Not Martha

My Vacation Slides: Paris day 10, McMacarons and not going to Versailles

windy, rainy early morning

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:

cafe cream

And when the crepe guy finally opened we got crepes:

steam coming off a cooking crepe

Watching him work was huge fun.

crepe filled with melted cheese

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.

my belt, and a small pouch

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.)

a billboard in the metro with a bearded guy, two pretty girls, and some fireplaces shown on the side

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.

La Grande Arche, huuuge

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:

a giant thumb

We found ourselves in a McDonalds. It was hard to tell at first. I like the lamps off in the corner:

interior of McDonalds, looking like a modern restaurant

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:

steak flavored potato chips

I love the color of this door, which we could see from our living room:

a blue door

I adore the window decal of the street lamp in this apartment window:

window decal of a street lamp in a window

And I found one more space invader:

the last invader I found

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:

outside the burger window

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:

Panache can

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!

gates of Versailles, with the shadow of a scooter with the Google Maps cameras mounted on the back of it

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

· comments [20] · 03-29-2010 · categories:travel ·

20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 tracy // Mar 29, 2010 at 9:27 am

    OH MY GOD. That CREPE!!! That cheese! I am dying for a bite.

  • 2 Marie // Mar 29, 2010 at 9:40 am

    “Nothing is open on Sunday.”

    That’s true of much of Western Europe. Also, if you start going further north, some tourist attractions aren’t open (or are only partially open) in the summer. This is especially true in the Netherlands.

  • 3 Marie // Mar 29, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Oops, I wrote that completely backwards. Some tourists attractions *are* only open in the summer; they’re partially or fully closed in the fall and winter, due to generally poor weather.

  • 4 SAWII // Mar 29, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I can’t believe Uniqlo is forgettable! I fell in love with it in Japan. And spent half my week in Paris searching for it there and was very sad when I couldn’t find it. I was jealous when I heard you guys found it there.

  • 5 Patty // Mar 29, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I see that others had brought it up, but I’m thinking you’re referring to Uniqlo,

    And by the way, ever since you brought up the Space Invader thing, I’ve been looking all around when I travel. Thanks for the great posts.

  • 6 Alisa // Mar 29, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Ooo, Panach’. I have fond, fond memories of this drink of hot French summer afternoons. Did he like it?

  • 7 Laura // Mar 29, 2010 at 10:11 am

    So sad this series is coming to an end. You should definitely go on more vacations so you can share your adventures! I’ve loved all your posts about Paris!

  • 8 Jennifer // Mar 29, 2010 at 10:26 am

    isn’t is also true that large trucks are not even allowed on french highways on sundays??

    seems like every time I go anywhere in europe I end up arriving on some holiday weekend (do europeans have holidays every day??) when all the shops and restaurants are, sadly, closed. I never know how to plan for it either, but it usually leaves me wandering aimlessly around the city for three days!

    next time I go anywhere I will have to remember to check for space invaders. that’s so fun!

  • 9 Dzesika // Mar 29, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Muji? Also fun like Uniqlo. I miss Europe.

  • 10 redbirdstyle // Mar 29, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    I’m so glad you liked it!!!!!


  • 11 megan // Mar 29, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Uniqlo!! That’s it. Thanks to everybody who did remember it. The thing is that the sign outside the shop was in Japanese, so I never even saw how the shop was spelled, and listening to Jeff and Maggi pronounce it was like “unique glow” or “uni glow” or something else I have long forgotten.

  • 12 gribblette // Mar 29, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    thank you so much for sharing your vacation, i’ve really enjoyed these posts!

  • 13 Tina // Mar 29, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    ugh, the first week i spent (alone) of a two month exchange in germany was easter week/weekend (and my birthday to boot). in addition to the normal culture shock and moving shock and new project shock, everything was always closed and my advisor suddenly took off for italy….what an intro to sundays (to the max) in europe :) i was so depressed and thought i would never make it the rest of the two months…but then everything opened again and my advisor came back (and i never forgot to get supplies before sunday arrived again…)

  • 14 MJ // Mar 30, 2010 at 3:45 am

    That’s actually one of the things I like about Europe, that the weekend *is* the weekend, and is for everybody. It was strange when I first moved here, but I got used to it!

    I also like the 2-hour lunches, but in the Spanish countryside everything closes for 6 hours! I learned that the hard way. Don’t forget that if you ever go bushwhacking in Spain!

  • 15 bgore // Mar 30, 2010 at 6:03 am

    where did you stay in Paris.? The photo of your place looks amazing. My husband and I are thinking of going to paris for our 10th anniversary. Last time I was in Paris was 1998. I feel clueless as to planning the trip.

  • 16 kari jo // Mar 30, 2010 at 7:26 am

    i love uniqlo. and uniqlo in paris? dreamy. welcome home.

  • 17 carole // Mar 30, 2010 at 8:53 am

    The billboard you saw in the metro is about fireplaces. And the guy on it is the boss of the Invicta company ;) He bases his communication on his personality: he’s cool, he listens to metal bands, he plays electric guitar,…
    Fun to see the thumb on your pictures: I work in La Défense, just behind that thumb (near the Total building).
    You should try to make crepes at home. They’re easy, cheap and really fun to make. I’ll post the receipe on my blog one of these days…

  • 18 Pia Dean // Mar 31, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I spent a weekend in Paris with a true shopaholic and I took her to The Carousel du Louvre.
    The Carrousel du Louvre is a popular shopping center housed within the Louvre palace and accessible via the Rue de Rivoli entrance.

  • 19 jennifer in sf // Mar 31, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    When I was in Paris, we discovered that, oops we had an extra day! (A great thing to discover in Paris.) So we went to La Défense becasue we’d been so curious about “that weird part way over there.” And it was weird, but highly enjoyable. I don’t think we even knew about the mall though.

  • 20 Well, hello. | Redbird Style // Apr 1, 2010 at 9:14 am

    […] to have two blogs and an etsy store, which had a gangbuster week!  Thank you to Not Martha for the sweet mention of the hip bag.  Everyone seems to want the bag I made for you! I hope to make lots of them for all […]

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