An American in Paris! (Part 8)


Barely a month after visiting Paris properly, I returned to it once again for a short visit once I came back from my three nights in Marseille. I was taking the night bus from the south of France back to the north, with a few stops along the way that made it almost 12 hours in transit. Exhausting, to say the least, but it was a cheaper option than booking trains, which were twice, even three times the amount of the bus.’

Anyway, I boarded the bus in Marseille around 18h15 and right after, we were off. There were a few stops along the way– Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, and Lyon– before we sped off directly for Paris. The seats were quite large and spacious on board, which I much appreciated. I also made sure that I claimed one whole row to myself, since they was no way I was going to be squished sitting next to someone for the almost 12-hour ride. Call me selfish, but anything to make the journey comfortable, I was set for that.

The ride went pretty uneventfully, until we picked up passengers in Lyon towards midnight. For the next few hours (midnight to 3 am), there were these two male passengers who kept talking…and talking…and talking. Seriously, they wouldn’t shut up; even though another passenger told them to keep it down, it honestly didn’t make a difference. True, they whispered, but loudly: they were sitting towards the back of the bus, and I was still able to hear them whisper-talk from my position in the front. Mind you, I, along with the other passengers, wanted to get some sleep, but their talking was incredibly distracting. It was just noisy and plain rude, and I seriously felt pissed off at such inconsiderate folks on the bus.

Around 3 am, we made a pit stop, where the two male passengers got off the bus to smoke and continue talking, now in their “normal” voices. “Normal” as in they were debating fervently with each other, about politics or some shit like that. It was loud, and everyone could hear them. Thankfully, the bus driver, who before had bore with it along with us, finally told them to stop talking for the rest of the ride, or risk getting kicked off. The last two, three hours of the ride were in complete silence, and never before did I feel so relieved.

We arrived into Paris about 15 minutes earlier than expected. It was 6h00 and quite chilly; nothing was open at that time for me to pop in to get warm, so the best thing I could do was take the metro into the city center, get off near the Notre Dame Cathedral, and wander aimlessly around until a Starbucks opened at 7h30. Although being out super early isn’t so ideal, I admit that it was nice to see the sun rise over the Notre Dame. I took this photo for posterity:

Sunrise over the Notre Dame.
Sunrise over the Notre Dame.

Popped into a Starbucks to get warm, as well as wait for attractions to open up for sight-seeing: in particular, I wanted to climb the Notre Dame Cathedral to get views of Paris, since from the last two times I’ve been, they were pretty much for the same thing (first being the Arc of Triumph, the second at the Galeries Lafayette). If you didn’t know already, I’m a sucker for great views, so I’m slowly making my way around the city, each visit at a time!

But until then, I ordered my matcha latte (next to chai latte, I love that stuff), and relaxed inside of the coffee shop until 9h00, when I decided to head out and check out the Notre Dame Cathedral inside. Although I’ve been there a couple of times already, it didn’t hurt to enter again- plus it’s free! I’ve forgotten how lovely it was- besides the impressively-tall nave, the chandeliers hanging in rows along the hallway give off that romantic, Beauty and the Beast-vibe to it. I hadn’t noticed it before, but now I did!

Inside the Notre Dame cathedral.
Inside the Notre Dame cathedral.

Around 9h30, I headed out and around the corner to stake my place in front of the entrance to the top of the Notre Dame. The gates didn’t open until 10h00, but I knew that visitors would be swarming soon to queue up, and by then it would be too late. There was only one person outside when I arrived, so I got super lucky once the entrance opened at 10h00; by then, the line was already halfway across the width of the cathedral itself!

The ticket office is accessible by taking a small spiral of stairs partly up the tower; considering that I’m under 26 years of age, it was free for me, so with that, I set off for the top of the tower. Upon reaching the first viewing level, I saw that it was obstructed by fabric netting to make sure that people didn’t jump off; thankfully, a few areas of the netting had been cut off (presumably by tourists or kind-hearted workers), so that one could squeeze one’s hand and camera (or phone) through the hole and take spectacular photos of the city. What made this one distinctive was the gargoyle statue in contrast with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

View of Paris from the Notre Dame.
View of Paris from the Notre Dame.

Also popped into the bell tower to look at the two, massive bells before taking another flight up to the very top, this time getting a smooth, 360-degree view of Paris. I could see the Montparnasse Tower in the distance, along with the Gothic architecture of the Notre Dame from below. Since there was only a ten-minute limit to staying up there (crowd control is a big thing here, especially in such a small structure), I headed straight down once I finished taking my photos. Very pleased overall: I would say that the views rival that from the Arc of Triumph!

I left the Notre Dame and headed towards le Marais, which is considered the “hip district” for not only bars and night life, but also is a quarter dedicated to the Jewish and LGBT communities. Plus, the narrow, sometimes winding old streets give off that historic, bohemian feel. I was there to return to that Israeli food joint that I’d gone to with a friend the month prior, but it wouldn’t open until noon, so for about an hour, I wandered all over the district to kill time.

In the Marais district.
In the Marais district.

I returned to the joint close to noon and by then, people were already waiting outside for it to open. I knew that it was a popular place, but I didn’t expect it to be that popular! All the same, as soon as the doors opened, I rushed inside, managing to be the second person in line to order. I got the lamb kebab again, this time with a roast cauliflower head. While waiting for my meal, I helped myself to the mini-food bar next to the kitchen, with heavenly, fluffy pita bread, three sauces, and this time, roasted jalapeño peppers. I usually don’t eat jalapeño straight on its own, but I was feeling adventurous (and starving), so I decided to go for it! Definitely stung my tongue with their intensity, but it was all part of the experience. 😛

My food arrived, and I was surprised at how big the cauliflower was: they weren’t kidding when they say that it’s a whole head! You might not think that cauliflower is worth writing home about, but I beg to differ. Although it was simply roasted with some salt and pepper on top, that was all you need for a hearty meal. The cauliflower was so soft that it was like butter when I cut through it. The lamb kebab was delicious as usual, and by the end of the meal, I was full and very happy. 😀

From left: roasted cauliflower, three sauces and pita bread with jalapeño peppers, and lamb kebab.
From left: roasted cauliflower, three sauces and pita bread with jalapeño peppers, and lamb kebab.

It was about time for me to head over to the train station after that, to get back to Normandy. It was about an hour’s walk from the Marais district, but it helped to burn some of the lunch off! Got the 14h20 train back, and arrived at my flat around 15h15, tired but glad to be home.

Another time in Paris…accomplished! I feel like with every visit, I find myself liking the city more and more. Considering that my second proper visit back in September 2015 put me off from it, since then exploring the lesser-known parts of it really have helped me to learn to love it again. I do plan to return again sometime this year, since there’s much more to see, along with more views to capture from elsewhere!

Until then! 🙂

— The Finicky Cynic

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6 thoughts on “An American in Paris! (Part 8)

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