Saturday, February 27, 2010

From Marsh to City!

So yesterday was Friday, and I decided I should do the walk titled Marais Part 1. Marais means marsh in french, and this part of Paris used to be all swampy and marshy! Until they started taking the water out and now voilà! It's really close to where the Church/Institute building we meet at is. It's quite interesting as the Marais area is now known as a place for the Jews to congregate (Saturday pretty much everything is closed), and also for the Gays. Two groups of people that have been persecuted throughout time. And then there's the Mormons.

Anyways, Chelsea was kind enough to show me around again even though she had already done it. She said it's a nice area, and she's quite right! It's really attractive and not many tourists at all go there. This time we didn't go into the really predominantly Jewish quarters. It was beautiful after the first 30 minutes of the walk when we were poured upon! So the pics may look nice but just remember that my hair was wet this entire walk because I didn't bring an umbrella since it was sunny when I left the house. Good ol' Parisian weather.

First thing worth noting on the walk is this wall. It's been here for a long time since Philippe Auguste aroun 1200 AD. Paris has become a lot bigger now. A LOT bigger. I guess it's not really that interesting. It's just an old wall but it's 800 years old!

We then walked past this place that I thought was a lock-smith. Look at those cool keys! Turns out it's just a antiques store that sells tools/old keys. And they were closed for this week's ski vacation. Yeah I know, pretty cool how they have a week off from school to go to the Alps huh? My host family went but the father got injured the first day and broke his leg so they came back early.

We then go to this beautiful square/garden/ park called Place des Vosges. It's so pretty and surrounded by these beautiful buildings. By this time it was nice and sunny and I was really enjoying myself. Henri IV who was a pretty smart king built the square, but he died before it was built. One side of the square was just for the royal family, but the other lots were sold to nobility who had to promise to build theirs with similar design to have one uniform look. I think neighborhoods should do that more often!

Then we went to Musée Carnavalet, a FREE museum that shows the history of Paris. It's actually pretty cool, and I was really impressed since Chelsea said it wasn't that good when she went in. But this time she really enjoyed it when we went to some different areas. Look at this replica below of the Bastille tower. It's actually made out of one of the original stones from the Bastille. The guy hired to destroy the building started selling these. He's a real businessman!

Also there was some cool stuff that belonged to Napoleon:

Next we have a walk that sees Paris in all of its' glory. Started out on Champs-Elysées, but we didn't go down it. We go to this bridge named after Czar Alexander III. It was built near the end of the 19th Century to show the strong relationship France had with Russia. Look at the halo around the sun too! We didn't notice it until Courtney pointed it out 20 minutes later, but it was hard to take pictures of it since we can't aim properly when the sun is so bright.

There's a pic of me on the bridge:

Then we went to the Rodin museum. It was way cool, I love the raw energy the statues exude. They are so big, and out there, yet so real. Their fleshy meat is imperfect yet so muscular, but also so realistic. That's the thinker. I spend the first 10 minutes of the time in the museum thinking about him.

These amazing hands!

And the Gates of Hell. I'm trying to figure out how I can get in.

I also looked at a few of Van Gogh's paintings. Then we headed to the EIffel Tower. I've already been here a few times and so I just took a few random pics. I've been collecting pictures of kis playing soccer or ball or whatever in the coollest places. Take a look at this one below:

I wish I grew up playing ball there!
Then we went to les Invalides, which is this musem place for the military of France. It was really big and really cool showing all sorts of weapons from the last few centuries. It even showed a few asian ones that I think they got from trading back in the day. Here's a cool Knight:

We were running out of time as the museum was closing and we only had an hour in it so I'll have to go back and actually look through the WWI/WWII exhibits in longer than 10 minutes. And also I want to check out the 19th Century weapons room. We skipped to Napoleon's tomb instead!

He actually did quite a bit of stuff and I can tell a lot of the French people there really respected him still. I remember in Choates history class learning about the equality he distributed to citizens, and the education he standardized etc... I guess France was in a mess after their revolution and he unified the country and made it another force in Europe!
Well that was a really fun walk! Ciao!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Flea Market" Walk, and my Fabulous Destiny!

So today I did another walk! It's called the Flea Market walk, but it's not really a flea market, at least not the ones I'm used to. It's more of an antiques/collectibles mall! Here's a few pics of what it looks like, with the pics that I was able to sneak without the owners seeing. It's cool but they're all expensive and all look the same after awhile. They just gild the furniture with gold and do the same fleur-de-lis like designs. Oh by the way, CC if you're reading this don't worry, I finished walk #10 so only 11 more to go then I can blog more about whatever I want.


Then I followed my own walk based off of the movie Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain! Here's where the beginning of the movie starts out in Montmarte, with the cobblestone streets:

And here's the mean grocer, M. Colignion's place:

This is the station Amélie takes the blind guy to, but it wasn't as cool because there was no accordion music, nor was the street connecting even the same as the one she took him down. The ones around the station weren't very lively at all.

And of course we couldn't do the walk without visiting the place she works at, les DEUX MOULINS!

It's a lot bigger than I thought it would be, and way crowded now that it's famous plus it was a Saturday. Notice the gnome in the background:
I love the table papercloth thingy they had! I wanted to take it home instead of eating on it ( I ended up spilling water over it anyways haha).

And the food I got was a Tartare! It's like raw ground beef with onions and some good spices and onions. It was deeelish. I didn't feel it was raw at all. Courtney got a burger medium rare, but it's more like a rare for an american like her haha and she couldn't finish it. But if you ever get a chance you should try this:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Royal Garden, and an Aristocrat's house.

Two walks to update on, not to mention London I guess, but just been lazy plus tired after the traveling. But I need to update these walks or else I will never finish them and forget what they are about. So first we did a walk that started at the Montparnasse station. It's named after the Tour Montparnasse (it means Montparnasse Tower in english), and which is in turn named after a Greek Mountain by poets in Paris. I guess that mountain was believed to have mythical creatures or something. Anyways, most Parisians still don't like it cuz it's too big and just sticks out in the skyline. It is the biggest tower in France, and after it was built they banned skyscrappers so now every tall building is built in the Defénse district that I showed in the other walk. It's modelled after the World Trade Center, and there was supposed to be two towers built as well but because of the ban it never got built. It's a little interesting huh? now that the World Trade Center is gone.

Then we went to Alfred Dreyfus' statue. He was a Jew who was accused wrongly of treason and the French government put him in really harsh conditions for years until he was freed, even a few years after they found out he was innocent. It just showed the anti-semitism they had back then. He was a true patriot and still served his country in WWI after, and this statue was supposed to be placed in the Military museum but kept getting shunted all the way here....where no tourists know about it and the every day citizens could care less. It's kinda sad actually but I thought it was cool my history teacher I believe it was Choates told me a little about him.

Then we went to the Jardin Luxembourg. It's quite beautiful and it's another example of French jardin (garden). It's really rigid and symmetrical and you can't walk on the grass etc... Supposed to be the triumph of reason and culture over the disorder of nature with the firm geography. I thought it was pretty but not like a "fun" park since it's so orderly. I prefer a little chaos, call me an agent of chaos if you will!

It was sooo pretty but still cold. We thought it would be ok that day since it was sunny, but look at the fountain! It's still icing over. I'm definitely going to come back in March/April.

And now for the Aristocrats' walk! It was pretty much two museums that were owned by really rich people in the 18th Century and then converted to a museum. A cool local park was squashed in between but throughout this walk, I kept thinking about the type of house I would like to have and design. Definitely a lot of mirrors, and chandeliers! We weren't allowed to take any pictures inside either houses but it was true luxury! Every room was really extravagantly done! There were paintings in pretty much every room with awesome frames, and they collected some really expensive pieces of art. Also, there was gold in pretty much every room, and lot's of mirrors! I will have lot's of mirrors in my house too! In the musée Jacquemart-andré there was a few rooms dedicated to Italian art, and I think I'd like to have a few rooms dedicated to certain cultures as well. Pretty much every room had gold in it!

I'm more of a minimalist myself but I think I will have one room that will be extravagant like the way they did it. Oh and a double spiral staircase!!!! That was probably my favorite little architecture of the day. And I think I would like my portrait to be painted instead of just a picture. Each of my family members as well!

Anyways the outside of the Musée Jacquemart-André:

And I just had to pose next to an European Lion statue cuz it's so different from the asian ones.

Here's the Parc Monceau, it's not more english style cuz kids can play in it and stuff even though most of the grass is still marked off.

I thought it looked really real but these ruins are all fake and it was in vogue to make fake ruins back in the 18th century.

And that's it, time for more planning for my future house!

Saturday, February 6, 2010 Obelisk! (a walk)

Today was kind of miserable because it was raining. The only good part about walking in the rain, was that the area was simply beautiful. We started off directly at the Jardin du Tuileries because of the rain and went into the Musée Orangerie. Here's a pic of us in the beatiful gardens while under the rain:

So I guess this garden used to have a palace but during the French Revolution they destroyed it. Louis the XVI and his family ran fled through this garden (they didn't flee fast enough obviously). Here's a pic of the fountain that survived. It would be really nice in the summer:

The Museée d'Orangerie hosts a lot of stuff but the main exhibit on the first floor are Monet's impressionist paintings. They are in these huge rooms and are huge. In the background they play classical musical and it really feels like you're in a garden.

That's not saying the bottom floors didn't have anything good. There were a few Picasso's and I'm sure a lot of other famous people that I just didn't know. The temporary exhibit had a lot of cool things about children. The whole thing featured paintings of kids in different ways but we weren't allowed to take pictures there. Here's a Renoir, a famous French guy. The only thing I know was that mama said he likes to paint girls' cheeks really red.

Then afterwards, Lihui (He's the other chinese guy in the rain, he goes to school at the Sorbonne and wanted to hang out with us to practice english but he kept talking to me in madarin the whole time haha. He's from Chengdu-and I had no idea where it was but he says that's where the pandas come from) took us to little Chinatown to eat some hot chinese beef noodles. It was really good. There's one more little Chinatown that he will show me later. By the time we finished the Museum it stopped raining so we continued the walk. We walk to the Palais Elysée...where Nicolas Sarkozy lives. There were a ton of guard all around the palace. They really take this seriously. Here's a picture of one of the older doors,

Then we went to Place de la Concorde where the Luxor obelisk is at. This was called Place de la Revolution at one point and the guillitone was placed just nearby the Obelisk. During that time, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were beheaded here, and even Robespierre himself was guillitoned here.

Last of all, just to prove that in the movies, no matter where you are, the Eiffel Tower always seems to be in the background:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chinatown and a walk @ La Défense: Modern Paris

So today we were deciding what we wanted to eat for lunch, people all had suggestions and what not and then I said I wanted to eat rice. And Dan was like ok! Let's go to Chinatown so he pulled out his nifty book and off we went to Chinatown. We couldn't really find it at first and we figured all of the buildings would all look the same because the city probably wouldn't let them tear down the old buildings. Finally we ask a storeowner and we found Chinatown, even though it's really just asian stuff in general, mostly Vietnamese. There weren't even that many asians around it either but here's some pics:

I wanted pho because it was chilly but my well-travelled friend Dan thought that the girls wouldn't like it so we didn't. I'll go with him next time ourselves. We ended up going to the "Garden of Eden" and had some pretty traditional stuff. I had some Pai goo Fan (fried pork steak with rice) and it was good. Just good to have some rice after always eating bread and more bread.

We then had went and did our walk @ la Défense because we figured we could do our shopping there as well. The reason it's called La Défense is because of a statue that is there from 1883. It was created to remember the people's defense of the city of Paris against the Prussians in 1870.

What I liked about this walk was we really got to see the metroplitan side of Paris. I mean, sure it's not as cool as the old historic stuff in Paris, but I really like skyscrappers and the big city! Here is where all the businessmen and women are! I guess the reason it was built here is because the ground is soft in Paris with the metro and the sewers, but also because the Parisians didn't want downtown Paris to be ruptured by super tall buildings. Bart prefers the downtown historical feel but I don't see why we can't combine both? He feels that it would not work well. I liked Boston even though they had old and new together. It's kind of how I feel I am, both Canadian, Taiwanese, Chinese, American, and what not. I don't see why one can't mix it all together. Take the best of all of the worlds. Here's some pics of what it looks like:

This walk was only an hour long. It looked nice but I wno't post more pictures because you can honestly see them at any major cities. Bart is right about one thing, historical Paris is much cooler, which is why I think they should just let it meld together (I'm in no way suggesting they open it up completely but that the government allows some buildings to be built that will still preserve architecture). The esplanade (or the road) is what we pretty much just followed. That is all!