Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Paris Je t'aime! Day 5 Highlights (Or, My Introduction to French Street Crime n' Porn)

Bright and early Christa and I make a bee line for the Louvre. But first things first - we need breakfast. A quick stroll around the musee and we run into Angelina's, home to a beautiful cafe and tearoom.

Beautiful...and completely out of our budget for the morning. 

Thankfully, Angelina's also sells small treats in their gift shop, including...

MACARONS!  I score a creme, pistachio, and lait-flavored trio. And they are diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiviiiiiiiine! Soft and chewy and melty and just every other mouth-watering adjective ending in a "y." I may have whimpered while eating them. Twice. 

Back to the Louvre. The first thing we see is the distinctive glass sculpture in front. The second thing we see is the line to get in. The long, long, long, long line. No thank you, please. The desire to not wait in line supersedes any desire to see the Mona Lisa. We opt to take photos and walk around the building instead.

My photo-op turns out to be more exciting than anticipated, as Christa pulls me out of the way at the last second before I'm taken out by a police officer chasing down a pick pocket who's just grabbed some poor woman's purse. We watch this live-action "Cops" (or should I say "Flics"?) for a few minutes and leave after seeing the perp drop the bag, hurdle some shrubs on the grounds, and then sprint away. 

It's still unseasonably warm, so we decide to take a stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries. 

It's stunning - a great place to sit and relax (as many people were already doing). It also seems to be the place to go if you want to sunbathe, make out, or eat your McDonald's cafe takeout.

Towards the other end of the Jardin, Christa and I notice a large tent that is just blasting house music. So naturally we have to check it out. A few steps in and I notice a sign that reads "Guy Laroche." And suddenly it dawns on us: The tents we've noticed aren't weddings - they're fashion shows. 

Yup! It looks like we synced our trip with Fashion Week in the city. A quick look around reveals hordes of well-dressed individuals and pretty people trying to gracefully walk past the equally-large groups of photographers. 

No one stops to photograph us. Shame.

Christa suggests a walk up the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe. It's impressive. It's also located next to a mammoth Cartier. Which is framed by an distractingly large pile of trash on the sidewalk.

(Christa getting photo-bombed)

Cartier has us inspired. We decide to do some more window shopping and I lead us over to Le Bon Marché, which roughly translates to "the good (or cheap) deal." It is a beautiful store but TOTALLY misnamed. The Valentino floor may have been the most decently priced, if that's any indication for you.

Time to head somewhere more fitting with our budget. Christa suggests we check out Montmartre to see the Moulin Rouge. 

It's the first thing you notice stepping off the Metro. The second thing you notice is the plethora of strip clubs. So. Many. Strip clubs. And viewing booths. And adult clothing shops. And Musée de l'érotisme (aka, the Museum of Eroticism). And something called the Supermarche Erotique, which as best as I can figure translates to "the Erotique Supermarket."

All this walking and adult entertainment has given us an appetite, so we find a little creperie and sit for a spell. I order a savory spinach and cheese with mushrooms. Soooooooooooooo gooood.

.....But sooooooooooooo much butter! My stomach reminds me that I am not meant to ingest that much heavy dairy at one go.

More shopping! We're in Montmartre for (1) the Moulin Rouge and (2) a small vintage store I'd read about called Mamie. Talk about a hidden gem! I do some digging and find a vintage scarf for my mom and a new travel bag for myself. 
It's after 4pm by the time I finish blowing out my checking account and we're fading fast. It's time for a nap. Back at the apartment, Christa reads from her guide book that Montmarte was home and stomping gounds to the likes of Lautrec, Degas, Monet... I wonder out loud what they would have thought of their old hangouts evolving into XXX shops. Christa supposes they would have probably had their own shops. 

Reunited with Meredith, we have dinnner at Tien Hang again. It's still amazing. (I enjoy a faux duck dish that still visits my dreams.) Plus, there's a half dressed man flouncing around in the apartment across the street from the restaurant, so it's dinner AND a show. I manage to order, ask for the bill and thank the hostess for a lovely evening in pseudo-perfect French. Woo hoo!

The three of us decide it's a good night to drink at home. Christa and I head over to the local Monop, where the most expensive bottle of wine is 12€. (Lord bless this country!) We give up all pretense of being worldly tourists and guzzle merlot while watching what appears to be a French version of "What not to Wear" before collectively passing out.


BHE and I had a busy weekend full of random errands and such in preparation for this week (I'll get into that in a later post). To say it was stressful (or that said stress may have made me a bit...edgy) is something of an understatement. So to try and pick up our somewhat soggy spirits, we made our way to the Charles Theater here in Charm City to check out the 2012 Oscar Nominees for Animated Short Films, which included:

"Dimanche/Sunday" Patrick Doyon

"The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg

"La Luna" Enrico Casarosa

"A Morning Stroll" Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe

"Wild Life" Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

I found "A Morning Stroll" extremely entertaining (mostly because I know the story on which it's based), while BHE quite enjoyed "Dimanche." We also were able to see shorts that received special commendations for excellence, which was cool. "Skylight" proved a particular favorite with the audience:

Unfortunately, Pixar's submission ("La Luna") was NOT among the shorts we could see[What the EFF, Pixar?!?], possibly because it will be the opening short to their summer release "Brave." Whatever...

"Flying Books" won the Oscar, and thanks to the magic of YouTube, you can see it below:

On a side note, I TOTALLY missed Dr. Seuss' 100th birthday this past week! (*GASP*) I'm without recipes to properly celebrate the occasion, but thankfully the good people at Serious Eats stepped in to fill the void.

I'm particularly looking forward to trying out the Hop on Pop(corn).

Chat you up soon, lovelies! Enjoy!