Paris! Part 2 of 2

The poster for the Hip Hop exhibit at the Institut Arabe. I think it is stunning!

The poster for the Hip Hop exhibit at the Institut Arabe. I think it is stunning!

We arrived in Paris on a Wednesday afternoon and left on Friday afternoon, 48 hours later, so Thursday was our Big Day Out! We had a teensy bit of time over breakfast to see what was going on. Unfortunately, we could not get tickets to the Magic Flute at the Opéra Bastille. Fortunately, we did get to see the exhibit “Hip Hop: from The Bronx to the Arab Streets” at L’Institut du Monde Arabe. It’s all music, right 🙂 As the title says, it traced the history of hip hop and how it became established in Arab youth/street culture, and how Arabic music has influenced and been absorbed into hip hop. We loved it! The Institute had a beautiful gift shop, too.

Vinyl Appreciation (of course, being hip hop, cassettes were represented, too!)

Vinyl Appreciation (of course, being hip hop, cassettes were represented, too!)

Hip Hop Rom

Hip Hop Rom

Looking for lunch near Notre Dame, a hastily purchased guidebook led us to L’Ile Saint-Louis. I am so glad we went there! It is not out of the way at all, just steps from the Left Bank, but it is a calm little oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle. At one end we poked into charming shops and had our best lunch at another crêperie, Au Lys d’Argent. We had meal-sized salads with gorgeous fresh ingredients, followed by house-made gelato.

You know what I didn't like? Other people being allowed to smoke. I hardly even recognize these things any more!

You know what I didn’t like? Other people being allowed to smoke (everywhere in Paris!) I hardly even recognize these things any more!

You know what I liked about all the restaurants and cafés we visited? Every customer is given all the time they want. No one cares if you are just there for drinks or coffee – you can spend as much time as you like. In fact, good luck getting the server to bring you your bill. They would keep you there indefinitely! No wonder so many great writers produced their best works in cafés. Nothing like home where they are always trying to turn over tables.

What are these things?

What are these things?

They are open air kiosks along the Seine

They are open air kiosks along the Seine

We made our way to Shakespeare and Co., the second-generation English-language bookstore where so many literary greats have worked and slept. En route, we browsed through the strange vendor stalls (pictured above) which focused on vintage books, magazines, posters and postcards. A great place to pick up souvenirs of Tintin, Petit Nicolas and the Little Prince, but I bought a small copy of one of these ubiquitous prints:

Le Chat Noir, grouchy version

Le Chat Noir, grouchy version

Musee d'Orsay

Musee d’Orsay

View from rooftop of Musee d'Orsay

View from rooftop of Musee d’Orsay

Although we hadn’t planned to spend time indoors at museums, we decided to visit the Musee d’Orsay, the renovated train station with its huge collections of Impressionist works. We spend many hours looking at Van Gogh, Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Pissaro, and my new favourite, Alfred Sisley. I liked that his paintings of Paris include snow and fog scenes! We saw the Pierre Bonnard exhibit and the large gallery of Art Nouveau furniture and decor. I hate to think about all the artworks we missed there – a return visit is in order.


The “red light district” was hopping with tourists of all ages from kids to seniors

After that we were suffering from exhaustion. I had searched out a restaurant that featured truffle risotto, but of course les truffes were out of season, so we made an ill-advised trip to the nearby Hard Rock Café. From there we walked to get a view of the Moulin Rouge just as it was getting dark.

Alpine Garden

Alpine Garden

On our last day in Paris, we visited the Jardin des Plantes. What else would it be a garden of? Why, sculpture, of course, but that will have to wait for another trip. I was amused that a common pitcher plant was showcased as being fragile and rare (they are native where I live). We paid to see the tropical conservatory but not the zoo. I had a fit of giggles when I tried to order peach juice and may have asked for fish juice by mistake 🙂

After a lunch at a proper outdoor café, we headed for the Eurostar back to London, where we spent a lovely weekend – see next post!

If you have visited Paris, what were your highlights?

PS: I can confirm that navy is the neutral colour of choice for Parisiennes, but only for prim white women like myself, LOL!


  1. Cheryl

    We did lunch at the Eifel Tower….yes I know, totally touristy. The interesting thing about it was that the people sitting at the table next to us were from a city less than 50 miles away from where we live.

  2. thanks for a Parisian trip, Haven’t been there for over 20 years!

  3. Fi

    What a great few days 🙂 You did so much in a short time. I didn’t think to look up any exhibitions, as we also only had 3 days in Paris and we were intent on packing in tourist icons. But I especially wish I’d visited the Musee d’Orsay (next time.) Everyone has raved about it – after we got home, of course!

    I think the highlight of Paris for me was seeing the sheer scale of architecture in places like the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre. We don’t have anything remotely on that scale here in Australia. And we’re history buffs, so I found Versailles very moving (despite visiting in such pouring rain that we never made it through the 3 hour queues to get inside.) Another highlight was just learning to everyday things like the Metro and trying to speak French whenever possible (though ironically, there was far more opportunity to do that outside Paris, in country areas.) And the cheese. It was worth visiting France if only to try so many different cheeses and wines!

    • My dream trip to France involves going to Versailles and to Monet’s gardens in Giverny. When I was in Paris, I saw ads for fireworks at Versailles – every Saturday night through the summer, they have a fireworks show accompanied by an orchestra and a laser show. Drool! I didn’t get to the Louvre so of course that is a must someday. And believe it or not, I didn’t get so much as a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night!

  4. Sounds like a great trip! Albeit short, you definitely got to see the city! Ah… Moulin Rouge district! I remember going there. My friend and I actually went to a Museum of Sex there! It was quite fun and interesting. It’s not as raunchy as people may think. There’s actually cultural artifacts and stuff.

    Errr… Well, fishing and peach are the same actually so I don’t think you ordered wrong… Unless you ordered “jus de poisson” (and not “peche”)? ^__^;

    • Yeah, I did say peche, but the guy was so taken aback that I was convinced I’d worked fishing into it! I would not be averse to visiting the Museum of Sex either.

  5. It’s so true about being able to languish with a meal, and something I remember observing with an American friend whilst we lived in France in 2006. I think you ‘can’ do it in some places in Australia, but in France it feels like you can anywhere.

    It’s great to find exhibitions whilst you are there, mum and I went to one on hair, and this was right before I shaved my head, so it was pretty topical and perhaps something I might not have otherwise gone to see.

    I love Musee D’Orsay, it’s just so pretty in and of itself, but then so much art that I know, which makes it that much better. I only went to the bookstore you mentioned this most recent time with my mother. They bought an old map from those stalls, I think. They have a whole wall of maps, which I borrowed quite a few of for my 30th!

  6. Now I want to go back even more.

    And to not labour a point but you’re smoking hot in that dress.

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