4 July 2012 Wednesday | 17:58 | 2012/06 Europe
My foursquare Paris badge.
Before I left Paris, I pledged that I would visit the city again. Four days weren’t enough!
In between shopping and museum hopping, we went to Montmartre, the highest point of Paris, for a panoramic view of the city. Don’t be fooled by the picture above. The place was extremely crowded.
Basilique du Sacré-Cœur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris).
Gargoyle on the Romano-Byzantine building.
How I wish I can draw like them.
While Montmartre is known to be a nightclub district (with the Moulin Rouge nearby), the hill is also a place where artists congregate. Vincent van Gogh once stayed there.
I have never been a fan of cruises, but the Seine River Cruise operated by Bateaux-Mouches gave me the best cruising experience ever. In approximately seventy minutes, you see the major sights and pass the major bridges of Paris. It helped that we went through a city tour before the cruise. And with the multilingual commentary on the boat, it was an hour of revision and an excellent way to conclude a visit to the city by snapping those final photographs from yet another angle. People who were sitting on the open deck got up on their feet within minutes and stood throughout the ride.
The skies finally cleared as we approached the Eiffel Tower. You mean the Parisians hated Gustave Eiffel’s design for the 1889 World Expo?
“We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection… of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower… To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years … we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal.”
My camera died minutes before the Tower came in sight, so this picture was taken by my iPhone 4. Well, it has become a global icon. Because it remains the tallest building in Paris, you see this in most areas of the city. I guess it embodies the positive touristy zest of the city- the historical charm, the artistic feel, the glamourous Champs-Élysées, and quite possibly, romance.
Restaurant Recommendation: Chez Francoise
Esplanade des Invalides, Aérogare Air France, 75007 Paris
As we stayed in different hotels, I said farewell in advance to some of my passengers after the cruise. We had spent a week together braving the cold in Amsterdam and putting up with the rain in Brussels. We went to some of the most famous landmarks in the various cities we visited and well, spent a mini fortune on toilet visits. Hahaha. I think that’s one of the most recurrent themes for the trip. It had been a great pleasure talking to you guys. After getting up really early the next morning to send off the other group, I went straight back to bed. It had been an entire week without afternoon naps- a huge challenge for me! Heh.
Jean was in Paris too! It’s always comforting to see familiar faces in a foreign land, and even more exciting when there hadn’t been any prior plans before the trip to meet. Glenn, who was in Sydney that week, made his presence felt by providing for transport. I benefited from that. Thank you, Glenn! After lunch in a restaurant along Champs-Élysées, I was happy to play tour guide. Whatever my tour leaders had told me in the last three days were promptly re-quoted. And of course, it included plenty of phrases like, “I think so lah” and “You might wanna google to confirm.”
We walked and we talked. Then we walked some more and talked some more. What would you expect of two radio presenters? No dead air! We wanted to ascend to the top of Arc de Triomphe, but the plan was promptly aborted when we learnt that the elevator wasn’t working. My friend exclaimed instantly, “You MediaCorp DJs are so spoilt! Must eat in fancy restaurant lah, then now don’t want to climb stairs!” Hahahaha. The two of us form too small a sample size. I’m sure there are other DJs who wouldn’t mind walking up.
After a couple of hours outside, it was time to pee. My jaws dropped when I saw this inconspicuous lavatory in a mall along Champs-Élysées charging €2 per entry. What?! Are you kidding me?! I could eat a plate of chicken rice for that money! I maintained my composure and made a u-turn. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself later. I didn’t blink an eyelid picking up those items from Louis Vuitton and Gucci, and there I was, getting so worked up over €2.
I dragged them away from that pricey loo and suggested we go to a café instead. We could get a drink and a quick bite, and use their toilet at the same time. Did I hear that there were/are long queues at Paul in Singapore? The outlet at the end of Champs-Élysées was half empty. I only realised much later that the brand was established in 1889. Wow. By the way, I’m still kicking myself for not getting macarons at the legendary Ladurée which we passed by earlier that afternoon.
The day ended after another round of shopping at Printemps. This omelette we had in a random café had the exact same texture as our orh lua. We imagined that they used olive oil instead and was slightly healthier. Heh.