April 29, 2014

Paris Part 1

The Eiffel Tower (my Grandfather in the leather jacket)

As some of you may or may not be aware, I journeyed to Paris to celebrate my 16th birthday and my mother's 50th birthday. We met my grandparents in our Paris apartment and spent 10 glorious days in the beautiful city.
Moi devant le Tour Eiffel

After a very stressful ride to the airport wherein we almost lost our seats (a little birthday treat to ourselves, seats in business class on Qatar airways: très luxurious and so out of this world) to another moody passenger with upgrade certificates burning a hole in his pocket and I ran into my high school Religious Studies teacher on his way to Italy. Finally we made it onboard and arrived at Charles-de-Gualle after a small middle-of-the-night stop in Doha.
(Ignore my grunge-y looking away from the camera, it wasn't intentional but believe me, this is the best shot) My outfit for our first day in Paris, "posing" in front of our apartment door

A beautiful taxi ride and a few jumbled mutterings in French later, we were greeted by my Mother's parents in our Paris apartment on the ground floor of a very eccentrically designed building, right next to the Champ de Mars, the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower. Our very first appointment in France was, what else, a wine tasting in a neighborhood next to the Louvre museum (that place is HU-UGE). The young man leading the wine tasting was cute and flirty and Californian and reminded me somewhat of Tyler Oakley as I adjusted my too-big tights many times over.
My wonderful jet-lag sleepiness selfie, wearing the pajamas I received on the flight actually

That night I suffered so terribly from jet lag and innate sleepiness that I fell asleep as the three adults stole away to make our dinner plans. I woke up at 10 PM to a crappy take-out box of pasta as dinner. I didn't mind, I was that groggy. I fell asleep less than an hour later and woke up to a cat snuggling next to me in bed.
Not my photo by ANY means, but an accurate representation of Snuggles

Since we were on the ground floor with a heavily floral-ed courtyard next to us, Mother and I decided to sleep with the window open to catch a nice breeze. Unfortunately, Snuggles decided to come in with it and we were forced to sleep with the window closed (as she came back the next night, and the night after that with a friend or two).

Nearly the same outfit as the day before, red/pink-ish shirt with a tucked collar from a local department store, grey jeans from Forever 21, jean jacket from Eddie Bauer, and dove grey flats

The next day I was refreshed and ready to explore Paris. We started off with a photo shoot in front of the Eiffel Tower, right outside our door! (Actually, Mom and I started the day by walking around the Champ de Mars and all the side alleys, quite a breathtaking place Paris is)
A beautiful courthouse/official building on our way to Notre Dame
The official motto of France: "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité"
Beautiful Notre Dame

We started by visiting the Notre Dame cathedral. I could just hear Quasimodo ringing the bells. The cathedral itself is absolutely humongous and really fed my love of amazing architecture.
Dem Arches Tho

You had the option of lighting candles every couple of feet down the main hall, prayer candles that lined the functional church part of the cathedral

I've always appreciated gothic architecture…maybe one day I'll live in a Notre Dame replica? Nah, doubt it. 

Absolutely gorgeous stained glass can be found all throughout the cathedral…this is one of the main pieces that I nicknamed the "Rose Glass"

Gorgeous paintings and statues can also be found throughout the Notre Dame
A sign protesting a proposal to close the hospital that still services patients today; there were several spray-painted signs all across the gate of the hospital 

After the Notre Dame, we moved across the island towards the prison where Marie Antoinette spent her final days and the Sainte Chapelle. (And in case you were not aware, as I was not before this, Notre Dame is located on an island in the middle of the Seine river, accessible by two people bridges and two car bridges. One of the city's oldest and still running hospitals is located on the island)
Gate leading to the Palais de Justice, a judicial platform still used today that also includes Marie Antoinette's jail cell

We first visited the Sainte Chapelle, which was ornately beautiful. Like most of the monuments in Paris, it was undergoing renovation but the spectacularity of the chapel was not lost through all the scaffolding. 
The main floor of Sainte Chapelle; again, the arches!

I spent a solid ten minutes walking around the main floor, reading a few of the signs in French telling about the chapel but mostly studying the most welcoming preservation of Gothic architecture I've ever seen. We were pointed to a small hallway that led to a very narrow round staircase that made me feel like I was in The Princess Bride or something.

The stairs emerge, finally, onto the upper floor of the chapel. This is where the bulk of the renovation was taking place. The frescos and the stained glass windows were being restored in the chapel. The high ceilings gave the room a never-ending feel, as if you could wander in it forever when really it wasn't as long as it was tall.
First view of the upper floor of Sainte Chapelle; beautiful through all the scaffolding
The elevated pulpit gave me an idea for a book and the chandeliers twinkled off the colored glass.

After wandering in awe upstairs for a couple of minutes, we trekked back down another identical round-about staircase and emerged back where we started. This is when we noticed the pattern of the ceiling was the classically French, gold fleur-de-lis. 

After Sainte Chapelle, we made our way to Marie Antoinette's final residence: the La Conciergerie prison.
 More Princess Bride + cute guy feels were waiting for us at La Conciergerie (one because of the location the other sitting behind a desk: figure out which is which)

The prison wasn't easy to find and in fact, we could have walked right past the entrance without even knowing what was inside. You walk down enormous steps once inside and wind up in this giant arch-maze (I loved every minute of it, my grandparents and their aching knees…not so much)
Is it gauche to pose in a prison…even if it's no longer used?

We went immediately to the prison wing, bypassing the gardens which we would have stopped to see had we not all been yearning for a break.
The hallways were dim and wide enough for two armed guards to drag a nearly lifeless, former-Queen of France to her death in the guillotine (plus the hundred other prisoners that faced the same fate)

I would have hated to be a prisoner of the revolution in this prison: the beds were small and two people were forced in a small little cage of a room. Marie Antoinette got an "upgraded" suite, with an actual bed and two grown guards watching her every move. 

The black-clad mannequin is meant to be Marie Antoinette, her room had a window and a bed with a desk and wallpaper. Just to the left of where this photo was taken, two guards would stand watch 24/7, making sure the evil Queen wouldn't escape or do something crazy. 

The normal prisoner's rooms: two convicts to a small room with only one chair (if they hated Marie so much…why give her a better room? Doesn't make sense to me but okay)
Even the jail keepers little hut wasn't big
A marker reading: "Maximilien Robespierre passed his final moments in this place on the 28th of July, 1794."
The ladies kept in the prison were afforded a small courtyard where they could garden and socialize, even a sink where they could wash their clothes

Our first 2 days in Paris were absolutely amazing and I couldn't wait to see what the rest of our stay had to offer. 

(Read Paris Part 2 here!)

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