The Paris Diaries – Part Deux

(STILL) THURSDAY 12.11.2014

14:35 – We are walking up Avenue des Champs-Élysées towards Arc de Triomphe, where we are almost forced to stop and watch a team of street dancers with very defined abdominal muscles, but no apparent dancing skills. Eventually we leave and cross the street, so we can (window) shop at more designer boutiques – LV’s store occupies an entire block! In case you find yourself at Champs-Élysées, make a short visit to this store. It has an extensive collection of photo albums (of other books, as well, but since they were all in French, I couldn’t fully appreciate them) and all kinds of decorative and personal objects you don’t really need, but they look so cute you wish you could buy them all (pineapple-shaped night light, anyone?). Even though Champs-Élysées is crowded by tourists carrying backpacks and Rick Steves travel guides and wearing butt-shaping sneackers, I manage to spot some very stylish locals (so it seems), so I am taking mental fashion notes. Repeat after me: Bold red matte lipstick, androgyn outerwear, scarves, more scarves.

17:02 – At Café des Deux Moulins. Amelie’s charmingly vintage place of employ has gone back to being a comfy neighborhood café. Even though tourist groups occasionally pop in for a glimpse in Amelie’s whimsical world, the café is actually pretty quiet and frequented by locals. If you find yourself there, try to find a table as close to the window (or even on the pavement outside), since it’s the prefect vantage point from which to observe the lively street market. Interesting fact: Amelie, Clotilde, Claire, and the hypochondriac Isabelle have been replaced by male staff, including a very handsome barista/ bartender (the tall, dark-haired, bearded, chocolate-y eyes, and disarming smile kind).

19:16 – Want to get a full workout while in Paris? Climb up the butte Monmarte until you get to Sacré-Coeur! We laugh our way up and find ourselves a spot on the stairs leading to the basilica, where we sit for a little to enjoy our well-earned macarons and the view of Paris from above. It is pretty dark by that time, so all you can see are the city lights. Since I’ve seen the same view in the daylight, I’d strongly advise you to go there in the morning or around sundown – you can see everything much clearer. Afterwards, we enter the church, where mass is in progress. I’m not really religious, but I usually enjoy the serenity of catholic ecclesiastical ceremonies.


20:33 – All this strolling is making us hungry, so we stop at a little brasserie for a three-course menu. I go for onion soup (I’m not kissing anyone tonight. Or ever again.), salmon with veggies, and tarte aux pommes for desert.

Lost in Monmarte…

FRIDAY 13.11.2014

11: 14 – It’s raining men cats and dogs! However, nothing is going to stop us from visiting Notre Dame. At this point, I have to admit that since visiting La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, back in April, I’ve refused to be impressed by any other church I’ve visited since. I’m never going to forget the view from the top of Notre Dame, though. Nor the 457.999 steps we climbed up to get to the top. And I thought the stairs at the Cathedral of Strasburg were endless! When we get to the top, rainy Paris unfolds in front of our eyes in all its glory. We freeze, we get rained on, we take selfies all the time (enough to piss off all the people standing behind us), we see no signs of Quasimodo, Esmeralda or any singing/ dancing gargoyles, and then it’s time to leave. We leave Notre Dame with shaky legs and head to the closest café for a much needed cup of hot coffee.

Channeling my inner Esmeralda.
That’s a “what the f*ck?” expression for sure!
Waiting in the line.

13:56 – On the way to the closest metro station I spot the bookstore Shakespeare and Company and suggest we go inside for a quick look. Then I fall in love. Imagine book shelves that reach up to the ceiling, loaded with the prettiest editions of all the classic and modern reads. The English speaker’s paradise in the middle of Paris! I head upstairs, where someone is playing the piano and people relax on torn leather couches, reading books. The books here are, unlike the ones downstairs, not for sale. You can see for yourself in their blog and tumblr page – they are both adorable!

(The weeks before my trip to Paris I’d been thinking of how exciting it would be living in a different city every year, e.g. doing an internship in Berlin or Hamburg, then a master’s degree somewhere in the UK – I wish!, letting the job search take me to new places, flaneur-ing in central Europe. However, this bookshop left me longing … for a permanent home. The kind you fill with books you accumulate without worrying about having to pack and unpack, sell, donate or gift them to friends when moving to a new place. The kind you paint your walls the color you want and then cover them entirely (because, let’s be honest, the color you picked does not look that good in reality) with postcards, love letters, post-it notes, and fashion editorials without thinking all the time you’ll need to take them down before leaving. The kind you don’t have to split your belongings between two places.)

15: 42 – At Musée d’Orsay. We’re finally here! I promised myself I won’t leave Paris before visiting Musée d’Orsay. The building, originally a railway station, adds an unconventional and fresh twist to the museum experience. My favorite part of the museum is by far the collection of impressionist masterpieces on the 5thfloor. Another odd thing I’d like to pinpoint: Here, I find that the placing and the lighting truly accentuates some of the paintings, such as August Renoir’sBal du moulin de la Galette  and Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone. A postcard of the first one is hanging over my desk while I’m writing these lines.

After Musée d’Orsay I lose sense of time. We take the metro and get off at odd places around the city of Paris; we go to Batignolles, get off at Blanche, walk through Quartier Pigalle, the red light district of Paris, stop for drinks and snacks somewhere along the way, then keep wandering until we get too tired and decide to go back home.

01:22 – E. and I are in bed, our Fat Naked Guy (see The Paris Diaries Part 1) is nowhere to be seen, so we do what we do best: Tell stories and jokes until we fall asleep.

SATURDAY 14.11.2014

10:46 – I wasn’t planning on writing about my last morning in Paris, since nothing special happened. Until the moment I stepped inside a French pharmacy and fell in love. Ok, not only with the artsy guy with the bleary eyes standing a couple meters away in the queue at the cashier, but also with the all the French products promising me everything from perfect skin to afterlife. The prices, the variety, the 2-for-1 packages! I’m glad I had a list – and proud I stuck to it, because otherwise I’d have to return to Germany on foot.

13:05 – At Paris Est station. The cute Starbucks barista somehow manages to turn the “Valarmorghulis” the cashier snarled at him into a poised “Katherine”. Close enough. He flashes a smile as he hands me my vanilla latte, and wishes me bonne journée.

And this is how my Paris memoirs come to an end. I hope you enjoyed them and I’m looking forward to your comments!



PS: Facebook anyone? Tweet me maybe? 
PS2: Now I’m also on Instagram!

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0 thoughts on “The Paris Diaries – Part Deux

  1. How fun 🙂 Valarmorghulis, I have to remember that trick next time I'm eating at 100 montaditos.
    You could be a born Parisien! 😀 (or a reborn Esmeralda… or both…)

  2. Oh, I ate at 100 montaditos when I was in Madrid. So many memories. ^_^
    Funnily enough, when I got back I ordered the book "How to Be a Parisian Wherever You Are – Love, Style and bad Habits" and I realised I'm not cool enough for that (yet).

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