I I ahould have tried to make a map when I was there maybe I wouldnt have got lost so much. Still just figuring out all the places I went and streets I walked on and I left my bus map with the manager of the hotel with my left over tickets and said go ride the bus!! Ser Paris from above ground! Don’t be in such a hurry!
Today starts out at the Gare Saint-Lazare
I woke up at midnight tossing and turning, determined to figure out my train ticket. I don’t think I ever went back to bed, maybe for a little bit. By 8:30 am I was headed out, determined to get to to Marseilles… My $300 trip was now over $500 plus I would need to stay in Marseilles overnight?
The final decision, after I packed and everything came … when I checked my phone… STORM… RAIN… awful weather headed towards the coast and Spain…
So time to change plans. My mom had suggested I take the train to the countryside and go to Rouen… to do this I would need to leave from the Gare Saint-Lazare.
I got there at just the right time to get a ticket, but the the train was late so I had some time to look around. I had wanted to spend a good deal of time in books stores, so I went to a little magazine/newspaper shop and started to read. The regular newspapers seemed to complicated (part of why I had wanted to really sit in the children’s bookstores…) but after looking at several Vogues and Cosmos etc, I stumbled upon the Gardening magazines. These were lovely and it was hard to choose. I know I made the right choice when I got home and Mike even found some things he liked even though he couldn’t read a word of it!
Finally we’re off… It’s an hour and a half ride to Rouen… We will go right by Giverny?! I can’t wait. Even though I can barely keep my eyes open… I want to look out the countryside. The French trains are so stylish and comfy with plush seats in purple and green even thought they seem quite old (maybe they get a lot of use…) very chic and soft.
When I finally arrive in Rouen, all I want is to sit down enjoy some coffee and breakfast. I decide I am going to treat myself to a real meal today. I’ve been here half my trip and haven’t really eaten out at all except my first day… so I think this will be the perfect place to enjoy a nice meal… some yummy eggs? My Uncle had told me you could get great omlettes in Paris for a decent price so I figured maybe today was the day even though I was in the country…
If you know me… you know one thing… I never go downhill first. I walked past the first cute little coffee shop thinking there would be more. I should have spent more time studying the map perhaps… Idk… But out on the street and up behind the station I headed… up… up… up…
I did find this little tiny boulangerie at the top of the hill, where I got a cold little mini quiche … Did I mention how cold it was out? It’s freezing by the way (btw) so walking uphill is quite helpful to keep me warm as well… the sun is trying to come out… It’s funny, for being such a sweets girl I never bought any pasteries or those tiny little pettit fours or anything while I was there… (well maybe that’s not true… 2xs I bought a little baked good to get change…) But I walked by quite a few of these cute little pasterie boulangeries and never bought any chocolates or fancy treats…
Quite the view once I got up on top… Seems like a lot of exercise…
I love this cool car!
I watched this cat walk back and forth across that roof several times trying to get down. I know Mike would have liked it!
Finally a place to eat!!! The first place I walked by!! These kids were eating these chocolate treats that just looked absolutely to die for so I had to try a chocolate waffle instead of my dreamy eggs… I thought about trying chocolate mousse but I figured the kids probably knew what was best. They looked like local students? They didn’t have any eggs at this place btw…. And it had a full bar?
Is that a typical thing in France to have a bakery/coffee place in a bar?
I barely had time to eat and start my sketch and it was time to hop on the train to Giverny … oh did I mention, I had decided to go back and walk around Giverny… driving by had about killed me on the train ride to Rouen and I just had to go back and check it out even if the gardens weren’t open.
I follow the feet right out the door!! So excited! And first off I see Bicycle rentals!!! I think oooh! Maybe I can get an off season deal?!
But no, it was too early. No bikes yet… (Another bar mind you…)
So I head into town, sure I’m following the sign to the Musee that I’m also sure says open all year even though it was in FRENCH… I’m sure that’s what it said… but it didn’t matter because I never did find it…
OK Cool! A sandwich shop I can get some real food, but she was basically closing down for the day and didn’t have a salad or sandwich, just some bread from the morning… I figured I could find something ahead…
Can you believe it! A farmer’s market! What luck!!!! I’m so excited! And they were closing so it seemed like a good time to meet some farmers… but… I realize that my Stay City Apartment friends were right again!!! Don’t expect people outside of Paris to speak English as easily as people in Paris do…
I did get some yummy carrots to snack on and some cilantro, a fresh lemon and a turnip for dinner from this lovely couple. I handed out a few Organic Gardener Interview questions and business cards but I don’t think anyone could possibly understand what I was saying …
Did I mention that the bus drivers really take care of you? … I know this is a little off topic, but they really do… even if they don’t speak English they seem to be able to say … Madame, you want to get off here, or they will even take you to the right bus stop if they are going by where you want to go…. if you use your ticket within an hour I think it usually works for a transfer… ANOTHER PLUS FOR RIDING THE BUS!! As if you need another?
This guy spoke fairly good english! He sold me the blue bling case for my phone I got!!! I just love it and it would keep my phone safe… if I hadn’t shattered my screen already. But I’ll be set when I get it fixed now. And I’ll always remember my blue bling Paris case and trip overtime I look at my phone…
Finally! I find this cute little underpass. It’s got the most awesome mural… I didn’t get a good shot underneath … there were a bunch of teenagers down there… and I thought I should give them some privacy…
Finally I find the bike path. IDK why I never set my run meter, I’m sure I must have walked miles and miles on this day… More graffiti even out here even though it’s kind of nice…
I took a million pictures of houses in both Rouen and Giverny… you’ll have to wait till I paint them to see them… but this is just proof that I can get completely lost anywhere. I thought this treelined path should take me directly back to the train station but no… I ended up way far away… I passed this really cool skate park, I don’t know if you can see it well but it had an awesome ramp or two…
But I managed to get back to the station just in time… I had less then a 10 minute wait and was I ready to sit down…
I had a LITTLE more luck with these guys… I still haven’t heard from any of them, but they did take my interview papers…
I should have spent my last 5 euros on some of their flowers… they were beautiful and my daffodils in my place were dying and I ended up having to go to another ATM before I got home anyway… I mean what was I thinking? I’m gonna go another 4 days without spending any Euros…
OVERALL A GREAT DAY!!!!
Yesterday, I started painting my first picture of Paris … I started out thinking about my Dreams Do Come True journal I am working on and one of the pages about what I want my husband to do as a father and I thought about the men in Paris I saw playing with their children, especially playing soccer with them. I’ll see if I can post a video I took of one fun team and coach!
But I ended up with this painting of Les Jardins des Tullieres. I stared at Monet’s painting of it for a long time when I was there and then the next day or maybe on Tuesday, I went and sat exactly there, and sketched and watched and took photos and this is a combination of my day. It’s just my first and it’s definitely not remotely accurate as far as perspective, it’s more a combination of what I saw that day in different spots …
I can’t wait to finish it and do more.
Watercolors are created in layers. I think one of the hardest parts is waiting for the layers to dry… when I get into a painting I just want to finish it but sometimes it just really helps to let the paint dry hard for at least 8-24 hours if not months… the longer it sits the harder it will get… some colors are more forgiving then others and you can still bleed out months down the road, others are there for good as soon as they hit the paper.
But I think part of the fun is painting more. And that’s the best part about working on a book, is that you are working on several pieces at a time :~)
Another great thing about sketching is reflecting on your trip and days of your life… I keep changing my mind about which day was the best…
At this moment I’m pretty sure the order goes like this:
Monet Museum on Sunday at the Monmarton
oh, I haven’t even gotten there yet?!!!
2. Meeting all the artist on the La Place du Tertre
I can’t believe I never made it back there when they were there?? Boy time went fast… Oh so fun!
That on top of sitting where Renoir lived and sketching… by far my best sketch of my trip…
3. Sitting on the steps of the Acadamie Nationale De Musique
This amazing musician entertained us all while locals at lunch in the bright sunshine with songs like Imagine, No Woman and No Cry, Hello by Adele and a Cold Play song or two… some korean music and others . . . he was great, I wish he was selling CDs …
4. And finally Paris Toastmasters …
These were some of the most polished speeches I’ve ever seen. The guy who won gave the most amazing speech about the “Time Of Your Life” I think it was called … I’ll never forget it, I think about it all the time…. I hope he wins. What luck to be there for the International Speech Competition!
This day was one of my best days in Paris hands down, even thought started out rainy and frustrating!!!!
Frustration in Paris
Book tickets to travel before you leave the states …
Friday morning I spent frustrated in my hotel room trying to figure out how to get a train ticket from Paris to Marseilles and then Marseilles on to Figueres in Spain to go visit some friends. I finally got it worked out, I needed to get a round trip to Marseilles, and then a round trip Marseilles to Figueres. If I would have booked it before I left I could have done it Paris > Marseilles > Figueres and then the high speed Figures > Paris. But I didn’t and apparently they were all sold out.
Plus the cost on the internet for tickets over there was considerably higher then here. Or perhaps it was my timing. It wasn’t the commuter train I was thinking like from Long Island to NYC but more like the Amtrak train. And apparently people in France really like to travel on the weekends. I gave up, then my hotel found me a ticket but they still couldn’t get my credit card to go through.
Later that night when I tried to enter my card, it kept saying I lived in London and wouldn’t let me choose the USA for my address or Montana… Perhaps it was for the best as Spain ended up getting a big storm that weekend and the weather in Paris was warm and sunny… Well maybe not warm but sunny.
So, Friday afternoon, I headed out with bus map in hand and headed up to see the Sacre Coeur and Basilica I had viewed from the Musee d’Orsay the night before. I was quite tired and it was somewhat cloudy and rainy in Paris. I decided to take the bus even though the wonderful staff at my hotel told me it was close enough to walk.
My good friends at home had sent me off with a Fodor’s tour book to Paris. This would become my bible. It had great maps, and reviews to give me a general guide for what I would want to do. The bus went up past all the bridal wedding stores … and then past all the discount shopping. I thought oh, I have to remember how to get here and then the bus stopped. Quickly in less then an hour I had all the souvenirs I needed to bring home… a couple of cute ponchos, Paris t-shirts, a couple of nice scarves, and best of all my cute little Purple French hat I had seen several women wearing at the Eiffel tower and around town …
One of the suggestions in the book was to take the Montmartrobus up to the Basilica.It suggested you start at the top and ride it down. I could see this in some respects but if you know me, I always start at the bottom and head up hill, come down on the way back. So I planned to stop at Pigalle and catch it uphill.
The Montmartrobus: Off to the Sacre Coeur
The bus headed out from the Gare De L’est. One of the best things about catching the bus at the beginning of a run is you get a shot at the front seat next to the driver. Best spot for viewing. The second best spot is usually in the back… My plan had been to just ride the bus and get back to my hotel early. I was tired and it was cold and cloudy and I didn’t feel the need to see the inside of the church even though everyone said you’ll want to.
But when the bus driver turns to you and says, “Madame, you want to get off here… the vineyard…” you listen and get off… (btw – I learned that Madame means “my lady” so nice, not like Ma’am here like I’m in the army, much more charming… they can call me Madame all day long :~)))
And what can I say, I am SOOOOO glad I got off the bus!
I completely fell in love with this place after I sat at one of these cute little tables and sketched for about 45 minutes. I swear 100 people must have walked through the little garden while I was there.
Montmartre & Basilique du Sacre-Coeur in Paris
So then I headed up the road to see the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur…
The line when I left the museum went all the way up the street (and for some reason they only had one girl working and she had to take care of gift shop purchases (the coat room – or at least where they made me stash my backpack… etc) all by herself. I wanted to have sign that said, you know the main collection is closed? To show everyone, because even though I had a glorious time sketching people, if they were looking to see some art the main collection was closed that day…
and now up to La Place du Tertre and to think I almost didn’t get off the bus!!
The first thing I came upon was this cute little couple who had just gotten married and were taking wedding photos. The music lady was playing them a beautiful love song.
Then on to the amazing artists. I don’t understand why these people don’t sell prints of their art. I would have bought a notecard from almost all of them, but I couldn’t possibly afford a $50 small print and there are so many tourists I’ll bet tons of them would love to take home some art…
This gentleman was soooooooo incredibly talented! I just loved his work! I would have given anything to buy one of his paintings… his small ones were $50 though way over my budget. I gave him one of my peace sign notecards.
I hope he gets in touch with me someday and I can buy one of his paintings when I am rich and famous (haha;) but I would truly love to own one of his pieces. A real modern impressionist!
This woman who painted just red and black sketches of Paris were lovely too! I just don’t understand why they don’t sell notecards. I couldn’t even get a business card or website from one of them. I talked to here for a little bit and she said there were certain rules for getting to exhibit there, one of which had something to do with they had to be live paintings?? I think she meant they had to be live paintings of Paris. Seemed such a crime. All these tourists? Why not sell prints? Notecards? Postcards? So many people aren’t going to buy an original print but would gladly buy a reproduction of these amazing paintings…
I was still deeply inspired by their art. So much talent all in one place. And to think I almost didn’t get off the bus? •/•~) That’s my texting sign for rolling my eyes!
And there’s more can you believe it my day is not done yet!
I still have to go off to the Basilique!
It wasn’t the clearest day so I didn’t get the best view but it was cool anyway!
IDK why but these couples fascinated me…
Time to go… the birds were just lovely. I took a movie but I can’t figure out how to post it… And as for the carousel… they are all over Paris. If my mom had come along I know we probably would have road on all of them;)
What a day! Hard to believe it really happened!!! What is your dream that you would like to see come true! I’d love to know and help you achieve your dream… Please comment or email me at email@example.com or find me on Facebook!
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It’s such a gorgeous day I am heading out in capris and sandals!
My first plan today is to get familiar with my local neighborhood.
The Jardin Saint Laurent was my short cut to the Gare de L’est.
The most wonderful little garden spot!
The Gare De L’est will get you almost anywhere. You can buy a little packet of tickets 10 for about 12$ and go almost anywhere by bus or metro. If you use your ticket within an hour you can even transfer buses. Most of the buses are lined up right out front and give you the discount view of Paris!
Thinking I will just be gone exploring for about 10 minutes including a trip to the FranPrix to get some staples for my room… 2 hours later I return completely in LOVE with Paris!
On my last stop back to my room I met the Flower Man!
Daffodils for 2 euros! So delightful!
I gave one to the front desk and one for my table!
Plus the most delicious lunch!
An apple, a giant salad topped with delicious tabouleh and a baguette!
After a refreshing meal I head out with my main goal!
To the Eiffel Tower for real today!
I have to admit I was quite glad I went back to my room. It had gotten quite cold and cloudy by mid afternoon and I was glad I put on warm clothes and grabbed a few scarves! How could I leave Montana without a headband and my warmest wool scarf? IDK!
Paris is all about the kids! There are fun things for them to do, parents walk everywhere with them. I really noticed a lot of parents in Paris (not tourist but locals) walking around with children in tow. Especially the dads!
Fun activities for tourists with kids though right on the plaza by the tower!
Then it was off to the Musee D’Orsay to see some Impressionists!!
The Tower at Night All lit up!
My bus stop!
Oh, yeah! I think I forgot to mention
And it’s a big one. This is the first time I got on the bus in the wrong direction. So at 11pm I ended up on the far corner of the SW side of town, off the bus waiting in front of the hospital for 12 minutes. It was safe and all worked out ok and I got to see more of Paris as night, but I ended up not getting back to my hotel till around 11pm. A little late and tired and could have turned out differently… My main goal each day was to be in by 4:30 before dark. I think I only made it twice when I was just exhausted but most days, having that for a goal got me in the door just about at dusk. This worked for me as I am not a night person.
Dollars spent today
$20 on groceries at Fran Prix. I would probably spend that at home easy and the food was delicious plus should last me a few days. Had to get a few staples like milk and sugar for my coffee, a bottle of wine, some lentils, salad greens, fruit, etc. (I wish I would have bought a little salt and pepper because I didn’t ever buy any and it would have bene easy to bring along.) The thing it took me the longest to find was the milk. Little bottles because it is fresh were hidden by the OJ and they had way more yogurt then drinking milk even tho the bottles looked similar. $5 on flowers. $12 for bus tickets to last me all week. $12 entrance to Museum.
I have to admit when I was sitting in my little house in Browning, MT teaching on the reservation, feeling so alone and lost in life I never thought this would really happen. 2 years later I have built the most amazing online connections though my podcast and a variety of Facebook groups and well … here I am!!!
So my Uncle had prepared me … my room would probably not be ready until 3pm. The plane lands early in the morning, so I should plan to leave my luggage at the hotel and head out to a close landmark. I would be tired and full of jet lag.
When I ordered my ride from the airport on expedia, I thought it was for both ways. I wish I would have got both at the same time.
Or perhaps took the less expensive metro as my uncle had suggested. On the way to Paris, I had less stuff to carry. It would have been easy probably and a great way to start off. But also having a ride was comforting (and my driver was fantastic!) especially my luggage got lost and so I was at the airport from 5:45 to like 7:45 anyway… No complaints. The airline was quick and efficient, and my bag was delivered directly to my room before I needed it later that evening.
Also, I would not change money at the airport. I would exchange money in Montana before I left and I also would not take so much cash. I got the best deals with my bank card for anything over $5.00.
Anyway, I was so excited to see the Eiffel Tower I didn’t mind waiting to check in. The hotel did offer to let me check in early for a fee. I just dropped my stuff and headed out. The hotel staff was amazing at helping me figure out the best way to go.
My driver had pointed out the FranPrix, the closest grocery store. They had great prices and fresh food!
I got lost right away and I wish I would have gone directly to the train station – the Gare de L’est (as the staff suggested I might add). Eventually, I would come to find out that almost all the buses took off directly from there that I would want to ride and it was the main hub around the corner from my hotel.
The first thing I did was buy stamps and mail Mike a postcard I bought. That was my first purchase with a credit card. I wanted to compare my visa card and my credit card to see which charged more. They both seemed to be about the same. Mostly a Euro would add about an extra dollar or 2 to purchase under $50. So if something cost 5 euros I would figure $6 and if it cost 20 euros it would be about $21.50. It wasn’t a huge difference. If I just added a dollar or 2 to most purchases I could get the exchange pretty close easily.
I found lots of sweet little shops. Already I am reading children’s books in French and I have only been here a couple of hours. I bought Mike a great little cat calendar at this Librarie.
They had these awesome little crank turning music players. They were hard to resist for less then $10.
One of my favorite shops was this adorable little paper store called the L’Ecritoire.
Then I walked around till I got to Notre Dame. I was tired for sure but it was so exciting I didn’t really mind.
After getting to Notre Dame, I needed to take a break. It was about lunchtime… 11am or so. Considering my flight landed on the ground about 5:45 that morning I felt I was doing pretty good. My Uncle had pointed out to me that there were Starbucks everywhere with wifi if I needed to use it so when I came to my first Starbucks with little tables outside I took a break and sat down.
I gathered my thoughts, pulled out my sketchbook, did a very little sketch of the street, took everything in, went through my maps and decided to head down the street a little and find an authentic French Cafe to eat in or at least get a cup of coffee. Plus I needed to charge my phone somehow, and I knew I could plug it into my Macbook if I sat somewhere for a while.
My Uncle had given me some suggestions for places to enjoy in the Latin Quarter.
I found the delightful Lou Lous.
Their tag line
“Start your day with a coffee and a smile”
I was hooked before I walked in the door.
I stopped thinking I would just get a cup of coffee. But it was so friendly I ordered the least expensive thing on the menu. 3 eggs sunny side up. Surprisingly they came with the most delicious side salad made entirely of these thin baby arugalas. Oh it was heavenly. Usually I just like a tiny bit of arugala because I think its too strong but maybe because these were so thin and fresh it was absolutely fantastic and not too overwhelming at all…
I sat and sketched the view across the street. Little did I know this little market was setting up I would come back to and get a picnic lunch for my trip to Musee de Monmartton a few days down the line the best place to see Monet Paintings …
Once I had eaten I was refreshed enough to walk some more. It was time to see the Eiffel Tower in Person!!! I couldn’t wait. My mom had suggested I walk along the Boulevard St. Germain. So I headed up it towards the River Seinne. Then I figured I would walk along the river towards the tower.
But I don’t think you can ever be prepared for the first sight of the amazing tower. And even though I’d been looking and looking it completely surprised me.
But as you can see I was quite far away still, and getting quite tired. It was about a 45 minute walk from here, probably because I was sight seeing and getting lost a bit here and there.
So, I decided enough was enough it was close to 3pm by now time to head back to my room. I searched the bus maps and found a bus that circled by the Arc de Triomphe and back to my room which was finally ready :~))
The bus stands also have digital read outs that tell you when the next bus is arriving and even though they have clear boards that tell you which direction the bus you are about to get on is going, I still managed to get on 3 buses in the wrong direction throughout my trip!!
I still can’t believe it came true!
But to celebrate 100,000+ downloads of the
the most successful teaching experience I’ve ever had at my dream school,
and gasoline prices at an all-time low making a ticket to Paris affordable,
to Paris I went!!!
Crossing the last item off my bucket list from being a little girl and stepping outside of my comfort zone by going to a country where people spoke a different language all by myself was AMAZING!!! I’m so glad I went.
For the next 2 weeks I’m gonna write about my trip and what made it so successful. Hope you learn how to make your dreams come true too!