So after nearly dying and missing my train, I arrived in Paris roughly 2.5 hours later. The train sucked because I had just made it I wasn’t in the right compartment and I had already made a huge scene trying to lug all my stuff (read: enormous backpack) through the narrow isles in 2nd class. So basically I sat in two different seats and got kicked out of both of them. (Keep in mind, just was like roughly 45 mins before this.)
It’s a funny thing how seeing familiar places or people can instantly make you feel better. The minute I made it into Ariel, Alex, Amanda and Dane’s hostel suite, I began to perk up. After chugging some Evian (as it is all they sell here) and scarfing down a pear, I changed and we first headed off to Europe’s largest (and I would say probably most pretentious) flea market. I had managed to get there with my mom when I traveled to Paris in 2006, and it’s just as I remember it. Once you make it past the vendors peddling their cheap wares (though some stuff is pretty decent), it turns into little streets with ivy growing on the walls, with each stall holding at least one wise old Parisian.
The crappy part is, is that whenever I’d try to take a picture of the reaaaally weird stuff (namely a ceramic thimble shaped as an anatomically correct penis) the vendors would get super mad and yell at me. Though once I’d respond in french, they’d be mildly more pleasant.
After wandering around for about 45 mins, and after hearing an old french woman doing an excellent Edith Piaf (and I mean really excellent) we felt we’d had enough of the French flea market experience, and swiftly took the metro down to the catacombs. The catacombs are one of the places I’ve always wanted to see in Paris but have never gotten the chance to. Unfortunately, since it was a beautiful Easter weekend in Paris, everything had an at least 3 hr line up. So Ariel and I opted to wander around Notre Dame and Le Marais for the rest of the day.
The wander was awesome. We stumbled into some great shops, bought some sweet shoes, and met the loveliest potter who made the most amazing pottery me and Ariel had ever seen. When I asked her how long one piece took her to make, she responded in a truly artist fashion that “I never pay attention to how long something takes me. If I feel like painting in blue that day, I paint in blue. If I feel like painting in red, I paint in red. But most of my time goes to daydreaming”. Feel in love right there. I grabbed her business card and am seriously considering returning. Maybe a nice birthday gift Mom?
We also managed to find a refuge from the Paris heat in a random and beautiful ancient Gothic cathedral. There were only a few people inside, so it was equally as lovely to get away from the crowds. It had some modern stain glass with absolutely blew me away. I’m fairly certain it replaced the stain glass that was destroyed during the War. It had a unsettling but at the same time relaxing vibe about it. We wandered around soaking in the amazing Gothic sites. Also I’m pretty sure this church had a Caravaggio, but I’m not 100%…
Our day ended in the lovely (in the daylight) region of Paris: Montmartre. At the top of Sacre Coeur. Speaking to a couple of Parisien’s who just wanted to chat with us about begin Canadians. All day we met just lovely people that so far, France is living up to it’s reputation about being a little ridiculous, but not about its reputation of having only mean, snobby, unfriendly people. That is for certain.
Though I didn’t stop in to see the Mona Lisa or Monet, I had a lovely day really getting to know a bit of a city that takes years to know.
Oh and of course there was a protest. There’s always a protest somewhere in France after all.