The journey of a thousand miles begins with...the perfect pair of shoes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Paris, Day 2: Flea Market , Boat Ride, Eiffel Tower (sort of) and snails

Our first night in Paris was HEAVEN for me. Why? Was the bed at the hotel comfortable? Hell no, BUT I got to sleep the entire night.  I love Han Solo to pieces, but this getting up at night to eat business is getting old.  I was thrilled to get to sleep a full night.  In fact, Indy and I went to bed at 8:30pm and didn't get up until 9:30am.  See?  HEAVEN.  I have to say though, I will never stay at an Ibis again.  I've stayed at a few, and while they are modern and clean and inexpensive, their beds suck.  The bed consists of a 15" thick box spring covered by a 2" foam mattress.  So. Not. Comfortable.  I guess I'm going to have to move up to the next level in the Accor hotel chains (Mercure).  They cost more, but they have better beds and at the end of the day (pun fully intended) a good night's sleep is worth its weight in gold.
So, once Indy and I got going, we hopped on the Metro and headed for the Marche aux puces (flea market) at Porte de Cligancourt.  At first Indy wasn't too keen on going, but once we got there, the atmosphere got to him and he really enjoyed himself.  Before you get to the actual flea market, you have to walk through a virtual tent city of vendors selling everything from souvenirs to socks and underwear to purses, pants, shoes, leather jackets, jeans, dresses and fruits and vegetables.  It's very lively.  There are also the "knock off" guys.  You know, they sell "Gucci" sunglasses and hats and belts and Louis Vuitton wallets and whatever other designer you can think of to knock off.  They are also illegal and Indy and I got a good giggle watching them scramble every time a police car drove down the street.  We're weird like that though.
We finally wove our way through the crowds and vendors and knock off guys and made it into one section of the flea market and the atmosphere was much more relaxed and far quieter.  We saw some beautiful stuff, but wow was it way over priced.  Some of the transferware plates (seriously, the exact same pieces, buy the same manufacturer-I looked) were selling for €20-60 EACH.  I've never paid more than €5 per piece.  Maybe I should set up a stall?  We had a great time looking at all the stuff though and digging through the boxes of random items (where you find the real bargains).  After about an hour or so, our hands were filthy so we headed to the bathroom to wash them off and met some very confused Americans who had never experienced the kind of bathrooms common in many places in Europe.    Basically it's just a hole in the floor with a bar on the wall on either side to hold onto.  Nice, huh?  Also, you have to walk past the men's "bathroom" (a trough) to get to the stalls.    I've seen this many times before, but they were flat out flabbergasted.  Good times.

This little wine/cheese/meat kiosk is in the Metro:

One of the flea market alley ways:

I loved all the vines on this shop:

Need some garden statuary?

Or maybe silver?

When I decided we'd seen enough, we headed back through the tent city (and crazy rain) and towards the Metro and on to the Eiffel Tower.
By the time we emerged from the Metro, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining.  Yay!  We were both hungry and had some lunch at one of the little kiosks along the Seine.  It wasn't fancy, but it was good and we ate with the Eiffel Tower looming over us.  The clouds were moving rapidly and rain threatened, but we didn't care.  I had promised Indy a boat ride, so we bought our tickets and off we went.  He loved it.  The only other time I had done this was about 12 years ago with James Bond.  We did a night cruise and all the buildings and monuments were lit up.  It was lovely.  This ride was during the day though and very different from the night cruise.  We had seats inside, but Indy didn't want to be inside the glass.  He wanted to be out on deck.  We had to stand the entire hour, but so what?

The boat docked just as it started to rain, so we ran for the cover of the bridge and hung out there with the other tourists and fed leftover bread to the pigeons. The pigeons in Paris are well fed.  The rain only lasted a short time so we headed over o the Tower and I saw my one big mistake: not ordering tickets online. Three of the pillars were open, but the line to buy tickets at each one was 2 hours long! Ouch! Indy decided he didn't really need to go up. I asked him if he was sure and he looked at me and said "Mom, I've been up the Arc de Triomphe. I've seen Paris. I don't need to stand in line for 2 hours to see it again."  Okay, then.
We walked along the mall behind the Tower, past the hundreds of guys selling souvenirs (illegally) when the bottom dropped out of the sky.  Holy cow!  The wind picked up and the rain started coming at us sideways.  There was nowhere to escape and no cover to be had.  I had an umbrella, but it did little good against the sideways rain.  We (and all the other tourists) huddled up against the trees that line the mall (don't worry, it wasn't lightening) to shield ourselves from the rain.  The police came by and  the souvenir guys all made a mad dash across the rain soaked grass with two laughing policemen running behind them.  I think they enjoy the chase because they could easily have caught a few of them, but were content to chase them through the rain.  Ten minutes later, we were soaked from the waist down, but the rain stopped.  We decided to head toward the Rodin gardens, but half way there, it occurred to me that they might be closing soon (it was early evening).  I stopped to check my museum pass and saw that they were closing in 15 minutes.  We were about a 15minute walk away.  I told Indy we wouldn't make it, and asked if he wanted to stop for dinner instead.  He absolutely did, but only if he could get snails.  The first few Brasseries we passed did not have escargot on the menu (that's the good thing about Europe, the restaurants all post their menus outside), but finally we came to one that did and got a table.  Indy wanted the 12 escargot started, but it was €26 (about $35), so I told him he could only have 6.  I'm such a bad mom.  He ordered the escargot and the kids chicken platter, which was 1/4 of a chicken and potatoes, plus chocolate mousse for desert.  He ate it all with glee.  I ordered the tomato-mozzarella salad.  Oh, and his Coke was €7 (about $10).  Ouch.

Enjoying that expensive Coke:

Look how excited he is over the escargot:

Our very friendly server:

My dinner (sheer heaven):

After dinner, we went back to the hotel happy and full and exhausted and I got another full night of sleep.  Even if the bed was uncomfortable.

Next:  Versailles!


Confessions of a Plate Addict said...

I am enjoying this so much like our trip! The illegal guys at the Eiffel Tower ran from the cops on bikes when we were there! lol How fun that Indy ate snails! And yes...I was shocked at the prices in Paris...with our weak $...seemed like we spent most of our money on food! I'm looking forward to hearing about Versailles!...hugs...Debbie

Toni said...

This sounds completely amazing! (Except for the prices and the potties. Wth??)

Sandy said...

Still have not been to Paris. I am so jealous. Indy is a lucky boy.

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