Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ladurée

The next morning, we woke up early,
had our included breakfast at the hotel and were
back on the bus for the final hours of our
tour of Paris. We drove around and saw some
more landmarks,
like the obelisk, a few churches as well as the opera house.
We ended up
in Montmarte, which used to be
one of the red light districts of Paris, and the area is very
pretty.


It had a great park that went down
the middle of the street and beautiful greenery
and really made me reminisce
about Esplanadi park in Helsinki, one of my favorite parts of
Finland - but there was just one catch with this street.
There were sex shops all along which
took me by surprise. Actually, this street
is the home of the famous Moulin Rouge - which of all
the beautiful and grand things in Paris,
this landmark was surprisingly commonplace. I guess
it is the shows on the inside that count.

We were dropped off at Montmarte and saw

the pristine white Sacré-Cœur up the hill.

However, we had another agenda.

We all wanted to go back to the Champs-Élysées

and check out the shops some more.

we headed down into the metro and a few stops later

we were back at the epicenter of Parisian consumerism.


We checked out some stores -

not everything was open as it was early on Sunday,

but some places were - like the largest

Sephora I have ever seen where we all sniffed

our way to headaches amongst thousands

of bottles of perfume. We checked out other

shops too like the huge Paris Nike store

and walked past many cafe's with people enjoying

Sunday coffees.

And then, across the street, I saw it -Ladurée

Now if you know me, you may know that

one of my favorite directors is Sophia Coppola

who directed Lost in Translation as

well as Marie Antoinette, two of my favorite films.

Well, the film Marie Antoinette is

essentially a collage of the extravagant life of the

infamous French Queen and artistically

rendered by Coppola with lavish costumes

and scenery. All of the pastries in the

movie were created by the French patisserie Ladurée.

So, I have always said to myself that

if I ever get to Paris I will need to find one

and eat a pastry from there just like the ones in the movie.


So you could guess how ecstatic I was

when I saw the famed Champs Élysée Ladurée

across the street! The windows were

lined with colorful pastel cakes with puffs of

whipped cream, and all seemed too artistic to eat.

If the pastries seemed over the

top, than the inside of the patisserie took

it to the next level. The inside cafe and

counters were so ornate that it was almost gaudy

and decorated like a cake for royalty

itself with green marbles, chandeliers and

gold leafing everywhere. The cue line was long,

but I was definitely waiting ( in fact,

the others continued to shop as I waited well

over 15 minutes in line taking in the scenery).

Now I had very little expectations before

traveling to Paris. In fact I just had two goals

- Find a Ladurée and buy a Marie-Antoinette-esque pastry,

and also find a Japanese tourist,

not hard in Paris, and just chat with them.

The standings:

Indulging in a Ladurée pastry: Check

Talk to a Japanese tourist: Fail

It was only because I was too shy, however.

In fact, a few people in front of me

in the cue line were Japanese - it caught my

attention when they flagged over the

Asian counter attendant and started asking

her questions - one of the clerks with fancy

white gloves was Japanese too! I told myself

that if she was the one that would help

me in line, I would speak Japanese since

I really didn't want to have to speak English.

Well I wasn't lucky there. I was assisted in French,

and then had to shamefully

request "Pardon, Parlez vous Anglais?"

which I think is essentially a signal to make

a Parisian lift ones nose to you...

but its what I had to do. I was staring down at

all the delicious macarons -

brightly colored almond meringue cookies with

flavored fillings and ordered a selection of them

- 6 for €7.60 . - almost $10

... I really wanted them!




After leaving the shop - and failing out of

nervousness to just randomly go up to the

Japanese customers and start random chat about pastries...

- I crossed the street

with my little bag of expensive, and gloriously

delicious Parisian deserts.

I shared them with the rest of the group,

and they were definitely worth every Euro cent.

In my Les Mini Macarons Prix au 100 grm I had

  • Fleur d’oranger
  • Caramel à la Fleur de sel
  • Pistache
  • Vanille
  • Chocolat amer
  • Fruits rouges

After our excursion to the Champs Élysée

and me being very content with my successful

find and purchase we made it back to the bus,

and our trip to Paris drew to a close.

We drove down a few more streets,

saw some more corners of the city,

but already so soon it was back to Saarbrücken for us.

It was an excellent trip and I was

definitely so happy that I was able to spend it

with my host sisters and their boyfriends

who are all so great to be around.

It was trip that will be one of the

highlights from this year for sure.


Seule Paris est digne de Rome; seule Rome est digne de Paris

[ "Only Paris is worthy of Rome; Only Rome is worthy of Paris" ]

That is the quote that Parisians apparantly attribute to the fact that Rome is the only sister city to Paris (other cities are called partner cities that have a connection to Paris). The Romans apparantly say the same thing; Solo Parigi è degna di Roma; Solo Roma è degna di Parigi





Paris had some extremely beautiful sites. The entire weekend, places in Paris reminded me of some of my travels around the world and things that looked, tasted and were built similarly, and then I was reminded that mimicry is the highest form of flattery. Maybe that is the charm that is indispensibly Parisian - the fact that it really is the only place in the world like it.














Halten Sie den Bus auf!

[ Stop the Bus! ]

A little side story inbetween the dinner and the continued tour of the eveing. While driving, we were going along our regular rout seeing the sights of Paris, and then once we turned onto one of the many round-a-bouts in the city, there it was once again - the Eiffel Tour, however this time it was there in the horizon literally sparkling.


Halten Sie den Bus auf!


Everone had their cameras out, and the group of middle aged ladies were practically yelling to stop the bus. We practically got out of the bus almost in the middle of the street, barely parked, if at all legally.



We ran, and amongst crowds of people, just stared at the tower that was actually glittering with lights. It was absolutely beautiful and very, very exciting.




Die Stadt des Lichts

[ The City of Light ]

The tour continued with some more cruising down streets in Paris – all the while, attempting to get a snapshot of a cute café – turn left –

0_o;;

whoa that was the arc de triumph.

Then we were dropped off at our Hotel for just enough time to change our clothes and put our stuff in our rooms. We had two rooms, one for the guys and one for the girls, but of course we joked around:

Room 431 for Eva and Lutz

The other for Adriane and Olli

… oh Chris…

You can be in the hallway

XD

Dressed and ready for dinner, we were back on the bus and heading off to a restaurant where we had pre arranged reservations from the tour. Just a bit touristy – we can’t deny it, we were tourists and fell for the ploy – the restaurant was still a lot of fun, especially with the company that I was with. Eva, Adriane, Lutz and Olli are great and we always have good laughs, and this weekend was full of them. Also at our table were three Russian tourists, and together we all toasted to our weekend in Paris, and the start of our multicourse meal.

It was when we were leaving the restaurant that the real magic of Paris was starting to reveal itself. It was becoming dusk, and the lights were coming on.

The lights in Paris - from the nickname The city of lights - are different than what one would expect from a lit up city – like light checkered skyscrapers in New York or the neon avenues of Shinjuku in Tokyo.

The street lamps and lights in Paris just make everything glow and seem to accent and shadow all the buildings, monuments, statues and stone crested buildings really revealing so much detail of the city.

The Champs-Élysées was stunning at night. It is the main street in Paris with many shops and cafe's. It is known by the French as the most beautiful avenue in the world, and it did not dissapoint.

We walked up and down the street for a few hours, and seeing the bustling crouds of people enjoying luxurious Saturday evenings out, having cars cruising by, and the Arc de Triumph marking the end of the street from all views, it is an incredible place to be.

Albeit, it was extremely expensive, but it was very enjoyable walking the avenue and checking out shops, which was another surprise, because many were still well open even after midnight!