29 November 2012

Paris, je t'aime

Paris was AMAZING!! This weekend was the fourth time I've been to the City of Lurve, but each time I forget quite how much I love it there, and so each trip never fails to disappoint.

I met Tamsin at Place de la Bastille on Friday evening in the pouring rain where we began our weekend of Christmassy adventures, as we are both a teeny weeny bit over-excited about the fact that Christmas is just one month away. As soon as we got to her flat the Christmas radio went on and the Christmas period officially started. With the Cimetière du Père Lachaise just up the road from Tamsin's flat, we spent a couple of hours there during the daytime on Saturday, spotting celebrities who are no longer with us. I still can't get over how big the cemetery is; I reckon its surface area is pretty much the same size as the whole of Melle.

La Cimetière du Père Lachaise

Being both musicians, we had a good old nose at the graves of Chopin, Poulenc, Fauré and Rossini, although apparently the latter is no longer actually in the grave but is instead enjoying himself back in his homeland for a bit. The cemetery itself is beautiful with cobbled paths, lots of trees, hills going up and down, and loads of mahoosive mausoleums which are good fun to get creeped out by.

Ici repose Frédéric Chopin

Late afternoon we went to Galéries Lafayette to see the giant Christmas tree, and it did not disappoint.

However, the best bit was when we stumbled upon the roof of the building just as the sun was going down, which gave us some pretty spectacular views of the city, including of course the Eiffel Tower. I have never seen a more busy shop though, even with there still being 4 weeks until Christmas.

Paris, from the top of Galeries Lafayette

We then walked to Place de la Concorde to begin our walk up the Champs-Elysées in all its Christmas glory. With impressive lumières de Noel, a big Christmas market lining the Avenue, and a cup of mulled wine (or 'hot wine' as they call it over here), Tamsin and I were loving life.

And it got a whole lot better when we discovered they were selling mince pies in the mini M&S there. Making it through the crowds up to Arc de Triomphe, we then walked down a disappointingly non-Christmassy avenue to Trocadero in order to get a good view of the Eiffel Tower. And as luck would have it, we arrived there a few minutes before it was next due to sparkle for 5 minutes. It was so pretty! 

Having walked for hours, we decided to call it a night, eager to get home eat mince pies and homemade cassoulet. If the M&S on Champs-Elysées is the only place in France that sells mince pies, I'm not sure how I'm going to survive these next few weeks.

Mince pies, one of Britain's greatest inventions

We decided on Sunday to go to church in Notre-Dame, to say that we'd done it. Arriving there early, we popped across the river so that Tamsin could introduce me to the most amazing bookshop ever. It's called 'Shakespeare & Company' and I actually felt like I was somewhere on Diagon Alley. It had crooked stairs, thousands of beautiful old books, velvety covered seating areas, ladders on the bookshelves and was generally just so cute. The kids books section was definitely my favourite part. If it's no longer socially acceptable to read Barbar The Elephant at 20 years of age, I might just have a baby solely to be able to read it bedtime stories every night.

Mass at Notre-Dame is not something I'd recommend; the fact that hundreds of tourists are walking around the edge taking pictures and paying no attention whatsoever to the 'Silence' sign means that there are constant distractions, and there were no hymns, which of course is everybody's favourite part of going to Church. The best thing about the mass though was definitely whenever someone in the congregation started to take a picture this Chinese guy would just appear out of nowhere and tell them off like they were school kids, and when a man 2 rows in front of us got his camera out, another guy a couple of seats along just stared at him for about 2 minutes giving him the biggest evils I've ever seen.

After mass we visited a little Christmas Fayre in some random building, then we walked back to the flat along the river. After lunch we took the metro to Montmartre and once again timed it perfectly to watch the sun going down from Sacre-Cœur. There was also some amazing busker who was standing on the pillar at the top of the steps doing football tricks and doing handstands and stuff with it. Then he climbed a lampost whilst continuing to spin and balance the ball. The fact that he would have probably died if he'd fallen off was pretty impressive. We walked around Place du Tertre then went into Sacre-Coeur, which we decided is more striking than Notre-Dame due to its sheer vastness and trhe fact that people actually observe the plea for silence. No trip to Montmartre is complete without getting a glimpse of the Moulin Rouge, so we wandered down to Paris' red-light district, then hopped back onto the metro to the centre, walked along the river, then went to the cinema to see Skyfall as I had been unable to see it in English thus far. And it was definitely worth the wait. Although it made me pine for London.

So there you have it, mon weekend à Paris.

Merci mille fois Tamsin!

Sacre-Coeur at dusk

Climbing a lamp post at the top of Montmartre

La Tour Eiffel at sunset

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