Hole in One in Paris – Day 7

Up by 8:30, down to breakfast by 9:30 and ready to leave by the hostel by 10:00…but that didn’t change anything. Michelle, Jihane, Skyler and I were planning on taking the group tour to Versailles that left the hostel at 10:00, but only Michelle and I were ready by ten on time. We had planned the spend the whole day there… What were we going to do?

Thankfully, we found ourselves in this dilemma in PARIS of all places. Ha! There’s always something to do in Paris. 😉 We hauled butt to the subway and made it to Palais Royale, which is right across from the Louvre. I hadn’t ever been there so I was finally seeing something I hadn’t yet! We didn’t enter the palace, but we walked around the gorgeous garden, took pictures by the fountain and entered the reputed parfumerie. My nose totally died upon entering that store–just essentially imagine the heavy scents you experience when walking in to Yankee Candle but with a much more expensive overtone.

After the palace, we came to the decision that we wanted to make the trek over to Notre Dame de Paris and see what we saw along the way. I really wanted to go to Les Halles once more but the damn thing was closed down for renovation! I took a picture of the blueprints. Luckily though, we discovered a hidden gem. That entire street running along Les Halles is jam-packed with cheap stores (to students coming from Switzerland it was dirt cheap) and Jihane almost freaked out. She hadn’t bought anything since we’d flown to Geneva and she was ready to take advantage of this opportunity. She got stuck in an H&M equivalent store while Michelle and I went exploring further. We entered a store where they were selling a lot of nice coats and I set my sights on this nice black faux leather jacket. I put it on and it hugged my torso so perfectly! When I showed it to everyone, they liked how it sat on me but told me it was too obviously fake. I should find something more real. Sigh… Now I really want a leather jacket. Because ever since I saw that one, I began noticing one in every four Parisians wearing a leather jacket in every color. Given that they, along with the Italians, are major trend-setters, I knew that I would be totally chic to wear mine.

We had lunch in a cute Italian place and afterwards went into Starbucks. I refuse to have Starbucks in Geneva because, I kid you not, it costs 7,20 CHF for a tall caramel frappuccino! Blasphemy. The one we went into in Paris sold it for 3,50 € so I was much more willing to pay that price. I finally woke up! I now had the energy to schlepp to the cathedral. We walked by the Centre George Pompidou and I thought about how little I liked the art there four years ago. 😀

Finally at the Notre Dame, my favorite part was seeing a portion of the mass inside. The quality of the pictures isn’t great because I had to turn my flash off. I also enjoyed the picture-taking outside! The cathedral really is a marvel. And I got a coin souvenir from there! My second one so far, the first being from Sacré-CÅ“ur. I wonder if I can make this collecting into a habit!

Started at Palais Royale and ended up at Notre Dame

I had really wanted to visit Cimetière du Père-Lachaise but nobody else wanted to see it with me. When we were outside trying to settle on future plans, I cashed in my luck and decided to make the trip myself (also because I had the brooding feeling that the cemetery was probably closed as it was 17:30 when I made my way over to the metro)… Excited to finally be alone, I made the incredibly crowded 35-minute metro ride to the cemetery. When I say crowded…I mean nobody was even holding on to the bars because we were held together by the ridiculous proximity. Looked EXACTLY like this:

Okay, so there was no suspicious man clutching his backpack, but you get the point.

Gross. Yuck. You could say there was no better feeling than getting off that train! The map below depicts my actual journey. The cemetery is on the right and if you will notice, I did not enter it. Yup. It was closed. So I began by leaving the metro and going the wrong direction until I asked someone for help. Then I walked alongside the cemetery, encountered the closed sign, and decided, what the heck, I’m alone and want to amuse myself. I walked down the length of the street until I encountered a little park. I walked around it, smelled the roses (gosh, I wish there were roses!), sat down. And then realized I urgently needed a restroom. I got back up and walked back to the station from whence I came! Decided to make a trip to Place de la République and go bathroom hunting there.

The plum purple indicates the initial route I took, ending up at the park. There begins the cyan blue, measuring the path I took on the way back to the metro.

So picture yourself in my shoes: I arrive at Place de la République, excited to see yet another sight I hadn’t my last trip here…when I see that it, too, has been closed down due to renovations. Oh, but it’s supposed to make me feel better that I see blueprints! Big whoop. I wanted my man on the horse statue. And all I got was a wrapped up statue. I was so frustrated!!! And then I got over it. Found a McDonald’s, bought a Sprite to gain access to their bathroom (it’s code-operated) and found a little mall. I discovered black leather gloves for 22 €! I was mega pleased that I bought something leather that day. Got over my leather jacket desire just a little bit…

I received a text from Jihane that the rest of them were at Place de la Concorde. I went to meet them there and we started walking along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The group informed me that they were hungry–whilst I was not–so they found some cheap restaurant off the avenue and we took our seats. As soon as we sat down, I told them that I was going to go to Ladurée to get some macaroons. They gave me some money with which I would buy them macaroons too. It was definitely a long shot going to a pastry shop at 9:00 in the evening, especially in Europe. It’s as if all Europeans have an unwritten agreement to make consumerism impossible due to their early closing hours. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to see something had worked out the way I’d liked! I got two large vanilla and coffee macaroons, while the rest of my friends got mini macaroons of vanilla, chocolate, coffee and raspberry flavors.

Back at the restaurant, I just had a hot chocolate and they complained about their respective meals. I’d say I got out well! When dinner was over, we sat down on benches by the Arc de Triomphe and ate the macaroons. I thought it was an incredibly pleasant experience, but then again, it was something I’d planned. They didn’t really like the macaroons and they let me know it. I told them that at least they could say that they ate a macaroon from the best pâtisserie in France known for their macaroons. It was a cultural experience they couldn’t pass up on.

We made our way to the Arc de Triomphe, stood there for ten minutes or so taking it in. Shortly thereafter, we called it a night. Back at the hostel, I asked the concierge where I could print my ticket back to Geneva. He told me I’d have to e-mail an address, which he handed me, and come right back down to have it printed for me. I e-mailed my ticket as well as Michelle’s and came to speak with him. It was 1:00 in the morning and given that I was drenched from speaking French the entire day I just wanted to talk to him in English. He briefly looked at my ticket and saw that it was not in English. He asked me if it was in Spanish and I slightly angled my head and narrowed my eyes in skepticism. “No, it’s in French,” I told him. ” “Ah, vous parlez français?” he asked me. I told him I did. He went on to inquire as to why I chose to speak to him in English and not in French. I gave him the same reason I just wrote down. We talked a little and then a smiled appeared on his face as he said, “C’est vraiment un plaisir de voir qu’il y a une américaine qui parle assez bien comme toi!” I blushed a little given that he enjoyed speaking to an American in French and I told him we do what we can.

I’d say that today was a day built on disappointment. Disappointment that turned into opportunity (isn’t that what life is, really?). We didn’t go to Versailles. We didn’t see Les Halles. I didn’t see Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. I didn’t see Place de la République. Yet look at all the things we did see! The experiences we had (well, I had hehe). Definitely a hole in one tour of Paris.