The next morning I woke up really early, around 4:30 a.m. It was windy outside and I was hoping it would calm down since we had planned on going to Versailles that day. But it didn’t it got worse. I watched as it got light, then dark again. It was Purim that weekend so I watched as people walked back and forth delivering gifts. They were wrapped up against the cold and the blowing rain but still looked like they’d rather be indoors. The wind got louder and a shutter on the other corner started to bang sharply whenever the wind gusted. I watched as a lady turned the corner to walk down our street, take three difficult steps into the wind, then turn and go back.
And then I watched as through this an old man on a bicycle came riding down the street into the wind (remember: shutters banging, wind howling, rain pelting, pedestrians fleeing) at a leisurly pace, like nothing was going on. With a lit cigarette in his mouth. In my memory he looks exacly like this.
Eventually the others woke up and we looked blearily out at the bleary weather and canceled our plans to go to Versailles. None of us were in the mood to be on our feet all day, much less be on our feet with periods of walking through horrible weather while not quite seeing gorgeous gardens through the rain. So we got coffee instead:
And when the crepe guy finally opened we got crepes:
Watching him work was huge fun.
And you know what’s open on Sunday in Paris? Nothing. Well not quite, the major museums are open and now I know why, because nothing else is open. Pro tip: schedule your museum visits on Sundays and your shopping on Fridays.
Jeff found that there was a (enter name of hipster Japaense Gap-like store which I cannot remember the name of here) open in a mall out at the Grande Arche in La Défense (a group of skyscrapers just outside of Paris, the most striking visual of this area is the big, square arch that is opposite the Arch de Triumph). So we took the Metro out to see a more modern part of Paris. Half of the stores in this mall were closed and it made for a less than exciting foreign mall visit. I did get to go to a Zara though, did you know they examine their flow of goods in real time? They can tell if a shirt isn’t selling or is selling and immediately put through further instructions to their factories.
I never mentioned this hip pouch that I bought from Redbird Style before we left. I love it. It held my passport, phone and/or camera and some extra money close to my body and under my coat but didn’t mean that I succumbed to the money pouch thing. And I requested one with a removable pouch so I could also use it as a belt. (A note for the fabric buyers among you, yes both the skirt and the pouch are from recent Alexander Henry home collections, and it was a complete coincidence. But they go together pretty well.)
This was a billboard we saw in the Metro a lot. I didn’t pay much attention and thought it was an ad for jazz music, maybe? But focusing on it revealed it was probably trying to sell us fireplaces. Sexy, sexy fireplaces.
We exited the Metro (RER? can’t remember) and up to a wide courtyard looking right up at the La Grande Arche. I didn’t know this at the time but it’s deep enough that it forms a perfect square, the sides hold government offices, the roof holds a convention center, and visitors can go to see the view from the roof, more at Wikipedia. It was impressive, but it was also so windy it sucked the breath right out of us. So I got a picture of the thumb before we retreated indoors:
We found ourselves in a McDonalds. It was hard to tell at first. I like the lamps off in the corner:
But I spotted the McMacarons I had read about from Cakespy‘s Twitter just a day before.
Half of the shops in the mall were closed so we went home and poked around the neighorhood a bit more, we bought sandwiches for the plane and I found more interesting chips:
I love the color of this door, which we could see from our living room:
I adore the window decal of the street lamp in this apartment window:
And I found one more space invader:
We spent some time packing, and I’m really glad we did since I barely fit everything. (I would have last-minute packing worry dreams for a few days after we got home.) Then we went to grab burgers at the window that was just down from the crepes and just across from the falafel places:
You know what isn’t so smart? Asking for cheeseburger at a Kosher restaurant. Oops. Luckily it seems like maybe I wasn’t the first person to do this and they had good humor about the request. Scott picked a random drink for his meal, which we later found was lemonade and beer mixed together:
I’m glad we spent the last night in our own neighborhood, I’ll miss the Marais.
Then we sipped wine and watched some of the last of the Olympics coverage, barely, barely staying awake for the end of the US vs. Canada hockey game.
Things I learned the hard way:
Sunday: Nothing is open on Sunday. Including, sadly, La Grand Epicerie which I was hoping to go back to in the hopes of finding those chocolate eggs. Sunday is a good day to spend at the museums. Or sipping wine at cafes all day long. Or going to Versailles if it isn’t raining sideways.
Versailles: You can reach Versailles via the RER, to a bus I think, and if you get yourself a good guidebook it can help you get through the ticket and entry lines more quickly. There are different levels of tickets and various entries for those ticket holders. The place is so big it has a train, and you can even rent an electric vehicle to get around. Cakespy and company reported it was worth it to pay extra to see Marie Antoinette’s quarters. They also report there are two bakeries there! Mostly I just wanted to mention Versailles so I could show you this picture we found when looking at Versailles on Google Maps, the entry of Versailles on Street View as taken by Google Maps scooter cam!
Previously: Day One arrival and beating jet lag; Day Two big impressive monuments, unexpected meetings, needing to pee; Day Three The Metro, a museum, and French onion soup; Day Four dogs in paintings, startlingly large arches and towers; Day Five pastries and scoldings; Day Five the bit about the mangosteens; Day Six trains and vegetables; Day Seven, Ye Olde-est Pub in England and a giant space suit; Day Eight rain gods and cake for elevenses; Day Nine accordions and chestnuts
Next: Day Eleven sunshine and airplanes