It’s Raining in Paris

IMG_6530It’s raining in Paris. There’s been a persistent drizzle here for the past 48 hours. While at first I was disappointed with this weather, it’s provided me with a fresh perspective on the city.

Tonight I took the Metro to the centre of the city, exiting at the Chatlet station. When I climbed the station stairs and reached the street, I was greeted by a surprisingly quiet city. The steady downpour has kept everyone indoors.

As I walked along Île de la Cité, I did not see the throngs of tourists I had seen in previous visits. The scene was quiet, reminding me more of downtown Ottawa around Parliament Hill on a weeknight, than one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

IMG_6513At Notre Dame Cathedral, the square in front of the great church was mostly empty. The city rats were taking advantage of this wet and quiet time, emerging from the neatly manicured shrubs that they call home, to feast on the hanging garbage bags nearby. Tourists took photos of the rats instead of the cathedral.

The City of Lights burns doubly bright when drenched in rain. As I walked along Boulevard Saint-Germain, I stopped along at several intersections, paying special attention to the famous cafés, all lit up, the lights reflecting off the wet street, making them seem all that more grand and inviting.

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I got to the end of Saint Germain, crossing back over the Seine once again, from the left bank over to the right. By then, my feet were starting to feel heavy, both from fatigue and from being soaked by the rain. I ducked into a Metro station and headed back to my apartment.

It’s still raining in Paris. I don’t mind it one bit.

Paris: The Ups and Downs of France’s Capital City

I’ve arrived safe and sound in Paris.

To get here I took the Via train from Ottawa, to Dorval, where I caught a redeye flight from Montreal to Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport. My flight went smoothly, departing and arriving on time. The plane itself was modern and spacious, even in economy.

Each seat came with its own tablet, embedded above the pull-down tray of the seat in front. The tablets allow passengers to customize their entertainment experience, which includes feature movies, TV shows, games and dozens of music albums. It was a pretty neat set up.

I’ve done a lot of walking in Paris over my two days here. You can see most of the key sites by foot, provided you have the endurance to do so. Where walking won’t cut it, you can catch the metro.

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Yesterday I took a long walk which started at the Arc de Triomphe. I then walked down the Champs Elysĩes, stopping in at the Petit Palais, before continuing on to Place de La Concorde and the Jardin des Tuileries, where I stopped for a quick lunch (taboulet from a nearby grocery store). I then passed by the Louvre, before crossing the Seine river onto Ile de la Citĩ, home of Notre Dame Cathedral.

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There’s also a seedy side to Paris, you need to be vigilant when you’re here. There are people here looking to take advantage of you. In one day alone, I had to shoo away people trying to have me sign some bogus petition, decline a gold ring a man offered me, having pretended to have found it on the ground in front of me and stop some sketchy guy from trying to cut in line in front of me at the grocery store because he only has one item. Credit to all the people in line in front and behind me, none of them budged.

But overall, the positive outweighs the negative here in Paris. It’s a beautiful city, with lots to do and plenty of people to meet. Don’t let my warnings scare you off.

Here’s a few photos from my iPhone, I’ve yet to sort through the SD card from my DSLR.

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Food Porn: The Montreal Diet

Made a quick overnight trip to Montreal this weekend to celebrate a pair of birthdays with friends.

I was in the city for less than 24 hours, but still managed to eat a ridiculous amount of delicious but incredibly unhealthy food.

Saturday night’s meal was the Smoked Meat Platter at Dunn’s.

Dunn's Smoked Meat Platter
Dunn’s Smoked Meat Platter

Medium Montreal-style smoked meat, a healthy serving of fries, rye bread, coleslaw and a pickle. The service was fast. We must have gotten our food within three minutes of having placed the order.

Sunday lunch took me to a Belle Province outlet located in St.-Henri, at the corner of Notre-Dame and Atwater. Found this place by accident years ago and now make sure to stop in on every trip to Montreal.

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Trio #4: Poutine et deux steamĩs

Trio #4 consists of two steamĩs hot dogs, loaded with onions and tabasco sauce and a good sized poutine. Amazing.

Both these meals were washed down by an ice cold Pepsi. Can’t go wrong, although I’m more of a Coke guy myself.

During my time in Montreal, I also mixed in a couple of Tim Hortons coffees, an apple fritter and a few beers.

All in all, a terrific visit, despite the health hazards.. I’ll be eating lots of fruits and veggies this week to compensate.