Places

My Last Day in Paris

Exactly one year ago today,  I left Melbourne and took a long flight to the other side of the world – destination Paris, France. I had no idea what would lie ahead. I had a simple plan – to find a place to live, try to get a job in the fashion industry and improve my French language skills as much as possible. But nothing ever really goes to plan!

I did find a beautiful, light and spacious room but had many issues with the landlady. I didn’t find a job in fashion but ended up working in tourism. And Paris being a metropolitan city with people of many different cultural backgrounds, I never really got a chance to speak French as it was easier to speak English. However, it was an unforgettable experience and the positives outweighed the negatives. I wouldn’t change a thing.

I had ups and downs and some days I felt alone and really far away from everything. But I have grown so much as a person. I have learnt the importance of family. Looking back, I could have done things differently but then I wouldn’t have learnt a lot of things I learnt about myself and people.

My last day in Paris, I woke up later than I should have and I didn’t manage to make it in time to get my last French breakfast. It was already 11.30 am and I decided to do a Seine River cruise. It was a cold drizzling March morning.

I got on the cruise with a million tourists and sat there in awe of everything. It was surreal. I couldn’t believe that I had the chance to call Paris home. I lived my dream. I met the loveliest people who helped me so much and will be lifelong friends. Every bridge I crossed, every building was a reminder of how beautiful the city was and what it had given to me. I was very emotional knowing that in the evening, I would leave Paris. It was hard not knowing when I would return but I have promised myself that I will be back. In the meanwhile, I have so many lovely memories that I will cherish and below, I am sharing some with you.

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Places

Medieval Houses in Paris

If you head into the lively Le Marais area of Paris, near Saint-Paul, around the corner from the main street, you’ll find Rue François-Miron. It’s a quiet little street but there is something special there – some of the oldest medieval style houses of Paris! The medieval houses stand out among the Parisian style architecture that one is used to seeing all over Paris.

As per the little history signboard near the houses, medieval houses are very rare in Paris. These houses are apparently as old as the 14th century. It is amazing to see such rare architecture in Paris. Le Marais is already such a gorgeous part of Paris and the houses on Rue François-Miron make it even more special.

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Places

La Tour Eiffel: Visiting the Iron Lady in Winter

The first time I ever visited the Eiffel Tower was in the summer of 2014 on my first trip to Paris. I was never so fascinated by it when I saw it in photos when I was younger but when I first laid my eyes upon the magnificent structure in real life, I was in awe. I felt so small standing beneath it and even though it may be cliché, there is just something special about it when it sparkles like a diamond in the night sky.

My second visit to the top was a very different one as it was low season and much quieter and colder. I visited with my friend Richard and we went to the top level first, the sommet. It was freezing and windy but still beautiful. Then we checked out the second level before heading down to the first level. I was amazed to see an ice-skating rink and people skating away. There was also a bar with amazing music pumping adding to the fun atmosphere. We sat down and had a vin chaud and then I tested the clear floors of the first level to see how freaked out I would get as I am scared of heights. But I’ve jumped out of a plane before so this was not so bad. The best moment for me was when I was on the first level and the tower started to sparkle. It was an amazing feeling!

I would definitely recommend visiting the Eiffel Tower at night and in winter as there is something charming about having a nice mulled wine in the cold with the spectacular views. Let’s face it. it’s the Eiffel Tower, how can it ever be not charming?

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Places

The Da Vinci Code Trail at the Louvre

“So Dark the Con of Man”

I’ve always been obsessed with Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code novel, the movie and Paris, especially the Louvre. Hence, I decided to visit the Louvre Museum using the Da Vinci Code Trail. It is a visitor trail that is on the official Louvre website which follows the footsteps of Robert Langdon & Sophie Neveu in the museum. I didn’t exactly follow the trail but I used it as a guide to see all the things I wanted to see. In addition, I also followed the “Rose Line” or Paris meridian markers “Arago” outside and inside the museum. When I first arrived in Paris, I also visited the Saint-Sulpice church because of my obsession with the book and movie. As some of you may know, I worked at the Louvre Museum so it has a special place in my heart and so the obsession is real.

In this visit, first outside the Pyramid, I found two Arago medallions or the “Rose Line”. There is also one near the Palais Royal with a missing medallion. There is another one inside the Passage Richelieu which is also shown in the movie as Robert Langdon, played by Tom Hanks, figures out the true meaning of the Holy Grail. After entering the Louvre, I spent my time mostly in the Denon Wing where I found three more Arago medallions. Most people were looking at the art but I was so fascinated by the Arago medallions. I bet most people never even notice them! I also saw the The Wedding Feast at Cana, Virgin of the Rocks, Death of the Virgin and of course the Mona Lisa.

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“The Holy Grail ‘neath ancient Roslin waits.
The blade and chalice guarding o’er Her gates.
Adorned in masters’ loving art, She lies.
She rests at last beneath the starry skies.”

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Places

Le Bataclan

It was my wish to visit the Bataclan before I left Paris to pay my respects. I had not heard about this venue before the attacks in Paris but the Bataclan is a beautiful and colourful oriental building that stands out among the typical Parisian architecture. Just standing in front of it and being able to see the bullet holes in the windows and doors reminded me of the horror that the young people in there must have endured. It was an emotional moment. I could see others also stopping by and just looking in complete silence trying to imagine what happened in there.

Even months after the attacks, people were leaving candles and flowers in front to pay homage to the victims. I keep thinking how it could have easily been anyone just enjoying a Friday night out in Paris. I can’t believe I was out and about that night, so close to where all this was happening. The sense of panic of that night will be something I can never forget. I don’t pray for Paris, I don’t pray at all but I just hope that one day we won’t have to witness such a loss of innocent lives. Paris, you’re always in my heart.

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Food, Places

A Sweet Afternoon at La Grande Mosquée

If you’re looking for a unique little spot in Paris to have a cup of mint tea and wonderful Arabic sweets, the cafĂ© at La Grande MosquĂ©e is the perfect spot. Located in the 5th arrondissement, it is a little traditional cafĂ© with Moroccan tiles and furniture within the mosque itself. There is also a hammam in here, a perfect way for Parisians to relax.  On weekends, the cafĂ© is pretty packed so I went on a weekday to enjoy some delicious Arabic pastry. As soon as you enter this cafĂ©, you are transported far away to Northern Africa with the dĂ©cor and ambience. It’s a must visit!

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Places

Rue Mouffetard

One of the cutest markets in Paris can be found on Rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement. It is one of the oldest and liveliest market areas in Paris and definitely one of my favourite places for an afternoon stroll. When you imagine a French food market, this place is exactly what you would expect. Rue Mouffetard is a street full of restaurants, clothing shops and fresh fruits and other products such as cheese, wine and meat. Just off this street is also Rue du Pot de Fer for many more restaurants options.

I visited Rue Mouffetard on a weekday afternoon so it was a bit quiet but I still loved the market vibe. Saturday & Sunday morning would be the best time to visit as the locals come to shop and it would be very lively.

I always love stopping at Sisters No. 86 when I was on a hunt for cheap shoes – here you can get shoes and boots for under 20 euros! Bargain! You can also find small clothing boutiques, record shops and also souvenir places. It’s a perfect place to shop for people living in Paris on a budget.

A Greek restaurant located also on the main street, La Crete, has great lunch time deals – you can get a 3 course meal for under 10 euros! I definitely recommend it and the staff there are lovely. Otherwise, there are several kebab places and small juice bars and cafĂ©s along the street. You can never go wrong here – Just watch out for La Sorcière de la rue Mouffetard!

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