We had originally planned to take the train out to Versailles on Saturday morning, but the weather forecast called for more rain and I did not feel like wandering around those grounds for hours in a downpour! So instead we stayed in the city and decided to check out the Catacombs. Creepy tour of the skeleton-ridden sewers of Paris? Yes please! However, we took the metro, got in line under a forboding sky, and just…stood there for a long time. The line was really slow going. So after about 40 minutes (and a big ‘ol rainstorm, the skies opening up and pouring down on us) we decided to ditch that line and move along with our Saturday. Oh well, there’s always another time to visit some macabre Parisian historical site.
The rain didn’t seem like it would let up anytime soon, so we headed to the Musee Rodin. Rodin was known for his sculpture (The Thinker being his most well-known work, as far as I know), and the museum itself is in fact his own former property, the Hôtel Biron. The exhibition is really well done and is undergoing renovations right now to bring it up to date. Rodin himself lobbied the French government to turn his home into a museum, although he didn’t live to see this become a reality, with the museum opening in 1919, two years after his death in 1917. He had formerly lodged at the Hôtel Biron in his younger days, then as he became more successful gradually bought up the rooms of the place until he owned it all, inviting his artist friends to stay and join him. A separate spaces houses his marble sculptures, his later painting and multiple busts are in the rooms of the Hotel, along with some of the work of his friends (Van Gogh!) and the spacious gardens are interspersed with his large bronze works, including the Thinker. Even though it kept spitting rain while we were in the gardens, it was still an exceptionally beautiful place. The hotel is so old! I can’t wait to see what it’s like with some renovations. On a side note, Rodin loved himself some vagina. Seriously, there are so many extremely, extremely pornographic works of high art. Made me giggle! Oh Rodin, you old pervy perv. You just loved the “feminine lines”, I’m sure.
After the museum we headed to a bistro across the street. It was still chilly, but not raining as much. And the maitre’d was so rude and hilarious. He didn’t speak English, and didn’t not give two shits about anyone, even though it was a really busy place. He would hustle up to each table and yell “I’m listening” with his little pad out. The food was nice though. I indulged in a croque monsieur (fancy French ham and cheese) , while Jon got one of the specials, a beef lasagne.
It seemed to have stopped raining by the time we finished eating, so we metro’d over to the Champs Elysee for a little stroll down the road (Jon kept singing the song). Also, Arc du Triomphe, ici.
Ladurée. There was no way we were waiting in line to pay 40 Euros for a small box of artisinal macarons. The French love their treats, apparently. But the shop is so pretty, not surprisingly.
We went in the Renault show room and they had the TINIEST CARS EVER. The new electric ones! And I want one, I really do now. You can seriously buy them for 50 pounds a month, plus insurance. We can legitimately afford that. And you can park anywhere! And they’re SO TINY.
On the left bank there is a bookstore called Shakespeare and Company that was opened by an American expat after the war. It’s an amazing place where great literary artists of the past century have gathered and worked, including Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzegerald, and Getrude Stein. And artists can still come and stay there, free of charge! It’s sort of a bohemian epicenter. I fan-girled a little bit, and was so glad we finally found it (we’d searched and missed it when Lindsey was still there).
After buying a copy of “A Moveable Feast” (seemed fitting) and bilingual poems by E.E. Cummings, who I love, we sat and drank some kick ass artisanal beers next door. The sun had come out. It was warm and the breeze was blowing. It was perfect in every way.
Okay, we may have sat in front of Notre-Dame for awhile again too. I told you, I love it. With all my heart.
Happy tourist folk!
We wanted to make another attempt at finding an intimate little place for our last dinner. Jon had read something somewhere (super specific!) that led us to a little place on a perfect side street. Seriously, we were smitten. It was just hidden enough that it was tourist free-I mean, besides us, ha-and quiet with tiny shops dotting the lane, and church bells ringing out into the evening.
The restaurant was unassuming and simple, adorned with tiny chairs on the walls, which I believe is an Alice in Wonderland reference. It was called L’Auberge de la Reine Blanche (Inn of the White Queen), after all.
We ate all the goat cheese and Jon’s lamb stew came in a tiny stew pot to the table. Swoon. Afterwards we decided to buy some cheap beers from a corner shop and spend our last night watching the sunset and drinking with the crowds that gather along the banks of the Seine. Fabulous idea.
After the sun set and it started to get a little cold we rambled off to find a metro station and eventually, our hotel. On the way we passed the Hôtel de Ville and stopped to take a night time photo or two. That place is gorgeous, and the government still meets there now.
The next morning we woke to the most perfect, hot day. I was so sad to be leaving! We just had time to take the metro to the Pere-Lachaise cemetery, which was a slightly macabre but gorgeous way to spend our last morning-wandering amongst the mausoleums in the largest cemetery in France, where some great minds now rest. I wish we’d had more time, but we had to make our train back to England at a little past noon.
And that was it. Our little Parisian vacation, 2012. I applaud anyone who read all of these posts, but I’m glad I recorded these memories for myself. It was nice to practice my French and be pleasantly surprised that I still have that ability. On our last night we talked about how wonderful it would be if we could make a visit to Paris a yearly thing that Jon and I do together. I think that as long as we’re residents of the UK, it’s really something that could happen annually-can’t really argue with a nominally priced 2 hour train ride, and there will never be a time that Paris is boring or lacking in things to amuse oneself. And with nearly guaranteed visits to the USA for us as long as we’re living in England, that means we’ll continue to accumulate air miles (and hopefully be able to do it all on the cheap). One can dream, right? Au revoir, Paris. Je t’aime toujours!