Monday, December 28, 2009

Day Five: M’O

27 Dec. 2009


This was after we got out of the Musée; as always, it was windy.

Sorry for the delay in posting! I think I’ve figured out a more efficient way to do this and add pictures (Windows Live Writer)! (Granted, it was my mom’s suggestion via Skype. And it does work, because my last post was written on Live Writer. It was much easier than putting in pictures and dragging them up and down the post on Blogger. IT EVEN LETS ME ADD ACCENTS! xD

[Sorry, I’m a bit overly enthusiastic about it. It’s making my life easier, so hopefully posts won’t take me hours to write anymore…]

P1090516 Medusa!

Anyway, dad and I finally made it INSIDE Musée D’Orsay (vraiment this time!) [Vraiment = truly but I think they use it for “really”, too.] The line was already long, despite the fact that when we arrived it was only 10:30 (it opens at 9:30). To waste time (and since we hadn’t eaten yet), we had “brunch”" yet again. [More crepes and FINALLY some hot chocolate with WHIPPED CREAM. Except it’s more expensive that way, and it’s called something different. Chocolat vinneois, I think; I forgot to write down what it was.)P1090479

By the time we were finished with brunch, the lines had passed the boundaries and people were squished together as the line wrapped around lampposts and past people selling more hot chestnuts. (They’re everywhere! As are the people selling miniature Eiffel Towers.) We waited in line for thirty minutes (maybe more), but at last, we made it INSIDE the Musée!P1090481

We wandered through all the open exhibits—many are closed or moved because they’re renovating. We saw the Impressionists, Post-impressionists, and a few other styles that I couldn’t name but Dad probably could. HA, NEVERMIND. He just handed me the map/guide.

*Ahem* (I’m about to quote the map.)

“From November 2009 to Marche 2011, the museum will be carrying out major renovation work on its museographic areas, leading to the closure of level 5.
During this period, your visit will begin on level 0, where you will view the large realist paintings of Courbet and the first works of Manet, Monet, and Cézanne together with impressionists and postimpressionists, sculpture collections (Carpeaux, Daumier…), as well as paintings from the 180s and 60s (Ingres, Delacroix, Degas…).
This continues on to level 2 with the masterpieces of French and Belgian Art Nouveau, foreign schools of painting, symbolism (Homer, Burne-Jones…), and naturalism (Gervex, Lhermitte…).
Lastly, there are two temporary exhibitions showing: ‘James Ensor’ and ‘Art Nouveau Revival’. To keep informed of what’s happening in the museum during the renovation work, go to”

(*whew*. Good thing that was in English.)

I’m glad we gave ourselves time to look through everything! We were there from 11:30ish to 2:45. I discovered an artist I had never heard of but I liked—Armand Guillaumin.

P1090493 Those are two of Guillaumin’s pieces behind me. Pretty, right?!

The Van Gogh, Monet, and Degas exhibits seemed to be the most popular (you should recognize those names. Well, maybe not Degas, but the first two… If you don’t recognize the first two, then we have a bit of a problem!). The temporary exhibit about James Ensor was quite popular—he was a Belgian painter, and he was really quite egotistical! He painted 112 self-portraits, if that gives you any idea… in one of them, he was Jesus! xD (oh, artists…)


The painting behind me is Van Gogh’s Portrait de l’artiste.


We don’t remember what this painting is called (Le Bal?), or the artist that painted it. But it was REALLY detailed.


Dad actually knows some of the famous paintings that I didn’t recognize, but he took pictures of me in front of them anyway.

P1090497 Notice how awkward I look.P1090504

We thought this was cool. Don’t remember the artist or title, of course.


One of the statues. Some of the statues were really funny… naked boys frolicking. *is slightly immature* xD


I thought this statue was cool (artist: Degas); the skirt she’s wearing and the ribbon on her ponytail are real fabric.

I had to take a break after seeing everything on the ground floor; I was inspired and exhausted, so I sat down in the statue gallery to relax. I really liked the Impressionist/postimpressionism; I like the softness of the paintings. Some of the more “fantastic” pieces were particularly interesting (like the Medusa painting near the beginning of this post; the artist that painted that had these great colorful pieces!) I wrote some and people-watched, which I feel is a fine way to spend time in an art gallery.


(I also attempted to take a picture of the really awesome clock.)


I failed, but Dad succeeded. So that’s the awesome clock! :D

I think we both started getting really exhausted towards the end; we breezed through the 2nd level. We did stop to take a good look at a couple things.


Like this; it made us laugh. Actually, I still find it rather funny.


I’ll let you interpret this one for yourself. There are twelve naked men in this picture. (This was right next to the painting pictured above. )

The Art Nouveau Revival and Naturalism exhibits weren’t that exciting, but I did learn that Art Nouveau Revival has some elements of eroticism… which was not so subtle in some pieces like a table that hade a not-very-clothed mannequin as the base. [Note for the confused: Art Nouveau Revival is the style associated with the 1960s—the often psychedelic patterns and colors, I guess. The cover of the Beatles’ album Revolver is an example of the style.](You just learned something, didn’t you?)


This was in the Naturalism exhibition. That is, indeed, a toilet. Shaped like a fly. Gotta love art… xD

Having seen everything we wanted to see and glanced through the exhibits we weren’t so interested in, we finally left Musée d’Orsay and headed over to Père Lachaise Cemetary (of course getting there was far too complicated). Late lunch was from a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant because we like Vietnamese food and Dad is on a perpetual search for the PERFECT spring rolls. (No, really; we had these great spring rolls at a Vietnamese restaurant in San Jose with family friends back when I was a sixth grader and he still hasn’t found spring rolls that are just right.) [And it was delicious, but the porc (pork) spring rolls > crevette (shrimp) spring rolls> poulet (chicken) spring rolls.]


The Père Lachaise Cemetary is the most-visted cemetary in Paris; Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Pissarro, Oscar Wilde, and lots of other famous people are buried there. The tombs are really intricate and pretty; it’s hilly there, so you see all these moss-covered tombs, some with flowers, but many looking forgotten, with cobblestone lanes surrounded by bare trees… it’s really beautiful.


We had just entered; I’m not very good at looking solemn.



This captures the atmosphere of it quite well. Isn’t it beautiful, though?


Dad in front of Jim Morrison’s grave, looking properly sad.


Oscar Wilde’s tomb. It’s covered in kisses. Lipstick apparently stains stone…P1090558


Chopin’s tomb is also quite popular to see.


Edith Piaf’s tomb; I’m not very good at looking sad so I’ll not put that picture of me trying-and-failing to look sad. So yeah. Happy at a tomb…


QUICK! Distraction!


We think this is Pissarro’s tomb; it’s so very gaudy, and Pissarro’s tomb was supposed to be around here but we forgot whose tomb we were looking for. xD

Okay, so that’s enough about the cemetery. That’s all we did then; dinner was McDonalds (fail, I know) because that was the ONLY THING open on our street that looked edible (surprisingly) and was cheap. On the bright side, we didn’t get food poisoning! :)

That is all. Hope you had an equally marvelous day!


P.S. Today’s Day Six. Again with the late posting. But we haven’t done much today, since we’re currently on the train to Saint Raphaël.

(ACTUALLY, since I couldn’t get on the internet to post this last night, today is DAY SEVEN. We’re currently in Fréjus and we met my host family last night :D)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day Four: English with French Subtitles

26 Dec. 2009


…Right, so this is the post I should have written a day ago! :)

[I’ll write it as though today was still the 26th! Don’t get confused about the verb tenses, then. I HAVE WARNED YOU.]

As I mentioned previously, we were planning on going to the flea markets, Musée D’Orsay, and the Eiffel Tower today. {See? That’s where you act like I posted this on the 26th. ONWARDS.} You should have guessed by now, but Dad and I are not very good at planning, so we did not actually accomplish all of that.

However, we did make it to the flea markets! We went to “Les Puces de Paris: Saint Ouen” (“The Fleas of Paris: Saint Ouen”), which is supposedly the largest flea market in Paris. It includes a huge antiques and furniture marché (I keep typing marché instead of market, so I give up. Marché, marché, marché) and countless (really. 1, 2, 3…57…) clothing booths.

In this case, I’m grouping anything that isn’t furniture and/or antiques in with “clothing”, so interpret that loosely. There were booths with chaussures (shoes) and other accessories like wallets, purses, small trinkets, prints, small sculptures, post cards, typical tourist-y junk, and lots of booths with leather jackets.

Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about clothing and such to say if anything was authentic, or if it was stolen (not even kidding). The fakes (of which there were many) were fairly well-done—for example, we saw no less than four stalls selling “Converse” shoes in all sorts of designs and colors, and the tread and boxes and everything looked pretty real to me (and I have a pair).

They had boots for as little as 10€ (YAY EURO SYMBOL! Finally found the Alt control. Geez…); some were cute but nothing was particularly unique, so I didn’t buy anything (I may regret that later, I kinda lovelovelove boots and I’ve been wearing mine nearly every day). [Whoa, that was very ADD.] Anyway, I didn’t buy much.

{Notice the careful wording. “not much” = ONE THING. JUST. ONE.}

The furniture/antiques market was ASTOUNDING, though! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many antiques in such great condition! Some were insanely old, too (then again, Europe in general is old). Everything we saw was veryyyy expensive, but much of it was high-quality, if you ever happen to want a quite-expensive-in-Euros antique something. xD

[Sorry I don’t have any pictures of ANY of that! We really didn’t take any!]

After we got bored of that, we began our search for a cell phone for me. (except they just call it "Fnac”, and that’s pronounced “F-nack”. As in the letter F, nack.)We finally found one (a cell phone, that is) for as-cheap-as-possible. It’s really simple; a tiny Samsung flip phone. We tracked down Mobiho (that’s the name of a cell phone company, just so you know.) SIM cards (that wasn’t easy, I tell you!) so I can call the US for 0,19€/min, but incoming calls are FREE so YOU COULD CALL ME.

(I have a calling card to call my family, but we don’t think it’ll work. SADNESS!)

Unfortunately, the SIM card is only 8€ of calls for now, and each SIM card has its own number attached, so my number will change every time I have to get a new SIM card. I know, confusing and problematic.

Fnac is what you would get if you combined Barnes and Noble and Best Buy and then translated it into French. So, not only did we find my cell phone there, but I bought Harry Potter et le prisonnier d’Azkaban to read. It’ll take me months, but it’s my favorite of the Harry Potter series so I’m looking forward to reading it in my favorite language. And we got an alarm clock—the buttons are all in English, which makes little sense. Not that I’m complaining!

After we dropped off all of our “loot”, we headed over to the Musée d’Orsay, but decided not to go in since we didn’t have enough time to fully appreciate the art. BUT WE ACTUALLY MADE IT THERE THIS TIME, so we did better! Rawr!

At last, we walked/ran/rode a bus for two blocks over to the Eiffel Tower. It’s basically required that you take far too many pictures there, but here’s some of the far-too-many pictures that WE took! (and when I say “we”, I mean “Dad” because I’m too lazy to take my pictures off my camera right now.)





I like this picture because it looks purple. xDP1090427

Slightly idiotic expressions are my trademark.P1090431

Dunno why there’s dustiness in this one.



You can tell by my expression that this is take 4. Also, it was very cold. xD



The lights were flashing on the tower so you can actually see us well!

As expected, the lines at La Tour Eiffel were long and by the time we got to the first floor (we walked because it was cheaper and we thought it would be more interesting), it was already dark. Then again, it gets dark early here.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the views! (We didn’t get any higher than the 2nd level because we figured that once you get that high, there’s really not much else to see but a further-away view of the same things.)

P1090451P1090455 Montmartre.


Sacre Coeur. Blurry; I think my picture was less blurry but this camera has a better zoom.


The lights turned on while we were on top of the 2nd floor :)


See? Same, just higher.


I confess, I don’t know what this is, but I like the blur. I think it looks cool. xD


La Seine

Once we returned to the ground, it was dinnertime, so we took the bus over to Odeon, where we found a tiny Italian place, and had escargots. That shouldn’t need translation: SNAILS! Yum. They weren’t as good as last time, but still good :D


After we were happily full, we went to see Pas si simple because the lines at the theaters playing Avatar were too long. It was still in English, but it had French subtitles, which definitely weren’t exact. (The title itself is an example of this—pas si simple is literally “not that simple” in French, but the title of the movie was actually It’s complicated.) The French seemed to enjoy the French references… “it’s so very… FRENCH!” xD

{It’s funny; but it had a lot of filler but the cast was well-cast which probably helped it a lot.}

So, that was day four!

Hopefully that made up for my lack-of-post due to Skyping my twin! :)


Saturday, December 26, 2009


Hokayso, I'm really tired right now and I'm busy talking to Molly, so there's no way the blog of Day Four will be written today. Nor will the pictures be put in. Errrr. You'll have to wait for a bit! SORRY!

Hope you had a great day, though! I did! :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Day Three: Fêtes de Noël


So, I really hate my keyboard right now because every time I try to insert an "e" with a circumflexe, it's like: "Navigate away from this page?" NO. DO NOT NAVIGATE AWAY FROM THIS PAGE. *gnashes teeth* (Souhm, there probably won't be any accents in this post since my computer, Gandalf, is being quite annoying. Sorry!)
I know a lot of you were jealous about the fact that I got to go to Notre Dame de Paris for midnight mass on Christmas. Don't be. If you have EVER been to a Christmas Eve/Christmas service at any church, then you probably have a good idea of how it works. You should understand that going to Notre Dame for Christmas mass isn't an original idea at all; Paris being the hot spot for tourists that it is, there were maybe-thousands of people all crammed in there.
We got there at 9:20 or something like that (potentially earlier), but all of the seats were already filled. We crammed along the sides with the other seat-less people. Standing room only; I should have worn more comfortable shoes because I was definitely shifting the ENTIRE time. If you plan on doing something like that, ARRIVE REALLY EARLY. It's insane. Take ANY seat possible, even if it means sitting apart from your group. There's this whole "Introduction to Christmas" photo montage with French speakers (all pre-recorded), and English subtitles, followed by music from the Choir.


I wish I would have known to stand along the sides because people get up and leave every once and a while, so if you were right there, you'd be able to grab the seat before anybody else could. They had security people (maybe? I'm not sure; they were wearing bright orange and blue. We decided that they must be the new Musketeers-- this one guy had an AMAZING goatee and pointy mustache! :O)

The Snuggie Choir” is what we called them. Don’t they look like they’re wearing Snuggies?!

P1090218edit I edited this picture so you could see the big screen during the Christmas story part. You can tell that we’re off to the side, instead of in the main part of the cathedral.

Anyway, we could kinda-sorta see, and they had monitors set up all over (they were filming the service; you can watch it on TV here), and we took blurry zoomed-in pictures. I don't know if any turned  out well, but here's a couple just in case.


This is the arch-bishop in his hat.


  This guy is reading something in French. He is not the archbishop.


  The archbishop finally took off his hat! That’s him; he has ANOTHER hat UNDER the pointy hat. (I should really learn the technical names for these things.)

(The Archbishop wears this pointy hat, which is amusing (it shows that he is the arch-bishop, not just another priest); they wave around a lot if incense, which we think makes it seem a lot more important. We left before communion though, because at that point, there wasn't any more pretty singing, just rather monotone French blessings or something.)



We got back to our hotel room around 1:something, but of course, we didn't go to sleep until later. Amazingly, we woke up before 11 today! YAY! (9:30, actually, but we didn't actually get anywhere until almost noon.)

We did end up going to Montmartre today; we wanted to see Sacre Coeur, and Simone (the "New Paris" tour guide from yesterday) had informed us that Montmartre is the stereotypically charmingly French part of town, so that moved to the top of our list. Besides the fact that last time, we didn't go here, so it's all new to us. Montmartre, for those of you unfamiliar with the layout of the city, is the highest hill in the city. It offers panoramic views of Paris, and has lots of stairs and cute little streets. The movie Amelie (I still haven't seen it, grr!) is set there. We took the Metro to somewhere near the bottom, and climbed a tiny little staircase to the side of Sacre Coeur.

Wandering towards the "touristy" section, you are basically swarmed by artists with giant clipboards, telling (not asking) you to stop so they can sketch you. I'm not sure how much that costs, but we made it through the crowds of them by saying "Non! Non!" and shaking our heads until they stopped following us. They're certainly enthusiastic. We considered it for a moment, but knowing that they would over-charge and it really wasn't necessary (even for the experience), we continued to decline. Besides the fact that we were hungry.
Brunch (Breakfast. At lunchtime. Same thing as brunch? I think yes.) was on Montmartre, in this little cafe, Au Petit Creux de  Montmartre. I had a crêpe chocolat et boule de glace, which was a crêpe filled with chocolate with a scoop of ice cream on top. The IMG_0290fact that it was cold is forgivable due to the fact that we once again had chocolat chaud. (It wasn't that good this time, but it came with SUGAR CUBES so that's okay. :D)

After brunch, we wandered awhile, up and down the streets, attempting to avoid the busy areas, which we ultimately failed at. We ended up in a tiny square with artists all set up, painting and sketching and selling their pieces. All of it was unique, and so pretty, too! Unfortunately the REALLY neat ones were out of my price range. :(


Finally, we walked up to Sacre Coeur and wandered inside. It's free to tour the inside and the crypt below, but you aren't allowed to take pictures in the Basilica itself. I got snapped at (literally) for resting my feet against the back of a pew. (This was after I was sitting like that for no less than thirty minutes) Dad sketched a picture of one of the columns, near the top of the dome. We paid the ten euro for both of us to climb the 300 steps to the very top of the dome. We had some issues with the ticket machine, but luckily the people behind us were patient. :D
P1090295 P1090296 P1090303P1090298P1090300

It was REALLY windy at the top of the dome, and I was freezing up there (seriously. Bad wardrobe decision is NOT to layer on Montmartre). When we finally descended the stairs (luckily, Dad didn't break a foot this time...), we bought more roasted chestnuts (yum) and tossed some coins to a dude playing Coldplay songs. He was really good; you could hear him all the way up at the top of the dome and we wondered if Chris Martin was on vacation... xD

P1090313P1090323 P1090324 
As we passed the famous stairs (and the escalator-thing on the side of the hill... errrrr... I don't remember what it's called... >.<), we stopped to take a picture but we were intercepted and cornered by these two African men that basically conned us into buying these "friendship bracelets" that they made on our fingers. They kept saying, "Hakuna Matata! Timone and Pumba! We like Americans!" and all these other things. When I referenced the actual song from Lion King, though, they had no idea. Everybody wants to sell you something... but we eventually escaped (not without paying far too much, argh!) and obviously got lost on the way to the Moulin Rouge.

In this picture, you can tell I’m holding roasted chestnuts! Behind me is the Chris Martin guy. xD


You must be getting tired of me just standing in pictures.P1090335

*acts silly* Dad: *fails at taking a picture*

P1090338 P1090339

We didn’t get any closer than this, because right after we snapped this picture, we were cornered by those two guys.



  This is the last working moulin (windmill) on Montmartre. “Moulin De La Galette.”


 Rue Lepic.


We got confused; this is NOT the entrance to the Moulin Rouge.


I was debating whether or not to dance around. I didn’t, mostly because I felt awkward :)

Once we had taken enough pictures of the Moulin Rouge, we took the Metro to this modern park, called Parc de la Villette, which was designed by an architect named Bernard Tschumi. I wasn't that interested in the park at the moment, largely due to the fact that I was hungry (I know, lame excuse, but this always happens me! I like art and such but when I'm all grouchy due to hunger, I just can't appreciate it.) Dad was pleased that he finally got to see it though; he wanted to last time but he was vetoed by the rest of us.

It started sprinkling, which ruined the sunny, breezy, and chilly day that we had been enjoying. (*sarcasm*; why won't it just STAY WARM and DRY in Paris?!) At that point, we just went back to the Hotel.

After we rested our feet for while, we headed back out for dinner at Le Petit Marius, which is this rather-expensive fish restaurant near the Champs-Elysees. Dad's meal freaked me out a bit; I mean, who wants their food to be LOOKING BACK AT THEM?! Eugh. I had cod, but that was really bland. It looked nice though! The mashed potatoes were delicious, though. Oh, and the appetizer, too: more salmon and creme fraiche (fresh creme sauce; I'm an idiot for not figuring that out before).




Once Dad finished eating, we wandered around the streets, "window shopping" as much as we could with all the shops being closed. Some other random tourist (from England, I think) came up to me asking if I spoke English (in French, of course); I think she may have thought I was a local? (She asked if I knew were a Pharmacie was... I didn't.) At least, that's what I hope she thought, because that would be SO COOL. xD

From that point on, we just strolled (you don't walk on the Champs-Elysees; you stroll and pretend that you have enough money to buy something) up the Champs-Elysees. Eventually, we wandered into a brightly-lit drugstore, because the shops on the Champs-Elysees are supposed to be unique, exclusive, and... not-common, and does a drugstore not sound common to you?


  Publicis drugstore.

Well, upon entering, we discovered that is was not, in fact, common. They had Marc Jacobs bags, a bookstore (since when are there bookstores in drugstores?), a wine cellar (no joke), a pharmacie, an electronics/generally cool technology/random thing shop, a deli, and a bar. We bought some water ("no gas"/ “sans bulles”) and some French books (err... sort of. We bought some "phrase books" because they're funny, I'll talk about one of them at a later date because I have my own copy. I also bought The Tales of Beedle the Bard in French, because I don't have my own copy anyway and I would like to read it. I'll let you know how THAT goes!)
And now... we're back at the hotel room! Not much else to say for today. We didn't make it to the Musee d'Orsay due to the fact that we want to actually experience it, but tomorrow we're going to try to go the the flea markets in town as well as the Eiffel Tower (despite the fact that we've already been there. SHH! We'll try to go during the DAY this time!).

Anyway, I hope you had a very merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel from France! :)

P.S. "Fetes de Noel" is Christmas Day in French; literally, Feast of Christmas.