As with the rest of France, a certain chill swept across Paris this weekend to welcome my second group of visitors. My friends studying elsewhere in France are lucky enough to have a week off, and are taking full advantage of the time off to travel. The Sorbonne, on the other hand, seems to be just about the only uni who doesn’t get a holiday before the end of this semester (boo…) After a rather disappointing start to Vicky’s stay here with a pretty rubbish Friday night (which needed a whole blog entry to be fully recaptured ), I was determined to show her Paris at its best…
After making my second trip within a week to Notre Dame (I am definately already starting to feel like a tour guide when I have visitors), we ventured to the Saint-Germain-des-Prés arrondissement. Once the spot for existentialist thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, this extremely chic and upscale quartier is definitely the place to be seen. Our mission was to find the infamous Café de Flore, one of the oldest and most prestigious coffeehouses in Paris, which is known for its famous clientele. Needless to say, it was pretty pricey (we could only afford hot chocolate and croissants), but just to say that I’ve been there is something. And the hot chocolate was absolutely a-m-a-z-i-n-g. As we sat down and started taking some majorly touristy pictures to commemorate our visit (much to the disgruntlement of the chic Parisian man kitted out in a typical black turtleneck next to us), Vicky made an incredible spot – Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton were literally metres away from us! This definitely confirmed the calibre of the clientele here. Despite the man next to us clearly judging us for only ordering hot chocolate and croissants during the lunchtime rush, our waiter was genuinely charming and could obviously see how excited we were to be in such a prestigious place. As French students, we must be commended for our true commitment to our degree!
Upon leaving the café rather star-struck, we found my other guest for the weekend, Sarah, who had come all the way from Grenoble. In the afternoon I found myself for the second time within a few days back in Montmartre, though I was to discover for the first time the area’s vintage shopping potential. We stumbled across a great little vintage store called Vintage Désir with a range of garments and accessories. After rifling through the rather packed clothes rails in search for a grey, tweedy looking blazer (something I have wanted since arriving), I found exactly what I was looking for – and for only ten euros at that. The shop was also laden with quirky patterned jumpers ready for the winter season, so a return visit is definitely needed sometime. In contrast to our rather intellectually and culturally spent morning, we couldn’t help but have a go on the carousel at the bottom of Montmartre before heading up the long flight of steps to the Sacré Cœur. Definitely two euros well spent! Although I had seen the Sacré Cœur now twice within the space of the week, I don’t think it can ever lose its splendour. Plus, I got to see it for the first time at dusk, which was pretty beautiful.
All this tourist activity had got us pretty hungry, so I suggested we headed to St Michel in search of some food in the rue St André des Arts, which has a lot of reasonably priced restaurants; somewhere I have found myself already on several occasions. We ended up in a small Lebanese place called Topoly, where I finally got my fix falafel fix since coming to France (which went down a treat!) For any fellow veggies in Paris, I would definitely recommend it. I’d say it’s more of an upscale fast food joint than a five-star restaurant, but Lebanese cuisine is far from your typical greasy kebab. We then had a glass of wine in a bar I know further along the road before crashing back at mine after a long day.
Sunday was yet another jammed packed touristy day for guests who wanted to see everything. I did feel truly Parisian when I did not feel the urge to whip out my camera when seeing the Arc de Triomphe. This was my second climb up the arc since living here – so I was able to point out a lot in the Parisian skyline for Vicky and Sarah. We then made a few cheeky trips into shops along Champs-Elysées before linking up with Emma and Mairead. We promenaded all the way down the Avenue, past Place de la Concorde, through the Jardin des Tuileries before finding ourselves by the Louvre (making the most of every classic tourist photo opp. along the way may I add…) We had a lot of fun trying to get pictures with us touching the point of the Louvre Pyramid! I then finally got to cross the Pont des Arts, a romantic hotspot for lovers who fix padlocks with their names on the side of the bridge before casting the keys into the Seine below. As the immortal line goes: ‘We’ll always have Paris.’
Café de Flore: 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris (Metro Saint-Germain-des-Prés)
Vintage Désir: 28 rue Yvonne le Tac, 75018 Paris (Metro Abbesses)
Topoly : 25 rue St André des Arts, 75006 Paris (Metro St Michel)