Paris, je t’aime. It’s a good thing too because I have a free return ticket to go back. A cigarette butt started a small fire in the carriage nine toilets so we had to pull into the emergency tunnel. In the end it took longer to get from London to Paris than it usually takes me to get from London to New York. So they gave everyone free return tickets.
The best thing about Paris was the language barrier. The French protect their culture by not speaking English even though you know most of them are fluent. Though it was occasionally a challenge to form the correct sentences, they appreciate the effort to communicate in their language.
I had quite a bit of time to myself while D was at work. I wandered along the Seine checking out all the old books and bric-a-brac in the green wooden stands that line the river. Walked across Pont Neuf bridge, which is the oldest one, and down to Notre Dame through a flower market, into some random little boutiques along the way and saw a rollerblade dance team and a few street artists. Some police are also on rollerblades. Discovered the Pompidou Centre which is the modern art building with Crayola-coloured piping on one side and a set of escalators scaling the other.
Went to Place de Clignoncourt to investigate a small part of the market. The beginning is all hip hop culture selling "designer" bags, shoes, tee shirts, bling, etc. Lots of rap blaring from speakers. Then I cut through a small alley and it was like a completely different market. Old guys were sitting in front of antique displays whistling Then I found myself in a huge lot with blankets spread out and garage sale type of stuff everywhere.
Saw Edward Scissorhands, or Edward aux Mains d'Argent, for free in the sound box on night and Jamie Cullum for free in box seats the next. Both were absolutely excellent.
Ate tons of crepes, spent one day with a French girl who took me around the Jardin des Tuileries, Musee d’Orsay, Angelina’s for delicious hot chocolate and on a river cruise to see Paris la nuit. The Eiffel Tower glittering which it does every hour for 5 minutes at night. In between, it was blue and lit up with the stars from the EU flag on front to mark France's term as EU president. Hung out near the weeping willows on the Ile de la Cite.
Spent some time in Montmartre, walked through the small market area of artists who were drawing portraits in all styles, went into the Sacre Coeur, into some cool little shops and down to Pigalle where we saw the Moulin Rouge and walked around the sex shops.
We went to the Cimetiere de Montparnesse where Simone de Beauvoir and Paul Sartre are buried and to Cimetiere de Pere Lachaise to see the graves of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde.
All in all, a fantastic time. I just put a massive four-entry write up in my other blog so this is short and sweet, but here’s a couple of the 400 photos I took while I was there: