LE 13 NOVEMBRE 2015
We end up sleeping in.....a little more than I usually do on these trips - jet lag is hitting me hard on this one. It's weird to look back on all the typically touristy things we did all throughout this particular Friday the 13th, without an inkling of what would transpire in the city that very night.
Around 11 am we head out and grab a quick breakfast and coffee at Exki, and we're off to Montmartre so I can show the daughter my absolute fave area of Paris.
MONTMARTRE & SACRÉ-COEUR
Getting off at Anvers metro, it's a 5-minute walk up rue de Steinkerque to Place Saint-Pierre. The walk may take a little longer if you're a shopper, this street is lined with boutiques and souvenir shops, and all are extremely reasonably priced.
The child is looking for souvenirs for the boyfriend and coworkers so we did end up taking a good half an hour to reach Place Saint-Pierre. The sight of the steps leading up to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica are little too much for our jet lagged bodies so we grab the funicular to the top (included in your Paris Visite metro pass).
From up here....the views! They are quite spectacular - it seems like all of Paris is at your feet. Besides the amazing views, I absolutely love walking through the little cobblestone streets. Everyone inevitably ends up at Place du Tertre, to sit at the cafes lining the square and to watch the artists set up in the middle of the square doing their thing.
Back down at the bottom, it's time to walk through the Pigalle area, grab a Nutella crepe (yes, again!) and snap some shots of Moulin Rouge.
Croissants....have yet to find one at home that tastes like this!
Gotta get a pic of that iconic Paris metro sign
Into the metro, taking random pics
Is there WiFi?
Souvenirs on rue de Steinkerque
Hmmm.....the biscuits and macaroons here are amazing here
Sacré-Coeur Basilica from Square Louise Michel
On the funicular, on the way up to Sacré-Coeur
My welcoming party at the top
A café on the steep steps of Montmartre Hill
Le Petit Train de Montmartre
Don't know why this is called rue de Chappe, should be rue de steep-a$$ staircase
The views! That's Tour Montparnasse sticking out like a sore thumb
Square Louise Michel from up top
Always packed with people sitting on the steps of Sacré-Coeur
Rue du Chevalier de la Barre > Montmartre
The artists used to stick to hounding tourists at Place du Tertre, but it seems they now roam around and do portrait sketches on the spot
Not sure what this lady is peddling > in front of La Bohême du Tertre
Café - Brasserie > La Mère Catherine
The shops on Rue Norvins
Outside Galerie Butte Montmartre > on Rue des Saules
Hard at work > Place du Tertre
Looking above the cafes > Place du Tertre
Making our way back down
Chez Marie > Rue Gabrielle
A walk down Boulevard de Clichy
Yup - it's that time again!
Along Boulevard de Clichy
Flower place > Boulevard de Clichy
A WALK AROUND PARIS
Where to next? We head to Place de la Concorde, with its obelisk rising into the sky, and the ginormous Grande Roue de Paris (ferris wheel) looming over it. We do the long walk through Jardin de Tuileries to the Louvre, then turn to walk along the River Seine to Pont des Arts to see if I can find the middle child's lock that she put on the bridge when we were here 2 years ago. Seems they removed all the locks from the bridge - a panel falling into the river scared the bejesus out of people. However, people still put locks on the sides of the bridge along the river.
We cross the Seine for a quick walk around Saint-Germain-des-Pres and the Latin Quarter. It's incredibly chilly outside, so we find a cute place by the Palais du Luxembourg to warm up and sip some coffee. And now we're out of ideas, because it's soooooo damn cold outside, all we really want to do is be indoors somewhere!
La Grande Roue de Paris
Place de la Concorde
People chilling around the Bassin Octoganal > Jardins de Tuileries
Pyramide du Louvre
Walking along the Seine
Pont des Arts - the locks are gone
Pont des Arts - locks removed and replaced by decorated metal barriers to prevent peeps for putting locks on the bridge again
However, people are still putting them all along the sides of the bridge
Artists along the Seine
Checking out a bookstore
Rue de Buci > Saint-Germain-des-Pres
Poisson Bleu Paris | Sacs > Rue de Buci
Palais du Luxembourg
BUTTE-AUX-CAILLES & LA TOUR EIFFEL
We head back towards the apartment, detouring at Place d'Italie and walk back through the cute Chinatown area to see if Xavier wants to join us for dinner. Last year when I was here around this same time in November, Xavier took us to this uber-cool African restaurant, Le Comptoir Générale, just off of Canal Saint Martin in the 10e. This is where I'm thinking to go for dinner tonight....
But Xavier has already eaten, and both me and Alexus feel kind of lazy to go all the way on the metro to get to this restaurant, so Xavier suggests hitting the popular Butte-aux-Cailles area, just a 20 min walk from his place. So that's exactly what we did (saving our hides as it turned out because Le Comptoir is a 1 minute walk from La Petite Cambodge and Le Carillon).
Found a cute spot, not too crowded like all the other places in the area (can't remember the name of the restaurant) but they had a live jazz duo, great wine and amazing Boeuf Bourguignon.
We finish dinner just after 9pm and figure we'll head back to the Eiffel Tower to see it all lit up at night. We get to the tower around 10pm and we're just in time for the twinkling lights (they start at 8pm, sparkle for 5 min, shut off, then start back up for another 5 min an hour later...until 1am). It's packed with people, checking out the lights and chilling by the Trocadero fountains. We make our way down to the base of the tower and grab another Nutella crepe (yes, another one, don't judge me!).
Tired from walking around all day, we head back to the apartment in the 13e.
Popular area for Parisians, this bar is overflowing
No matter how cold it is, people somehow prefer to dine and drink outside (the heat lamps help!)
What to have dinner?
Eiffel Tower at night
Gorgeous at night!
So yeah.....it's Nutella crepe time again!
WTF IS HAPPENING?
Exiting the metro around 11pm, I turn on my phone to text Xavier that we'll be there in 10-15 min. And my phone is going crazy.....there are 10 missed calls, a zillion text messages, all saying roughly the same thing. My response is the same to all "I have no idea what's happening. Xavier just told us to come back quickly."
Piecing together the jumbled texts....we slowly learn what's happening.....
"Come home right now"
"Call me right now"
"Are you okay Jenn? What's going on over there?"
"I just heard what's going on. I hope you guys are ok....please let me know your ok....holy shit!"
"Hey. Are you guys ok?"
"Xavier is freaking out"
"Several bombs set off in Paris today"
"All over the news"
"We're hearing about gun shootings in Paris!!!!!!!"
"10e, 11e arrondisements. Stade de France, prise d'otage et fusillade au Bataclan happening NOW"
"Are you guys ok? There was shootings there!"
"Are you ok?"
"Hello Jenn, are you still in Paris? Are you ok?"
"Jenn! You okay?"
"Hey, just checking to see if everything is ok..."
"Tout va bien? J'ai appris pour les attaques 😢😢"
Obviously some serious shit is happening somewhere in the city that my peeps on the other side of the Atlantic know about and I don't. Still not fully aware of what's happening, we walk, quickly, the 15 minutes back to the apartment, hearing sirens in the distance, but you always hear sirens in the distance in big cities......
We've barely put the key in the door and Xavier yanks the door open, super glad that we've made it back. He starts to fill us in on what he's heard, on what everybody's heard except us - we were roaming around the streets of Paris when all this was happening - the bombers at Stade de France, shootings at La Petite Cambodge, more shootings and hostage situation at the Bataclan - and it starts to fully sink in what is happening in Paris right now.
As with the rest of the world, everyone is trying to get more information. Different reports are coming in, flooding every major news network and every form of social media - and all are reporting something different. We set the computer to stream iTele, which seems to be the most accurate since it's a French news source, and thank god we did that because CNN and BBC were taking quite a few liberties with their reporting. The placements of the attacks were all wrong, and being in the city, we needed to know which areas were being affected.
I call my hubs (who had no idea either that anything was happening) and message everyone else that's wondering if we're ok, and mark myself "safe" on the notification thingy that Facebook put up. I message a coworker, Lynn, who arrived that day to see if she's ok. Then Sabrina to check on her, and forgot that she's fine, she took the train to Strasbourg that evening after work. Then Olivier, but also forgot the he went to London early that morning. As I'm checking on all my peeps, Xavier is checking on all his peeps and everyone is safe and sound.
Though it's just the 3 of us in the apartment, you can somehow feel that the entire city is in a total state of panic. No one knows really what's happening, or who's responsible, we just know that the death toll keeps climbing and we're sitting here in a state of shock. Xavier is fidgety and panicked, but better now that he knows everyone is safe. Alexus is super quiet, sitting on the couch, watching the news in French, and can't stop jiggling her leg. Moi, there's a sick feeling in my stomach but other than that I'm not sure what to feel at this point.
However, being the practical person I am, knowing full well we will be staying indoors tomorrow, me and Xavier head out to stock up on some munchies, cigarettes...beer....and wine. (I know you're thinking not the smartest thing to head out, but we're in the 13e, a ways away from the attacks, in a relatively uncrowded, untouristy area). We get back, Alexus has bolted the door on us (scaredy cat) and we break open the wine.
We can't sleep, we're glued to the news. Saddened every time the number of confirmed deaths getting higher. Worried, because the president announced an état d'urgence plus all border closings, and because you don't know if this it, or if there's more that will happen tonight or tomorrow. Anxious, nervous laughter fills the apartment as we try to joke with each other while clinking our glasses together toasting, "Fuck the terrorists."
At 4am we finally turn off the news and try to get some sleep. We're all trying to, but for the next hour or so I know we're all checking our phones and refreshing the news to see if anything else has happened. Not sure at what point we fell asleep at......
Photos taken | written by JENNIFER MAHON
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