Canada, France · 15 Days · 111 Moments · May 2015

Jen & Paul's voyage in Paris

29 May 2015

Welcome to our Paris travel journal. This is the end of it. Scroll to the bottom to start at the beginning.
Au revoir, Paris! We loved every moment ❤️

28 May 2015

Our last day in Paris, so we decided to take one last stroll up the road to Pigalle and have a drink at Le Chat Noir. I had a signature cocktail that was something mixed with Belgian beer (I don’t quite recall). After 2 weeks of long days and nights, we’re pretty tired :) In the last pic we thought it was a funny coincidence to see people crossing the street while drinking, but we couldn’t share a small bottle of wine on the grass in the cemetery. Paris, your rules are odd, but we love you anyway! ❤️
I meant to find one of these earlier in the trip. These rotisserie chickens slow roast for hours and drip onto the potatoes in the bottom of the tray. You can buy just the potatoes and take them home for dinner, which I had hoped we'd have time to do. Sadly, we didn't get to try it. Next time. 😊
I'd read about these coupon cards being available in many hotel lobbies, but I'd forgotten and we didn't see any until our last day 😥
Pere Lachaise cemetery. We tried to have a picnic, and we’re nearly kicked out as a result. Apparently you can drink anywhere in Paris except a cemetery. Oh well.

27 May 2015

Back at Les Trois 8. Awesome music again. The Kinks and the Mysterians and other stuff I can't remember or look up (because the wifi isn't working and we have no signal). There are guys dancing in the very small space between the bar and the bathroom stall. People smoking and drinking spilling out the front door.... I just love this place. Also, everyone is super friendly 😊
Back at Les Trois 8. They remembered us and, again, everyone was really nice! In the last pic there’s a guy dancing like no one’s watching! He was odd, but we admired his confidence and passion for the music. :)
There are street vendors EVERYWHERE! It's a little ridiculous. Every bar/cafe will have a rose guy or a guy selling glowing party items. And at any popular site you can't go 2 min without someone shoving a selfie stick in your face and shaking a giant ring of Eiffel Tower key rings. At the Eiffel Tower I started to get really annoyed. They would interrupt our conversation or photos. It's a little out of control. At Sacré Coeur we just had to leave within a few minutes. It was stifling and ruined the whole scene. How can you properly take in the view and the majesty of the basilica with people shouting at you "selfie, selfie, selfie, selfie...." or jingling nicknacks at you while calling "un euro, un euro...." 😳😥
We stopped at La Fine Mousse for a drink and had this lovely 13% imperial stout called Tzarine, from French brewery La Saleve. It was like a chocolate syrup ❤️ The bar was great. Service was friendly and we shared a cheese and meat plate which was also excellent.
Le Trianon, Chateau Versailles.
Observations: Smoking It feels like all Parisians smoke. The ones who don't are probably tourists. Paul noted that it seems to be mainly the women who smoke. Like its a Parisian prerequisite. While it's technically not allowed to smoke in indoor public spaces, the rules seem pretty lax. For example, if you're sitting at a window table inside and the door/window is open so your on the cusp of being outside, you can smoke. Like wise, if you're on the terrace, up against the open window to the restaurant, you can smoke. Even though all of your smoke will blow inside in thick billowy clouds. In the covered shopping arcades, this appears to be considered outside because the roofs have open vented windows, so you can smoke. If you're on a terrace and the weather isn't nice, they will extend the awning creating an almost "indoor" feel. Especially if they also have glass walls and a curtained entrance and patio heaters. To be continued...
Petit Trianon at Chateau Versailles. Note: this is also where we stopped for lunch and Angelina's. We each had a salad, shared a small bottle of Bordeaux, and a bottle of water. It was a little overpriced, but really good! I had a salmon salad with smoked salmon, peas and green beans. Paul had a roasted chicken and avocado salad. The people sitting around us were "something", but the weather was nice and the food was good.
Gardens at Chateau Versailles.
Apartements de Mesdames, Chateau Versailles
More photos of Les Grands Apartements, Chateau Versailles. The last photo is a recreation of the setup for the King and Queen to eat their dinner in public.
Les Grands Apartements, Chateau Versailles
More photos of Le Trianon, Chateau Versailles.
At Chateau Versailles and this is the line(s) for the people with advanced tickets. Approx. an hour wait. The line to buy tickets is remarkably short, and although one of the staff said you have to buy the ticket then come back to this line for entry, I'm skeptical. We might have made a big mistake by buying tickets in advance. Paul has gone off to get us pastries and coffee while we wait. I have to pee already 😥 Edit: yes, we confirmed that the line to buy tickets was shorter than the line with advanced tickets. And yes, once the tickets are purchased you head straight in. So we were all duped into buying advance tickets.

26 May 2015

We decided to spend the day running a few errands and revisiting places we wanted to get back to. Paul wanted to change the size of his T-shirt from Le Black Dog, I had a perfume to exchange at Fragonard, and I wanted to hit the Pharmacie Monge again for a final chance to collect a few favourites at “give away” prices. To save time, we split up and arranged to meet again in the 5th arr. near the Pharmacie Monge. *side note: Having local SIMs made this sort of thing really easy. We were able to use Google Maps for all navigation around the city (even on the bikes and the Metro), and we were able to keep in touch when we weren’t together. We met up at a little café run by a cute couple. From there we wandered into Place de la Contrescarpe for some gelato at Amarino, and then a drink at a bar called the Wall, a “Pink Floyd” themed bar. Somewhere in there we managed to get back to Brewberry for a quick one. An early train to Versailles the next day, so a good night to stay in.
Place holder to talk about Paris bathrooms. ie: no seats, motion sensored lights, shared spaces, tiny sinks, motion sensored taps and dryers...

25 May 2015

At Express de Lyon, near Place Bastille. What a great night! We sat at the bar and drank Belgian beers and ate a fantastic meat and cheese plate for dinner. The atmosphere was very friendly and we really enjoyed the food and drink. Absolutely worth the extra distance. After A l'Express de Lyon we went to the Falstaff. It was much bigger than we imagined and a little pricey. We only stayed for 1 drink, though they had a TV mounted and we're playing 80's music videos. Always entertaining. Strange transitions though... A video of young Japanese girls in a violent gang and then Amy Grant. Weird. We made our way over to the Fanfaron, but it was closed. Likely due to the holiday.
Au Printemps department store
Les Galleries Lafayette: It was insane, but an interesting experience. The crowds made it difficult to properly take in the glamour and elegance of it all, but the building is exquisite. Domed stained glass ceilings, with elaborate arched balconies overlooking the center of the main floor. Everything was very expensive, and I didn’t buy anything, but I enjoyed sampling the cosmetics and looking through the designs. Paul met up with me for about 15 minutes and was so annoyed by the crowds that he decided he was better off hitting a few beer places and leaving me to it. He went to Express de Lyon, which was over 30 min away on the Metro. I was annoyed at the distance, but that all melted away once I got there. It was an easy commute and well-worth it!
Palais Garnier; The Paris opera house. It's a stunning building, though I didn't have time to visit inside.
Fragonard (Musée de Parfum). No photos allowed in the museum, but I really like the sink in the bathroom ☺️ Hands free without water stopping on you all of the time (thanks to the handy foot pedals)
Passage Jouffroy: considered one of the busiest of the covered arcades still in use today. It was closed due to the holiday on the day we visited, but still really cool.
Les Passages: Faubourg-Montmartre and Passage Panorama. The old covered shopping arcades from the 19th century. They were closed the day we visited, but really neat none-the-less.
Monday, May 25: We ate at L'arbre de Cannelle in the Passage Panoramas. The restaurant across the aisle was lined with wine bottles in the window. Including J'en Veux. This would never pass at the LCBO 😉 The food was mediocre. I had the canard confit, and the skin was not crispy. The purée of potatoes ended up being roasted potatoes that were oily and unseasoned. Paul got a burger that was only ok. One of the guys at the table next to us also ordered the burger and ate it with a knife and fork. He was also wearing a suit with a scarf, and sunglasses on his head. He was very stereotypically French. :)

24 May 2015

Pont des Art The bridge of "love locks". The locks are really out of control. Parts of the bridge hate started to collapse last year and have had to be boarded with plywood. People have started to hang locks to other locks, and even down the stairs, and really anywhere they can. We found suitcase locks, as well as engraved locks. I'm sure it doesn't help that there are vendors all over trying to sell tourists a lock for a few €€. We opted not to take part. The Parisians consider it an eyesore, and it's gotten way too out of control. It's really not special anymore. Paul thought it might be fun to look for the lock that Ben and Leslie (Parks & Rec) placed last season. Until we saw all of the locks and realised that it would be an impossible task. 😊
We finished the night at a little cool bar called Le Festin Nu. They were projecting Once Upon A Time In America and even though they only had 3 taps, they were very impressive ones.
I just love the fruit markets in our neighbourhood. The picture doesn't do it justice, but they are decoratively balanced on juice bottles and placed artfully around the tables. It's very inviting. 😊
Walking around La Seine.
We found a random place for dinner and it was one of our favourites; Crèpes at Le Moliere. Paul had the Californian. It had meatballs, cheddar, a homemade tomato marinara-like sauce and a sunny side up egg. Not what we would call "California style", but it was really good! Mine was chicken breast, mushrooms, cream sauce and goat cheese. It was divine! 😋
Wandering around Le 6ième arrondissement, south of La Seine.
In the courtyard of the Louvre. Heading south to wander around the 6e and the Seine. It was incredibly hot. The pics make it seem cloudy, but the sun was actually unrelenting.
Jen had read about this really nice wine bar, so we stopped and partook. This bar was opened in the 1920's and still has the original zinc bar and a lot of the Art Deco features. It was also the best glass of wine we'd had on the whole trip! From the Rhône valley, the Crozes-Hermitage "Maison Juliette". It was approx €7 a glass (not cheap but soooo worth it!) The olives were also a nice touch.

23 May 2015

More thoughts from today: Bought hand stuff (a nail care thing) and bought some lavender tea. Also bought cherries to snack on. 😊 Visited a chocolate & spice shop with some pretty awesome looking salt and pepper shakers. Biked home to drop our stuff off, and had to swap bikes partway due to the time. Hit the Carrefour near our place and bought some lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, a baguette, sardines, and chips. Tried to buy yogurt but it seemed too complicated. :/ We were in a bit of a hurry (so many kinds!)
Les Trois 8! We had such a wonderful time here. Great crowd (it was packed), great vibe, great beer and wine -- we intended to stay a while and we did!! We stayed until closing. Bonus: it was IPA night and all the music was Rock, like AC/DC, the Stooges, the Sex Pistols, and then it turned into Queens of the Stone Age, Pulp, Arctic Monkeys, and so much more that we love.
I want to try as many different crisps as I can. This is the first.
We followed a walking tour of the Marais from our Paris travel book and stopped in here for a break and a quick drink. It's called La Favorite. It was very lively and we liked it.
Took this to find out what these cars are…we still don't know… Edit: found out these are Citroen 2 CV models.
Some historic spots during our walking tour of Le Marais.
We were thrilled to meet this whippet, Mya.
We grabbed some savoury crèpes from a vendor on the street and ate them on a bench nearby and watched the people. Amazingly there were cars trying to squeeze through these tiny pedestrian-filled streets. Paul had the egg and cheese, and I had the ham and cheese. After our crèpes we saw this ice cream place where you build your own, and then pay by weight. We shared a pistachio and salted caramel ice cream cup, in which we added a few raspberries, mini chocolate chips and some pralines. It was really good.
A few more photos of the pieces in the Musée Carnavalet.
The bakeries had incredibly elaborate tarts and cakes in the windows. The detail in each one is astounding.
Wandering Le Marais, browsing the cool shop windows. We have artisanal lemonade, a shop for all of your pistachio needs, and a designer cupcake shop where the cupcakes come in beautiful round miniature hat boxes.
We biked over to Le Marais neighbourhood. Our first stop was the Musée Carnavalet (Musée de l'histoire de Paris). It's housed in a huge mansion, which is strange when you consider how small the streets are in this very old part of Paris. Another surprise is that the museum is free, and yet houses a huge collection of pieces ranging from old shop signs, paintings, furniture in what seemed like an endless maze of rooms.
Vélib! The bike share program is well-used here. This rack is a few doors down from our apartment, and often there were times when it was completely empty. Retuning the bikes on time can sometimes be a bit stressful while you try to find the closest rack with available spaces. Sometimes pulling out or retuning a bike can be tough with the locking system. The bikes don't always move in and out smoothly, and if you don't return the bike properly, you can be charged for a lost bike.
Demonstrating how ridiculously small the coffees to go are.

22 May 2015

Nightcap in our apartment.
Couples spontaneously dancing to music at the Eiffel Tower.
Hanging out in the Jardins Trocadero, in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Random dinner spot, Le Rallye Étoile.
More Arc de Triomphe photos.
At the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Just enjoying the view.
Views from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
I (Jen) left the Palais Galleria (Musée de la Mode), and passed by the Eiffel Tower on the way. 😊 I think someone tried to scam me as I was taking this picture. A guy stopped in front of me and picked up a gold ring off of the ground, and asked if I'd dropped it. He spoke another language so there was a lot of difficulty communicating. I told him it wasn't mine and he said it wasn't his, but wanted me to have it as a symbol of good luck. He seemed sure, so I thanked him and he started to walk away. He then turned back and started saying "coffee?" I told him I couldn't, and then I realised he was asking for money. I told him I had none. He persisted. I told him that all I had was this ring, and that he could have it. He took it, gave me a frown and walked away. I hope that ring brings him luck 😉
While Jen went to the Fashion Museum I hit one of the Frog pubs, Frog XVI.
I visited the Palais Galleria while Paul went to a Frog pub nearby. The museum is this gorgeous mansion style building, with elaborately painted ceilings, sculptures, and beautiful gardens. No pictures were allowed inside, unfortunately. The exhibit on was of the designer Jeanne Lanvin. The pieces were incredible, though I was disappointed that there wasn't anything more to the museum. I'd read that it was supposed to house historical outfits from the 17th and 18th century as well as modern designers, so I was expecting to be here for a few hours. Instead, I finished in about an hour and then went to wander the gardens and head off to meet Paul for a drink.
We biked over to the Champs Élysées to wander up the grand avenue and browse the shops. It's overwhelming, and all of the things I mean to stop and try, I didn't. It's incredibly overcrowded. The sidewalks are about 20 people wide, and we still had trouble getting around the people. I saw the largest Sephora I've ever seen (sadly failed to get a pic). We took a few pictures of shop fronts, including the elaborately decorated Guerlain. Perfume is such a huge market here. We picked up a sandwich, chips and water from the Marks & Spencer food hall, then sat on a bench by the Arc de Triomphe to share our little picnic. I think the sandwich was egg salad with arugula. It was very good 😊

21 May 2015

Sitting at Le Black Dog bar after a Mysteries of Paris ghost tour. Great evening! The ghost tour was less about ghosts and more about the darker history of Paris, but still very good. Our tour guide was very charismatic and we heard the original story of the "demon barber", the murder of the king, the punishing of the assassin, the quest for more humane death penalties, and a weird pair of women who would lure young men back to their home and kill them for their blood. The tour left us 2 minutes away from the Le Black Dog, which is a metal bar we'd planned to check out. Again, everyone is super nice. Drinking a strong Belgian style beer: de sutter folle furieuz. It's quite good. Observation: the bars here are all too well lit. I'm used to darker mood lighting.
To finish the day, at Le Black Dog, a cool Metal bar, drinking French Belgian-style beer. The last pic is of the men's room, and of course it's a trough.
The Eiffel Tower in the distance, moments before it lit up with the hourly "sparkle". We were on our ghost tour during this view. The story was of a man who didn't speak French but fell in love with a French girl. He tried to propose to her on the top of the Eiffel Tower and as she backed away in protest, she fell over the ledge and down to her death. They've since heightened the railings :)
A few shots during our ghost tour. Hotel de Ville is the first, where public executions used to take place and in the 3rd photo you can see the Eiffel Tower sparkling, barely.
Time for a drink at Le Supercoin.
See how cranky the guy on the left looks (despite the great view)? It's likely because of all the annoying vendors and the overcrowding of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Beautiful but we couldn't bear to stay.
We made it to Sacre coeur, but the crowds were insane. And the vendors were so much worse. Vendors shoving selfie sticks in our faces, 2 or 3 Asian brides all having wedding photos done, breakdancing in the square... It was far from a serene experience. We didn't linger... It looks like a beautiful place that I would love to explore more, on a day without people.
A tiny vineyard in old Montmartre.
Walking around Montmartre.
Formerly a windmill, now a restaurant.
Walking in Montmartre, this is an old residence that Renoir and other artists used to live in.
The famously designed metro stop at Place des Abesses, in Montmartre. It is supposed to be among the deepest in the city.
We started today a little late. We strolled through Montmartre and along Rue des Martyrs, popping in and out of bakeries and food shops along the way. These are a few shots from the Place des Abesses
Did not take enough photos at Piano Vache but here's the bar and the crazy staircase to the bathroom.

20 May 2015

Walking to Piano Vache for Goth Night, this photo seems apropos.
Dinner at Au Trappiste. Pint size Delerium Tremens along with a delicious carbonara and quiche.
Tour (Tower) Saint Jacques. This 52-metre (171 ft) Flamboyant Gothic tower is all that remains of the former 16th-century Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie ("Saint James of the butchery"), which was demolished in 1797, during the French Revolution, - like many others churches, leaving only the tower.
Notre Dame. Love the gargoyles and stained glass art work. I was surprised that the gift shop was only a counter and there were no miniature gargoyles for sale.
On our way from the Louvre to Notre Dame. That second shot reminds me of the cover of Abbey Road 😉
Church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, which we passed on the way to Notre Dame.
A view from the Louvre. Look in the distance 😊
Napolean's apartments
Almost forgot this from the Louvre, and I can't because it has greyhounds on it.
The hall of Apollo.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace
More Louvre…
The Louvre, a few shots shortly after we arrived.
Some photos of the art at the Louvre.
The line the to the Louvre was insane; at both the Pyramid and the Carousel entrances. We thought there might be a good chance we weren't getting in at all (I'm not wasting Paris by standing in line all day). We took a few shots in the garden (including a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower) before trying the last option to get in: Portes de Lions. Not a single person in line! In fact, I almost thought perhaps it wasn't an available entrance (it was so empty!) We passed through instantly. 😊😊😊
In the Jardins Tuilleries, outside of the Louvre. The weather is gorgeous and we're finally feeling refreshed after a proper sleep.
On our way out to the Louvre this morning. Here's a quick shot of a main street in our neighbourhood on our way to the Metro.

19 May 2015

Awesome night in with cheese from Laurent Dubois, beurre Bordier, fresh baguette and some local wine and beer. Pair it all with a French dubbed old episode of the Mission Impossible T.V. show from the 60's... Perfect evening to recover a bit of energy for the upcoming week.
My first French pharmacy haul. I survived! Seriously an achievement when considering the INSANE number of tourists in there. It is not a huge place, and I spent most of it trying to see the shelves through 6 or 7 people at a time. There is a cash at the back for tax rebates on any purchases over €175 for non-residents. I didn't have enough to qualify. There was a sign on the front of the register saying "maximum €3000"! The prices were incredible. A cream I use regularly at home is a 1/3 of the cost (even with the exchange rate). It's going to be hard to hold back and not buy everything. As I was leaving, I heard a security guard telling a woman that she'd already had her visit for the day. She insisted she hasn't visited and he said he remembered her from this morning. I guess they have to limit people. CRAZY!
We really enjoyed our time at Brewberry bar. Great beer and good conversation.
Walking around.
More Catacombs.
Waiting in line at the Catacombs.
The best!
Today we’re scheduled to start with the Catacombs. Our AirBnB host said we should skip it. The lines are always too long and "there's nothing interesting to see". We decided to give it a try anyway. We left a little too late (because we're freaking exhausted!!!) and grabbed the metro over. On the metro, a man started playing the accordion. He was really good, and this seems to be a constant thing here (buskers on the trains). I suspect it would get aggravating before long if we lived here. Especially during morning rush hour (which is when we've seen them). We arrived 5 min before it opened and the line was already around the block. It's 10:35 now and the line is moving alright, but we'll have to see if we actually make it in. To help pass the time we grabbed some fresh pastries and coffees from a bakery across the street. Well... European coffee. If you want milk, it's seems you have to order a cafe au lait. So we drank our cafe allongé black. It'll do.

18 May 2015

I wish we would've taken more, but here are two photos from the Musée de l'érotisme on our first night back.
Moulin Rouge.

15 May 2015

Gare du Nord, where we are waiting for our train that will take us to Amsterdam. You will then find us next in the Amsterdam Journi journal.
My first experience with a French public toilet. No seat... Surprisingly common. Not a fan...
Quick lunch before Amsterdam. Café du Nord, across from Gare du Nord. Was expecting nothing and it was really good.
SIMs acquired! A lot of running around for nothing. The issue of the Internet not working was actually due to an internet outage and not specific to our phones at all. 2 Orange stores and 1 quick trip to the Apple Genius Bar, and we're finally set. 😊 I'm done taking subway stairs with suitcases.
No luck so far with the local SIMs. This really sucks 😥

14 May 2015

Just chillin' at the bar, waiting to board. Yay!!
Huzzah, craft beer at the airport! (And a panini for dinner)
So we had a few initial hiccups with our tickets, in that we weren't seated together (or even in the same row!). When I called Lufthansa they were unable to help because the flight was now being operated by Air Canada. I called Air Canada and the girl was really helpful (fixed all of our seats for the flights there and back), but the best she could get for the flight there were 2 seats together in row 61. At the back of the plane! She suggested we try back again to see if anyone cancelled, which might free up some better seats. I did; no luck. Last night I tried to do the online check in, and I couldn't via mobile Air Canada, couldn't via Lufthansa, and finally tried Air Canada on my laptop. It worked and we were able to select new seats.... There were now 2 together in row 23! 5 rows from the front of Coach! I hope this luck keeps up :)