The above was taken at the New Years Eve dinner Nikki and I attended. Of course, in the morning we went a-sightseeing at Vaux le Vicomte, the chateau that inspired Louis XIV to not only arrest/kill his Chancellor at the time, but also change Versailles from a measly hunting lodge to the grand and decadent palace it is today. And as beautiful as Vaux is, the real event of the night was eating a typical french meal (including, as you may be able to tell above, foie gras) with a lovely and kind family that Nikki knows (not her au pair family). Not only did it include four DELICIOUS courses and lots and lots of fabulous cheese (mmm, cheese), but we had a bottle of wine with each course that was fantastic. The one above? An apertif (sweet/dessert) from 1990. Nearly as old as I am! You can’t see the electric bread warmer, but I totally want one of those, too. The conversation was occasionally stilted as it occurred in both French and English, but it was interested and flowing and mostly unawkward. And also, the couple’s children are adorable.
A fabulous way to ring in 2011. Makes me never want to leave Paris!
Returned to Paris! Decided to brave Montmartre and the tourist traps (literally!) due to the absolutely fabulous weather–which lasted until early afternoon, at which point it was overtaken by cloud cover. BUT. Before then we got to wander around Sacre Coeur (<–clickable) with beautiful weather LIKE THIS. The funniest thing about it was that there were hardly any other tourists wandering around behind the church. They went straight from the church to the art market behind (also fabulous). Took this photo from a cute little park and didn’t even have to worry about people’s heads ruining the photo.
Other visited spots: Galleries Lafayette, the Montmartre Cemetery, and the Moulin Rouge (outside only).
Paris is amazing. Fabulous. Unlike any other city I’ve ever been to. (Makes a great deal of sense, considering I have really only traveled abroad in Asia.) Wherever you look, there are fantastic old buildings butting right up against each other, even though they were built at different times. There’s history on every street. Different languages dance through the air. During Christmas, you can grab a cup of vin chaud (mulled wine) and a baguette sandwich. The streets are relatively clean, and the architecture is fabulous.
We spent the afternoon at Notre Dame and walked from there to L’Arc de Triomphe, about two kilometers away. This gorgeous stained glass is clearly Notre Dame.
I gotta say, things like Notre Dame totally make me understand why people are Christian. There is something otherworldly about the atmosphere in the church, even though it’s filled to the brim with tourists, or the occasional flash that disturbs the low-light. The ceiling towers in intricate arches overhead with carefully laid bricks adding to the decoration. And then, of course, there are the windows. Color in a grey world. Totally fabulous. At one point, I turned to Nikki and said, “You know how in books, people’s jaws drop when they’re shocked? Yeah, my jaw? It dropped. And I can’t seem to keep it shut.”
Sometimes in tourism, reputations are well deserved.
My friend Nikki, whom I met in China, recently moved to Paris to be an au pair. Her family is apparently fantastic and, in addition to her salary, is also paying for her to study French for 20 hours a week and has provided her with her own studio apartment.
Well, needless to say, I’m visiting Nikki in Paris. And yes, I’m hoping that it will be Noël à Paris (Christmas in Paris)! I’m super excited… except trying to buy the ticket is turning out to be this big drama. After my crazy trip to China over the summer, I’m a little strapped for cash. So hopefully I’ll be able to buy an affordable ticket before they all sky rocket for the holidays.
(This map, by the way, shows the places I’ve lived, visited, and the places I’d like to go. Green means “I want to go here!!!”, hence all the green in Europe. As I’ve never been there. Also, I would happily travel anywhere. But the green ones are places I actually know something about.)