Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Paris: Day Three, Tuesday

Tuesday morning, J. and I checked out of the cute Hotel d'Albion and walked our bags over to Hanban's place. Since May 8 is Victoir 1945 ("Victory in Europe Day"), Han had the day off from work, so she could show us around Paris. Han was in Paris for a three-month-long work project and when we arrived, she had been there almost two months, so we were excited to see all her favorite spots in town! After the daily cafe au lait and pain au chocolat, Han showed us how to buy Metro tickets and how to navigate the Parisian Metro. Y'all. I became obsessed with the Metro; it's such an amazing train system! First stop, Pigalle. Pigalle is the stop right outside of the Moulin Rouge. Pigalle is kind of the red-light district of Paris, so we didn't spend much time there. Instead, we walked north and uphill into Montmartre. I've read that Picasso and van Gogh lived in this part of Paris (and artists such as Renoir and Matisse hung out in the area), but we did not pursue their digs on this walking tour.

Han and J. walking up one of several flights of stairs in Montmartre:

The ultimate goal was to get to Sacre-Coeur (I could not get a good picture of this basilica.) and check out the gorgeous view of Paris, but we slowly wove our way through a maze of sex shops, boutiques and wonderful-smelling brasseries, stopping for a crepe on the way up. We sat  by a cool house to eat our crepes and catch our breath, and I really liked the gate so I took a picture of it. The house had an informational monument-esque sign outside of it, but it was in French; I gathered that some important man influential in the development of Montmartre lived there.

It was cloudy for the majority of the trip, but I didn't mind at all. I actually really enjoy cloudy/rainy days because it feels magical to me in some way. I'm weird, don't judge me. Here is the view from Sacre-Coeur:

Below is a picture of J. and I outside Sacre-Coeur. I have laughed at every picture of myself in Paris because after all the careful and meticulous outfit-planning I did, I have on the same jacket, scarf and bag in every single photo. I promise I changed my clothes every day on this trip, ha.

After checking out Sacre-Coeur, Han pointed out a few fabric stores she'd been into in the past. Do I even have to tell you I made a bee-line for those places? I think not. This portion of the day was so fun for me. I first spotted a red, oatmeal and cream striped linen that made my heart flutter. I instantly wanted to mass-produce beautiful napkins when I saw this fabric. The best part: it was a 3 meter cut for 5 euros! That's a steal! Clearly I had to snatch it up. I also bought a pretty white cotton fabric with some neat eyelet designs on it (3 meters for 10 euros, another steal!). I want to make a shirt out of this one. Here's the thing about many of the "tissu" shops we went in that day, they all sold fabric in 3-meter cuttings and they were organized by textile (coton, soie, etc.)--so it was like buying fabric remnants. The only places I saw that were consistent in selling "tissu" off the bolt were upholstery shops. Anyway, we couldn't spend forever fabric shopping (well, I could have, but I didn't want to be a bore to Han and J.), so we went down to the Saint-Germain-des-Pres area by metro, which was lovely and very different than Montmartre. 

If Montmartre is bohemian, then Saint-Germain-des-Pres is swanky. We walked into boutique after boutique, but I have to be honest, I was discouraged by the lack of wow-factor clothing that wouldn't make my bank account hate me. Before I went to Paris, I decided that I wanted to buy a few clothing items when I went there. I've been bored with all the stores I normally shop, so in my mind, Paris was to redeem my spring and summer wardrobe. As much as Paris is a fashion capital of the world, it took me several days to figure out where exactly to go to find nice, affordable fashions. I love all different types of textiles, and sewing has made me become somewhat of a textile snob. With the rise of textile prices over the last few years, silk shirts are way more expensive than polyester shirts. I know you already knew that, but the thing is, I hate polyester and I don't like the way it feels on my bod. So the first couple of days shopping around kind of freaked me out beyond all belief. My shopping experience in Saint German des-Pres went like this in retrospect: every other shop was either filled with elegant, French-country style garments that were way out of my price rang or neon colored, cheap lace-trimmed dresses that looked like they came out of Barbie's worst nightmare. The lack of a middle ground agitated me. Not cool. I had to find somewhere in between (and I did, but later in the week). 

Overall, I enjoyed this day because every part of Paris is beautiful to me, and the experience of walking down the sidewalks and window-shopping while grinning and nodding at waiters enticing you to sit down at their cafe or brasserie was just the kind of experience that makes me smile and sigh. I drank a Coke at some panini place that afternoon, and it was delectable. It's the little things in life...

Oh, we randomly went to this sweet grocery store called La Grand Epicerie at Le Bon Marche (Le Bon Marche is the big department store on the left bank) that was like Whole Foods on crack. Their million-varieties-of-tomatoes were in crystal clear trifle bowls on tiered tables, what the what! I could've spent my entire life savings in that place on swanky groceries (but I didn't). On Tuesday night, we made some delicious salads for dinner, ate some yum cheeses and drank a glass or two of wine before heading to bed for another big day. Oddly, we did not buy supplies for dinner at La Grand Epicerie, but instead at a Monoprix, which is like a Parisian Target with groceries in the back. Below is a picture of Han walking out of the store. 

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