Paris Soirée

Today I decided to stay at Amandine’s parents’ house and rest rather than go on an overnight trip into Lyon proper, especially with a 6am start. It’s been a lovely lazy day and I’m feeling a lot better not having to go out into the cold. It was really nice to sleep in as well after being so busy in Paris.

So, Paris. The other thing that I loved about the Louvre was that, for someone who doesn’t know much about art, there are so many pieces there that you can learn what you like and why. For example, I found that a lot of still life pieces stood out for me as really beautiful:

The one above reminded me of my grandparents’s old house on the Central Coast of NSW – I think it’s because they always had seashells in the bathroom.

Anyway, we saw the Winged Victory (she was magnificent, really quite awe-inspiring), the Venus de Milo (which, incidentally should be the Aphrodite de Milo as Venus is Roman not Greek), and, of course, the Mona Lisa. Even though it was winter there was a crowd in front of her, and I’d been told how small she is, so wasn’t disappointed. We spend nearly 4 hours exploring, and apart from the Italian and French painting galleries, we saw a lot of the Egyptian gallery and some of the sculpture ‘garden’, which I found I could appreciate more than some of the paintings. I got pretty excited when it started snowing lightly outside too.

We decided to go to the Champs-Elysees before dinner, as it is lit up in the evenings in the lead up to Christmas. We tried to find the Metro as it was still snowing a bit (I was excited, but we only had one u,brella and it was cold), but in our search, we actually ended up walking the whole way anyway! So we browsed the Christmas stalls, and had a cup of hot mulled wine to warm up (it was delicious!).

We walked all the way up to the Arc de Triomphe, browsing in some shops along the way, and I found Ladurée! One of my missions in Paris was achieved – I got 8 amazing macaroons!

We ended up going back to Arts et Métiers for dinner, and I tried escargot for the first time! I actually really liked it, and the French ravioli I had for a main was to die for! The food here really is amazing!

On Saturday morning, we grabbed breakfast on the run and walked to the Bastille to see the art markets that Thea recommended. I like to buy a piece of art from each country that I visit, so this was a good chance to find something from France. I ended up getting two prints (the artist had already sold the originals of the ones I liked) of Parisienne balconies, which is what I loved most about the city. The lady was a bit nutty, but that was kinda cool and added to the experience.

From there, we wandered down to where Victor Hugo lived, in an apartment within a giant square of buildings. We didn’t actually know which one he lived in, but it was so cool to see buildings like that for the first time.

We had lunch in a Japanese restaurant after trying to find a street Amandine had eaten on before she went to Mali (we couldn’t find it), and I had a throwback to my childhood by drinking Orangina. The rest of the day was spent at the Musée D’Orsay (another excellent Thea recommendation), where I was completely blown away to see the originals of Degas’s ballerinas. Unlike the Louvre, photos aren’t allowed, but I really enjoyed seeing a lot of the impressionist works. The only disappointment was that the majority of the Monet collection was touring at the National Gallery, which we didn’t have time to get to, but it was a great afternoon wandering between works by Gaugin, Van Gough, Renoir and Degas, to name a few.

We were both exhausted by this point, so went back and had dinner at a lovely little restaurant (the decor was really nice), and this time I had veal liver with an apple sauce, to be adventurous. We ate very well in Paris, I think. I ended up buying another coat too, while we were looking for bags for Amandine. This one is orange tartan, and it’s really warm!

Yesterday was our last day, with the rushed visit to the Eiffel Tower (we didn’t have time to go to the top, only to the middle level).

The view was wonderful, and we were lucky that it didn’t rain. We grabbed a waffle to go (it was good, but not as nice as the one in London), and dashed back to the apartment to pack and give Amandine’s friend his keys back. We hurried to Gare de Lyon (let’s not talk about the number of stairs involved in this process and my 20kg suitcase, beyond saying that my arms are now guns), validated my Eurail pass, and got on the train to Lyon. Of course, after frantically rushing, the train was delayed by 20mins, so we just kinda sat there, hanging out for a while until the accident on the line was sorted out.

The train trip was pretty quick (the train was a TGV), and I slept for most of it, occassionally waking up to see different degrees of snow-covered landscape. And I think that brings things up to date. Amandine’s parents are so lovely – they don’t speak English, but talk to me anyway and her Dad even brought in macaroons for after lunch today because he knew I liked them!

I’m looking forward to exploring Lyon a bit tomorrow when I go into town to meet Amandine. For now, au revoir!

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