Today we spent the day in Paris proper. We visited Notre Dame and La Defense and Moulin Rouge. We successfully navigated the Metro (I will thank Lauren for that one) and decided to try a free walking tour we found on a brochure.* I LOVED the free tour, and not just because it was free. Our guide, who name was Pierre**, single-handedly redeemed all of France (as this was prior to dinner). He was cute as a button, spoke darling English, and gave us an informative yet humorous tour of Montmartre. Every time we stopped at a new location, he would begin by saying, “If I stop here, it is to tell you about _______.” He pronounced area as “ah-ree-ah” and vegetables as “ve-jet-tables,” but his English was excellent and he was full of smiles. He made jokes that were more personality than punchline, like “I’m going to tell you more about myself since talking about me is my favorite topic.” He also had a great love of food and told us how to tell a good crème brulee from a bad one: you tap the top with the back of your spoon. If it cracks perfectly, it’s a good crème brulee. If it smooshes, it’s a bad one. “There’s nothing you can do about a bad one because they won’t make refunds, but you can tell them you know they did a bad job.” *for more information about Discover Walks, see the bottom of the post **me to Lauren: “that sounds made up” He was dismayed by the decline in quality of French cuisine in touristy ah-ree-ahs, and I fully support his passionate displeasure. That must have been the time when I imprinted on him. We began at Moulin Rouge and worked our way through the artistic district of Paris where Van Gogh and Picasso both spent time. We saw the restaurant where Amelie worked in the film Amelie.
We saw the café that Van Gogh used to frequent when he woke up in the late afternoon for breakfast. To honor the tradition, they are the only restaurant that serves breakfast until 6p.m.
We saw a view of the city, including the golden dome structure, from atop a hill.
We saw the two remaining windmills in Montmartre. Here is the second one.
Pierre told us not to eat at the restaurant below it because they were overpriced and the quality had depreciated. Instead, he told us to go to the restaurant across the street where we could purchase a whole chicken (cooked). He said he and his classmates like to go there because it’s good and reasonably priced when split amongst a group of people. He told us the story of the man who got stuck in the wall as a lesson for what might become of those who abuse their superpowers.
We learned the story of Dalida, the Marilynn Monroe of France, who was married four times, three of her ex-husbands committing suicide as well as Dalida herself. To protect us from bad luck from standing in her driveway, we had to touch her statue.
At the end of the tour, Pierre took us to a secret garden beneath the Sacré-Cœur and we took a group photo, which he promised to upload it to facebook. In the meantime, here’s a photo of the three of us.
I left the tour feeling like France was redeemed. Then we ate dinner, and now all has been forgiven. Paris: je t’aime (pronounce it as you would and not as I would.) (Sorry) (Désolé.) __________ More information about the walking tour: Most major cities have free walking tours. I’ve done them in Edinburgh and Sydney through the Sandeman company, and both were excellent, but this was through Discover Walks (www.discoverwalks.com). The tours are in English and the guides are paid through tipping, so you give whatever amount you feel was earned. It’s definitely worth it!
One thought on “First Impressions of France: France Redeemed”
Sooooo funny. And Pierre is the best!