paris

it’s an odd day. a little bit of this and little bit of that.

we started out around 9 a.m. with a plan to do a little shopping, starting with galleries lafayette which is an incredibly large store made up of at least 4 buildings that we could see, maybe more. then on to rue de rivoli where there are many stores including bhv, samaritain and others. rick ends up with a new jacket and … a scarf! and i get a new pullover … and scarf number 5 or 6?

we take a stroll through les halles, now a modern shopping centre but historically the market centre of paris. nearby is a huge old church, saint-eustace which i’d visited before but was new to rick. it has a remarkable high ceiling and beautiful windows and paintings. it is surrounded by many pieces of modern art and the promenade or gardens of les halles. next to it is the bourse de commerce a circular building from the 1700’s.

back home to do some last minute shopping for baguettes etc., as paris is shut down on sunday. we’re also in need of a rest before heading out this evening for the long overdue visit to the eiffel tower for some night shots and a ride on the seine in one of the many tour boats. only two more full days in paris!

the trocadero is packed with parisiennes and tourists who come to see the eiffel tower lit up. there are hawkers everywhere, concessions stand for candy floss, crepes – sweet or savory and miscellaneous souvenir booths scattered about. people playing music – drums and guitars and generally having a great time.

the boat cruise was packed, unlike our last outing when we were two of the four paying customers. tonight the river was like the streets of paris, packed with boat traffic, all of them full of sightseers, diners and loads of party boats – weddings and the like. it was enjoyable but a bit chilly – also we’d done it before and i’d have liked to go in the day time to get some good shots from the river. the quays and bridges are crowded with folks out for the night, drinking, groups playing music (some with large audiences) and others just enjoying the city.

heading home at 11 p.m. and the metro is as busy as it is during the day. as we walk home from our stop there are parties going on, people sitting at the bistros that dot the street and diners having a late night meal. the sound of a sax drifted down from someone’s apartment as we neared ours – i thought it so parisian and the perfect end to the day.

bonsoir. paris oct 11/08

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montmartre

a nice leisurely saturday, crisp and sunny, just how we like it. a couple of metro rides to get to montmartre from home but more enjoyable as there is no rush hour today. a lot of places close on the weekends, some on saturday and sunday, others on sunday monday and still others on monday tuesday. makes it tough sometimes figuring out what will be open. there is also a large jewish community which means another group of stores are closed on saturdays but open all other days. i guess it sort of spreads the number of people commuting to a more manageable 3 million a day on the metro system (that’s for you trivia buffs).

we started out the walk from the anvers metro station up through a throng of tourist shops flogging all the junk you never want to really own. the next gauntlet was a throng of black guys selling string bracelets. they were good at cornering the hapless tourist who soon had a string around the wrist before they knew what had happened. at this point the only option is to pay up! rick and i seem to be pretty immune to this, it’s either our size or we’ve gained that parisienne « piss off jack » look that sez you’re a local. we fully intended to take the funicular up to the sacre cour but we somehow ended up doing the stairs, and lots of them, but the day was too nice to get crammed in with all the other tourists going to the top of montmartre.

rick was the guide on this one with a mapped route of all the spots to see and artist residents who’ve lived in the village. it’s hard to imagine today that this was once the countryside, outside of the paris city limits. there is still a remnant of it with a small vineyard still producing grapes on the hillside and an old windmill that was used to press them.

we did a lot of up and down hills on cobbled streets past the places where van gogh, picasso, dali, utrillo and renoir, the composer erik satie’s house and of course toulouse-lautrec’s pad. you can see why it was popular with the artists. i tried to reproduce the scene by utrillo in a photo – have a look and see if you can place it, i tried to find the original but no luck.

afterwards, we descended down rue lepic (do it if you get the chance, better than rue cler any day) toward the sinful end of town…the moulin rouge and then on to pigalle. passing way too many sex shops and the like, including hookers..it’s a pretty tough neighbourhood not one i’d feel comfortable strolling through at night.

frank, my coworker will be happy to know that it was such a sleazy neighbourhood that the only appropriate placce to eat was McD’s…yes, there are pictures to prove it!

end of day, rick is really under the weather with a bad cold and i’m feeling like i’m next..damn!

yes, i can cook. i’m doing up a full three course meal tonight. shopping at all the little specialty stores was fun and sort of carries you along once you’ve chosen what the main course is going to be…and wine of course.

bon soir.