Saturday, 3 January 2015

Two Lovers in Paris: Part 1

The very first day that Angela and I met, one of the first things that brought us together was our mutual love of France and French culture. We'd both visited the country several times - Angela even living and working there for a year - and we loved sharing our stories, musing about potential future trips through Provence, Aquitaine or Normandy, and practicing our French with one another from time to time. During our time in Korea we even visited several French-themed tourist sights, such as Petite France, Seoul's French Quarter, and Paju's Provence Village. Nothing beats the real thing, however, so we were always looking forward to going to France together someday.

Back in late October, when we were close to finishing our eight-month-long journey across Eurasia, we were low on money and eager to get back to our families in England and the USA. However, we couldn't resist setting aside some time in France. From Stockholm we took a plane to Paris, which we explored for several days, reminiscing about old times whilst reveling in the present, then headed onward to the small northern town of Valenciennes, where Angela used to live. After that, we would cross the channel and finally arrive in England, the final stop on our journey! But I'm getting ahead of myself. For now, here's an overview of our time in the City of Love.

Our plane ride from Stockholm to Paris took a few hours.
We arrived at Paris Beauvais Airport in the early evening, and had to wait to catch a bus into the city.
We navigated through the sorely missed seediness of the Paris Metro, until we reached our Marriott Hotel just on the outskirts of the city, courtesy of Angela's generous parents.
The next morning we queued up for around 2 hours waiting to go into the underground catacombs.
Finally we were free to head down into a labyrinth of bones.

The ossuaries contain the remains of around 6 million people, which is around 10% of France's current population.

After leaving the catacombs, we headed for 59 Rue de Rivoli, an artists' squat where creative bohemians showcase their work for free.
Entering the building, you are commanded to "follow the dragon."
Across several storeys we encountered various different studios, each with a different atmosphere depending on the artist that worked there.

One artist, named Francesco, took photos with us, and even drew us a small portrait.

Back out on the streets of Paris.
As a fan of modern art museums, I've always wanted to visit the Centre Pompidou. On my first trip to Paris, back in 2005, I intended to visit it but my travel buddies had other plans, so I tagged along with them instead. During my next visit, a year later, I was by myself and came close to finally entering the Centre Pompidou, but for some reason (I can't quite remember) I didn't get round to it. So, now it's 2014 and here I am on my third visit to Paris, putting a fist in the air because yes, I finally made it to the Centre Pompidou! Of course, straight after taking this photo we went to the front doors and found out it was closed on Tuesdays. Oh well! Fourth time lucky, perhaps?
Even if we didn't get to go inside the Centre Pompidou, we still saw some cool street art just nearby.

Some still performers near the Latin Quarter.
Strolling along the Seine.

Beer and crepes!
Exploring the Latin Quarter.

There was a bunch of cool pixel art clinging to the corners of the buildings in this area.

Back on the metro.
Later, we went to meet Angela's friend, Emily, who currently lives and works in Paris.
Hanging out with Parisian graffiti.

Enjoying some delicious French cuisine.

On the way home we saw the Eiffel Tower...
...and the Pantheon.

Click here to continue the adventure in Part 2!

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