December 29, 2011
What would you do if you had only 1 day to experience the enchanting city of Paris?
Bonjour! Aaron, Joyce, Stefanie, Luciana (“The Crew”) and I decide to take a day trip to Paris from London. While this is my third trip to this intoxicating city, it’s the first visit for my co-travellers. The great thing about this city is that you can always find something new to discover! We ended up fitting about 3 days worth of sightseeing into 11 hours. It was glorious! If you plan to do a day trip, be sure to get lots of sleep and wear comfortable shoes because it will wear you out! I’ve covered Paris in 3 other blog posts so most of the info in this post will be high-level (with links throughout to posts with more detail).
* Just a quick note that this post is going to get risqué by the end since I will be recapping my visit to the Museum of Erotica…you’ve been warned 🙂
Our schedule for the day:
|7:01 Depart London St.-Pancras, set our watch 1 hour ahead|
|10:17 Arrive in Paris, take Metro to Notre-Dame|
|10:30 Explore Notre-Dame|
|11:00 Lunch at a French cafe in Ile de la Cite|
|12:00 Walking tour of the Latin Quarter, Tuileries Gardens, the Louvre, Ile de la Cite/Ile St. Louis, Saint-Chappelle, Deportation Memorial, Pont Neuf, La Comedie Francaise, Opera Garnier, Palais Royale, Place de La Concorde, Palais de Justice, Pantheon, Champs-Elysees.|
|3:00 Visit Montmartre area (Sacre-Coeur, Moulin Rouge and Musee de l’erotisme)|
|6:00 Visit the Eiffel Tower|
|7:00 Dinner at a French cafe. Be back at Gare du Nord (train station) by 8:25pm.|
|9:13 Depart Paris for London (arrive in London at 10:36)|
The Crew & I are up at 4:30am to get dressed and take the Tube to St. Pancras station to catch the 7:01am train to Paris. OMG, it’s early y’all. Eurostar requires you to check-in at least 30 minutes prior to the train leaving (you also need to account for time to go through security…so budget about 45 minutes or so). After we check-in, we get breakfast and hang out until it’s time to leave.
Once we board the train, it’s about 2 1/2 hour ride to Paris. We decide to use this time to take a nap.
We arrive in Paris around 10:30am (Paris is 1 hour ahead of London) and get on the Paris Metro. Quick tip: I purchased our Metro tickets in advance thru Rail Europe (at the same time as our train tickets) and this saved us so much time. The lines for tickets had about a 20 minute wait. I just bought day passes so we wouldn’t have to worry about purchasing travel tickets each time we rode the Metro. It definitely helped us spend more time sightseeing than worrying about logistics.
We hop on the Metro and head towards the Notre Dame stop. As we exit the train station, we come upon Palais de Justice.
Our first stop was the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral (also known as Our Lady of Paris). This magnificent cathedral took 185 years to complete (1160 – 1345). The builders used the popular Gothic style and it’s noted for its flying buttresses. It has been thru many alterations since completion in order to keep it current with modern conveniences.
In 1793, during the French Revolution, the cathedral was rededicated to the Cult of Reason, and then to the Cult of the Supreme Being. During this time, many of the treasures of the cathedral were either destroyed or plundered. The statues of biblical kings of Judah (erroneously thought to be kings of France) were beheaded. Many of the heads were found during a 1977 excavation nearby and are on display at the Musée de Cluny. For a time, Lady Liberty replaced the Virgin Mary on several altars. The cathedral’s great bells managed to avoid being melted down. The cathedral came to be used as a warehouse for the storage of food (source Wikipedia). I find the French Revolution fascinating (I mean, seriously, how out of touch did the royals have to be?). You can read my comical take on the origins of the French Revolution in my Versailles recap titled E True Versailles Story: Royals Gone Wild.
The exterior of the church is absolutely breathtaking. You can see the kings of Judah as well as the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus.
The inside of the cathedral was beautiful and serene. All cathedrals have the same layout (in the form of a cross). It’s a very overwhelming and calming experience.
After we leave Notre Dame, we walk to Ile St. Louis (“St. Louis island) and stop for lunch at a little cafe called Le Flore en L’Ile (where they serve the famous Berthillon ice cream). Ile St. Louis is the high-rent residential area of Paris (Johnny Depp has an apartment here!).
We walk past the back of the Notre-Dame and go to the Deportation Memorial. I’ve been to this area twice before and never noticed this garden nestled among the trees. The Memorial de la Deportation is a memorial to the 200,000 French victims of Nazi concentration camps.
Then we cross the Seine…
…and see the “love locks”. Couples who marry place locks along the bridge and throw the key into the river to signify that their love cannot be broken. No idea what the folks do who have combination locks (maybe those signify pre-nups).
We walk along the Seine towards the Louvre and pass thru the Latin Quarter. I cover my tour of the Louvre pretty thoroughly in my Paris Ooh La La post (it also includes a recap of the Paris Ghost Tour which was so entertaining).
While Joyce & Stefanie toured the Louvre; Aaron, Ciana and I took the Metro to Montmartre to visit Sacre-Coeur. “The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica. A popular landmark, the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. Sacré-Cœur is a double monument, political and cultural, both a national penance for the supposed excesses of the Second Empire and socialist Paris Commune of 1871 crowning its most rebellious neighborhood, and an embodiment of conservative moral order, publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ. The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919.” (source, Wikipedia)
Climbing up the steps to reach Sacre-Coeur is a workout in and of itself. My glutes were on fire! But the view is phenomenal and well worth it.
While the view is fantastic, let me warn you that the pickpockets are out in full effect. Due to this area being extremely crowded, thieves are always on the lookout for something free. Sigh. I covered my own “attempted” pickpocket experience in The Wonderful World of Paris post. You already know I had a “I wish a mutha-*&!@ would pickpocket me today!” attitude. Ha!
After we leave Sacre-Coeur, we decided to stroll through the artsy Montmartre neighborhood. An interesting fun fact to know is that many artists had studios or worked around the community of Montmartre (such as Salvador Dalí, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh).
We pass by a sweet shop and couldn’t resist going in. I love how happy sugar-filled shops are 🙂
As we were chatting and walking down Boulevard de Clichy, I started to notice something. Every store seemed to have a theme. Now, if you have tender sensibilities, are under the age of 18 or are my Mom, stop reading, k? If you want to read but don’t want to admit to your inner freak, then go on and close the door. I’ll wait.
Wait…what? Does the sign on that store say “Pussy’s”? I don’t see any cats. Is that a pimp leaning up against the wall? OMG, this is the French “Hustle & Flow”. Now I’ve got that “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” song in my head and I’m gonna be saying ‘mane’ like Terrence Howard. FRACK. I HATE THAT SONG!
How did we stumble into the freak nasty section of Paris? Why didn’t I see this in Rick Steves? What startled me was that you just kinda came up on it and it was like, “BAM…take off your drawers/panties.” If you have a heavy sexual appetite, this smorgasbord of sex is for you. When I was in Amsterdam, I expected freak fest (and let’s be honest…you know you would’ve been all over this too, k?).
We had about 30 minutes to kill until we met back up with Joyce & Stefanie so we end up going to the Musee de l’erotisme (Museum of Erotica) which was about 10 Euro. Let me just say that you are not ready for this place. Seriously. I thought it would be some sort of campy “museum” but this turned out to be a full-on 7 level museum dedicated to all forms of erotica. And, it took us much longer than 30 minutes to go through the entire place. I am not ashamed to admit I learned something! For those of you “innocents” out there, this is the time for you to put on some pearls so you can get to clutching.
I was not ready. And, y’all aren’t either. Which is why I’m taking you on the tour with me (yes, I was *that girl* who whipped out the camera and giggled or said “shut the front door!” while taking pictures for y’all. You’re welcome).
So let’s get started. First, let me say that this turned into my birthday present for my cousin, Aaron (since we were in Paris on his special day). Second, even he was shocked which is saying something. Third — Mom, are you still reading this? Aaron made me go in. I was fine with visiting the cathedrals 🙂
This is the first thing I see when we enter the museum…
Um, what kind of chair is this? And, is it for sale?
Then it was on to these gems:
Each floor as a “theme”. They start you off tame…then it gets freakier each level you ascend. The first floor was dedicated to the “religious” and cultural aspects of sex across the world. The big dildo you see above? That’s “prayer wood”. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Wooo, stop it. I cannot see taking that to Zion Hill Baptist Church and shouting out “CALLING ALL PRAYER WARRIORS!”
Have you been looking for some new sandals for the summer? Well here you go.
Oh yes, you are seeing right. Dildo sandals. I believe they may be multi-purpose.
Then we get to the Japanese proverbs. This stuff is golden. I heard a guy saying “this is deep, man.” (you can click on the photos to enlarge).
Then there was the “pillow book”which is basically a how-to manual to subjugate women *eye roll*…
Next is the Chinese version of the “Kama Sutra”.
We then head to the next level which is all about brothels.
You can see photos of some of the “working girls” and the ledger of how much pimps/madams made.
Below is an excerpt of a book which basically said that prostitutes became lesbians out of boredom or because they hated how they were treated by men.
Keep in mind that there are a lot of photos but I only took a handful on each floor…didn’t want to seem like a sex-crazed pervert. We then head upstairs. Each landing has some sort of erotic art like…
As we come to the top of the stairs, I notice a large flat screen tv and couches with some lighted scented candles. The tv wasn’t showing anything at that time but I assumed it was a video about the history of erotica.
Ciana, Aaron and I had been walking around and looking at all the statues, pictures, etc. I got caught up looking at something (I can’t even remember…I was constantly lagging behind due to taking pictures). As I walk back towards the stairs, I see the video has started and Ciana & Aaron are slack-jawed. Apparently, I had just missed what I assumed was the informational video but a new one is starting. There is a crowd with people sitting on the couch and standing around.
I turn to look at the tv screen and see it’s a silent movie…and it’s porn. That’s right, silent porn. With subtitles…black and white…and looks to have been filmed in the 1920s. The film was set in a monastery with a “monk” making dinner for 2 “nuns”. And, I swear that the subtitle said “the sisters decided to have each other for “hors d’oeuvres”. Wait…what? Next thing I know, the “sisters” have ripped off each others “habits” and are going to town on each other! WHAT? The subtitles keep popping up because apparently you need to be told the continuing storyline in case you got lost. The “monk” was peeping thru a window and then another “monk” comes up behind him, snatches his pants down and starts having sex with him. I was done. I couldn’t watch anymore…in a room full of folks…with a storyline set in church. I’m trying to see Jesus some day and I don’t have time to explain my visit to the Museum of Erotica to Peter. I already have way too much to account for. Which now includes this visit because you know I didn’t leave.
We turned quickly and went up to the next level…which was “porn thru the years”. There were 3 smaller tv’s on each table set in a triangle pattern. This apparently is for more intimate viewing. But you are still at a table with other folks. Really? They had porn from every culture thru a span of 50 or 60 years. Even interviews with adult film stars. As we are walking up to the 6th level, we see photos of different “genres” of porn…like vampire porn. *hangs head*
The 6th floor is dedicated to what I’m gonna call “cartoon” porn. I’m sure it has some sort of slick name but it’s freaky stuff in cartoon fashion. Like they needed to draw up Smurfette getting it on with Papa Smurf. There’s something for everybody here.
The last floor focused on “doll” porn. Poor Barbie. She’s a ho.
By the time we reached Bimbo Barbie, I was exhausted. Who knew that looking at all that erotica would wear you out? We ended up taking the elevator down to the first floor and saw this magnificent display at the exit.
Afterwards, I felt like I needed to smoke a cigarette. Woooo! Thanks, Paris.
We leave the museum and head towards Moulin Rouge
Then take the Metro back to the Louvre to meet up with Joyce & Stef.
We all walk from the Louvre thru the Tuleries Garden and see that there is a huge ferris wheel!
By this point, our feet are killing us but we still have one more stop before dinner…and that is to the Eiffel Tower!
Then finally, it was time to rest and eat. We ended up eating at a cafe across the street from the train station. Which was a good thing because we almost missed our train! Overall, it was a great day trip. We were able to see a lot. I would definitely recommend staying for more than a day because Paris at night is fabulous! Looking for things to do in Paris? Check out my post The Top 10 Things to do in Paris. Au revoir!