I'm so sorry that I’ve failed to update in weeks! I’ve been soooooo busy!
Nothing too exciting happened again until October 14th, when I met Emily (the girl I went to Bestival with) in Paris. We stayed in this very cool hostel called Lucky Youth Hostel near Gare Monparnasse. It wasn’t like your typical hostel because it was an actual apt in an apt building which meant there was a full kitchen and even laundry (if I had known I would have brought some!). We also got to meet the owners- a really cute, funny couple!
In the hostel were two Italian girls who I pretty much never saw and two Aussie guys who we ended up hanging out a lot with.
Emily and I went to a show on Rue Oberkampf, a street famous in Paris for its fun bars. We went to a venue called Nouveau Casino to see the Glitch Mob. Glitch Mob are two djs that play electronic music and they did a great job but the venue was so overcrowded that it was disgustingly hot and the crowd forcibly separated Emily and me for the rest of the night. Due to these awful conditions, I can’t say I really enjoyed the show. However, after Glich Mob got off stage, a female dj (very rare) came on. Most people left and I quickly found myself reunited with Emily right at the front of the stage with plenty of wiggle room. To my surprise this dj was AMAZING! Not only were her mixes seamless, upbeat, and energized, but she was insane. She jumped up & down, contorting her face, raising her hands up, bobbing her head up & down. Mid way through the set, this was clearly not enough space for her & she left behind the booth to run around it, stand in front of it, & jump up and down. She had to race back behind the booth, but later, still not content with the space behind the dj set, she actually climbed up on the equipment and began jumping, shouting, and waving her hands. It was unreal! Her name, I discovered, was Miss Ill, pronounced missile.
Saturday I took Emily and the Aussies to an Anglophone bar called the Frog and Princess (on Rue de la Princesse near Odeon & Saint Germain des Pres). At this bar they brew their own beer & I was proud to show off my favorite to them (a bar tender there has told me “this is the beer that all beer brewers will drink here- they find all the others to be crap!”). Sadly, the Aussies don’t like a lager- they find it flat. They just don’t have a refined taste in beer like myself I suppose!
Sunday I took Emily to the Jardin Atlantique. This garden is located above the Gare Montparnasse (on the roof) & because it is surrounded by apartment buildings, it cuts off the noise of the streets, making it very quiet and peaceful. Around us, children played games and one definitely French couple was making out a bit too much.
In the evening, the Aussies wanted to see the Moulin Rouge & have snails & frogs legs. So I looked on Trip Advisor to find a budget eatery with authentic French food. When we got to the Moulin Rouge, right in front where you take pictures of it, someone was having what appeared to be her wedding photos taken. I don’t know why in the world you would want your weddings pics taken in front of there, but ok.
After, I took everyone to this restaurant and it turned out to be awesome. It wasn’t super cheap, though nothing in Paris is, but we did get out “authentic” meal. The didn’t have frogs legs, but they did serve escargot, which everyone loved. One of the boys got French onion soup and Emily and I got raclette. The raclette was a large block of cheese that you melt by putting it near hot coals. You the scrape off the melted bit and eat it with meat that you’re given. It was delicious!! Then we did the cliché thing and bought beers and wine and drank under the Eiffel Tower.
The next day, the Aussies left for Dublin. Emily and I headed to Le Havre. She stayed with me until Saturday and we spent a lot of the week just hanging around.
On Thursday, I had to go to Rouen to complete my visa by getting a brief medical examination. Afterwards, we went to the Musee des beaux-arts there (free for students!). We also went to the Church of Joan of Arc. The Church has a very weird look as it appears both medieval and modern at the same time. The square surrounding it is quite quaint as well for walking around.
Mom came on Friday and got to meet Emily. On Saturday, Emily left & mom and I rented a car. We went to Etretat where you can see these amazing rock formations and straight cliffs. This was my second time there, and this time it was low tide so we were able to walk through a cave in the cliff on one side to get to the other side (at high tide you would need a boat). An old French woman was the one that showed us the way. She was pretty adventurous seeing as she was definitely over 70, travelling alone, and could hike with the best of them.
We continued on to Yvetot, a small seaside town, slightly les touristy, but also not as beautiful as Etretat.
After that, we went to Fecamp where we saw the Benedictine Palace. This palace was built by some guy after he uncovered the lost formula for todays liquor known as Benedictine (or B&B when added to brandy). This palace is still where the liquor is made, so not only did we get to see a palace (it had beautiful art & architecture), we also got to see where the liquor is made and taste it at the end.
The next day, we headed in the opposite direction to the beaches of Normandy, or debarquement. We went to Omaha beach and a tiny museum near it which had a nice film and lots of items and mannequins (though in retrospect, I would have skipped this whole bit and headed straight to our next site). The we headed to the American Cemetery. At this cemetery, there are over 9,000 American graves (all killed in Normandy during WWII) and the free museum give informative facts and emotional tales of real sacrifice and heroism at the battle of Normandy.
After, we left Omaha Beach and headed to the quaint town of Bayeux. In this cute little town is the amazing Bayeux Tapestry. About 90m long, this tapestry tells the story of how William the Conqueror conquered England (which explains why a lot of English words are of French origin). The museum has a really nice audioguide that walks you through the entire tapestry and tale. Afterwards we walked around this very picturesque town.
On the way back to Le Havre, we stopped for an hour at the beautiful seaport, Honfleur. There isn’t one specific attraction here, but the town is breath taking. The narrow, tall homes have the traditional wooden beams visible from the outside. There is quite simply a character here that in many places seems forced, cheesy, unnatural or not fully developed. You can understand why many impressionist painters came here during their summers to paint.
The next day we drove to Le Mont Saint Michel. It was not the most beautiful day, but it was nice. We got there pretty early and went straight to the top to avoid the crowds. We missed the tour, but we walked through it ourselves and it was quite nice. My favorite part is always the cloister where the garden is. It’s a lovely place to walk around and you can see over the whole hill/mountain. This was my second time there and it was just as striking.
We ate in a really lovely restaurant overlooking the whole ocean. The food was great. Mom had a fish soup and I had a Sheppard’s pie or something (hard to remember now- but it was very good!).
Afterwards we walked through the narrow alley that comprises of the one main street on the island. There are lots of cute little shops that sell really lovely things. However, it was beginning to rain, so we left for Le Havre. When we returned to Le Havre, we had to drop off the car and grab some dinner. By then it was already starting to get dark. We went down the the Docks to see the boats that were coming by for a major regatta to Costa Rica. It was dark and starting to rain and no one was there, but you could tell these boats were cool and quite impressive. It’s too bad we didn’t have more time to see them.
The next day we woke up bright and early and headed to Giverny. We took a train to Vernon, dropped off our bags in a café that allowed us to check our bags there and took the bus to Giverny. We headed straight to Monet’s garden. Because it’s pretty late in the season, it wasn’t as vibrant as it could be, but it was still very nice. Afterwards, we enjoyed a simple meal outside. This was my third time to Giverny, but I had never gone to the Impressionist museum there. This time my mom & I went and it was great! There were all kinds, and they were doing a special exposition on this couple that collected impressionist art. The art featured here was the art they had collected over the years. Would definitely recommend checking out this museum if you ever go to Giverny! My mom & I also went to see where Monet is buried. I also had never seen this and it was quite nice. I was surprised though to find that most of the other tombstones there are in complete disarray and there are notices that if you would like to buy the plot it is available. There was a little church there too, but that was very cute and beautiful. It was nice to have a seat and just relax here.
I’m wiped and that’s a lot for you to read… coming up: Paris and Dublin!!!