Sunday, March 6, 2011

oui oui Paris

It had to happen. There was a time in my life where I swore I would never set foot in France. The reason? No real justifiable one other than their snotty, rude, and American hating reputation. Ana has always wanted to go...must be a female thing. France definitely has the allure of being the romance capital of the world at least that's what Pepe Le Pew conditioned me to believe. However let me assure you that Paris isn't so romantic during their nasty bitter winter. 

It was time I got over my irrational ideas and went to go see for myself what Paris was all about. Four solid days seemed like a good amount of time to get a sampling of the city. Here are some thoughts:

Great museums.
If we had come in the late spring I would have loved it.
Helpful and friendly people.
Rich food-consume your fat intake for the week in one meal.
Excellent metro system.
Pedestrian friendly.
Decent inexpensive vino.
Bone chilly cold.
Eiffel Tower crap at every corner.
Shops close early (we've been spoiled by Egypt).
Not enough time to see everything.
Needed a local guide. 

We opted for a more personal Paris experience and stayed with a local though the website The concept in similar to couch surfing but you have to pay. We stayed in a room near Gare du Nord in the 10th Arrondissement, which made it central to the Metro and the trains. The overall area could be characterized as local...we weren't in the thick of it by any means. Our accommodations were decent and the owner was nice...we had a couple of brief conversations. He provided us with some basic information and a couple of tips but felt our interaction with him was minimal. Based on his reviews we expected a little more. Our first day out was getting a feel for the neighborhood...that included dinner at a Paki/Indian eatery in what I called the kebab/doner district near Canal Saint-Martin. About the worst thing that happened that afternoon was Ana and I couldn't find a way into a supermarket. I studied the door near the cashiers and saw a button on the wall and pushed it. It made a horrible ringing sound and the cashiers and the customers in line all threw up their hands, pointing and cussing us out. We waved at them and dashed off in embarrassment. Later in the evening it was time to check the Eiffel Tower off the list.   

We saw some decent street art, but all along the train tracks it is mostly names on the concrete walls. 

Cold and foggy.

At least the Parisians had the sensibilities to improve the floor to ceiling advertisements that litter the Metro stations. 

Arc de Triomphe in the center on Palace of Charles de Gaulle.

Our stroll down Avenue des Champs-Elysees was slightly a little more glamorous than the streets around the train station where we stayed. I suppose you are catering to a different cliental when rents exceed a million Euros. 

La Grande Roue bookends Arc de Triomphe on Avenue des Champs-Elysees
We contacted a couple of people on about meeting up at the Louvre the following morning since several museums in Paris offer free admission the first Sundays of each month. Here's a little tip, if you want to avoid 1000's of your fellow human beings and save an hour or two enter through Porte des Lions. You also want to skip waiting for flaky or late couch surfers. We eventually ditched ours.

While most people took pictures of their favorite paintings, I looked for sections that appealed to me.

I don't know about you but if you had a topless maiden tugging your arm, it would be tempting to forgo the battle. Just might be a good day to call in sick. 

I find this hard to believe.

Taking a picture of someone taking a picture of the Mona Lisa. 

Add your one wins a free January 25th revolution sticker from Egypt.

A different looking Jesus.

Hands down, the best painting in the Louvre. Looks like a major rager.

The goal of one of the couch surfers was to see Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People because the band Coldplay featured the image on their album cover. Reason no. 463 to dislike Coldplay. 

Maybe we should import a Coldplay song in Garage Band and add a feedback track over it. 

a. Why do people feel that they need to take their picture next to artwork?
b. With the flash?
c. We saw about 5 preparatory works for the Raft of the Medusa, I guess Gericault wanted to get it right.

One little boy removed his headphones and asked his mom why the naked lady didn't have any arms.

They didn't know about the Porte des Lions entrance.

Love padlocks along Pont des Arts crossing the Seine. In 2010 the city government wanted to remove these tokens of eternal love because they were deemed an "eyesore." We didn't note any combination locks along the fence probably because part of the tradition is to throw away the key.   

View of the Seine River.
We didn't see to many political posters.

Notre Dame-be warned, no suitcases allowed inside.

A nice sticker across from the Centre Pompidou.

Speaking of eyesores, the architecture of The Pompidou Center clashes with the rest of Paris. Reason no.1 to like it. 

By the end of the day our eyes were cooked. In a span of 12 hours we did the Louvre along with six exhibits at the Pompidou, which included:


Gabriel Orozco

Mondrian/De Stijl

and elles@centrepompidou (350 plus works by innovative women artists)

Proudly embracing and promoting stereotypes.

Ok dear, what do the instructions say the next step is?

No matter how you look at it, this is a lose-lose scenario. 

Want to see how other cultures from around the world perceive sex? Look no further than the Erotic Museum in Pigalle-a stone's throw from Montmartre and the Moulin Rouge. Although graphic, the informational museum is tasteful...though I'm sure you wouldn't want to bring your Bible study group along. In other words I didn't feel the need to shower with bleach after our visit. If you're looking for a seedy night on the town head to Pigalle. 

Sacre Coeur at night. Lots of pickpocket warning signs posted in the vicinity. We returned back during the day to the Montmartre area to visit with a Facebook friend and for a very heavy and delicious gut-busting 45-euro lunch. The butter in the dishes worked like Drano. Sadly we didn't run into Amelie.   
Dogs aren't allowed to walk themselves.

Erotic Museum one day, Post Office Museum the next. 

A Crime scene at the Post Office. Strangely enough there was an exhibit on Calamity Jane on the first floor...I'm not sure how this tied in with the history of the French Postal service.
Again, why do people feel that they need to take their picture next to artwork?  We happened to catch the last day of the Basquiat exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. The show detailed the span of his short but explosive career. 

The view between Musee d'Art Moderne and Palais de Tokyo
Looking for Amelie at Palais de Tokyo - a center dedicated to modern and contemporary art. 
Need a real artisan beer shop? Look no further than Terres de Bieres (Land of Beers) located at Marche Saint-Quentin near Gare du Nord (the north station). They have quite a selection of handcrafted brews from France, Belgium, and around the world. Sadly they had Budweiser representing America...but the owner has a friend that visits the states and he showed me his private collection of Stone, Russian River, Pizza Port, etc. The service was personable. It was quite the misfortune to discover this shop on our last night and it was less than a minute walk from our room. BTW the French IPA was decent. 


  1. caption: "no, it's an ARROW. Steve Martin would never have used a dagger. would've ruined the white suit."

  2. spoken in british accent:
    oh, I suppose I will have to find yet another chapel partner. Tis a pity.


  3. "Fancy my new's all the rage." "yes, so becoming."

  4. yeah, I just got this gag knife @ Spencers... don't tell me you thought it was real. HA!


  5. Keep them fact anyone who posts a caption will get a cool and I mean they are cool JAN 25th Egyptian Revolution sticker. You will be the envy of all your socially-conscious politically correct friends.

  6. As a matter of of fact I do prefer a poke in the head with a sharp stick than a visit to Paris