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Published: January 8th 2010
I met Aurelie (my Parisian friend who studied abroad at Agnes Scott two years ago) this morning in the common lounge of Oops! today. It was so wonderful to see her again! And then we were off for our adventure! Aurelie was a great guide, and had made a plan for the things we would see today. So for the first stop, we took the metro to....
THE FRAGONARD MUSEUM OF PERFUME: one of my favorite things so far from Paris, this museum is free and has information and objects concerning the fascinating history of perfume. We saw little carved stone flasks from Egypt circa 3000 B.C. and contraptions used for pressing the essential oils out of flowers. Then we went to the exit, which was the Fragonard perfume store. We smelled the perfumes on display (which were all heavenly). I preferred one in particular, but thought it was better if I saved my money.
OPERA GARNIER: Around the corner is the grand opera house, which was built towards to end of the 19th century, and was a major part of the modernization of Paris along with the Hausmannization of Parisian architecture. This is where the Parisian elite came
to see and be seen. The exterior itself is impressive, but the interior was even more breathtaking. Marble, mosaics, gold, mirrors, dramatic stairways and frescos are striking as one enters the main hall and the salles. There were even very ornate fireplaces made of molded iron I think, and above one, what looked like a huge clock, but turned out to be a calender with the hands resting on the month and day. The house itself it covered in red velvet, with a huge stage and many elegant boxes from which people watch the shows. Above, there is a ceiling fresco by Marc Chagall with many bright colors. Its almost looks out of place (it would have been added in the first half of the 20th century), but somehow it works!
It was as we were leaving that I decided that I really wanted to buy that French perfume at Fragonard, so Aurelie and I headed back and I bought a bottle of the eau de toilette 'Miranda'. I have it on right now, and let me tell you, I smell awesome. French perfume! alright!
CREPERIE SUZETTE: Aurelie and I took the metro to the Marais neighborhood to
catch lunch at this super cool creperie and cafe that she likes. We both had a crepe that was folded into a square and grilled with bacon, thin potatoes, and chesse inside. On top was creme and a basil sauce. ITS WAS TO DIE FOR! So good. So, so good. And for dessert, we split a crepe with lots of nutella drizzled on top. Yum! At that point, I learned how to say "I'm full" in French 😊
SACRE COEUR and MONTMARTRE: Next we hopped on the metro to go to Montmartre, a neighborhood in the north of Paris known for its history as the haunt of famous avante-garde artists like Picasso. It was quiter than in central Paris, and as it is on a higher elevation, we could see the city below. However, the horizon was quite foggy, so only a rough impression was visible.
The basilica of Sacre Coeur floated in the distance as we approached, like a hovering white castle. It's on a hill, and we were very breathless after climbing about two hundred or so steps to reach the top. Along the way, there were men trying to pull a familiar scam know in
Paris. They approach you aggressively and try to tie a string around your wrist. Then they demand money for the purchase of this "bracelet" which is now knotted around you. I read about this in Rick Steve's book, and Aurelie had warned me not to acknowledge these people, so we just said "non" and walked past.
Sacre Coeur is where we began to really feel the cold. Today it was in the lower 20s, and the wind and humidity made it feel absolutely arctic. I realized that I left my purple hat at the opera, but it was okay because I didn't like that one anyway, and it was a good excuse to buy another! So after we walked around the painter's square where a few artists worked and did portraits despite the bitter cold, we stopped in a store and I bought a new hat. There were many cheap shops here, and the smell of roasting chesnuts from venders filled the air. We got on the metro and headed back into town.
LADUREE: Near the Arc de Triomphe (which really is as big as people say) Aurelie led us to a restaurant that is famous in Paris,
particularly for its Macarons. There were about 12 people waiting in line just to get these tasty treats to go. I discovered that a Macaron is made of two air-light wafers with a jam or sauce in the middle, and the whole thing is coated in a dainty dry sugar glaze icing. I had a plate of four, and they arrived at the table like four big colorful buttons (about 1.5 is diameter each). There are many flavors, and I had violet-black currant, caramel with delicate salt, chestnut, and chocolate. Ah yes, and a coffee to fight off the cold! Everything was delicious, and I suddenly became the number one fan of the Macaron. It was cozy inside the restaurant, and I began to feel fatigue creep up on me. But there was still one more stop to make!
CHAMPS-ELYSEES: When Aurelie and I left Laduree, it was dark and the lights had been illuminated on the Champs-Elysees. Let me say something about these lights: they are amazing! They are strung up and down the two rows of trees on each side of the street and they twinkle like diamonds. They are the the energy saving kind, and so
they have a lovely blue tinge that is like starlight. We began strolling towards the Place de la Concorde, however, it soon became too cold to continue (you know it's too cold when you smile and you feel the moisture evaporate from your teeth and begin to wonder if the enamel is freezing off too!), and we decided to take the metro the few blocks down. Outside the metro we took pictures of the column in the Place de la Concorde and as we did this, the Eiffel Tower suddenly became illuminated with thousands of twinkling Christmas lights! How beautiful! After this, we scurried back to the train where it was warmer and took the line back. At this point, after speaking French all day, I started not making much sense as the exhaustion set in. At my stop, Aurelie and I said our goodbyes for now and I thanked her for an amazing day. Because it truly was.
And here I am again in the hostel lounge! Because I spent a good amount of money today, I decided to buy dinner from the Francprix grocery store across the street. So I dinned on a microwave pasta dinner for
Return to the Louvre
Thisis where the Tuileries begins. Today was much prettier than the day before!
1,70 euro--my cheapest meal yet by far, and not too bad! (you can't even get a coffee or tea for this here!) I met my roommates for tonight: two American guys and an Austrian guy--all very nice.
So, you may ask, what's on the menu for tomorrow? I think a trip to Versailles is in order! Tune in to find out what happens!
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