Wednesday, April 8, 2015

France: Montmartre, Sacrè Coeur, Notre Dame, Jardin du Luxembourg and more...

If I didn't know better, I'd say I'd walked the whole of Paris today. But I do know better. Paris is HUGE, people! I haven't even seen the Eiffel Tower yet. Or the Louvre or any museums really. I feel like after walking until my feet nearly fell off, I haven't scratched the surface of what Paris has to offer. 

Let me start by saying, Paris is gorgeous and full of surprises. Everywhere I turned was a cute lane way or amazing building with detail I never imagined or food that I couldn't eat because I was full from the last place (but desperately wanted to eat).

We started by taking the subway to Montmartre. And here is where I will tell you to go watch Amélie. (First of all, what's wrong with you for not having seen it yet. Secondly, watch it with someone you love). The café where Amélie worked is in Montmartre, the scene where he looks through a telescope and then runs down a bunch of stairs is at Sacrè Coeur, the adult shop in which he works in also nearby. I felt like I was on a tour of the movie, which is PERFECT for me. If there is anything I love more than Disneyland, it's movies!

Sacrè Coeur is on the top of a hill, which has a deceptively high number of stairs. I was puffed by the time I got to the top, but the views of the basilica, the stairs and lawn (where people were having their lunch) and of the city of Paris made the climb entirely worth while. There were (again) no photos allowed inside, but there was an impressive ceiling which I can't even describe. Check out the picture here.

We walked through Montmartre to Pigalle - the Red Light District, which is where we stopped for lunch of savory crĕpes (delicious). Also, this is the location of Moulin Rouge.

Sidenote: I've spent the last 6 months selling all my belongings, reducing my possessions as much as possible. I'm finding it REALLY difficult to flip the switch and purchase souvenirs. I did end up deciding to buy magnets (because I will always need a fridge, wherever I live). There's still time, but I hope I find something else that tickles my fancy. There is a part of me that believes the photos and memories are enough, but another part of me that wants to have physical items that I can see or wear to remind me of this amazing trip I'm on.

Oh, while at lunch the proprietress of the restaurant came to our table, looking out the window and said to herself (in French) "I know this man." Christelle turned her head and said that the man in the car was a very famous French Actor. Jean-Pierre Marielle. I looked him up. He's an institution! Been in something like 130 films. One of which is The Davinci Code. Fun!

After lunch, we head back to the trains and made our way to Notre Dame. From a distance it looked like just another beautiful European building, but the closer I got the more blown away I was. I can not overstate this. We walked to within the block of the phenomenal cathedral and I started to recognise the detail of sculpture. Thoughts like "Oh, look at the men sculpted in a line around front of the building." But then I got closer and realised there were those men, but then there were MORE smaller men above them, and closer still I found smaller and more intricate detailing. Fun fact for you, those animals sculpted into buildings are not "gargoyles", but they are "grotesques". Look it up. Notre Dame is unbelievable. My thoughts of "Oh look at that. And that! AND THAT!" Turned into utterances of "Wow" and swear words because I simply couldn't believe how magnificent it all was. We opted against going inside as the queue was VERY long, but we walked around the outside where I continued to drop my jaw and mutter in awe.

Next to Notre Dame was one of those bridges where couples place a lock to signify their everlasting love. I have to say, it isn't cute anymore. I think it once was, but now it's not special. And there are so many damned locks, it's not even cute. It looks cluttered. Still...kinda romantic. This also made me think of the movie Now You See Me and my father, who loves that movie.

That, in itself, was a big day, but we weren't done yet! Then we walked and walked and walked (about 2km) until we found ourselves at Christelle's favorite garden in Paris. The Jardin du Luxembourg. 

To be honest, when we walked in, all I saw was a park bench that was calling my name. I was pooped and needed to rest. After 10 minutes, I opened my eyes and saw that I was in a HUGE garden. There was a museum, a lake with fun little boats for the kids to push with sticks, lawns and chairs everywhere, ponies, tennis courts, sculptures and more. It was a gorgeous place, with plenty of places to hang out in the sun (or shade) with your friends. After walking around, I called it a day and we headed for home where I have spent the last hour reliving this amazing day, blog-style.