Monday, October 12, 2009

Paris 2009: Living the Parisian Life - Wine Festival and Shopping at Galeries Lafayette

Day 2: We thought we could beat the jet lag by powering through our first day and staying up late; but alas, we didn't get a move on for day 2 until lunch time....not much different from our weekends at home :P For lunch, we stopped by a nearby patisserie - I had a croissant with ham and cheese, and Tony had some other savoury pastry with ham and cheese. We had our mini lunch at the Louvre in front of the pyramids, surrounded by happy tourists taking pictures. Sigh. If life could be so simple everyday!

After lunch, we went to check out a modern furniture show near canal Saint-Martin. It was more like a flea market, tents lined up along the canal with a mix of new and used modern furniture pieces for sale - likely a very good buy for someone local. We saw many versions of my coveted Eames chair - we need something like this in Toronto, a market of modern furniture knock-offs! We hung out around the canal for a bit as it was a beautiful day, and stumbled upon the hostel Tony once stayed. Next we made our way to Montmartre. Our goal was to visit Sacre Coeur, since Tony had not been inside, but we stumbled upon a giant wine and food festival! Highlights include a human pyramid, we had made it to the top of some long stairs just in time to see them pile up! I also received alot of attention for my sandwich foie gras - while eating it, people kept asking me where I got it, or mumbled some words and shook their heads at me...not really sure what was going on, but I LOVED my sandwich! For 7 euros, I even got a nice little glass of wine! yum. Had we been able to move through the tents, we may have tasted more meats, cheeses, and wines, but there were simply too many people, we were lucky to make it from one end to the other and get anything at all along the way! We sat on the steps of Sacre Coeur to enjoy our sandwich and then made our way into the church. Sacre Coeur is a stunning byzantine cathedral, we spent some quiet time inside taking it all in before heading out to face the crowds again.

It was a clear night in Paris so we made our way over to the Arc de Triomphe. We got our tickets and enthusiastically hopped through the doors marked "entrance." I had forgotten that the way up is JUST stairs. In fact, I think most people are unprepaired for the stairs until they excitedly run out of breath just half way up! Luckily, someone brilliantly installed a line of benches to greet you as you enter the museum/exhibit at the top, a must stop for everyone! Five years sure has aged me because I remember bouncing up all the domes, churches and towers while backpacking with ease and this, I found myself a bit tired! Regardless, the Arc is worth the climb, particularly at night, because you get to see the 12 roads leading into the arch. While up top, we caught the sparkling lights of the Eiffel tower (happens on the hour) and the fireworks show from the wine festival on Montmartre as well! It was a nice way to end the night, how can you beat that view?

Day 3: Today was more leisurely. We had a delicious lunch near the aparment - poached salmon for Tony and a truffle omlette for me, and then picked up our tickets to Zurich at the train station (going on Tuesday!). It's been rainy most days so we decided to take it easy and made our way to do some department store damage at Galeries Lafayette. An interesting tidbit: did you know when Coco Chanel first came to Paris, she had purchased the straw hats she needed for her designs in this very store? Check out a tour of Chanel's haunts: The historic building faces the back of the Opera House and is stunning, with floors and floors of merchandise, and separate buildings for men and housewares. The place was an absolute zoo, but we navigated through, and also made our way to the gourmet market for some pate and cheese to bring home for the night. We also got a nice bottle of white wine for 6 euros! I can hardly believe we spent most of our day at Lafayette and didn't even make it to Au printemps as planned! We are hoping to go to Bon Marche before we leave, as I've heard there are some good deals in the food market. Guess we'll save that for another rainy day. Tomorrow, maybe we will tackle a museum or two...

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