Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A little outing in Paris...

Last week, on my mother's birthday, (Hi Mom!) I ventured out with some lovely ladies for a grand time exploring the 6th and 5th "arrondissements," or quarters, in Paris. We had a rough start due to some unexpected delays with the RER B (which is quite normal these days; we're shocked when it's actually on time) but after a change at Massy-Palaiseau from the B line to the C line, we managed to get into St. Michel only 2 hours later than expected. Yay!

We started off by going down Boulevard St. Michel towards the Jardin de Luxembourg (which if you haven't had a chance to see it, you should! It's my favorite garden in Paris).
Our troop, minus L who was taking the picture, with our lovely guide Mme D, wearing the pink scarf
We headed toward the Pantheon.
Gorgeous exterior and beautiful interior! My friend from cooking class, L, and I got a special chance to see the inside of it for free! Our friends asked the guard if we could just go to the bookshop to get a postcard. He looked at L and then at me and said "Okay, but you come straight back here to me."
We did just that, and maybe we snuck a picture or two, but I'm sure he didn't mind. We stayed on the straight line to the shop and back and there were no problems.
Inside the Pantheon, where Victor Hugo is buried
The cool thing about this place is that it is free the first Sunday of the month to visit. Didn't know that before, so I may just have to take Mr. K here to check it out next time!

After that we had lunch at a cute little crêperie: Crêpes a Gogo
Photos of Crepes a Gogo, Paris
This photo of Crepes a Gogo is courtesy of TripAdvisor

We had a great lunch of a galette (ham, cheese, egg on a savory crêpe), a sugar and butter crêpe, and a coffee for 11 euros. Plus, a carafe of water for the table. Not a bad deal at all! Highly recommend this little gem.

Then we were off again. We went down Rue LHomond and saw the cutest little garden designed like a provençal home:
So cute! Had to have a picture in front of it. The initials are BSJ and the whole building is someone's home.
At the end of the street, at Place Louis Herr, was the famous restaurant Chez Léna et Mimile which apparently is known for it's lovely terrace and great food in a nice location off the beaten path.
In front of Chez Léna et Mimile
We went up Rue Tournefort and crossed at Rue Blainville (where there is a Tibetan restaurant called Tsampa and a Libanaise restaurant called Au Vieux Cèdre). We then went up Rue Descartes, crossed behind the Pantheon, and continued up Rue de la Montagne (where there are a bunch of neat little shops and vinyl record stores, not to mention an English Pub).  We turned at Rue des Ecoles and then followed Rue Victor Hugo, where we entered the most conservative Catholic church in Paris to visit it.  It was lovely!  And very French. They had alcoves for all the saints and there were crystal chandeliers hanging throughout the church. Gorgeous! I wish I knew the name of it, but I do know that it's right next to the Manifestation center for Socialists. Interesting...c'est la France!

We then turned up Rue de Poissy and went into Collège des Bernardins. It's a really neat monestary that turned into a modern art exhibit hall for installations and the like.
Forgive the blur, I was on my baby cell phone here. This is the monestary side.
They had a colorful ceiling installation as soon as you walked in:
I could totally see this in a large entryway! Talk about "pop of color!"

And to the right, they had a cool installation:
Yup, growing brooms!
 We then headed out and turned at Boulevard St. Germain, continuing all the way to L'IMA (or, Institut du Monde Arabe):

Here you see the permanent display in the courtyard of the Arab Institute.  Apparently in it is a habitat and clothing display. We did not get a chance to go in it, as we wanted to get to the top of IMA to get a peek at Paris. By the way, it's free to go to the top of the building, if you can brave the clear elevator going up 9 stories at a pretty good clip.

Once at the top we were able to see this:
Notre Dame and the Marais district
Turning slightly to the left, we spotted a famous monument.
If you look through the windows, you'll see it...yes, the Eiffel Tower!
It was really neat to get a good look around. They have a tea parlor up there, but it's really expensive. Currently they are doing an exposition on 1001 Nights, as told by Scheherazade to King Shahryar to save her life.

After descending from the heights, we walked along Rue St. Bernard, turned at Rue Juisseu, then again at Rue des Arènes and got a look at the Arènes de Lutèce. So cool! I didn't take a picture of it because I had been there before, about six years earlier:
Voila! A picture from my days as an Au Pair in 2007!
We followed Rue Rollin, passing by Descartes' house and came upon Place de la Contrescarpe, which is a very cute little square. We then went down Rue Mouffetard. This street is so lovely and quaint! It breathes French life. This street is where all the locals go to window shop, or " faire du lèche-vitrine" (literally means 'window licking') because of all the little mom and pop stores. This is also a great place to grab a bite to eat (from all diffferent countries: Greece, Mexico, Tibet, Japan, Spain, France, you name it). It really gets jumping after 5pm.  That's when the street musicians come out and play French Jazz in the streets. Lots of fun! Do it!

We continued on our way, turning at Rue Daubenton and went to the Mosquée de Paris, or Paris Mosque, to get some mint tea.  The café at the Mosquée is beautiful.
You are instantly transported to a different country!
Here, students, families, and travellers alike rest and enjoy a quiet terrace  environment in very busy Paris. The mint tea is delicious: hot, sweet, and served in tea glasses. There are people munching on powdered sugar horns all around and some are smoking hookah (the water vapor ones). You have to pay at the same time you are served tea, but it's lovely. Very chill environment.

All the ladies:

And Mme O with L:
After that we took the metro to Denfert and went home. I had such a wonderful time with the ladies. We're planning on another outing next month. Can't wait!

Until next time,

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