Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities - 2nd City

Paris, the city of romance. Throughout our visit, we kept checking with each other:
"Do you feel romantic?" and the constant reply was "No" despite me trying to play all those French tunes in my mind.

Anyway, first, we travelled around Paris using the carnet which we bought in 10s and saved us a whole load more than getting the Paris Visite. It also forced us to walk rather than take the Metro for short distances. Cute tickets, very small.

We stayed at this hotel called Hotel Albouy, which was simply great because it was very near the Jacques Bonsergent metro, near a water fountain which saved us loads by filling up our bottles day and night and located along a quiet street. Staff there were friendly and spoke English, this was a real bonus for us.

Plus this room had a window which overlooked some French balconies.

Upon dumping our bags, we headed off to Sacre Coeur. It was so hot that day but I had a Nutella crepe. Check out the size of the the tub of Nutella! It was 5kgs! Every crepe shop in Paris had at least one of them displayed at their counter. I was SO tempted to buy one home and Nutella myself out.

Sacre Coeur is so beautiful! This place reminded me of the movie, Amelie. We walked around the area and explored a little of Montmartre.

Next day, we went to the Louvre. The weather forecast was 36 degrees Celcious. Crazy! We got in without much problem since we bought a museum pass (real handy if you want to cut queues for certain places).

This was the handsome relief that greeted us at one of the entrances, of a man poking a sharp object into his eye. Fun.

Then there was this statue that was surrounded by so many people. Alamak, can't remember what she's called but the audio guide mentioned something about the position of her legs, how she is surging forward which makes the statue so dynamic.

So in the span of seven hours, we covered as much as we could but only skimmed the surface of the art. Mona Lisa was swamped with such a large crowd that wouldn't melt so this was my very hurried snap of her amidst the pressing crowd.


Thought this was quite an eerie statue. It ended up as a coffin for the guy who carved it or something.

Since Ron suggested we try the hot chocolate at Angelina's located near Louvre, we walked under the punishing sun, with sweat streaming down our faces, heat radiating off the pavement as we sought our cool refuge at the trendy Angelina's.

Sitting down, I tried ordering some macaroons by pointing to the menu and attempting to read the flavours in French while the waiter patiently nodded his understanding. Pausing over a particularly difficult one, the guy said, "Go on, your French isn't too bad", I shot him a look, not knowing if I wanted to kill him for making me go into the third flavour and mutilating the pronunciations or hide my embarrassment. And I ordered my hot chocolate, yep, despite the sweltering heat outside. He must have thought I was crazy.

BUT! Boy, was it yummy, thick and rich! Ooo, how I'd love to have another cup right now. Sigh.

Warmed up from the chocolate (as though the heat outside wasn't enough), we headed off to Champs-Elysees towards the Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately, there was something going on there with a band that played continuously so we didn't get to climb the place.

From there, we walked to Eiffel Tower. After four hours of queues and only spending about half an hour actually sight-seeing (we missed sunset as we were still in the queue), we rate this as the most overrated tourist spot. Plus it didn't help that it was a hazy day. So not worth the wait.

Day three saw us heading to the Pantheon in the morning. Saw the tombs of Voltaire, Braille and Marie Curie. Felt it was a bit too plain considering the grand structures we've been seeing so far. Still, it was an impressive building.

Then we walked to Notre Dame. Again, the queue to climb it was tremendous but this time, it was worth the wait.

It had menacing gargoyles like this one that looked like it'd like to bite your head off...

Then it had cute ones like this gargoyle looking out into the bustling city with his tongue sticking out.

And this one must be Malaysian, perpetually eating.

Pausing for a quick lunch at the Latin Quarters, we then headed to St Chapelle.

And since it was Thursday, it was late night opening for Musee d'Orsay so we walked along the Seine River which unfortunately reeked of urine. In fact, as we were walking, there was this guy in front of us relieving himself under a bridge while his hot date waited for him. Instantly, we turned to each other and asked again, "Do you feel romantic?"

Loved the interior of Musee d'Orsay. However, by that time, I was a little museum-ed out. Still, we enjoyed seeing famous paintings like van Gogh:

Whistler's Mum, made famous by a Mr Bean movie:

And THEN! This painting caught me completely off-guard. I mean, we were looking at serious art stuff, paintings, sculptures, objects and then bam! This was prominently displayed in a room of sniggering males. I had to quickly snap this because KS was so embarrassed to be seen near it.

After making full use of our Museum Pass for the day, we headed for a French dinner in the Latin Quarter, Le Petit Prince, recommended by Ron. Oh. My. Gawd. The duck I had was absolutely delicious! I must say I can't remember duck being cooked other than roasted here in Malaysia but this one was completely different, tender slices soaking in a melon sauce. Oh man, my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Sorry, no photos as I felt a little embarrassed at being so different from the crowd of fairly well-dressed diners.

Next day, we headed to Versailles, which we nearly didn't go as we were quite tired by then. Thank goodness we made the trip because the chateau was breathtaking! The moment we saw it, our jaws dropped from the sheer size of it! Even by standing so far away, I couldn't capture the full width of the palace. What's even more amazing is that the building portion is just a small part of the entire estate made up of the gardens.

We whizzed through the palace since we were eager to see the gardens. Here' s the famous Hall of Mirrors and the ubiquitous tourists.

And here are some pictures of the gardens. The word massive isn't big enough to describe this place.

We spent a good deal of our day here, resting under the shade of these trees and enjoying the of the afternoon.

There were many sculptures too. Here were some lined up towards the chateau. More photos on my flickr.

After all the hard walking, we enjoyed our dinner alfresco style. By then it was getting chilly so it was perfect. Er, we had a lot of Italian food in Paris, somehow. Guess it was something familiar and it was something we could understand from a French menu. Spaghetti? Tomate? Cabonara? Aha! I know what that means!

Paris is great, expensive and surprisingly a little dirty with the uncollected dog poo and urine smell in quite a lot of places which kind of marred the experience. Still, we were very sad when we had to return to London.


Kakak besar said...

Hey! I see a portrait of myself!

Ron said...

Haha thanks for putting up the erm..picture of the spread legs haha

Ron said...

I just found out the name of that peet picture - its Gustave Courbet and its called "The origin of the world" painted circa 1867. Ewwwww!

Mlle Monster said...

So Paris has not changed all that much then. One of the things I remembered most about Paris was the regular sightings of dog poo all over the place. And no, I didn't find it all too romantic either, so u are not alone..

That sculpture you refered to with the wings and no head - that is Nike, Goddess of Victory.

Karen said...

Break my heart! I loved Paris and all its "romantic-ness". I loved walking on the cobbled stones, holding hands in the various parks, stopping for a glass of Chablis and a plate of oysters, watching the sun set across the gorgeous architectural skyline... perhaps it was because your trip was so rushed?


Tracey said...

Hi! May I ask how do u go to Versailles from Paris..How much is the entrance ticket to the musuem/palace? Do you remember which metro u took? And how was hotel Albouy in Paris? Is the room with private toilet or shared toilet outside. Is the hotel near the metro station? And how do u book that hotel, online booking? through their website??

I'll be going to Paris soon and saw your blog about it so wanna get more info before I go to Paris..hehe..Versailles looks beautiful from you pic..Maybe I should go there too..

jo said...

hi tracey

we took the metro from paris to versailles. you can find out more info on the metro on which gave me a wealth of information on their trains. the train lines are split into zones with zone 1 as the core of the city, similar to london.

since we bought tickets which could be used within zones 1-3 and versailles was in zone 4, we had to buy separate return tickets for it, which you can get help from the metro counter. from central Paris take RER Line C (a suburban train) to Versailles-Rive Gauche.

we had the museum pass so i don't know how much it costs to visit versailles. still, a quick google on this and you should be able to find out.

i booked the hotel via and yes, the room has an attached bathroom and yes, it is less than a 3 minute walk to the Jacques Bonsergent station. even better, it's near a water fountain (so we filled up our water bottles morning and night). plus, the staff were very friendly! highly recommended if you're ok for not staying in the middle of the city.

if you don't read french, i'd suggest to bring a compass so that you're not confused when you step out of the metro. some have several exits and with a compass, it might help in knowing where you at with a map.

and no, we didn't regret versailles :) glad you like the photos! i never thought i'd enjoy gardens but this one will blow your mind away. if you do have time, do go for it.

have a great trip!