Posted by: Allyn | June 29, 2009

La Vie en Rose

Bonjour! Salut!

I hope you haven’t been restlessly clicking the refresh button on this page. As I reported to some of you, I have multiple computer problems along the way so I’ve been unable to sit down and have a nice write-up with pictures until now. So, this may be a long one. I hope you’ve got a cup cafe creme and a croissant so you can enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it.

— — — — AN AMERICAN IN PARIS-MED

An American in Paris: Day 1

So I arrived in Paris on Sunday afternoon after lots of sweating and huffing and puffing. For those of you who haven’t been here, there are few escalators and even fewer elevators, especially in the metro. So, my 50 lb. suitcase plus my 15 lb. backpack had to hoof it on some rough terrain.

My first Random Act of Kindness (RAK) was when I arrived in Paris after taking the Eurorail from London. I had to locate a ticket booth in order to buy a pass for the metro. I immediately began to encounter problems when I realized they didn’t take bills and I had already clicked the euro button (as opposed to using my credit card) and the growing mass of people behind me were beginning to sigh. And then, like an angel in a ball cap, I heard behind me, “Do you need some help?” I wanted to hug the man as hard as I could. Fortunately for him I was too shocked before I could do anything. I tried to side step the poor, lost American stereotype by saying, “Oh, thanks, but I need to guy to a booth and buy a carnet. I’ll figure it out. Thanks though.” Buy the time he was done I had not gotten very far when he chased me down to rescue me from imminent failure. “Excuse me, Miss. I just accidentally bought a day pass and I already have one. Why don’t you take it?” Are you kidding me??? He asked where I was from and he said he was from Canada.

I should also mention here that I was given another day pass by a girl about my age in London. I was going to have to buy a tube ticket to transfer stations for the eurorail and she saw me trying to buy a ticket with my credit card and told me she was finished for the day if I wanted it. So that is really the first RAK.

Then upon exiting the metro toward my hostel a nd climbing perhaps the 200th stair for the day with my 65+ lbs. of luggage, I began to teeter under the weight. I was about three steps away from the top and simply started to lose my balance. Some nice French man rushed to my side, hoisted my bag to the top and “Est-ce que vous etes bien?” I nodded and said merci and marched off to the hostel, thankful that the stairs were behind me… for the first day anyway.

That night was the Fetes de la Musique in Paris so the streets were filled with people playing music and dancing. I tried to enjoy some of this with the girls from my room. I felt like I was sleep walking though. I managed to stay up until 12.

An American in Paris: Day 2,

After hearing about one of the girls’ walks around Monmatre, I decided that would be a great way to start a full day in Paradise… I mean Paris. Of course, I had to have breakfast first. I chose to forgo the free breakfast at the hostel in favor of one of the recommended boulangeries on Rue de Crimee where I was staying. I found the place after several blocks of walking and opened the door to the most beautiful and delicious smelling corner of the 19th arrondisement. I thought carefully about what I wanted and asked for un pain au chocolat. When I handed her a 10E bill she looked at me, verry annoyed now, and asked if I had any smaller money. I said no, but offered to buy more. So I bought a large chunk of Pain Noir aux Olives. She seemed less upset, but still disgruntled at my flashy and crisp euros.

DSCF0782DSCF0783I walked to the nearby park, , and found a seat overlooking a nice big hill. I tried to take a pictures of all the people running in the park, but I didn’t really want to look like a weirdo. Anyway, point being that contrary to popular belief French men and women, even Parisians, do perform traditional exercise. And I watched them exercise while I ate my lovely pain au chocolat. Life was, indeed, en Rose.

After consuming adequate calories, I dusted off the buttery crumbs and headed toward Monmatre… at least I started in that direction. I walked and walked and walked… and walked and walked and walked. I definitely saw the parts of Paris very few, if any, tourists have seen. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Forgive me for not taking photos, but seeing that I was the only tourist for several kilometers I thought it wise to keep the camera hidden. I simply lifted my chin and looked like I knew exactly where I was going. Hey, at least I was working up an appetite for the next pastry. Finally, I found a street that looked promising. I found a metro (which means there is a detailed map) and located myself and Sacre-Coeur. Alas, I wasn’t too far off. After a bit more walking I finally saw a hill of stairs and thought it looked promising, and it was. Sacre-Coeur offered a beautiful view of the city (for free, unlike the Eiffel Tower). The church is grand, too. Unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures of the inside.

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After Sacre-Coeur I had really worked up an appetite and walked around Monmatre looking for something interesting. Problem was, it all looked interesting. How do I decide which restaurant in which to have lunch? The answer seemed out of reach. I watched all the people eating in the cafes lining the streets, and it all looked delicious. My question was answered, however, when I walked by a very cute patisserie where I hoped I could get another taste of Parisian pastry. I ordered un grand macaron et un eclair violet. That’s what I called them, anyway. The macaron was one of the large kind and it was chocolat filled with nutella. Mon Dieu! and the eclair had a purple top. The inside, turns out, was a fabulous fresh cream with a hint of lemon. Yowsa! Unfortunately, as I read in one of the handful of books I brought on the trip, you are not to eat standing up, especially in Paris. I didn’t really want to just sit on the curb and scarf down these delicacies, so I hunted for a nice spot. At the bottom of S-C was a nice shaded spot with some stiars. I tried there, but started to get questioned by the French scam-artists so I quickly packed up and starting walking back in the general direction of my hostel. Along the way I found a nice, new park with a picnic bench where I sat and enjoyed the eclair.

DSCF0787 (It was much more lovely looking before I hiked a couple kilometers with it dans un sac. )

I was feeling much better after having more sugar in my blood. ( The pain au chocolat was eaten at 10:30 and the eclair at maybe 4:00) I made it back the the hostel where I ordered un cafe creme to go with my enormous nutella macaron. It was oowey, goowey heaven. The nutella could not be contained. The macaron shell was barely crisp, like the pillow on your bed at night. (Sorry for the poor focusing… I was drunk with pastry delight!)

DSCF0789When I went upstairs to my room there was a new girl settling in (the

y change over pretty quickly). She was fighting jet-lag and I said she needed to keep herself busy until at least 10. I planned to do a bicycle

tour guide from 7-11 and invited her along. She agreed and we headed for the metro. After buying tickets and changing trains several times in order to get to the tower, we were 10

minutes late for the group meeting. (It takes at least 30 minutes to get from my hostel to the tower via the metro.). Oh well, our loss, but the alternative wasn’t so bad. We found a cafe nearby where we passed the time until the sun got a little lower. Then

we parked our tired American behinds on the grass to watch the lights come on.

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I wanted to watch the lights twinkle, but it was almost 11:00 and we still needed to ride back to the hostel. The tour said goodnight with a breathtaking glow, that I also captured from a closer view.

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“Bonne Nuit, Allyn” Bonne nuit, tower; bonne nuit lune.

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Responses

  1. Wow!

    You got some great photos! and looks like you’ve had some delicious food.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen Sacre-Coeur look so imposing before, that’s a great vantage.
    And the pink icing on that eclair. Who knew the Parisians would produce such?

    Thanks for posting, good that you got your computer worries solved, how did you know I’d been checking daily?

    Glad to know not all the Parisians you’ve encountered are snobs, you must have found the one that was feeling generous that day.

  2. Hmmm. The texture of that macaron makes me wonder if such things were the inspiration for the beloved moonpie… hey maybe them Frenchies ain’t so bad aff’erall.

    I’m looking forward to more updates and photos, especially as you get to the culinary school.

  3. Finally a post! Now that’s my kind of big mac!! What about Lyon? When do you get to pastry school?

  4. mon ami!
    you have me drooling all over my keyboard!

    Mon Dieu has sent the RAK to you. Keep watching for more!

    waiting for lyon posts….
    caye


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