J’ai été à Paris et j’ai adoré!
So yes, our second Europe visit was Paris! The city of romance, art and fancy patisserie. I agree with the art and food but not too much on the romance bit. It was only romantic because I travelled there with my romantic husband ;p but other than that, it wasn’t what I expected Paris to be. However, the city blew me away with its deep culture and history that made me feel like I was in an awesome storybook, walking on French words which characterized the chronicles that happened over the decades.
Thanks to Danny Wong who told me about New Europe, our very short trip was tagged priceless. If you’re thinking of travelling around Europe without a tour group, go check this website out and thank me later.
The first thing we noticed was the humidity. It’s not as humid as Malaysia but it was much thicker than the air in Oslo. Felt a little strange but comforting at the same time. We were blessed with great weather throughout our trip, with just a few drizzles for special effect.
We checked in to our 3-star hotel, and little did we know that it was smack down in the middle of Paris’ red light district! The most ironic thing was that Gold Hotel was place between Sainte Rita Chapelle and New Girl’s Sex Shop. And right across the street was Moulin Rouge!!! You could imagine how excited we were when we saw that as we came out from Blanche’s metro burrow.
Thanks to our guide (New Zealander who came to do a Masters in History, in a city which he claims is the most awesomest city in the world), we’ve learnt about the stories behind the bullet marks on the former prison building, the square where heads used to roll every minute and turned the river red with blood, how the people saved Notre Dame Cathedral etc. I wouldn’t want to spoil your fun if you’ve not been there. But man! I sooo enjoyed the tour! Never knew I was so fond of western civilization that teases the modern world with the remains of its dark past. I must say… the people seem to have really gruesome ways to kill those they hate and mean ideas about death, or the ways of dying.
Then there was the shopping at Galaries Lafayette. If you ask me, I’d say “uulk”, but not to hundreds of Asian shoppers to queued patiently to get their branded goods. The building was cool though.
After rushing to get tickets for our Moulin Rouge show, we managed to catch up with the Montmartre tour. Our tour guide (Aussie girl who fell in love with the city and now calls it HER PARIS) was so detailed in passing on the rumours of Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani. We saw where they lived, where they painted, where they were inspired, and where they did crazy stuff. As we climbed the hilly back lanes of Montmartre, we got to know about other icons of the town as well.
This is Saint Denis, whom was believed to have have picked up his own head after he was martyred on this hill, and walked 10kilometers while preaching a sermon! That’s why they called this hill the Mountain of Martyr.
This is Miss Dalida. She’s an Egyptian singer who became very famous when she was in Paris. All her relationships with men always involved suicide attempts by the men… Why don’t they ever learn from others?
This monument was built because she was adored by men here and our tour guide said there’s always an effort to make a bronze monument shiny. The only place that was shiny was the most rubbed area. I’m just doing what’s always done by people who walk pass Miss Dalida.
This is Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacré-Cœur Basilica). That’s the peak of the mountain and the view was truly breathtaking (minus the crowds of tourists and souvenir vendors).
After the tour, we slid away from the group and went to our guide’s favourite restaurant, Un Zebré (if I’m not wrong, it means one zebra?) to celebrate our third monthniversary of marriage! Teeheehee… The duck was OH EM GEE awesome! The beef was not too bad too! Finally we got to taste some real authentic French cuisine in a bona fide representation of French pub/restaurant.
To end the day, we dived into the full fledged Paris experience with a Moulin Rouge show! We had champagne from Champagne, met a French couple who ne parlent pas Anglais (does not speak English). That was a funny moment of trying to translate what we wanted to say with my limited knowledge of F(kkkhhhphlegm)rench. The show was … ok I guess. It was a circus of half naked women with costumes full of bling and feather, cheesy singing and choreography, and just a bit of can can towards the end. But overall, I did enjoy myself, holding in from laughing out loud when another cheesy spur occurs. After that, we crossed the street, half drunk, back to our Gold Hotel with the dark stairways.
Final day we got up as early as we could to climb the hailed Eifel Tower (that you probably have as a key chain—gift from a friend who’s been there and probably bought it for you on the same street he or she bought his or her Louis Vuitton). The queue for the elevators were insane, so we did the stairs to the first floor and waited at a shorter queue upstairs to reach the peak by elevator. Gustav Eifel and his team were pretty amazing to build this metal thing at such a height during that time. The only question that we had was “how could people successfully propose up here in the elevated metal cage with such a mad crowd?!”. Oh well… that’s the least of Timo’s worries because he already passed his proposal ordeal.
Oh yes, we also stopped by Arc de Triomphe! How could we say we’ve been to Paris but not seen the famous arch! So here you go, been there, done that, took the picture.
I truly enjoyed my French escapade, and would love to come back to do the things we missed out on. But for now, I’ll treasure the memory of having goose bumps when I realized I’m standing at a place where there was war, peace, revolutions, martyrs, and elephant soup during the plague.
Paris, je serai de retour!
*more photos will be up in Facebook soon… still recovering from history digestion*