Paris is a city that is much more multi-cultural then she will have you believe. Parisians in my limited experience of them are generally quite helpful though not the most friendly of people, however like all rules and generalisations there are always exceptions. I found a few of them. Generally I travel for the people and culture first and the rest later, but Paris saw us taking in the sights and the cultural legacy of the French, their art.
Not only did we appreciate the fine food that was sometimes on offer (you have to be picky about where you eat – just because they are French does not automatically qualify one as a gourmet cook!) but the local transport too! A city with this breadth has a range of transport options, many of which help retain the arty feel to the city, such as the ones below.
No visit to Paris is complete without a visit to see artists at work. Not as bohemian as the movies would have you believe but certainly a lifestyle choice. A walk around Montmartre is always replete with at least a caricaturist, a portraitist and a silhouettist approaching you to copy your mug on to paper (or black sticky paper) all for a very good fee!
Then it is essential to take a trip up to the top of the hill at Montmartre to take in the views. We chose a particularly fine day to capture the essence of a European city – smog and lots and lots of big grey buildings! At street level these buildings remind you of a bygone era (but probably mostly since WWII) but from a vantage are drab and generally uninteresting.
Which is why it is better to take in the vistas by night. I actually think there are more tours of the city at night then by day, no wander Europeans stay out late and get up late! We walked up the Eiffel tower by day and went back that night to get the city lights tour. Except for the torrential rain the city comes in to its own after sunset.
Under the dark night sky is also the only time to take in the Moulin Rouge. Yes, it is pretty seedy in this area, surrounded by brothels and innumerable sex shops, but we had to see it because I loved the movie.
Then we chose to go to one of the large old graveyards in the city and since Pere Lachaise cemetery is home to many a famous skeleton, we headed out early one chilly grey morning to pay our respects to the likes of Jim Morrison (Doors head man for those way out of touch), Edith Piaf (a chantouse – yes that means singer, not temptress!) and Oscar Wilde (who I think was the temptress!). I never had any idea that Oscar Wilde’s grave would emit such emotion from his fans, but as you can see below, they (and I presume they to be women??) definately wanted to let everyone else know that they missed him.
It was Mona who tempted us to stay at this hotel, whose other 20 rooms also featured different famous works above the beds. What trip to Paris would be complete without spending time with Mona? Since we decided that a 2 hour line to get a glimpse of the real thing was not on our itinerary, we made the most of staring up in to her brown smirking eyes from our comfortable bed.
So there is no escaping the fact that as kids we used to detest these slimy animals crushing them beneath our feet with a wicked glee, but I just felt that I could not leave France without having tried this (apparent) delicacy! I have to say that despite the unappetising look of the flesh as I speared it and dragged it from its housing, the taste was entirely of garlic, oil and basil with a chewy texture. Won’t be rushing back for more but unlike oysters was able to swallow!