Monday, September 13, 2010

Oi Oi Paris: Jour 2

View from Trocadero
Alice was basically my city-wandering buddy all week, and she was a fabulous tour guide. On my second full day, we picked up pastries at the corner patisserie and walked to Trocadero, where you get a great view of the Eiffel Tower past some fountains with interesting horse-head sculptures. There are tons of tourists in this area, also made obvious by the numerous guys trying to sell you mini-replicas of the Eiffel Tower for 1 Euro. I have no idea how these guys sell enough trinkets to make a living, since nobody seems to buy any.

Our next stop was Arc de Triomphe, which is in the middle of this crazy traffic circle, and was recommended to me by Mike Cullinan himself as a good thing to climb up in Paris, but I did not anticipate that the city-wide strike would extend to monuments as well. So alas, we couldn't climb it. It was still pretty awesome though - apparently it was commissioned by Napoleon to honor the soldiers that fought in his various wars.

trying to look nonchalant as if some paparazzi took this photo, not myself
After that, we walked up the Champs-Elysees, which is a really wide street with lots of big shops lining it, somewhat similar to Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It was kind of touristy but still pretty fun. There are a lot of gorgeous, stylish women in Paris, so it's great for people-watching as well as window-shopping. We walked all the way to the Madeleine Church, which has 52 gigantic columns going all the way around. The inside is sprinkled with columns as well, along with a big mosaic of Jesus and his posse at the back, with palm trees (which seemed out of place).

The Madeleine - church devoted to Mary Magdalene
Conveniently near the Madeleine was Laduree, one of Alice's favorite macaron shops, and one of the two most prominent ones in Paris. We planned to do a taste test - both to find out which shop made better macarons, and also which macaron flavors we liked the best. This is the kind of test that I like to take.

The shop is adorable and small, and sells primarily macarons. We picked some interesting flavors like citron, petales de rose, cassis violette, and fruits rouges. The texture was perfect - crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. YUM.

our bag of sweet treats
I also had my first experience with the automatic, self-washing, free public toilet of Paris. You press a button and the door opens. You press another button inside and a lady's voice says something to you in French as the door closes. You do your thing, and pick a button for a big or small flush. Instead of seeing the flush, you just hear the French voice again. Hmm. Going over to the sink, you hold out your hand and soap magically drops into it, and then water comes out so you'd better scrub! You figure you've done all you can, and press a button to make the door open. Then you have to press the button on the outside before anyone else goes in, so it will automatically flush and wash itself before the next person. Weird!
Next we sought out a craft store that I'd heard of called La Drogerie, which was truly worth the time to find it. It was incredible - jars full of beads in every color imaginable, a rainbow of yarn hanks, an incredible collection of gorgeous ribbons, Liberty fabric fat quarters, and a huge selection of quirky buttons. I could have spent all my money in there, for reals.
oh, the ribbon!
On our way home we walked past Notre Dame, which is such a gorgeous cathedral with crazy gargoyles and really intricate architecture. I'm sure you can find a picture of it online, but the stuff that really intrigues me is the little details, like these four king-like guys near the door, each with his own expression, tall and skinny. Who are they?
what is the first guy standing on?

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