateau inside because I’ve seen the park previously but Luda didn’t. So we walked enjoying the scenery and then I suggested renting a boat for rowing. We had about half an hour before their closing. I rowed with great pleasure because it is one of my all-time hobbies and I rowed the boat for several years during my childhood. Also, I observed a boat with four girls having fun and laughing rowing the boat in the opposite direction – it moved with its aft forward.





After the “cruise” we had a small picnic in the park consuming sardines, fromage, wine, and ham. After Versailles, we went to La Defense to find the Auchan supermarket to buy food. I was really astonished to see the skyscrapers on all sides and Luda said they made her feel giddy. I remember buying very tasty yoghurt there, and fruit juice also.

June 9

June 9

It was substantially a shopping day. At 11-30 we bought good brown leather shoes for Luda at a shop near Jules Joffrin. We also ate a delicious small melon and here I should like to mention that I was all over tasting various cheeses, mainly those with different kinds of molds, cheese made of cow, goat, and sheep milk. Most enjoyable.




At 12-00 we took the bus to Porte de Clignancourt to shop at Marche aux Puces (flea market) which is a short distance from the metro. We learned about the market from a booklet. The most needed things were new jeans for self. We did not have to go far and bought some good jeans near the entrance for 60 Euro. I don’t know whether the jeans are authentic and whether the price was really such. It is a peculiar place which I might even compare with a colourful market in Kathmandu (the closest analogue I've seen). There one can purchase all sorts of things.




I also bought a book by B. Shaw, quite an old edition. I’m becoming an old book adept. Luda wanted me to try on some clothes and I agreed not too willingly because I had the rucksack on my back and was becoming tired too soon. I did not like trying things on because we would not buy any of them. Luda also wanted a leather bag but she phoned her mother and learned than such leather was of very poor quality and smelt badly. I did not feel much comfortable in the market.

June 10

On this day, I was translating the Baptism book since 8 o’clock in the morning. That day was the final game of Roland Garros, Novak Djokovitch versus Rafael Nadal. We had a bite at 13.30 at the same Grec and then went to the stadium. Later Luda said she could never imagine when she was a schoolgirl that she'd ever see such professional tennis in real life. She does not like Rafael Nadal very much but she admits he’s a very great player.



My aim was to go to Odeon metro station to find one or several bookshops I found on the web earlier. I visited three of them, looked through many shelves of books and bought one book in each of the shops – Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (on second thought, I realized that I should have bought a better edition in large format and illustrated; this edition was pocket), also J. Updike’s Marry Me and R. Kipling’s Just So Stories. The latter book I am reading now and it’s so unusual and imaginative. The bookstores I visited are not very large but the book choice is wide and different and books are available to any taste. SAS Paul Boulinier was the largest of them but the other two ones were specialized in literature in the English language.



Then I walked round St. Severin church and returned to the hostel to leave the books.



The players played several sets and then the game was put off till Monday due to heavy rain and Luda was naturally very upset and scolded Parisian weather as much as she could; so did I wish weather was a bit more positive during our stay. I wanted to meet her at the stadium entrance but money was gone on my phone so I could not call her and naturally I missed her; and we met at Javel Andre Citroen station because I managed to write sms message to her. The problem with the put-off game also was that on 11.06 we had scheduled out guided tour to Fontainebleau.



We went to McDonalds at Champs Elysees and, though I generally am not an adept of McDonalds, I marked its interior design as quite formidable. Also it should be emphasized that so many people favour fast food.

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