Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Montmartre, Bücher, und Tee // Montmartre, Books, and Tea | France, Pt. 3


March 29, 2015


Our third and final day in Paris began rather abruptly - Daylight Savings started that morning in Europe, something we'd all forgotten about, and one of the panhandlers at our metro stop was particularly insistent - but it was my favourite of our brief time.

We spent our first few hours in Montmartre, a region of Paris that I was most excited to visit due to my adoration of Amélie, the famous French film. When I hear "Paris," Montmartre is what I think of. The streets are narrow and uneven, the architecture differs from building to building, and landings balance precariously on sharp downhills. We stopped at Le Mur des Je t'aime first, a wall filled with "I love you" written in more languages than I can imagine. I don't know the history behind the wall but it only makes sense that the City of Love has a space dedicated to expressing the most popular of emotions.







We bought sweet crepes from a tiny stand by a carousel for breakfast and walked up the hill to Sacre Ceour. And by walked, I mean I walked up all the stairs and Cara Beth and Wendy complained the whole time but didn't want to pay for the cable car. Upon reaching the top, we found ourselves with an awe-inspiring cathedral on one side and a fantastic view of the city below on the other.

The pictures do not do the church justice; it is massive and beautiful. We waited in line a mere five minutes and then walked around the breaktaking interior. Unfortunately underneath the intricately designed ceiling and beside the old stained glass windows was constant evidence of commercialisation - machines to stick in euro coins to flatten and imprint them with designs and spaces where visitors could spend up to 10€ to light a candle. 



Eventually we made our way back down to the metro station and rode the lines all the way to Cité, the stop closest to Notre Dame. From the front the cathedral looks quite small but from the side it seems to go on and on. It was incredible standing in front of one of the most well known churches in the world, but as we didn't go inside (the line was too long), it remains as just another beautiful building in my mind. 



One of the places at the top of my list to go was Shakespeare & Company, a bookstore I've been wanting to visit for years. I knew only that it was somewhere along the Left Bank and I  was worried I wouldn't be able to find it, when as we were leaving Notre Dame I looked up and there it stood, right across the Seine from me. I could hardly believe my eyes (and may or may not have shrieked there it is! as I was so excited). We immediately walked across the bridge and to the door, where we had to wait a few minutes outside before we could go in.

The inside was everything I have ever wanted from a bookstore. Bookcases line every square inch of space, the walls are not even visible from the sheer amount of books, the selection is incredible, and the books themselves have beautiful covers - some of which are limited edition - and the space is cozy and inviting. It was small and cramped in the most perfect way. If given the choice I would gladly move in and live there forever. I somehow restrained myself and only bought two books - a limited run copy of Jane Austen's The Beautifull Cassandra (a selection of her early writings) and yet another copy of Pride & Prejudice (it has a Vintage Classics cover and can't be bought in the States so I needed to purchase it).



After our rendezvous with books we met up with Zofia, another exchange student in Mannheim who lives in Paris. She took us along the Seine, through Jardin des Plantes (though it was raining so we didn't stay), and ended at Grande Mosquée de Paris, one of the largest mosques in France. The mosque has a cafe tacked onto the side that serves delicious peppermint tea and cookies, both of which we very much enjoyed. We spent the rest of the day exploring a few new areas of the city before heading back to Champ Elysées for macarons at Ladurée and dinner at the McDonald's across the street (#brokestudentprobs).

Photo credit: Zofia
Photo credit: Wendy

Final thoughts from the city -
As I said in my first post from Paris, this city was never on the top of my list of places to go. But I also, subconsciously, never thought I would actually get to come, especially not while I was at university. The fact that I was with two good friends made the whole experience even more special. There's still so much of Paris I haven't seen and I would love to return sometime soon. 


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