Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Monday, January 16, 2012

Paris - J'adore


My first trip to Europe was in Autumn 2010. I had a silly wish that I wanted to see Europe before a certain age, even if I had to travel by myself. Two months before I reached that age, I got an opportunity to go to Holland. However, my father was very sick. I canceled everything; airplane, hotel, and all of the dreams.

I made the right decision. My father passed away not so long after that.

Life went on. Time passed.

Only three months after I passed that certain age, I got the second opportunity to visit Europe with my loved one. At the same time, one of our best friends would have his big party in Holland. So it was all a good coincidence. Thank you.

This experience teaches me not to giving up a dream. It was on hold temporarily, but it does not mean giving it up forever. Picture the wish and the universe will help to achieve it.

The Old Map of Paris at La Crypte Archéologique de Notre-Dame de Paris

Oui, je parle français

Europe is beautiful. Lots of words can be used to describe it. Beautiful is just one of the simple word that can describe it.

Paris. Who does not fall in love with Paris?  Especially for those who speak or learn French, visiting Paris is always a dream.

La Tour Eiffel view from roof top of Galeries Lafayette

If I did a flashback to the time when I was in College, students were given a choice between studying French or German as second foreign language. Other than English as first foreign language, of course.  I right away ticked French.  It is so girlish that I used to say that French is a romantic language. Logically, I think it is the top five spoken language in the world... i.e. many countries use it as national language. But girlish I would say the words are just so romantic.

The building where they decide any French word in the French dictionary

All of these French stuff….. Centre Culturel Français (CCF) in Jakarta, Institut d’Échanges Culturels avec la France (Idecaf) in Ho Chi Minh City, TV5 at home, Vogue magazines, a bit French conversation with the loved one and Idecaf friends… These are to attract Paris, as the law of attraction says.

Paris view (sunset)

Et voilà…

As if it was meant for me, the opportunity came… It was not just going to Paris. But it was a New Year in Paris. Am I excited? Big smile and big concern. I had a big smile for la tour Eiffel, museums, gastronomy, fashion, etc… Concerns are related to New Year weather. I come from tropical country..!

I randomly checked Paris weather forecast during the month of December. Why I had to arrive on the day when it supposed to be the coldest day in December in Paris of 0°C? Anyway, after 12 hours flying, at 5.30 am, I was welcomed by warm hugs at 2°C.

Paris, j’adore – Champs-Elysees

My first Paris experience started by having French breakfast at a brasserie at les Champs-Elysees. It is a prestigious avenue in Paris. It is the Orchard Road in Singapore. PS.: Brasserie is a type of French restaurant with a relaxed setting, which serves single dishes and other meals.

Mmm…..  Actually my first experience with Paris is Le Metro and its stations. They are not as new as Singapore MRT, however metro in Paris is very convenient.

When we got out of from “Charles de Gaulle Etoile” metro station, I noticed the beautiful clear blue sky with six white crosses look like a star (une étoile). My loved one said; it is a welcome greeting for you dear… So sweet…

Paris clear blue sky with crosses to welcome me

A set of French breakfast consists of a cup of hot chocolate and a bunch of pastries were perfect. The hot chocolate was thick, nice aroma and yummy taste. There were a few medium size of pastries including muffin. All was still warm. Outside there; it was 2°C.

We chose this brasserie for fun, it was just happened that we walked in front of Le Fouquet’s. People say that this brasserie has been one of the icons of Paris since it was opened more than hundred years ago.  The place is busy for lunch and especially dinner. It is the place for the wealthy Parisians and tourists to hang around to see and be seen. Mr. Sarkozy had his party here after the announcement of the presidential election. Price is not cheap, but probably it is fun to have one in a life time breakfast experience here.

Walking around Paris and Shopping

During my stay in Paris, I really spent time to do make up. Why? Because I was in Paris! It is the city where the fashion is created. It is so girlish that I had to do proper make up and pay attention to what to wear. It was just because I was in Paris!  I had to look neat as if the 'fashion police' watched me! Who knew that I would bump into French beauty icons like Marion Cotillard, the famous French actress, singer and Dior model or haute couture designer like Karl Lagerfeld, LOL.

Window shopping only

It was 2 °C so I had to wear warm sweater, jeans, thick socks, booths, winter coat and pashmina all over my neck. If it was too cold outside, I used hand gloves. I looked myself in the mirror, mmm…nice… I like winter dress code. It was not for the fashion but it was for the function! Otherwise I would be damn cold. Some of my friends said; ngak apa-apa yang penting gaya… (no worries, style is more important)… well, wait till your fingers are freezing at 2°C.

France does not have shopping mall. They have "des grands magasins". It is similar …

View from roof top of Galeries Lafayette

Le Printemps is one of des grands magasins in Paris. It much more than a shopping destination, Le Printemps is a historical monument. It is an old beautiful building. They have three separated store for male and female collections dedicated to fashion and luxury brands. 

Cute girlish showcases at Le Printemps. Middle: girls with hair rolls. Right: Karl Lagerfeld

During festive seasons, des grands magasins in Paris has competition to have the nicest showcase decoration. Le Printemps has different theme for each showcase. Some are very attractive to children. They even provided small stairs so children can come up to see them comfortably. My favorite ones are the dolls wearing hair rolls and Karl Lagerfeld.

Left: Xmas tree, Right: beautiful mozaic roof at Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette is located near to Le Printemps and occupying nice old building too. There is an open roof top that customers can visit. This is everyone’s favorite spot. Great panoramic of La Tour Eiffel, the Opera House, beautiful boulevards, view of Montmarte church from far, the sunset, the foggy weather, people passing, beautiful lights along the streets…

View from roof top of Galeries Lafayette
Indonesia has 200 million habitants and of course they are everywhere including visiting Paris shopping malls! I could hear Indonesian accent at Galeries Lafayette and another ladies bag shop… Hehehe…
Most of shops in Paris are in old building. It is enjoyable to walk around the city admiring the buildings themselves. 

Three big streets (part of the stars/etoile) and La Tour Eiffel from far

Haussmann is the architect who did the restructuring of Paris at the end of 19th century and gave the city its present form; its long, straight, wide boulevards (source: Wikipedia). Most of the buildings in Paris right now were built by Haussmann, including the buildings of Le Printemps, Galeries Lafayette, Champs-Elysees avenue and most others.

Still talking about shop, along Seine River, there is a walking path whereby there are many small kiosks selling second hand books. Some of them sell interesting old pictures of Paris. Other sell souvenir; key chain, mirror, small box for drug, old stamps or coins, etc.

Left side: small kiosks along the river, selling 2nd hand books

During one the walks throughout the city, we passed at Le Palais de Les l’Elysee which is the Presidential Palace where Mr. Sarkozy works and lives. There were so many guards and some of them were fully armed. It looked like they were ready to welcome guests. Couldn’t be me of course, LOL.

I waved my hand and gave a big smile to one guard in front of the gate. He wore nice dark blue uniform and one hand held a gun. He smiled back at me, little smile, but I could see from far that he smiled back at me!

Presidential Office

I passed the second guard. He wore the same uniform. I waved and smiled at him. Of course he smiled back. I wish I could pass on my message through him to Mrs. Carla Bruni Sarkozy and her baby...!

La Place de la Concorde

Europe has nice public squares including Paris… People can just come to this square. During work days, they can bring their lunch and eat their sandwich here. During weekend, they can read books in the garden.

La Place de la Concorde is one of the major public squares in Paris. It is 8.64 hectares area and the largest square in this city. This place also took part when the French revolution happened. When the government erected the guillotine in the square, and it was here that King Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793.

Next to it, there is the Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries) which is a big public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde. It became a public park after the French Revolution. In the 19th and 20th century, it was the place where Parisians celebrated, met, promenaded and relaxed.

The Obelisk

The highlight of La Place de la Concorde is the center of the Place where the giant Egyptian obelisk is. The obelisk, a red granite column, rises 23 metres (75 ft) high, including the base, and weighs over 250 metric tons (source: Wikipedia). Missing its original cap, believed stolen in the 6th century BC, the government of France added a gold-leafed pyramid cap to the top of the obelisk in 1998.

Giant wheel (night view)

La Place Vendôme

It is a square nearby La Place de la Concorde. It is probably the Paris’ most expensive place whereby the greatest jewelers have their headquarters. 

One of the corner of La Place Vandome

Like everywhere else in the world, the prestigious places of course are elegant and luxurious. Just walking around in these areas are fun, looking at the jewelers showcases and admiring their diamonds. I wonder if I would see Victoria Beckham enters one of those shops…

"Pont-Alexandre III" Bridge

The Bridge - Pont-Alexandre-III

The Pont Alexandre III is an arch bridge that spans the Seine, connecting the Champs-Élysées quarter and the Invalides and Eiffel Tower quarter, widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in Paris. It is classified as a historical monument (source: Wikipedia).

Coming here before the sunset is a perfect idea.

Statue at the bank of the bridge

Some of the world haute couture designers use this location for photo shoots of their new collections. To get perfect shoots, those photos were taken early morning just right during sunrise. 

At the bridge with La Tour Eiffel as background

After taking enough photos at this bridge, or to be precise after having had enough winds and my fingers were very cold, we continued walking... There were dark clouds and it finally rained. Blessing in disguise, the rainbow showed up in the blue sky… Gorgeous! Thank you Paris!

Rainbow after the rain

We then decided to have a break in a coffee shop nearby. It still rained outside. My freezing fingers were happy to hold warm cup of hot chocolate. A cake shared for two made the moment even better. I could hear the song of Bruno Mars: Grenade…. I’d catch a grenade for you, throw my hand on a blade for you, I’d jump in front of the train for you, you know I’d do anything for you… 

View of La Tour Eiffel from the bridge

Mmm…. Let me just save this moment as one of best moments in my life…

  • Paris,
  • Coffee shop,
  • Rain, cold and rainbow,
  • Hot chocolate and a cake,
  • Being there with the loved one…,
  • Paris…,
  • Paris…..,
  • Paris………..
Left: one of brasseries, middle: King Louis XIV statue, right: one of hotels

Useful links:

Coming up next – Part 2
Paris Metro

Coming up next - Part 3
Paris, the monuments, the museums and the cuisine…

No comments:

Post a Comment