Paris Travel Journal
I awoke on the morning of 8 March to sunlight streaming through the window of our hotel room. Paris looked beautiful, and I certainly didn’t feel any older ;)
Looking out at my Paris :)
We kept our boissons cold on the windowsill, à la Bill Murray in The Razor's Edge.
After another breakfast of pains au chocolat and other deliciousness, we went back up to our room to make plans for our day. Part of me wanted to just sit all day and allow my ankles some time to mend, but, I mean, it’s Paris! I ignored the pain, donned my ankle brace, popped a few preventative Aleve, and we set out for the Canal Saint-Martin.
We strolled along the canal for an hour or two, enjoying the less-touristy neighborhood and the beautiful scenery. Even though Paris is at a higher latitude than Philadelphia, it seems spring comes a bit earlier there – trees and flowers were beginning to bloom, and everything was just lovely.
Matt said that when we live in Paris, he wants to have an apartment in a building like this, with a little balcony. I'm holding him to it ;)
After our stroll, we got on the Métro for a few stops toward Père-Lachaise Cemetary, where some very famous people are buried. But first, we stopped in at a Sandwiches Turcs shop (roughly the Parisian equivalent of a cheesesteak place in Philly – there’s at least one on every major street!). Warm sandwiches served on yummy bread with, of course, frites.
We walked towards the cimetière, which I’d first wanted to visit when I read that it was where Jim Morrison was buried – not that I’m a big fan of The Doors, but visiting his famously defaced grave, as I told Matt, is a “thing” (my description of something that people just need to do or have for reasons that I can’t quite comprehend). Then when I’d read more about the cemetery, I’d learned that many, many important and famous people had been interred there (Édith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Sarah Bernhardt, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, Frédéric Chopin, etc), and decided it might be an interesting place to visit.
As we approached the cemetery, we saw a man selling maps at the entrance. We said “Bonjour,” but he was American and could tell we were, too. He asked us where we were from, and we told him, and he asked if we had any “greenbacks” – he would sell us the map for two American dollars rather than two Euros, which he called “Monopoly money.” We looked at one another, forked over the $2 and said thanks, wondering if the guy had any clue that the dollar is worth considerably less than the Euro! We figured he must have been in Paris a looooong time ;)
The cemetery is something to behold… you step off a noisy, crowded street into a quiet place with tall trees and cobblestoned streets… it’s like stepping through a door into another world.
It’s over 100 acres, and the graves, memorials and tombs are all really interesting to see. There are memorials to the victims of the Holocaust, to people who died for the French resistance during World War II, and to the soldiers who helped liberate the Nazi concentration camps. Matt and I both got a bit emotional reading the markers.
We found several of the graves that I wanted to see, but unfortunately, the cimetière was closing and they kicked us out before we got a chance to see Jim Morrison’s famous grave. Ah, well.
Sarah Bernhardt, actress
Oscar Wilde, Irish writer. The tradition is for female visitors to leave a lipstick kiss on his tomb...
Gertrude Stein, American writer who was born in Pennsylvania and spent most of her life in Paris (hmm... why do I feel drawn to her? lol...). Her love, Alice Toklas, is buried in the same grave, and her name and dates of birth & death are etched on the back of the stone.
Édith Piaf, famous French chanteuse (singer) and subject of the recent film La Vie En Rose, for which Marion Cotillard won the Oscar for Best Actress just a few weeks ago.
After leaving Père-Lachaise, we went back to the hotel room to relax for a bit before setting out for the Latin Quarter for dinner and a show. On the way back to the hotel, we spied a flower vendor on the street and Matt bought me a lovely little bouquet of daffodils… my favorite!
Getting off the Metro in the Quartier Latin, we knew we had found the happenin’ part of town. The streets were crowded with people our age and younger, smoking and laughing. There were lots of bars, clubs, shops, restaurants, etc. We found a place to eat dinner, and ordered moules (mussels) à la crème, steak with a creamy bleu cheese sauce, and for dessert, and apple tart that made me weak in the knees.
After dinner, there was a very special show I’d been hoping to see. Can you guess what it was?
Yes! The Rocky Horror Picture Show, of course! The Paris RHPS cast was THE BEST cast I have ever seen, and I could only understand half of what they were saying! They do some of the more traditional callbacks in English, but they have their own French callbacks as well, and their props and costumes are flawless. Best of all, they get really involved with the audience, and there is never a dull moment in the tiny basement theater where the show takes place. My favorite moment was during the Janet bedroom scene, when their Frank-N-Furter, played by the delightful Antoine, came over to me (we were sitting right in the front row) and asked me a question in French. I just looked at him helplessly, but he quickly switched to English: “Do you like sports?”
“A little,” I replied.
“Well, you’ll like this one!” he said, grabbing my ankles and, well, basically dry-humped me while yelling things like “We will try out for the Olympics! We will be the French-American team!” as I melted into a pool of helpless giggles in my seat.
After the show, we chatted a bit with another American who'd been in the audience, and then it was time to head home. (It really was beginning to feel like home...)
All in all, I’d have to say that it really was a rather wonderful day… and, as was the point of the trip in the first place, the number 34 was the farthest thing from my mind ;)
Coming soon: Day 5!