As promised, this is part 2 of my pre-COVID visit to Paris last year. While it is safe to assume that any travel posts since the Paris part 1 post would be pre-COVID, it is safer to carry a disclaimer. That said, let us get on to the content. I shall attempt to be less wordy hehe.
I took my bear out for a walk in the Buttes Chaumont Park. With its inner-city-edge location and elevation, I thought it would be like Hampstead Heath but the vibe was so different—it was so… French? People were having the quintessential picnic of baguette, camembert, wine and the ever-present cigarette. I cannot recall seeing a neon-clad jogger there. Yeah it was cultural differences in action alright.
Looking at this idyllic sight, can you believe that Buttes Chaumont Park functioned as a landfill centuries ago? Thankfully, that is all in the past. It is now a proper park with excellent horticulture and architecture. Pictured here is another view of the park: a miniature temple perched on top of an ex-quarry, accessible by an Eiffel-designed bridge.
Ah the innocent times of yore, where we dined shoulder to shoulder with our friends and thought nothing of it… since the light was so beautiful that day, I decided on two things:
- Highlight the light using black and white photography with a spot of colour (idea from Sin City)
- Make full use of the light by going to see the sculptures at the Louvre museum
Yes, I went back to the Louvre again. This always happens to me I go on spontaneous trips; I just keep going back to the same places. When J and I first visited London together, we did not plan much being typical teenagers—our main point was to watch Coldplay at Wembley. So we spent the rest of our time playing guitar in Kensington Gardens, riding aimlessly on double-deckers and sitting around Piccadilly Circus almost every night… and it was great! The best part was, when we had a little reunion in London three years later, we ended up at Piccadilly Circus again hahaha!
How about you? Do you like your trips to be planned or spontaneous? For me, it depends on many factors. It makes sense to maximise your time on a quick trip or short winter days. Purpose also plays a part—if you just want to relax and have a good time, then there is no point in checking places off the list. People are also another factor; flexibility is inversely proportionate to the size of the party. Friends who travelled with me know I surveyed everyone in advance about their needs/wants and scheduled accordingly. It was mad but fair. That said, without such factors, I prefer an even mix of both. While some planning is essential to catch your flight on time, too much of it would be too rigid and would risk the ‘I need a post-holiday holiday’ syndrome.
Back at the Louvre! I once saw the Egyptian pyramids from the plane and luckily they were not made of glass—that would have been blinding. I like the refraction on the other building though. Also, this photograph always makes me want to sing alt-J’s ‘Tessellate’.
Best of both worlds: indoor comfort with outdoor light
Marly horse by Antoine Coysevox
What a handsome steed! It graced the entrance of the Champs-Élysées during the French Revolution.
La seine by Antoine Coysevox
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
Compagne de Diane by Anselme Flamen
The light was so glorious, even the sculptures could not bear it. Pardonnes-moi, je rigole. #jokes #sorrynotsorry This sculpture came with a bird atop her raised hand but the bird is long gone, sharing the fate of many broken sculpture parts. Still, that does not take away the liveliness of the sculpture. Chip by chip, the sculptor revealed the spirited nymph that hid underneath a once-lifeless lump of rock. Ah the marvel of the sculptor’s touch—how else can the wind move through unmoving stone?
Snail bread! It does not contain snails; it was named escargot because it looks like one. This delicate raisin bread is nostalgia in a bite. It is to me what madeleines were to Proust (in a wholesome way). When I was a child, my mother would always get this whenever we went to the café and let the lazy afternoon drift by… time was so soft then.
I’m probably gonna get stick for this, but foie gras is one of my favourite food and the one here at Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie absolutely hit the spot! As the industry’s controversial practice is partly influenced by demand strength, I try to eat it only once in a while. That’s all, please don’t attack me :s
Sea salt caramel crêpe at Breizh. While its fame is justified, I actually prefer my local crêperie. Yeah talk about going half the world away in search of something that was right in front of you… sigh when are restaurants going to open for dining in? I miss having kir Breton at Entre Nous.
Surprisingly, I took time amid all the gluttony for some classic sightseeing. 130 ans (130 years) was illuminated on the Eiffel Tower‘s first level, an expression of its long survival against many odds. Before the tower was built, it already had to face the artists that protested against it. Even after the tower was built, it was condemned to be scrap metal after 20 years—its communication functions eventually saved it from that sad fate. After occupying France, Hitler posed for a photograph with the tower (worth googling). He allegedly ordered it to be demolished but the memoirs of his chief architect, Albert Speer, suggested otherwise. According to Speer, Hitler said,
In the past I have often considered whether we would not have to destroy Paris… But when we are finished in Berlin, Paris will only be a shadow. So why should we destroy it?
In a twisted way, the tower was safe again. Good night, my friends. I hope this tale of triumph would strengthen you in these trying times.