Monday, my third day in Paris, I was finally on my own. I’m not used to traveling with people and having to coordinate schedules, so it was nice to have a modicum of freedom once again. They had given me a key, so I confidently ventured out to wander the streets, and to see what I could see. I was hungry (as I usually am) and I found another cafe to eat some onion soup. Unfortunately the onion soup was so bad this time that I couldn’t finish it. I suppose it was somewhat appropriate: the first onion soup was the absolute very best in my life. I owed that to the fact that I was in France, but that assumption was turned upside down with this terrible soup. Even France can have unsavoury food.
One thing I found interesting when I was sitting there at that restaurant, pondering about the wonder of being in France, was that a family in two vehicles pulled over right beside the window I was sitting at. About half of them got out of the vehicles, and then a father pulled a little girl’s pants down and she proceeded to urinate all over the street. A few people changed vehicles, he pulled her pants up, and then they left. I was a bit confused as to why they wouldn’t just ask to use the washroom of the restaurant I was sitting in, and a bit disgusted that they didn’t make any effort to create some sort of privacy or do it somewhere people wouldn’t be trekking. There was a park kitty corner to them, and if they restaurant refused them, they could’ve at least gone in a bush, but I suppose that’s just my worldview.
I then began to adventure the way that I like to adventure: by wandering. I was starting to be able to orient myself in Paris, so I just started walking. If I saw something interesting, no matter how far away, I would walk to it. I had also hoped that I would meet some people and make friends, but the French aren’t as friendly as the locals in other places I’ve been to.
Regardless of my lack of social interaction, I did see a lot of interesting things.Take the fake beaches they set up for a few weeks during the summer. Some of them looked like they came straight out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
There are some market-like shops along the river. There are also tons of book shops along the river’s wall. It was a really interesting concept for me.
It didn’t take long for something to happen that ruined my idealization Paris for me. I am a person who is easily pulled in any direction, so unfortunately I more or less got robbed. A girl came up to me pretending to be deaf and mute and thrust a “petition” in front of me. Right from the beginning, I didn’t feel comfortable with the whole scenario, but she was all smiley and very insisting. I looked at the paper and couldn’t make out any of the names or signatures, but I figured I’d sign under a fake name anyway. What harm could there be in signing? I gave it back to her and started to walk away and she pointed that I had to donate money. I tried to grab the petition back, but she insisted on getting a donation. I grabbed 2 euros from my pocket and gave it to her and she wrote down that I had to give 10 euros. I shook my head “no” but she followed me and kept insisting. Of course I now realize all my mistakes, but I am the kind of person who just wants everyone to be happy all the time, so in the moment I was extremely flustered and couldn’t think straight. I put my hand in my pocket to show I only had a few coins left, and when I took out my hand, she took everything that was in it and ran away. I then became extremely angry. Another kid came up to me to do the same thing, but one look at my face and he turned away. I walked away in a huff, not understanding how I could be so stupid. Then I cried for about an hour before gathering enough courage to go back and demand to cross my name off the “petition” at least so that others wouldn’t see a clearly written name and be further duped. When I went back, however, she was gone. I had to let it go at that point, as there was literally nothing I could do. Paris is a giant city, and odds of me running into her were slim to none. This is the picture I took 30 seconds before the whole ordeal:
I know better than to let an incident ruin my entire day. So despite the whole crying and feeling devastated thing, I continued on and did my best to discover as much of the city as I could. The rest of the day was pretty superb.
I never had any interest in Europe until I reluctantly went for a grade 11 trip with my school, and then I was okay with it. But honestly, France is so damn gorgeous that I’m glad I opened up about going there. The fact that there is so much quality artwork in the street is flabbergasting. I suppose if you see it all the time, you might get used to it, but I found it to be quite stunning.
And of course the river, and the surrounding architecture was fascinating. I loved seeing the rings along the walls, and imagining what kinds of ships would tie up there. It made me think of Les Miserables. I should probably watch that again, although I didn’t enjoy it the first time I watched it…
The street performers were extra cool, too, although I wouldn’t want to be this guy:
I wandered around for something like 6 hours. I generally hate museums (I like the idea of them, but in reality they bore me), but the medieval museum caught my eye, and I wanted something to distract me from the humiliation of getting duped. I pretty much didn’t read anything in the museum, but I’m fond of medieval Europe, so it had a lot of interesting things to look at. I was such a turd to the employees there. I wanted to practice my French so bad, I pretended I didn’t speak any English. However, when I paid for my pass, the machine recognized my bank card as from Canada, and that my preferred language was English. So that was embarrassing, but I couldn’t stop there, could I? When I went to enter the museum, the lady asked in French to see my bag. I thought she meant I had to check it at the bag check, so I turned around and then she got mad at me and started speaking English, so I became doubly embarrassed.
After the museum, I passed by Notre Dame again, but this time I decided to take a better look at it.
This little island thing is quite lovely. At the end of my wandering for the day, I actually walked around the edge of the entire island during the sunset. It was absolutely beautiful. I was also jealous of all the friends hanging out, chatting, listening to music. I wanted to hang with them, but my French is too limited.
I also somehow ended up at the Louvre. I didn’t know I was at the Louvre until I was already there. Of course I didn’t go inside, but I did take a peek at the famous landmarks. The glass pyramid was in an episode of Touch, so I was pleased to see it.
The arch in the background of this picture I mistook for the Arc de Triomphe for maybe 30 seconds. I thought it was entirely too small, since my travel mate said she had climbed up it and had a wonderful view of Paris. In any case, I thought it was cool that there was a random arch. Also, hello rides! I wanted to go on the rides so bad, but I resisted.
At that arch, there was this amazing man playing the most amazing music. It was probably just because I was emotionally raw from my earlier encounter, but I cried when I heard him play. I didn’t want to leave. I would have been content to just sit there with him all day, but there was nowhere to sit, and my body was restless. Here is a taste of what I enjoyed so much, though the terrible audio of my camera doesn’t do him any justice:
I saw a roof that I thought was interesting, so I started on again. I soon saw that I had walked far enough that I could see the Eiffel Tower again. Now this is something that surprised me: I thought the Eiffel Tower was going to be a lot bigger. I thought you would be able to see it from much of the city, such as a defining feature that could help you navigate. Alas, it is so small that you cannot see it at all unless you are within the vicinity.
I have an obsession with horses, so this picture was a no-brainer. However, one of the signs said “Champs-Elysees” so I actually thought this was it (not the statue, but the area). I was like one street over. Bahaha! So close to seeing it and the Arc De Triomphe.
And voila! I finally found my beautiful roof! It belongs to the Grand Palais. I’m not going to lie, I thought it was going to be some sort of garden like at the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver. Nope. Another museum.
Across the street (the side I was on) was the Petit Palais, with its beautiful gate and a closed cafe that was “always open”.
I walked around the palace and found a film crew. I was so ridiculously excited. I checked out the trucks to see what was the same, and what was different. Set wasn’t nearby, however, so I left the poor souls alone and went on my jolly way. I then came across something I just love about Paris. Random art and gardens everywhere!
My riding instructor’s mother is from France, so she has spent a lot of time there, and even lived there for 6 years or so (I think?) as an adult. She told me that the French love Canadians. During my wanderings, I saw plenty of references to Canada, such as this sign in a very nice neighbourhood. I giggled when I saw it, because the colours are the same as the Vancouver Canucks’ jersey.
I crossed the Seine in the direction of a very nice golden roof. It ended up being from this building, which is the Army Museum that apparently contains the tomb of Napolean, which is all a part of Les Invalides. I didn’t know any of this until after I got back to the apartment.
By this time I had already gotten hungry and was looking for somewhere to eat. I was also constantly looking for an electronics store, or somewhere I thought I might be able to get an adapter. I ended up stopping at a restaurant called Les Antiques, which was absolutely beautiful. It was like being transported back a century, and the food was delicious to boot. I tried to find it online when I got back, but without any luck. It must be fairly new because I spent an hour on Google Maps street view trying to find it so that I could recommend it.
After the meal, I decided it would be a brilliant idea to go to the free street dancing. If only I could remember where it was. I don’t know why I thought it was on that island, but that is why I went around the entire island, only to see it on the other side of the river. By then, I was too tired and wanted to go back. But I did see lots of other cool stuff on the way back:
I can’t remember what I did after I got back, but I think I went out for another crepe, because they’re so damn good.