A Canadian Girl in Paris

“Stop packing: there are clothes in Paris!”

On the early morning of June 5th, 4 days after I landed in London, Vegas and I boarded the EuroStar train, also known as the Chunnel (for Channel Tunnel), for the trip to Paris.  Taking the earliest train possible to gain as much time in Paris, I sat down with my backpack and fell asleep – knowing that in a few short hours I would wake up in Paris.

We arrived to a bustling train station – steeping in a mixture of touri, locals, and members of the beret-wearing French army.  As we slipped pass the gypsies the tourist books warned us about, Vegas and I made our way to le Metro to purchase a Carte Orange – a weekly Metro pass the locals use as the most inexpensive way to get around the city.

The first thing I noticed about Paris was the underbelly – not as romantic as one would think.  The stark contrast of wealth between London and Paris is staggering.  The walls of le Metro are lined with graffiti, evidence of – as Vegas mentioned to me – the burgeoning class-war that I had only read about in novels such as Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.  The seats were harder and weather beaten, the walls in the corridors lined with adverts and locals hawking cheap Parisian souvenirs that nobody in their right mind would buy.  With our belongings tightly in our grasps we climbed the stairs to our small hotel room on rue de Monge, got comfortable, changed and hit the city.

There was a fantastic cafe within walking distance of our hotel.  We sat and drank noisettes, espresso with a drop of milk, and time began to slip away without either of us noticing.  The hustle and flow pace of London melted with every sip of coffee, every re-fill of eau de maison, and with every lazy smile Vegas and I shot at each other, promising that we would move on to our next site… eventually.

“… a place where you can smoke and drink at 2 in the afternoon without judgement.”

Around the corner of rue de Monge lies a fresh food market with every kind of meal option you could imagine.  Boulengeries with just-made baguettes, pastries and sandwiches to expand all waist lindes, fruit vendors, cafes…  quintessential French food with a Parisian twist.  Vegas was in heaven – the resident chef in the relationship, he lamented over the fact that our hotel room had no kitchen while I was too enamoured by the shops and fresh cherries that were calling my name.

But enough about the food and lodgings… Let me tell you about the shopping!!

Going shopping in Paris is equivalent to going to an art museum in Canada or the US.  The window displays and set ups are so lovely, so well put together, so visually pleasing that often I felt my breath being taken away.  And that wasj ust outside of the store.  Inside… well.  Did I mention that it just so happened that my last pay daylanded while I was in Paris?

One would natually assume that I spent the majority of my pay cheque (and also my first born child) on the famous and fabulous Champs-Elysee, a high class, extraordinary street lined with some of the most beautiful and expensive shops in the world.  Think Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Sephora… Now while I did not fall in Dior, I certainly spent more than I had anticipated – on perfume.  Silly I know, as I am certain that I would have saved 30$ on my Miss. Dior eau de parfume if I had waited for the duty-free in Montreal… but you simply cannot visit the Champs-Elysee and leave empty handed, least of all visit Dior and exit without a lovely bag!

No, no… I ended up finding the lovelist fashions in the Dynamite-equivalents in Paris: Promod, Mango, Gallerie Layfayette… but my favourite piece, a black and white skirt that fits as if it were tailored while I slept, I found in one of those intimate, well decorated, personally-attentive staffed French boutiques you could never find again if you tried.  I must say – if ever you find yourself in Paris on pay-day, it is every bit worth all the hours you spend at your job.

But, not to seem completely superficial and uncultured, the gorgeous sites of Paris were seen.   Notre Dame, the Louvre, L’Arc de Triomphe, the Obelisk, and just old-French apartments straight out of every Hollywood movie about Paris.  Crepes were eaten, cafe drank, croissant and pain au chocolate nibbled on, baguettes in our backpack, wine anytime of the day.  Much walking was done to negate the delectable French pastries that were oh so tempting on seemigly every corner.  Although I am deathly afraid of heights, yours truly did make it up to the 2nd floor of the Tour Eiffel, the 3rd mercifully closed due to ‘reduced visibility’.  To see the City of Lights in every sense of the word laid out in front o fme was worth the shaking and semi-hyper ventilation.  Just – be aware of the barricade of souvenier hawkers that I mentioned before blocking your way out of the tower.

Our final night in Paris was spent at a cafe – which you could stay at all day and waiters would never ask you to leave – eating lovely food and watching a rugby game.  As we sat with our chocolat chaud (which the French make with real chocolate shavings) we absorbed the last bit of Parisian peace before retiring once more to bed in time to get me to Charles De Gaulle for a 7:00 am flight home… which didn’t leave on time, but where is the surprise in that.

I close with this – if you are ever thinking of going to Europe, even if for just a week, go.  It is incredible, it is fabulous, and it is worth it.  I am very glad I went and I can’t wait to go back.

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~ by Carrie on June 21, 2007.

22 Responses to “A Canadian Girl in Paris”

  1. Ahhh! That sounds merveilleux Carrie! I was waiting for your Parisien cafe scene, and it sounded so calm and beautiful that I am now super excited to get uo and go! Im glad you had a wodnerful trip, and a safe return! (Im counting down…and I have 10 days left in the capital, yikes!)

  2. Good for you Carrie … sounds like you had a delectable time.

  3. Sounds like a fantastic adventure! I have to say, you spoke so well of the food and captured it like I remembered. The crepes, oh the crepes (!), how I loved them. Sigh. I’m getting hungry. Glad the shopping was a blast. I too enjoyed Mango, and Zara, before it came to Canada. There came a point where it made much more sense to go buy new clothes rather than wash the ones I had. If only everyday was like that. Thanks for the great post!

  4. Carrie, I am so glad you had a great time.

    Just think – so much more in Paris and London yet undiscovered – and many more places in Europe to explore!

  5. Paris sounds lovely. I like how you punctuated the story with Sex and the City quotes!

  6. Scrumptious, absolutely scrumptious. I can’t wait to get back there.

  7. I loved Paris! glad you enjoyed it. I did find it dirty though, I preferred the country side, all those castles were beautiful

  8. Le Sighhhhh…..

  9. Ooh, I want to go so bad that I was rocking back and forth while I read your post. Someday I’ll go. Someday…

  10. I have never wanted to be in Paris more. Noisette? Ah, sounds divine. Someday I will actually get to explore gay Paris and you are SO going to be my tour guide 🙂

  11. It sounds so absolutely incredible! I’m so very very jealous!

  12. That sounds so beyond fantastic! Can’t wait to hear more!

  13. My favorite part about Europe is the fact that you can sit at a restaraunt and never be asked to leave. There is nothing worse then being rushed to finish your food. Everything is better the more time you take with it. 🙂 Sounds like you had fun, yay!

  14. Well said and well written Carrie!Glad to come back and find another read…;-)

  15. Come back!

  16. Hey Carrie,

    I hope that everything is okay??

  17. Dude, if you died I’m going to be so angry that I didn’t get to hear more about your travels.

  18. ….Carrie?
    My goodness, I’m all for summer fun but give our general direction a nod at least so we don’t have to worry! = )

  19. where’d you go?

  20. Aaah Paris! Who doesn’t love Paris? Shopping isn’t shopping if it’s not done in Paris 🙂

  21. Carrie-where are you? We want to hear the rest!

    I hope everything is okay.

  22. Did you move to Paris? Do they not have an internet connection there?

    Or, is it worse? Typically when I stop blogging it’s because some personal tragedy has befallen me. I hope that’s not the case for you. But if it is, I hope you’re hanging in there and have aspirations of returning to blogging. Your charming tales were such an integral part to my sunny day. (and clearly it’s all about me) 🙂

    miss you,
    UC

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