Paris, Je T’Aime

Back from a whirlwind trip to Paris this weekend!  I visited about three years ago during high school, but no grand tour of  Europe is complete without a trip to Paris.  I skipped most major touristy spots (though I would have loved to go back to Versailles), instead visiting places I didn’t get to see my first time around, although time constraints kept me from seeing everything on my hastily scribbled list brainstormed in the airport.

Here’s my weekend in pictures:

Once we got to our hostel the six of us staying there set out to find dinner. We found this cute little Italian place and ordered some pizzas and a few bottles of the my new favourite wine - Moscato D'asti. The bottle we had was specifically Ca' Dei Mandorli Dei Giari Moscato D'asti 2010. Crisp, sweet, with tiny bubbles, and a hint of citrus. I could have easily finished the bottle on my own (although that probably wouldn't be a good thing).

Next stop: the Louvre. It wasn't on my list, but it's free for under 26's on Friday nights, so we had to go.

The spiral stairs from the pyramidal entrance down into the Louvre.

We got there pretty late, around 9pm so we practically jogged to the museum's #1 attraction: the Mona Lisa. Disappointing as ever in its demure size and in its glass casing, but an eternal icon nonetheless so I had to take a picture.

We decided to walk along the Seine. The stairs down smelled like urine, but once we were on the walkway it felt so magical. I spotted this pair of swans along the river.

The ferris wheel and obelisk illuminated at night.

At last - our destination, the iron lady awash in light.

I wish I'd gone on this carousel, the animals were so pretty.

Back to the Eiffel tower to watch its glittering light show. It's a little cheesy and over the top with its 20 000 flashing lights, but still gorgeous.

The next morning we set out for the Notre Dame, crossing the Seine.

Moi avec la Notre Dame et un beau sapin de Noel. I tried to practice my French a little while in Paris, but Andreeanne is from Quebec so I was content to be lazy and let her do most of the talking.

Inside the Notre Dame there wasn't much to see. The nativity scene they had set up was cute though.

After emerging from the Notre Dame we split up to head our separate ways and explore Paris. I wanted to go to the Musee d'Orsay so I set out with Anna and Laura, following the Seine. Adventures ensued, with me being given a large gold ring and then chased down by my gifter who demanded cigarettes and money in return. Needless to say I gave back the ring, though in hindsight we probably should have booked it away and tried to pawn the ring for money.

We made it to the Orsay, but the lineup looked like it'd take at least a precious hour to get through, so we settled for pictures with the animal statues outside instead.

We decided to head to the Hotel des Invalides. I tried to take a picture with the cute little trees lining the main path but promptly was furiously whistled at by the guards. No pictures with the cute trees for me.

The Hotel des Invalides is the home of Napolean's Tomb. Unfortunately, it costs 8 euro to get in, which seemed like an exorbitant amount of money that would be better spent on food, so we decided to just take some pictures of the facade.

Back across the river Seine to take a look at the Grand Palais.

Again, story of the day: once we reached our destination (in this case, le grand palais) the line up was too long/entrance fee too expensive. Again, I deemed a picture of the exterior to be good enough.

On the opposite side of the street, le Petite Palais.

We then walked along the Champs Elysees, which is hosting a Christmas market at the moment that stretches on both sides of the street for blocks. The ice skating patch looked too cute with its penguin strollers.

We said we'd meet at the obelisk (or "the pointy monument thing" according to some friends) so we could all have lunch together.

The three of us got there early though, so we decided to treat ourselves to some much deserved crepes.

This nutella crepe was unbelievably good.

We all met up but rearranged ourselves into new groups to set out for different lunch spots. The group I was with decided to mosey along the Christmas market stalls to find our dejeuner. This was the Norweigan stall I bought lunch from. The massive fillets of salmon looked too good to resist.

Fresh Norweigan salmon with salad and creme fraiche in a baguette. So good. Ooh, also you can see the new Cath Kidman camera case I bought myself a few weeks ago. I love the pattern on it, the colours just make me smile everytime I take it out.

After my baguette I decided to find myself some mulled wine and settled on this place. I got the Girl size, though I probably could have finished the "Big Boy", it was so yummy!

Every streetcorner of the Champs Elysees was all decorated for the holidays.

We then set out to find Laduree, creator of the macaron. The lineup to buy its dainty creations stretched out of the shop and down its storefront, but we patiently waited.

There were probably around 30 different flavours but after much deliberation I settled on these three: Pistache, Praline, et Cassis Violette. They were 1.65 euro each, pretty pricy, but absolutely worth every penny. I think the blackcurrent was my favourite, it was so perfectly sweet and tart and rich. I could have eaten a whole box (...but I didn't. Did I already mention they were 1.65 each? That's like $2.50ish Canadian! But they were oh so worth it)

We kept walking until we hit the Arc de Triomphe. Traffic wasn't too bad when we got there, I remember the last time I was there I was in a giant tour bus that bullied its way through the insane traffic circle.

All nine of us met up again to set out for dinner. By now the sky had darkened and the illuminations of the Champs Elysees switched on.

After much searching, we found this little restaurant on a side street. I got the french onion soup to start, which was hot and flavourful and just perfect.

For my main, confit de canard. It was perfectly made, I just always forget I'm not a fan of duck cooked this way. It feels too oily and salty. I'm so asian ha I'd pick bbq duck anyday.

Walking back along the Champs Elysee the rings of light on the trees changed colour every minute. So pretty!

We split up again after dinner, with some of us heading to the Moulin Rouge, which was on my list. We didn't go inside, I doubt we'd be able to afford a show so we just snapped pictures of the infamous mill wheel. It was pretty early at this point so we decided to buy some bottles of wine and head back to the hostel to play cards. We got a bottle of rose and a bottle of white. The rose cost 2.90, the white, 3.90. The one euro made all the difference, the rose was like watered down wine, but with the same alcohol content. So horrid.

Our roommates told us there was a club downstairs so we decided to check it out. It was pretty small, and the music was not my style, but it was still fun, although we didn't stay for long. I had to dance to the I don't even know what... it was like trance music with super heavy bass so I just sort of swayed around.

We slept in Sunday morning and caught breakfast at the hostel before checking out. Andreeanne and I set off for the Trocadero for some last pictures of the Eiffel Tower before we had to leave for our flight.

We walked from the Trocadero up to the tower for some closeups.

..and then through the tower and through the park.

It was lovely just sauntering through the park talking about nothing and everything. We kept walking until we hit the military academy.

I walked past this cafe, which is obviously meant for people watching, with all of its chairs facing outwards onto the sidewalk.

White Kinder Bueno! We both had never tried it before so we had to get one from the vending machine while we were waiting for the metro. So good! I like it more than the regular chocolate Buenos. Why don't we have the white one in Canada?!

Around 1pm to 7pm was spent in painfully mindnumbing transit. Once back in Manchester Andreeanne and I decided to head to The Oxford, our new fave, for dinner. We both got the bacon and cheese beef burgers - so good and so cheap! It's on the the 2 meals for 6.95 menu, making it cheaper than McDonalds, and infinitely better. I highly recommend the place.

The lack of time aside, it was just such a lovely relaxed weekend of amazing food, wine, and company with the beautiful dame de fer always in the background.

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