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.
River cruise & fake beaches.
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 glass pyramid is to the left of this picture. You can see a corner of 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:
More awesome French street art. There were lots of variations of this around.
I LOVE this. One day, when I have my castle, I will have a set of doors like these.
It’s so cool to look up and see this!
Typical style of cafe in France. Everyone prefers to sit outside. Sometimes you may think the restaurant is full, but there is no one inside.
This made me laugh so hard.
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.