Saturday, March 27, 2010

Strolling through Paris

So for our last walk in the book, the professor from the French department decided we should just flow and wander, and get lost. Like a flâneur! Which is equivalent to lounger, stroller, etc...which sounds kinda lazy but is considered very cool and urban thing to do. Someone who appreciates his surrounding, and someone who enjoys life. Warning: This entry might be boring. It's more introspective, and for myself, kind of like a journal than anything.

Well I get lost plenty when I try to find places I looked up online, or even when I'm following the walks book. But this last monday, I decided I would go flâner! It was the warmest it had been in Paris since I've been here, and it was sunny, two rare things in Paris that seldom go together in these months. I had just watched a French movie called L'arnacoeur, and had a few hours to kill, and the metro was full of people rushing about after work so I decided to walk!

I didn't take any pictures as I wanted to just enjoy my surroundings, without thinking. I wanted to look at these magnificent architecture that everybody rushes by, or sees with their camera lenses more than with their own eyes. I started with wandering around Les Halles, where the streets were empty, and then I decided I would cross the river on the Pont Neuf!

Stopped on the bridge a while and admire Paris from both sides of it. Simply beautiful. There's a feeling, a feeling so strong of heritage, of history, or art, of love, of freedom, of thought. Its everywhere in Paris.

So romantic. If I ever find the woman of my dreams I'm going to bring her here. I've already decided on our honeymoon. I'm sure she won't complain. Then I strolled along the river Seine because the Parc du Square Galant was closed. Although the Seine isn't pretty by any natural standard, nor is it particularly clean, it is beautiful because of the bridges and the buildings surrounding it. It is beautiful because of the people walking alongside of it, it's a popular make out spot, as I noticed while walking along. Again with the romantic feelings in Paris.

Interesting enough, I didn't feel lonely. I felt happy for this couple, and all the other couples I saw. When I first got to Paris, I thought I was independent. I've lived alone for a while, I served a mission, etc...but that first few weeks I did not like traveling around Paris alone. I always wanted to go do what others did, or tried to invite others to do stuff with me. But now, I love traveling alone. In this grand and majestic city! In Italy as well. I know this is going off topic but I think Dr. Olivier wanted us to examine ourselves which is why he gave us this "get lost" walk. I'm more confident than ever, I've relearned how to enjoy my own compny, to slow down, and live a little, and to have fun. Something I seem to have forgotten in college, with work, and school, and other stuff. When I go back to Provo, I think I will probably be the best I've been my whole life. Things that happened on this study abroad reminded me of myself when I was younger. A more innocent, more simple me. A care-free me.

Pondering aside, I then decided to walk in and look for a metro stop, since they're supposed to be everywhere. While doing so, I passed by the Medical school of University of Paris, with Descartes name on it. And soon enough I found a metro station. I know this entry may seem short, but that hour and a half doesn't need to be described with words. It probably can't. There wasn't anything magical or super cool that I saw, it's just the fact that I was free and had no plans. I hope to remember to always enjoy myself in life, wherever I am.

La vie est belle.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cemetery and Da Vinci Code!

I am now down to one last walk. Finished my numbers 19 and 20 recently, and now I just have to "get lost" for my final one. I'll tell you how that goes later. So we finally made it to Pere LaChaise. I've been waiting for it to warm up a bit, and now it has. Rebecca, Rosalie, Haley, and even Emily came! Plus Shaina and Garrett. It was a pretty large group, larger than I usually do it, but it was fine and fun and we mingled around.

This cemetery was HUGE. It was so pretty too. Reminded me of Mt. Auburn cemetery in Boston but so much bigger! 188 Acres. The flora isn't as pretty as Mt. Auburn, and neither is there a Mt. to see the whole cemetery but it definitely has cooler tombstones. Take a look at this first pic. There's two roads beside it with their own names! I can't remember who this guy was and even looking in the Paris walks books it's too hard to tell. I just know Shaina said he's famous for some reason haha.
We then saw our first Chinese tomb, and Garrett insisted that I get in and do a peace sign. I didn't succumb to that idea but I took a pic next to it thinking there weren't going to be a lot of Chinese ones, but there turned out to be quite a few more around!
This is Oscar Wilde's tomb. We took a group picture where we all kissed it. I don't know who has it but I'll post it when I get it. It's interesting how all these girls kiss it even though he was gay. And then Garrett pointed out to me (he didn't kiss it) that it made me gay.
This is my favorite piano composer right now's grave. Chopin! I love his nocturnes.
This is Jim Morrison's grave. He's a famous american. I didn't know him before. But according to Wikipedia and my friend, he's really famous. He's in the Doors, according to Mike.
We also took a picture at the cemetery hiding behind tombs and this French guy got a little ticked at us. I didn't think it was being irreverent since we weren't desecrating anything but just peeking out behind the tombs. Oh well. I mean it's more like monuments but I see his point. We all pretended we didn't speak French and Rosalie pointed towards Garret as the French speaker in our group.

There was another walk we did just west of the Latin Quarter. I call it the Da Vinci Code walk because that's the main attraction for the walk. I mean there were some other pretty cool stuff like the little old streets too, and the two bakeries but this Cathedral was cool. It was full of Corinthian Columns. I think that's what they are at least. And the organ is amazing as you can see from the pic below. This picture directly below is the "Rose line" but really it's not. Dan Brown just based his book off these "facts" that were fabricated in the 1960's.

This is just a random statue the Ministry of Culture had commissioned in 1985. I think CC would like it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

5 walks in 3 days! Part 3 and a half

So I'll finish off the last walk I did on Friday, the Latin Quarter one, and then I'll go through a walk I started my second week here, but finally finished earlier this week between classes. It was cold and the girls and Mike as well didn't want to finish it that time.

So here goes. Latin Quarter, so named because of the many institutions of Higher learning in the area, which were originally taught in Latin, is really quite an interesting place. Very lively, and the prices are very reasonable even though it's really close to Notre Dame and surrounding touristy areas. This is because of the students that need to go there and eat! It has a lot of restaurants, and I can tell the night life is amazing even though we went around 3-5 pm. Here's two pics of the street.

Then we went to L'église Saint-Séverin. I thought this was amazing and one of my favorite Churches so far. Look at the unique type of stained glass they got. What I should've checked, (i just missed reading this on the walk) was to see the unique lights on the Church floor from the sun. I'll be back again! There's also this pillar that was built to look like a palm tree.
Oh and here's just random art in the Latin Quarter. I told you it's a lively place! Even Einstein hangs out there.
Then we walked along the Seine and passed by where the Academie Française meets. They're a group of people in charge of keeping the French language pure and allow new words to enter it. I think it's kind of dumb since I feel that the language belongs to the people who speak it. It is fluid, and will change on it's own. These people tried to create a name for e-mail but nobody uses it (it's in our textbooks but my teacher says they still say e-mail). But yeah, this is where they meet:
There's also a bridge Pont des Arts where couples can put a lock on and with their initials signifying their deep and undying love for each other. Quite romantic. I can't remember if this is Rosalie's or not, but she put one for her mission boyfriend. Well, that's it!
Now for the walk that I finished over 6 weeks. It starts at Notre Dame, and I know this sounds bad but it's so close to the school and I've seen it/walked past it/met up in front if it so many times I kind of take it for granted. It's probably one of my favorites on the outside, but inside I prefer some of the smaller Cathedrals. Here's a pic I took the first day! And the next one is from the back which I took during the walk.

Next, right in front of Notre Dame, there's a little museum called the Crypte du Parvis. It shows how Paris just keeps building on older and older stuff, kind of reminds me of Star Wars, where it talks about Coruscant and how things just keep going higher and higher and then the whole world is covered in buildings. It was pretty cool, and pretty cheap but not a "museum" per say I mean seeing a roman ruin underneath, and then a 18th century ruin only takes a few minutes.
We also found a fun little playground french kids play on!! I think we should add this to everywhere in the world!!!! So Fun!
And finally we went to the Conciergerie and Saint-Chapelle. Conciergerie served as a royal residence, prison at different points in time. Ironically, it is where Marie Antoinette was held before her death. I took a few pictures but then read a sign saying they're not completely sure where she was held as it had undergone many renovations so I feel like I would be lying by posting them and saying this is where she was. But it was still a nice pleasant visit. Then I went to St-Chapelle. Probably my favourite Cathedral indoors. Just look at its gothicness. It is so rich and vibrant and colorful yet somber at the same time. It's even free since I was a student so I'm definitely going to go back. Here's some pics. They're doing renovations so I don't have a pic of the whole main hall, but when I come back next year or so I'll take one!

Marathon of Walks! Part II

Alright here goes the other 3 weeks. We did this all on Friday, yesterday. First we started Marais Walk 2. It was great because we got to eat Falafel for lunch! These chickpea balls! Serve me food like this and I can become a vegetarian. Also this Jewish Synagogue is designed by the Art Nouveau guy Hector Guimard as well, his wife was a Jew. It's supposed to look like an open Torah scroll.

Next we passed by this whole area just full of Jewish people/things/stores/restaurants. You see the stores with Hebrew words, and the men wearing yarmulke. Then we went to a national library, but I didn't think it was that cool as it was closing as we got in (at around 1 pm I think it was their lunch break). I mean the outside was very impressive. A huge mansion and other buildings interconnected!! But then we went to the Musée Cognacq-Jay and saw a lot of cool things. It was a smaller museum but still had a lot of famous people that I learned about in my Art History class such as Greuze and Boucher and Hubert Robert. Oh there were a few paintings by Monet too. Here's some cool furniture:

Picasso museum was closed...and has been for like 2 years and is doing like a 4 year renovation. I guess I'll have to wait till the next time I come back.
Then we did the Grands Boulevards Walk! Which is so titled because Baron Haussmann transformed Paris' old narrow streets into the beautiful Paris it is today. I really enjoyed this short walk because we got to see some pretty architecture and go around the shopping area. First we went to this Printemps store that had a promotion going on for Alice in Wonderland!! It was pretty neat! Also, the other pics are inside Galéries Lafayette. It's a cool department store kind of like Asian style because it's a few floors. But it is definitely the prettiest mall I've been too. And then the pics of me in front of Palais Garnier, the old Paris Opera house. We didn't pay to tour the inside because there were rehearsals and we wouldn't be allowed to see the main thing. The other tourists were dumb and still paid to go in. We'll just buy a ticket to a ballet in a few weeks and then I'll post pics but just from the bookstore I can tell you that it is really beautiful! Interview with a Vampire was filmed here, and The Phantom of the Opera is based on this theatre. There's even a tiny lake at the bottom too!!

Then we saw a Joan of Arc statue and Place Vendôme, which Napoleone celebrates his victories against the Austrians and allies. He melts down the cannons to make this! It's also the place of a lot of really fancy and expensive stores. Chopin lived in the little square and right across the street is the Ritz hotel where Princess Diana left the night of her fatal crash just a few minutes away. Her lover's father owned that Ritz hotel (he might still own it for all I know). The pic with the limousines is the Ritz hotel. Even Ernest Hemingway liked it. Just a few houses to the left of it was where Chopin died. It's not in the pic. And then the tower in the middle is just Napoleon in a Roman costume. And then Joan of Arc. Well I think I will have to add a part 3 and finish the last walk update tomorrow. Too tired.

Marathon of Walks. 5 in 3 days. PART I

Wow. So some of us decided we want to finish our walks soon so that we have time do do whatever we want at the end of the study abroad, and just go back to the ones we really enjoy. So Rosalie, Rebecca, and I have been going at it crazily! They are actually doing 6 in 3 days, but I already did that. So here goes Part I. The walks we did on Thursday, and Today (2 each), and the other 3 we did yesterday will be in Part II.

So the one we did on Thursday, right after the Salon D'agriculture (which was a blast fyi, I will post more after I'm done with the walks), was the Seizième Arrondissement walk. I thought we would see Mansions since it's like the rich area of town, but there were just really nice apartments. I guess it's like Taipei where some apartments are ridiculously expensive. Anyways, we started out at this tiny island Allée des Cygnes which is really a dyke meant to protect a harbor on the Seine. Here's me walking on the bridge that connects to the little island.

I guess in National Treasure 2, Nicholas Cage flies an airplane or something around here. It goes from the Eiffel Tower then back here and then he goes to this little Statue of Liberty that Bartholdi used to create the big one in New York City.

We then move on to see the building titled Castel Béranger. It's designed by Hector Guimard and shows Art Nouveau's style in France. It's a type of architectural design. The professor that wrote this walk, Dr. Robert Erickson, really likes this style. I think almost every one of his walk has something about Art Nouveau. It's a pretty cool apartment, but we just aren't able to go inside as it's still a private building. And the places he made us see on the Metro walk were just so far out of the way, when all around Paris we see some of the same Art Nouveau designs. Anyways, I saw a house by Hector Guimard that I really want to see. It's in Normandie though unfortunately. Enjoy these ones in Paris for now:

Then we walked down a cool little cobblestone path. It was really nice and quite, and I liked how we got off the main paths. It's rue Berton, and it's quite narrow. Supposedly it pretty much stayed the same in the last 200 years. There was also this museum we went to called Maison de Balzac, but since nobody knew who he was, we didn't feel like going in. I guess he's a famous French writer. There was a nice pretty garden outside of the house that we relaxed a bit. (the walk is really long distance wise, and we've been up a lot for the Salon d'agriculture). tThen we went to a tiny mall with bathrooms! I thought it's funny it's included in the walk, but I think it's great since we do need to use it sometimes and Paris does not have much public bathrooms. And then we left to the Park! Les jardins du Ranelagh. There was the little carousel with a man pushing it. Haha. I didn't expect it to be so old-school but it looked fun and the kids had fun trying to stick their sticks into the rings!

After that we went to the Musée Marmatton but we weren't allowed to take pictures. There were quite a few famous people in there, including Monet, Renoir, etc... and some other people we learned about in our Art History class. Oooh I feel so cultured now. I have a new favourite contemporary (relatively) artist. His name is otis or something but I lost the postcards I bought for now, hopefully I find it soon. I've just been so tired and busy, I got home Thursday and spent like 2 hours just relaxing and then went to bed. Friday I was gone 13 hours from 11 pm to a little past midnight. So I need a day to just relax and get everything organized cuz right now it's pretty much I wake up and then shower and rush out the door! I also saw Monet's first painting, Impression, Sunrise, that gave name to the Impressionism movement. Then we looked at the Bois Boulogne which wasn't that cool from the outside, but one of these days I might go back and stroll through it. Its supposed to be dangerous at night too. It was only 5 pm I think but we were just tired.

Today (saturday) we did the Bastille Walk, or the Walk of the Manifs (Protestors)
This walk goes through where French people have been protesting for hundreds of years, since the French Revolution. It's significant because they go down this road and it leads to where the old Bastille Prison was. We started by looking around at Saint martin Canal. It smelled a little bit and it's supposedly built in order to bring fresh water...but I guess that was like 200 years ago so. This looks so magical in Amélie the movie haha. Oh well. I think the music helps a lot too.

Then we went to the place de la République and guess what, there were people protesting!! I had hoped for the same since it was Saturday, and starting to warm up a bit. Shaina was saying they're protesting against the French law that forbids Muslim women from covering their head, among other things. It's like a group against female suppression I think.

They were even in the process of putting their "uniform" on one of the statues:

So the walk goes on for like another mile or two, but the book said we can just skip it and go to their end destination which is the Bastille area! This is where the former prison stood. Now there's a really new Opera house, and a ton of restaurants. This is what's left of the foundation. They found it while digging for the metro.

Then we went to this street that had a bunch of art boutiques, and on the top of it was this old railroad track they changed into a park/running track. That's jolly Bart. It was pretty cool but we didn't walk far since it was 2 pm and we hadn't eaten lunch yet. So we went to Quality Burger Restaurant !!! :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Surprise on our walk!

So this walk is pretty short, and not THAT interesting for me personally. Mostly because we can't "do" anything and the fact that the little cannon didn't go off. I'll explain what that is in a second. But it still became really fun because we sort of saw Angelina Jolie filming a movie. And we got interviewed by a French tv channel! Anyways, we started out with the Palais Royal, which is just next to the Louvre. It is here where we started the walk last Tuesday, and ended up not finishing it because Angelina Jolie was filming in this café right along our walk. I was right across the street from this café and was wondering what's going on when I heard these Japaense tourists next to me say "Angelina Jolie" in a very strong accent. I'm pretty sure I saw her back. She's pretty tall. Here's a pic the papparazi who I saw with huge cameras were able to take. They are very good at their jobs. I tried taking some but they kept blocking my camera with their hands or umbrellas.

Here's my across the street. You only see two guys there blocking the crosswalk which is why I was able to take this picture, but like 30 seconds later there were more guys who stopped me from taking pics.

Anyways, on to the walks. We started with a shopping mall called Le Louvre des antiquaires. It is really an antique mall and it's very expensive, so much so that almost all of the stores didn't list prices. The professor who wrote this walk said that he saw George Lucas shopping for furniture while he was writing this walk. One day I will buy a cool piano like this (but I also want a black/red one like that one in the Cité de la Musique):

Then we head over to the Palais Royal, where Cardinal Richlieu used to live, he just gave it to the King before he died. It's a nice little place, but we weren't allowed to go inside. Here's some columns a French architect added. When the government found out what he was trying to do, they tried to cancel the contract with him, but he won and ended up still building this:

It just doesn't really fit in with the old architecture, but then again, they thought the same about the Eiffel Tower. I think it's fine. Also those green pants I was wearing was filmed by Canal+ Le grand journal. Whether or not we ever got aired, I don't know, but I don't think so from what I saw online. This guy and his cameraman stopped us and asked if we were tourists. Then he asked us some questions about it, and says its funny that Angelina Jolie is filming a movie called "The Tourist" right there! What are our thoughts of Paris, and what do you think the Parisians think of us! One of the things I said was that Parisians dress very well but they need more colors. Then Haley or Chelsea pointed out that they need to wear colored pants like mine and the cameraman focussed on my pants. Haha, it was kinda crazy.
So the following is the little cannon that I read about online, and there's even a plaque there saying that it goes off every day at noon thanks to the sun. But I've been there two times, both cloudy and sunny and it hasn't gone off!! So that made me sad. Also Haley and Chelsea thought it was too small, I told them it was small but they didn't believe me. It was built when France tried to do their own Meridian of time. So that time "starts" there. But we all know it is in Greenwich! But for like 30-40 years in the 19th Century, they kept insisting on this until they finally conformed to the rest of the world.
Then I visited a covered passage/mall called Passage des Panorams, and the Bourse (French Stock Market).