IMG_2573.jpg

Hi.

Welcome to my blog. Come and stay for a while! 

day and night at the eiffel tower

Day 55-56 - hanging with gargoyles in the Notre Dame, getting scammed in the Tuileries, another Kimye wedding destination and two visits to the Eiffel Tower 


The bouquinistes lined up along the River Seine, near the Notre Dame, are picture perfect this autumn morning. And don't they know it. Lots have a "No Photo" sign but Rob's a rebel. One guy has thrown all his stock into a heap, causing a mille feuille of crumbly brown paper that threatens to burst onto the sidewalk. He's got one of those aggressive "NO PHOTOS" sign. Everyone must stop and take one. It's less shop; more hoarder. A clown walks towards me and says something in jaunty French. I scream in his face, shoo him away, and shout "I hate clowns!"




We wait for an hour and a half for the privilege of climbing up 400 plus steps to the Notre Dame. I want to see the gargoyles, the individually named bells, and acquire my own hunchback from plodding up the spiral stone steps. I read about Florence on my Kindle while the line is entertained by a comedian who uses the cars along the streets and tourists as part of his gag. 


We walk past him and he proclaims Rob as "The Prince of Qatar". A titter rolls through the crowd. Rob good-naturedly waves royally. I give everyone a brittle smile and backtalk him - You guys all look the same to me too. He makes me think of Julie Delpy ranting in the back of a taxi in 2 Days in Paris. J'adore Julie Delpy.


I hang with the gargoyles, watching over Paris. It is so beautiful that I feel like breaking the law and becoming an illegal immigrant. Jokes, Paris police reading this blog. Jokes. The only crime I'll be committing is leaving Paris. Uh huh. We circulate round the top of this Gothic church, wandering from tower to tower, grinning, smiling, selfie-ing, taking other couples' pictures. It's a charmed life up there. Back down below, there's a procession of elderly men holding banners from different countries. We think it's ANZAC day but find out later, it's Veterans Day. Rob makes me panic when he tells me he thinks the President is coming. "With Carla Bruni?" I demand. Alas, Le President does not appear. An elderly man is late for the procession. The flag procession is already halfway into the Notre Dame. An organiser berates him as he hurries to fall into line. "OH BernARD!" we hear him huff. 


We dip back into the Latin Quarter and around St Germain for lunch. The sidewalks are packed and the atmosphere is weirdly festive for a late Monday afternoon. Rob's confused, "When do people go to work?" We browse in the Taschen bookstore, pet other people's dogs without permission, and pardonnez-moi along the pavements to Chalet Gregoire. I pick my chicken leg dry. It's incredible. I smash my creme brulee into oblivion. Rob hunches over his beef bourgoignon and his eyes roll into the back of his head.


Wending our way out of the inner streets and back along the Seine, we can see the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Foolishly, we decide to just casually "walk there". Because it's right. there. Because we're from Wellington where everything is a 20 minute walk or less away and because we've just come from a week in Florence where the same rule sort of applies. Because in Rome, our last big European city, we scootered everywhere and scooter's are fast. Because Paris on an autumn day along the River Seine with the trees and the boats and the lights slowly blinking on in the dusk is too pretty to miss by plunging down into a dirty metro underground.


So, we take a crazy, half-asleep, zig-zaggy route from the depths of St Germain all the way to the foot of the Eiffel Tower. We're going across the Seine, back down, back up, through the Tuileries, stopping for a toilet break, eating waffles and crepes, and identifying the fountain Andy threw her cellphone in at the end of Devil Wears Prada (to be honest, I did that, not Rob).


I collapse on a park bench and contemplate the striding statute of Winston Churchill behind the Grand Palais, trying to summon up my courage to continue. On the way, we've seen the Eiffel Tower sparkle twice. That means we've taken about two hours to get there on foot. The dang thing just always looked so close.


So, we stand there, gawping gormlessly up at the miles of criss-crossing steel beams, tapering into a tiny point in the atmosphere. Rob gets it in one, "I'm too tired to enjoy this." I am too. We decide to come back tomorrow to go up. The Eiffel Tower gives us just enough wi-fi to get sorted because the Korean map of the Parisian metro and RER lines that I found in our apartment is just not cutting it. We use the last of our energy to drag our tourist carcasses to the nearest metro. I am saddened when I pass a man slamming sizzling onions from a dam-sized cauldron onto a hotdog and don't want one.


On day 56, I'm feeling a little miserable; it's one of those duvet days. But we're ready to summit. The night before, I reserved tickets online and downloaded PDFs of them on my phone, ready to skip the enormous lines. We get out at the Louvre. I eat my feelings via my second pain au chocolat in less than two hours, chomping it on the outskirts of the Tuileries in front of a beautifully curvy bronze naked lady. Rob spots a dog walker who's let his random assortment of four-legged charges off the lead. They're romping on the grass, backlit by the sun. I run, not walk, towards them. We spend about half an hour luring dogs to our sides. I sneak up on a golden retriever and steal a hug. He politely ignores me. I declare "I miss my dog" very many times.


We're stopped by two young ladies asking us to sign petitions for handicapped children. A well-dressed man walks past and says to us, gravely with a shake of his head, "No" and calmly wafts past after delivering that single word. As in You stupid tourists, don't sign their sham petition unless you want to pay for it with your WALLET. I'm shocked. We're in such manicured, genteel surroundings. Jordan is way way way behind us. Obviously, our guards have gone way way down in Europe. A police man rolls past. On a bike. The girls scatter into the wind. The police man straddles his bike while giving us the lowdown on the petition scam that's a cover to pick your pockets. I feel very stupid. All I can think is But she had nice dangly gold earrings on. We thank the police guy and he cycles away. On his bike.   


Back on our way, we walk through a particularly exclusive side street along the Champs Elysees to get to the Tower. It's sprinkled with the gold dust of guarded Celine's, Valentino's, and a luxury hotel or two. I spot L'Avenue and hiss to Rob that the Kardashians eat there in Paris. It seems I've now, once again, innocently stumbled into the Paris edition of the Kimye wedding walking tour I, innocently, embarked on in Florence. I don't even like the Kardashians. But that's usually not the point with pop culture figures. It's their inescapability in your everyday life that matters.


I badger Rob. There's a "classic" way to view the Eiffel Tower that I managed to achieve my first time in Paris but never again. It's from the Trocadero. He's uninterested and only keen on getting to that pesky, poky thing in the sky. We're back at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. We eat a particularly disgusting croque-monsieur, humour a rickshaw bike guy who gets shooed away by police, then we coast up the two elevators. People are gasping in there.


We stay up in the sky till sunset. Walking back towards the metro, I lock onto hotdog man. I'm informed it will be another hour before he's ready. He's only just got there. It's devastating news. I seriously consider sitting on the fence watching him for a full hour. Then give up. I want to go home. I drink half of Rob's vege soup instead.  

finding my religieuse at Fauchon and bodybagged statues at Versailles

a parisian attic apartment