Sunday, March 22, 2015

You had me at bonjour

Get ready for some reading! I have a feeling this will be long. This post will cover the last two days of my amazing France trip. And it's worth it to read, because for the first time my blog is featuring a co-author- David! I'm going to write about our Saturday, and then he'll take over and write about Sunday. And in addition, this post will be bilingual in English and French- just like us! The translation is not exact- it's basically just whatever we felt like writing.

It was lovely to wake up every morning in Paris to this view. Our hotel was right next door to a church.
Avant de commencer, j'ai voulu vous montrer la vue depuis la fenêtre de mon hôtel à Paris. J'ai aimé être à côté d'une belle église.

I like to try to see different regions and new cities when I travel in France. With that in mind, my original plan was to go on a day trip to Rouen and Amiens, both of which have famous cathedrals. However, because of train strikes making it complicated, we decided to skip Amiens and just go to Rouen. It's a city about an hour north of Paris in the region of Normandy. By the way, it’s a hard word to pronounce in French. I’m still working on it haha.
Chaque fois que je reviens en France, j’essaie de voir une nouvelle ville. Cette fois, j’ai voulu visiter les cathédrales de Rouen et d’Amiens. Malheureusement, à cause des grèves c’était trop compliqué... et nous avons décidé de ne pas aller à Amiens. Rouen n'est pas très loin- à environ une heure de Paris, en Normandie. 

It was a Saturday when we went there, so we were surprised to see that the city was deserted (and a little creepy looking...), and everything was closed. We started wandering around looking for the cathedral and we were literally the only people in Rouen. Besides the cathedral, Rouen is famous for being the city where Joan of Arc was imprisoned and killed. She was locked up and tortured in this very tower.
En sortant de la gare, nous avons été surpris de voir que la ville était complètement déserte. C'était samedi, mais tous les magasins et restaurants étaient fermés.

Rouen est la ville où Jeanne d’Arc a été tuée- voici la tour où elle a été emprisonnée:

Yay history! Fun fact of Marissa history- I once played Joan of Arc in a (D.I.) skit in high school complete with an embarrassing costume and embarrassing accent. Eventually after some wandering we found a restaurant for lunch that wasn’t closed. It was next to this church that we originally thought was the famous cathedral. It wasn’t, but it was still pretty and a nice view for lunch.
Pour le déjeuner, nous avons finalement trouvé un restaurant ouvert. Le restaurant était à côté de cette église qui n'est PAS la cathédrale (comme nous avions pensé à première vue...) mais c'était quand même une jolie vue.

After lunch, we found where all of the people in Rouen hide out on Saturdays- the main street in town. There were even some stores that were open- and we found the real cathedral! After a little bit of shopping, my last in France for this trip :( was cathedral time. The first picture is stolen from the internet, because my own picture didn't do the outside justice at all. And blue skies make pictures so much prettier!
Après le déjeuner, nous avons trouvé la rue principale- là où apparemment tous les habitants de Rouen passent leurs samedis. J'ai fait un peu de shopping, et puis nous nous sommes dirigés vers la cathédrale. La première photo n'est pas la mienne- je l'ai trouvée sur internet pour vous montrer toute la façade (et avec le ciel bleu, c'est encore mieux!).

I think it was worth the hour train ride. I don’t think I need to ever come back, but I’m satisfied with the decision to make the trip. Here’s the cute main street where we found all of the people. The typical architecture was these half-timbered houses.
Voici quelques photos de la rue principale de Rouen. Comme ça vous pouvez voir l'architecture typique de la ville- les maisons à colombages.

It was a little bit confusing getting back to the train station because we kept seeing steeples thinking they were churches we’d already seen, but then they turned out to be new churches. Turns out that there are a lot of churches in Rouen.
Quand nous avons essayé de rentrer à la gare, c'était un peu difficile parce qu'il y a tant d'églises à Rouen. Chaque fois que nous avons vu un clocher c'était une nouvelle église! Maintenant je comprends pourquoi Victor Hugo a appelé Rouen « la ville aux cent clochers».

But, we did successfully make it back to Paris! Which is good because we had plans that night. We went to a concert of Mozart’s Requiem at L’église de la Madeleine. The Madeleine church is just down the road from Place de la Concorde, so we stopped there first and walked around.
Le soir, nous sommes allés à un concert à l'église de la Madeleine (Le Requiem de Mozart). L'église est près de la Place de la Concorde, et avant le concert nous avons marché un peu dans le quartier (pour prendre des photos, bien sûr!).

View of the Champs-Elysees:

You can see the Madeleine church at the end of the road.

And more close-up...

And lastly, waiting inside before the concert- 

It was my first experience going to a classical music concert, and I felt pretty classy sitting in this beautiful church in Paris listening to beautiful music.
C'était la première fois que j'ai assisté à un concert de musique classique- et c'était un succès! Je bien aimé :)

Ok... it looks like now it’s time to pass the torch to David and have him tell you about the next day.
Maintenant, c’est au tour de David de vous parler de notre dernier jour à Paris!

*Disclaimer- you may notice that someone is a little prejudiced against his own country and attempts several times to allude that London is better than Paris. I do not approve this message. Also, you might notice that he's picked up some English phrases from How I Met Your Mother :)  

Sunday was our last day in Paris. Since we wanted to have a legendary day, we decided to start out at the Louvre! After going to church in the morning (where we attended a bit of a weird testimony meeting… French people…), we took the subway to the Louvre. This museum is pretty big, although a little smaller than the British Museum. We had lunch there (because they have restaurants in the museum, which is pretty cool), and afterwards we started the tour.
Pour notre dernier jour à Paris, nous avons décidé d’aller visiter le Louvre. Après l’église le matin, nous sommes allés au musée. Après notre repas et une queue de 45 minutes, nous avons finalement pu entrer et commencer à admirer les oeuvres d’art.

The first thing that is interesting is the line to get in. We had to wait for about 45 minutes. I guess the main reason was because entrance is free on the first Sunday of the month. It was a good thing because none of us had to pay (although... only one of us would’ve had to be concerned with that). It made me think of how admission to the British Museum is free, no matter what country you come from or how old you are. Oh wait… actually it’s free for almost every museum in London. Ah, British people :)

Anyway, back to our visit, we started with a famous sculpture by a Greek artist. It’s called The Winged Victory of Samothrace. It’s a Greek sculpture which dates back to 200 BC. Pretty old, right?
Notre première sculpture était La victoire de Samothrace.

Then, we headed towards the Italian paintings gallery. Our goal was to see the Mona Lisa. We successfully managed to get a picture of this renowned Da Vinci painting.
Puis nous sommes allé au secteur des peintures italiennes pour voir la Joconde. J’étais content de pouvoir voir ce tableau pour la première fois. D’autres peintures célèbres étaient là, notamment Les noces de Cana.

As you can imagine, the popularity of this painting brings a lot of tourists there, so it was interesting to see how many people tried to get a view of it. Some Chinese were taking selfies with it, which was pretty funny to see.

Yep, that’s a lot of people! Actually, there are a lot of other interesting paintings in the room. For example, another of Da Vinci’s works called The Wedding at Cana. It’s a pretty large one, and covers an entire wall. Another famous painting was the Virgin enthroned with angels, by Middle Ages painter Cimabue.

Anyway, after our little tour in the Italian gallery, we headed towards the Sun King’s gallery, where they have a lot of art items that belonged to the King’s court. We’d been doing a lot of walking already so we stopped and sat down for a few minutes. Thankfully, we got the brilliant idea to have a look at the ceiling while we were sitting.

It definitely reminded us of Versailles! For the record, before the Sun King moved to Versailles, he lived in the Louvre, like every French king before him. And since the palace took a lot of time to be built, Louis actually spent several years here.

After this little taste of Louis’ era, it was time to go back to the past into the Babylonian era. They had a whole section dedicated to it. I’m impressed to see the huge walls that were in the ancient Mesopotamia.

The British Museum had actually a whole bunch of Mesopotamian stuff as well. If I remember correctly, their section was even bigger. Compare the next 2 pictures: the top one is from the British Museum, the other from the Louvre.

After our Babylonian trip, we decided to head up towards Greece (well, kind of) to see 2 famous sculptures: the first one representing Artemis, the hunter goddess, and the second one being the Venus de Milo. This was, however, a challenge. Indeed, we spent probably a half hour looking for the Greek sculptures after exiting the Mesopotamian department. There weren’t enough signs to show us the way. Thankfully, we had a map so we could locate the room where it was, and then find our way. Since we managed to get to it, we can successfully conclude that we passed the reading map test. And it was worth it. Yeah!!
Après, nous voulions voir La Vénus de Milo. Sur le chemin, nous sommes passés par les parties du musée consacrées au Grand Siècle et à la Mésopotamie. Finalement, nous avons pu trouver la statue, ainsi que la statue d’Artémis chassant. Notre objectif étant accompli, nous sommes ressorti pour aller voir Notre Dame.

Our objective being accomplished, we decided to exit the museum and go to Notre-Dame (Marissa tried to force me to say it the French way, but I kept pronouncing it like the university. It’s funny to know that an English speaker corrected my French pronunciation). However, before we left, we had to take a picture of the pyramid.

Although I believe this pyramid is an engineering tour de force, I think it was really ugly to build it in the courtyard of a 17th century building. I just don't appreciate it.

Our next stop was the famous Notre-Dame cathedral. Once again, guess who’d never been there before? (No answer to this question will be revealed, you can only guess). It’s a masterpiece, and, although it’s not the most impressive cathedral I’ve seen in my life (that would be St Paul. Yeah London!), I was still impressed.

There was a big line in order to get in. Thankfully, it went pretty fast. There was a mass going on inside. We could even hear some organ music, which was pretty impressive. What more could you ask for than organ music in the Notre Dame cathedral to finish your stay in Paris on a good note? Indeed, after we toured the cathedral, checked out the amazing windows (like the one shown in the collage), and sat down for a while to admire the architecture, we decided to leave and have dinner. Notre Dame would be our last sightseeing in Paris for this vacation!
C’était la première fois que j’entrai dans la cathédrale. L’intérieur comme l’extérieur sont très impressionnants. Nous avons pu admirer les vitraux du Moyen Age, ainsi que la finesse de la construction. Quand nous sommes entrés, il y avait une messe. Nous avons écouté un peu car un organiste jouait. Puis après, nous sommes ressortis pour aller prendre le diner et rentrer à l’hotel.

Nothing really exciting happened after that, besides our dinner. We’re not entirely sure but there’s at least a small possibility that we unintentionally ate dinner in a gay bar.

After reaching the safety of our hotel, we had a lazy night looking at pictures and watching a movie. Our last night in Paris! The next day, I went with Marissa to the airport and then she flew back to Israel to meet with her parents. Then I took the subway back to the train station to go back home. It’s been a fun vacation and we had a lot of travels and adventures around France. And our next adventures will be in … wait for it… AMERICA!!!
Et ainsi s’achevèrent nos vacances à Paris. Le lendemain, Marissa est rentrée en Israel et je suis rentré à Gap. Nos prochaines aventures seront dans le meilleur pays du monde, land of the free and home of the brave… AMERICA!!!!!

Yes, that’s true! He has just finished college and will be coming to the U.S. to do an internship- which he has been looking forward to doing for years! Merci for your contribution David! Even though I don’t know why you felt the need to bring up London- that was a bit obnoxious haha. 

I’ll include one last picture(s) that we took at the airport. David made me carry his huge backpack everywhere... just kidding! Actually he spent a lot of energy on this trip hauling my beastly suitcase around. I felt like I at had to try on the gigantic backpack. I don’t understand how he can walk with that thing on.

It was an amazing vacation! I can’t say that enough. I hope you enjoyed reading this and having a virtual vacation with us :)

If you missed the first parts of our French/Swiss adventures, catch up here!
Part I: traveling with David's family in the Alps
Part II: visiting my home sweet home of Alsace and David's home sweet home of Lorraine
Part III: our jam-packed first day of sightseeing in Paris
Part IV: visiting the best place in the world, Versailles

1 comment:

  1. Recoucou Marissa !!!

    Je viens de te laisser un message qui n'a pas été enregistré !
    Alors, je recommence

    Oui, il y a un moment que j'ai lu tes commentaires sur tes voyages et je n'ai jamais eu le temps de te laisser un message ...
    J'ai pris du plaisir à lire "en anglais , s'il vous plaît" tes notes sur votre voyage en Israel avec David et avec tes parents et de ton voyage en France et bien que je n'ai pas compris certains détails, dans l'ensemble, ça allait.
    Tes photos sont belles et, grâce à tes commentaires, on voyage dans des beaux lieux et paysages et on partage ces beaux moments que vous avez vécus.
    Tu avais demandé à David de corriger ton français : je crois qu'il n'a pas eu grand-chose à corriger, car c'était bien écrit. Alors bravo pour ton français !!

    Prends bien soin de toi, Marissa et ... patience
    "Patience et longueur de temps valent mieux que force et que rage" dit un écrivain français Lafontaine !!!
    Alors, courage et hear you soon !