A little bit before my nap…

Yesterday I visited Musee d’Orsay, which was the realization of a huge dream. Blessedly, it was fairly quiet when I first arrived there, and I was able to explore the Impressionist paintings fairly unscathed. The Toulouse Lautrec room was out of this world. The lights were very dim because they are mostly watercolors and pastels which are easily damaged by harsh light, but they were breathtaking. It made me quite emotional, actually. To see these images that have been so hugely inspirational in my life, in the city where they were painted, while I’m living in the very neighbourhood were they were conceived was just too much. I felt more reverance and humility than any old cathedral could ever conjure. It was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.

The other tourists seemed to be having a very different artistic experience. It seems that in order to prove to themselves, and their friends that they had taken in culture, they needed to pose in front of each painting, and either look ridiculously goofy, or stoic and pensive while having a photo snapped. Other people were taking photographs of the art itself. I just don’t get it. You come to this place to see first hand these exquisite works that have sparked a new movement in art history. You can see every line, and every brush stroke, and the colour is so vivid and alive, and somehow you need to experience that through the lense of a camera? Were we not built with two perfectly lovely lenses of our own to experience the world? Don’t we also each have a pretty decent hard drive onto which we can store all of the images we capture? Also, when you position your obnoxious ass in front of a painting trying to shoot your stupid friends who are making the rock and roll sign with their fat, meaty hands, you are in my way. By the way, in case you haven’t already realized this, the images above are from the internet. I didn’t shoot them in the museum, but I did see the originals there. What I did shoot was the beautiful architecture (d’Orsay used to be a train station) and the view from the roof top terrace, where you can see my neighbourhood and Sacre Coeur.

The Van Gogh paintings were something to behold. I’ve never been a huge fan of his work, but to see the incredible texture and detail in real life really made my heart sing. The Degas exhibit was lovely, and I also found two artists I’d never heard of who really are incredible. One is Gustave Caillebotte. Check out his Raboteurs de parquet above. The other was in a special exhibition and is an expressionist painter named Lovis Corinth, depicted above in a self-portrait with his wife. That looks like a happy marriage to me!

I was pretty exhausted after d’Orsay, so I sat down at a bistro and had a little lunch and un verre du vin rouge. I also tried foie gras au cannard. If you think too much about the ingredients, it’s a bit scary, but it really, really is out of this world. I was very, very happy after that.

I then wandered around St. Germain, which was full of lovely shops. If I had a lot of money, I could spend it beautifully in Paris. I did splurge a little and bought myself a French perfume. I almost walked out of the store right after I entered, because there was a general smell of an overly-scented grandma, but then I saw this tiny little bottle with a purple ribbon. The label said “Violet”, which when said en Francais actually has three syllables, and is so pretty! It smelled very sweet and floral to me, but I spritzed some on my wrist, and then headed off. After it had settled, it evolved into this delicious sweet, clean, peppery smell that I couldn’t get enough of. My hope is that I can use it for good, not evil, but with power like that you can never be sure which way it will go.

I took some photos of the church at St Germain du Pres. It’s ancient, and very pretty.

Last night I went to see my friend Lenni perform at a very popular club called Le Baron. Her show was lovely, but the place was really old, and seedy. It was a bordello many, many years ago, and was then a swinger club in the 70’s. Now all the models and hipsters hang there, and they arrived en masse as Lenni was finishing her show. The DJ took over, and then I learned that French people cannot dance to save their lives. I’m also hoping it was a retro night, otherwise I worry about their musical taste. It was interesting to watch these very skinny, 11 foot tall girls who were so very young get plied with liquor and god knows what else by very, very slimy looking men. I wanted to take them out of there and send them home. I think that means I’m getting old. Also, the washroom, which was only a small step above the seriously scary pay per use public stalls on the street had a powder girl! She was honestly put off when I didn’t tip her, even though I caught not one, but two men in the stall in the ladies. I think they were trading ties. I really can’t be sure.

I shared a cab home with a lovely gal named Nathalie who is Lenni’s friend. She lives in Montmartre, and is French Canadian, so she spoke excellent English. It was a very late night.

Today, I woke up at 9:00 and headed out to meet Lenni. I stopped at the Boulangerie for un pain au chocolate (which is French for “this will make you see god”) and then hopped on the Metro to Le Bon Marche. After a quick cafe at a bistro we ventured into the very first department store in Paris. What a beautiful place, but so expensive! We then went to an incredible food market, where I stocked up on some French treats to bring home, and we got a picnic which we ate in the park in true French style. I ate a lot of creamy French cheese smeared all over a fresh baguette. Now I know why I didn’t bring any pants to wear here.

Next on the agenda was the Camille Claudel exhibit at the Rodin Musem. Gorgeous. You should google Camille Claudel if you don’t know who she is. She was a student of Rodin, and in my opinion, her work was far more expressive and evocative than his. The museum used to be Rodin’s home, and it was gorgeous, with incredible gardens to wander through, filled with sculpture. I saw “The Thinker” in real life, and that was painful because every tourist who passed through had to have their photo taken sitting at the base of the statue in the same pose. God help me.
(Though, I do still think that he looks like he’s taking a complicated shit…)

After the musem, we found another bistro where we each enjoyed un Kir, which is my new big thing. Lenni and I are going to try to figure out how to create kirgaritas this summer.

I’m really not sure where we went after that. I think we were both keen to continue exploring, but we were both so damn tired from the night before. We poked into some more shops, and then plunked ourselves down at ANOTHER bistro for une autre cafe. It was 25 degrees today, and glorious, but definitely sleep inducing.

We had to part ways, and now as I sign off, I’m going to take a nap avant le dinner. I will also have to consult my travel guide because I fear that I will not be anywhere near doing all of the things I wanted to do before I leave here, and I think it’s time to hatch a plan.

Look how happy I look on my little French Balcony. Can you even imagine me returning to life in Toronto?

Lundi, Part Two – “The High Road Isn’t Always the Best Road”

O' City:

A change of landscape
Is a very good way to escape
The roof tops from six stories high
Breath their heat into November Sky
Could be a ship or a train
Driving, sailing, keeping sane
Wind is blowing through my hair,
Feeling fine in this foreign affair,
Biding and killing my time,
This city's taking me for a ride.

Oh City -
Be my lover!
You and I look good on each other,
I'm a girl on the rebound,
And I am throwing myself at this town .

Oh City -
Be my lover!
You and I could touch each other.
Show me yours and I'll show you mine
We could to have a real good time

I don't speak the language well
And I'm not from here, they can tell
I didn't know the currency was
My reason for coming was just because
And I can't seem to catch my breath,
I'm dizzy and sick just for a sec.
Yellow street lights on wet sidewalks ,
City's soaked in piss or a greasy chicken broth.
But it's timely rain, cause I'm under the weather
And I think chicken soup would make me feel better
City, in your bouillon I want to shower.
Especially when you're hot at rush hour
Your aggressio's infectious
Though your style is awfully pretentious.

Oh City -
Be my lover!
Though I know you've got many others
I'm a girl on the rebound
And I am throwing myself at this town.

Oh City -
Be my lover!
We could spend the night together
Show me yours and I'll show you mine,
We're gonna have us a real good time.

I have come so far to find
That I'm still pursued by my nagging mind.
I carry it like a passport.
Reminding me that I've got to return to the start.
'Hobo', hobos have found,
Is the short word for 'homeward bound',
I cam here to find myself
bBut I could have just stayed back home on the couch
Cause I'm still playing with bored and depressed
I'm just a loner kid killing time at recess.

Oh City!
Be my lover.
It doesn't have to be forever
I'm a girl on the rebound a
And I am throwing myself at this town.
Oh City -
Be my lover!
We could run away together
Shpw me yours, and I'll show you mine.
We're gonna have us a real good time.

Lyrics by The Fabulous Mille Shannon Duncan.

That's about it for tonight, I think.

Lundi, Part One – “My Mamma Is Always Right”

It’s only 6:30, but I had to come home for a breather and a little nap, because I am completement exhausted.

I set my alarm for eight this morning, but apparently I am un peu stupide because it didn’t go off. It seems I have finally caught up on sleep though, because I naturally woke up at 9:00 am.
I chose a fabulous little outfit, and then headed off to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, which is actually not in Paris at all. After what felt like an epic hike through hundreds of stalls where vendors were selling complete and utter crap, I was plunked out onto a little street that was slowly coming to life. It really was antiques heaven, but I needed un cafe, so I was on the hunt for a little place to park my bum.

That’s when I met Gaetan. He is officially my first French ami. He was very friendly, and quite out of breath by the time he caught up to me on his roller blades. It turns out he’s an interior designer who makes lamps, and was trying to wheel (hahahah) and deal at the marche. He was very friendly. (Oh, I said that already). We enjoyed a nice cafe au lait and some pleasant banter, in his pretty good English, and my pretty bad French. He very kindly gave me his card, in case I was bored while I’m here and needed some company. I visited his website to make sure that the lamps aren’t made of human flesh, and found a very nice, understated photo of him, which I think is in no way designed to make women do foolish things (see above). Maman, please do not say “I told you so.”

After I sent Gaetan home, I spent several hours at the market. Everything was incredibly expensive, but I bought a metre of some beautiful fabric from the 40’s which I will turn into a blouse when I return to Toronto, and a lovely silk dress from the 60’s. There were many things that I would have like to buy, but it seems as though I have ridiculously expensive taste.

After Les Puces, I was VERY hungry, and wanted to find just the right bistro to enjoy a little meal at before heading to my next destination. I got incredibly, hopelessly lost. Eventually I came to a sign that said “Paris” which of course was pointing in the opposite direction of where I had been walking for the last 45 mins. The great thing about French men is that they are always eager to help you out, and even though I have NO IDEA what they are saying, they make a lot of big gestures with their arms. Eventually I was able to find both a boulangerie and the metro. Hooray.

I took the metro to the Champs Elysees, where I saw both the Grand and the Petite Palais. I also got to finally see the Seine, which I think will be most perfect at night, so I will return later this week, when I do my Eiffel Tour by night visit.

I then hoofed it to the Arc Du Triumph, and by now was in a great deal of pain, and seriously ravenous. I took a couple of photos, and then plunked myself down at a bistro in plain view of the Arc, where I toasted it with a glass of wine. That particular area of Paris is full of beautiful monuments, but it’s also a huge tourist area, and big shopping district for mainstream brand lable stores. Not so much my cup du the.

I have the doors to my little French balcony open, and will now rest my eyes a little before heading out to see what kind of fun I can find this evening.

Bon Soiree.

Bury Me in Paris

Images from Cemetere Montmartre…

Dirty Artists, Women of the Night, and A Really, Really Big Hill

I slept until noon today, which is completely unheard of in my world!
The plan of action was to immerse myself in my Parisian neighbourhood, which I think I did a fine job of.

The first couple of photos are my Villa! That is actually what it’s called. It’s a secluded little apartment complex tucked away off the street. I’ve also included photos of my elevator, which is ancient, and more than a little scary. Very, very tiny too. I know now why Europeans invented Ikea furniture, though I still don’t know how you’d get a couch up here!

I sallied forth into the hood, in search of brunch, and had a quiche lorraine in a cafe around the corner where I met my first rude French waiter. My friend Lenni told me if you treat them like you’re going to crush their balls, then you have them in the palm of your hand. I think that’s good advice. Period. The coffee is really to die for here. I will never spend another penny on over-priced Starbucks crap, because that extra change can go into a bank account to bring me back here toute suite. The produce here is ridiculous too. Even the greens they throw on the side with your meal. It tastes like Jacques went to the back of the restaurant, where the tiny garden is of course hidden, and ripped the leafy greens from the ground with his own two hands. After assuring my evil waiter that he would NOT be getting a five euro tip, I set off again.

First I poked around in several incredible neighbourhood shops. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the greatest retail experience I have ever had. Anyone who knows me, knows I take shopping VERY seriously, and there is literally nook after nook of the most gorgeous treasures. Among my favourites today were a dollhouse shop full of tiny furniture, a gourmet food shop that had the most exquisite looking chocolates that I have ever seen, two separate baby/kid lifestyle stores where the parents can buy very fun stuff for mommy and daddy too (Parisian parents are the biggest hipsters I’ve seen. Queen Street West has NOTHING on them!) A seriously adorable lingerie store (yes, I WILL be heading back there!), the most abundant and gorgeous flower depot your brain can imagine, a street market full of painters, a lovely stationary store, and the weirdest little shop near Cemetere Montmartre that sold antique odds and sods and bits of ephemera. Their specialty seemed to be amputated doll parts and ladies’ powder tins from the turn of the century. Of course, I loved this.

I went to Sacre Coeur, and lit a candle at the foot of the shrine to the Virgin. It was Sunday after all, and I was very pleased that I didn’t burn up on entry. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been to church, and I wasn’t sure what would happen. It was so peaceful and beautiful. Churches everywhere have a very distinct, very similar smell, which immediately chokes me up. I think it makes me nostalgic for the time when I was a little girl, and completely mesmerized with it all. I was so open, and so eager to believe…

I got entirely hustled by a street artist (despite warnings from every travel guide there is) who drew my portrait. He was incredibly charming, and full of flattery. Among my favourite lines were “You have the body of a Brazillian.” (Imagine this in a French Accent) “Small perky tits, and a big, marvelleux ass.” When my eyebrows shot to the back of my head, I think he thought I was insulted by the small tit remark (I was just shocked by the whole statement, and it takes a lot to shock me) so he went on to say “Don’t worry, small tits are great. When you’re older, they won’t sag.” As it turns out, he thought “Tits” was the proper English word for breasts. But still…
As you can see, the drawing looks NOTHING like me, but he did somehow manage to channel my mother as a young woman, which I really thought was amazing. He promised to draw me for free, (which was a crock, in case you didn’t realize that) but I negotiated a decent price for his work, and the highly amusing experience. He said he would use the money to buy me wine, and would be my slave if I would return later to have a drink with him. I advised him to buy a sandwich and spend more time reflecting on Jesus.

I also saw a street performer, who was doing the human statue thing. He was dressed as either a saint, or perhaps the Virgin Mary, and would come alive in a very slow gesture of pious gratitude whenever an offering was made. I’ve decided that when I move to Paris, I will make my living as a still mime. It seemed to be quite lucrative.

I took a lot of photos at the Cemetere Montmartre. People find it difficult to understand my love of old cemeteries, and I’m not going to try to explain it. I just think they are unbelievably beautiful. I’ll post those in a separate entry.

There is more of Montmartre to be had, so I will investigate further if I have time later this week, and it’s the perfect place to pick up all of my petite souvenirs. I couldn’t linger any longer. I had a date!

I journeyed (on the Metro, all by myself!) to Cour St-Emilion to meet Miss Lenni, and we went to the French answer to the big movie Multiplex. It was tres luxuriant; the chairs were unbelievably comfortable, and it was all very sophisticated. Not the shouting teenager, ringing cell phones escapade that you get in North America. We saw a very classic, very French type of film starring Robert Downey Jr. It’s called Iron Man. I highly recommend it, if it ever comes to Canada.

After that, we had a lovely little supper at a cafe. I had a delicious salad piled high with all manner of seafood, and of course a glass of wine. Dogs are not only allowed, but also very welcome in Parisian restaurants, which I find hilarious. If I lived here, I would always have a date, and more often than not, he’d have four legs.

I then took the Metro back home (once again successfully), and I’m now planning my tomorrow. I think I will visit the sprawling antiques market at Porte de Clignacourt, and then perhaps check out the Champs Elysees, and the Arc Du Triumph.

But now, to bed. I will set my alarm tonight, because I don’t want to waste a single moment with frivolous activities like sleeping. Yeesh.