04 July 2014

paris (day 2)

Adventuring in a new city can be intimidating especially when you don't know the language and the city itself is so darn big!  Paris is divided up into Arrondissments (divisions) starting in the center of the city at 1e and going in a spiral out to the outer parts of the city.  We were staying in Monmartre, the 18e.  I like to leave room for flexibility and for discovery along the way and not have such a strict schedule that I don't feel free to drop into a cafe along the way, browse the shops or add something to my itinerary.  This can be a great way to travel and leaves a lot of room for having a relaxing trip.  It can also result in eating at mediocre restaurants for too much money since you didn't do that thorough research or falling victim to your own lack of planning….I thought I'd planned and narrowed things down but once we really got there and I sat on my bed overlooking the vast city I was overcome with just how many things there are to do; how many things I wanted to do in the city and just what I should do.  I'd been here before and done the museum pass and the tourist highlights but I wanted to get a bit more off the beaten path and see more of how the Parisians live and enjoy their city.

Planning and truly trusting my guide book would have been a good place to start as it mentioned that June gets about as much rain as the other months of the year.  When I told this to my husband while packing, he shrugged off the idea and ditched the rain coat/gear.  So I did the same (even though I'd read the guide book).  I wanted to pack lightly and needed a practical "warmer" coat and a "cute" coat for fancier evenings but it just seemed excessive to pack three coats so I skipped it.

And wouldn't you know the second day as we determined to do a self-guided walking tour of our neighborhood a torrential several hour rain storm hit.  Voila!  Luckily our apartment had an umbrella and we purchased a second at a nearby shop for a few Euro after realizing on the narrow sidewalks it was difficult to walk to people side by side without getting wet or running into a passerby.

Our day started with an adventurous walk to the grocery store.  It probably seems so mundane but there are all kinds of interesting things in just the ordinary when you are in a new place.  We browsed and picked up a few staples for the apartment (like toilet paper, they offered scented toilet paper: wow!).  And after regrouping, we set out on our walking tour.

View of rainy Paris from our room, love all the little terra cotta chimneys with little crinkled aluminum caps.

Typical Parisian (or W. European) front door.  Doorknobs are in the center, always very tall double doors and often with some sort of ornate decoration around the entryway.

Saint Jean de Monmartre Church.
First stop along our walking tour of Monmartre, a wonderfully unique church architecturally (one of the first to use reinforced concrete) although relatively new compared to many of the churches in Paris.  Such lovely arches and design that are mirrored throughout the balcony, window designs and embedded in pulpit, etc.

Two story carousel at the base of the Sacre Cour.  A lot of neat places to sit not just the traditional horses.  I don't know why but I love carousels and carousel/organ music.

Fountains below the Sacre Cour

Sacre Cour
Interesting how the church seems to look different depending on when you see it throughout the day and what type of weather is reflected in the sky.  Lit up at night it looks heavenly and can be seen throughout the city.  Reflected in the dark rain clouds of the day it seems gloomy and even a bit medieval.

Maison de Maurice Neumont, French Lithographer and Artist (1868-1930)
Love these art deco/art nouveau doors that look like either spider webs, moth wings or even eyes looking out at the world.  Notice the peephole as it is a little door with a spider web covering it.  I love all the attention to detail that older buildings often have.  Just taking your time walking and looking around, you notice all sorts of little gems like this.

Au Lapin AgileAlthough mostly a tourist attraction (still in operation though) this Cabaret house doesn't look much different than it did when famous (but then struggling artists) such as Picasso and Utrillo hung out here at the turn of the century.  Built in the 1850's it has gone through a series of names finally resting on the current due to the painting of the Rabbit on the exterior (au Lapin).

La Refuge (18e)
After our walking tour, we stopped at the bottom of the hill for a little snack and finally a break in the rain at La Refuge.  Roasted Camembert Cheese with Honey and salad and Ensalata with Pesto and of course coffee for me, beer for Abe and fresh baguette.

A wandering through the neighborhood revealed all sorts of specialty shops from deli's to Fromageries (cheese shops) and Boulangeries, the Bier Cave (mostly Belgian and imported beers) and book shops.  It was a relaxed browsing as we watched locals sniff and walk and gather their goods.

I'll be honest, I totally respect the amazing process of the cheese makers and all the many many different kinds of chess offered in France but the smell of the shop was a bit musty for my taste.  All kinds of "moldy" authentic cheese and we had no idea where to even start to ask questions so instead we just looked and smelled.
Boulangerie Alexi
All that walking worked up an appetite and I'm never one to turn down a fresh made pastry, especially if it is a fresh made Flan.

Sometimes when all else fails and you get exhausted and intimidated reading through your guidebooks for the "perfect" restaurant, you realize you are hungry and a Pizza will likely do.  The food was decent but the service was great, friendly and just like pretty much any other time we were there we dined outside on the patio people watching and chatting

Walking home after dinner.  It always involved lots of steps but it felt great to always walk after a meal and enjoy the sounds of the city and feel the cool night air.

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