I love the Louvre pyramid and I love the lobby. Thanks to a previous visit, vifetoile already knew where to find La Joconde aka the Mona Lisa. There were only 50 people in the room when we arrived and the room was aglow with the morning sunshine. It's true, her eyes really do follow you around the room. I also saw Psyche and Eros, Winged Nike and the painting of Clytemnestra about to kill Agamemnon. I bought a couple of postcards and then we went back to the lobby, because there is a Paul bakery inside the Louvre and I needed breakfast. I bought a pain au chocolat and a tarte myrtille (blueberry tart) along with a bottle of Evian. Unfortunately, we then discovered La Galerie du Carrousel du Louvre, which is a massive shopping mall attached to the Louvre. It contains Starbucks and an Apple shop. The least said about this, the better. We fled outside into the Jardin des Tuileries. The fountains were being renovated but since this is France, someone had placed green deckchairs around one for you to admire the view. We sat down there and had our breakfast.
After le petit dejeuner, we headed off towards the Orangerie, which used to be the orangery when the Louvre was a palace, strangely enough. It now houses a selection Les Nympheas (Waterlilies) by Monet. Definitely worth a visit but book in advance. After the Orangerie, we took the metro to Notre Dame. I didn't go inside, because the queue was a mile long, but it was enough for me to have finally seen this amazing cathedral (and the gargoyles). We decided to try a local restaurant that had been recommended by my guidebook, Louis Vins. This turned out to be a wise decision (and Catherine was able to point out the Sorbonne to me on the way there as an added bonus). The lunch menu was two courses for €25 (not bad in Paris). I had herring salad with roe to start (verdict is that I don't mind the texture but it's VERY salty) then bavette de boeuf with pepper sauce and creamy mashed potatoes.
Having stuffed ourselves full, I then took vifetoile to find Shakespeare & Co, a very famous English-language bookshop. It has books EVERYWHERE, on chairs, under the staircase, under the tables... it is basically my ideal. And upstairs they have a library where you can sit and read books without taking them out. vifetoile then returned the favour and took me to the Village Voice, just as lovely but much less crowded.
We then had a late dessert by trying out the ice cream from Amorino, two doors down from my hotel. The ice cream was sublime and we decided to take vifetoile's friend Sabrina there as well. We then separated to get changed as we were meeting Sabrina at Les Gobelins to go for supper at Jim Haynes's atelier. Jim Haynes has been hosting an open supper in his atelier for the past forty years and if you get in touch with him early enough, you can come to these suppers. On the night we went there, including people from Canada, Singapore and Estonia. The meal consisted of Chinese salad, red Thai curry and carrot cake. Good conversation and good food, what more could you ask for? The supper ended smartly at eleven but I didn't end up going to bed until one, I was buzzing from the conversation and from the realisation that I was actually in Paris!
Monday was my free day as vifetoile had classes. I meant to go back and visit the centre of Paris and take photos of all the things I'd missed on Sunday, but in the end, I decided that it was better to explore Montmartre rather than tire myself out rushing around. This time, my camera WAS working.
Let's get the tourist traps out of the way first. I WALKED up the steps to the Sacre Coeur and it was beautiful, but so many conmen wandering around, eurgh.
And a view from the Sacre Coeur terrace. Sadly, my camera is small and doesn't do panoramas very well. Take my word that Notre Dame and the Sorbonne are both in there.
On my way back to Place des Abbesses, I discovered the cafe where they filmed Amelie, so of course I had to take a couple of pictures.
Approaching from Sacre Coeur direction.
Looking back towards Sacre Coeur.
And right next to Place des Abbesses is a little exhibit called La Mur des Je T'aime - The Wall of "I Love You"s. Basically, the phrase "I love you" written on it in over fifty different languages.
Above the wall is a graffiti portrait of a woman, I think she's Rita Hayworth. The bubble says "Aimer, c'est du desordre. Alors, aimons!" ("To love is to invite chaos. Let us love!") It's a lovely place, with lots of benches to sit and canoodle.
Along with Amorino and the amazing street market, Rue des Abbesses also has this place:
The owner of this bakery holds the official title of Best Baguette Maker In Paris 2010. I bought a chicken baguette with chopped raw vegetables (the chicken had been dipped in herbs, delicious) with a tartelette evasion. Not sure why it was called that, but it was basically a raspberry tart, filled with custard and raspberry jam, topped with a ring of raspberries covered in icing sugar. De-licious.
I took my lunch to eat in Montmartre Cemetery, which is actually across a main road and down two flights of steps. At least you don't have to pay to get in. It houses quite a lot of famous people but I could only find Alexandre Dumas (fils) and Hector Berlioz. The family grave of the Zola family is still there but his ashes were moved to the Pantheon three years ago, so I didn't take a photograph. Click here for a list of who's buried there.
Berlioz's grave full on
And Alexandre Dumas's tomb
Finally, here is the Moulin Rouge itself
After taking this photograph, I met up with vifetoile again and we went for a farewell supper with Sabrina at La Part des Anges (The Angels' Share) on Rue Chappe, near the Amelie cafe. I think out of all my meals in Paris, this was the best one. The restaurant is tiny but the staff are very friendly. I had melted reblochon cheese over honey bread with salad for a starter, then duck in Cognac sauce for the main. We all tried each other's meals, talked over each other and ignored the drunk guy sitting across from us. The bill came to €77 for the three of us, plus wine. Very, very good! Then we took Sabrina back to Amorino's so she could enjoy the pleasure of eating there and stood outside on the pavement, geeking out about our shared fandoms. It was a lovely evening and I didn't want it to end.
I can't wait to go back.