The Bohemian Revolution!!
03.13.2010 - 03.19.2010 30 °F
For those of you that know me best, you understand two things about me and how I travel:
1. I’m not a traditional tourist in the sense that I have a strong desire to go to the most popular places in a city and
2. I don’t like to keep to a tight schedule of tours, museums, etc.
With that said, I did manage to (accidentally in some cases) catch some major sights last weekend.
Saturday I planned a relaxing day of walking around a neighborhood called ‘St-Germaine’. This area is known for being the stomping grounds of the big thinkers of the Existentialist movement here in France, as well as some famous authors. In my pictures you’ll notice three cafes called ‘Les Deux Magots’, ‘Café de Flore’ and ‘Brasserie Lipp.’ They are actually all located within a block of each other and are the hang outs of some well known historical figures . It is actually said that Hemingway wrote ‘Farewell to Arms’ at the Brasserie Lipp. Anyway, also found in this neighborhood are some upscale shops (LV, Cartier…) and also is home to the oldest church in Paris, called ‘St-Germain des-Prés‘. There were some beautiful windows in this church.
From there I walked to a well known park in Paris called ‘Jardin de Luxembourg ‘. The Palace looking thing is Palais de Luxembourg. While it was too cold to fully enjoy this experience, I managed to sit in one of the folding chairs…huddled with my beret, scarves (2!) and gloves… it was about 30 degrees outside. Yikes! But, I did manage to read a few pages of my book before caving in and leaving. The cold gave me a good excuse to go to the Gap (Kara – thought of you – the selection is better in the US) and Starbucks! Sadly a very American end to the day… but I found a fabulous bakery specializing in Macaroons so managed to get some “France” in there as well!
Sunday I picked another famous neighborhood to explore called Montmartre. This is the highest point in Paris and is the original “home” to the Bohemian movement shown in the movie Moulin Rouge. Montmartre was beautiful! The neighborhood feels as though it’s an entirely different city (which it was, until roughly 1860 when it was incorporated into Paris) and the Sacré-Coeur is simply beautiful. The history of the neighborhood is a bit more tumultuous than it looks… it was actually the site of the be-heading of St. Denis and other Christian priests by the Romans in AD 250. Like so many other places in the world, it’s difficult to imagine that kind of history when you are visiting how it is today.
On the walk up I managed to see two of the original ‘windmills’ which were an icon of this area back in the day. As you can see from my pics, one was in much better condition than the other. Anyway, there were many street artists and breathtaking views from the top of the mountain. The church itself was beautiful – I wasn’t able to take pictures inside, though. There was another church right below this on the hill (called the Church of St-Pierre – rivals the church from Saturday for ‘Oldest Church in Paris’ title) where you will see some pics for. There was a particularly disturbing stain glass window, so be sure to catch that in the pics.
On the way to Montmartre I stopped to see the famous Garnier Opera house – unfortunately I couldn’t go in but the outside was beautiful! On the way back from Montmartre I stopped to see the Moulin Rouge! Like I said on my Facebook page, I was secretly hoping for Ewin McGregor to surprise me with his rendition of ‘Your Song’, but alas, the only people around were a few tourists and, well, the kind of people that hang out in the kind of neighborhood where you would find a brothel. (OK, it isn’t really a brothel anymore… I don’t think…but there were certainly what looked like options nearby!)
I FINALLY went to see the Eiffel Tower on Monday night. I caught the light show and it was really pretty cool (although saying ‘light show’ usually means something a bit more… showy). I tried to upload a video of the light show so if it works, check it out!
The Eiffel Tower is a must see in Paris, but the history is funny because originally the Parisians are said to have hated it as an “belfry skeleton” and “truly tragic street lamp.” I do agree that it is rather out of place with the rest of the city, but the massive size is really pretty amazing. It looks like a bridge that goes straight up into the air… I was comfortable seeing it from the ground up, so don’t be disappointed at the lack of panoramic pictures from the top. That’s just not going to happen.
Rest of week:
The rest of the week I spent working, working, working. It’s getting to a bit of a frustrating and stressful point on that end, so I’m not going to taint my happy blog with unhappy work talk. Let’s just say I’ve moved my ticket up again – leaving now on April 1 – and I’m really looking forward to a week off at home… without my computer or blackberry.
I head to the UK for a few days on Monday, so next blog I can tell my tale of two cities (yes, I said it. I’m a nerd… so much so that I’m actually re-reading the book while I’m here… or possibly reading for the first time. I know that I was supposed to read it in high school…even did a solo monologue from it in Forensics…but as I go through the pages there is zero familiarity beyond the first page…which was basically the text for the monologue so not a good sign.)
I’m also excited because my dear friend Rachel arrived yesterday and I’m looking forward to having someone to explore the city with my last couple of weeks!