DAY 8, 05/07

I was actually fairly happy to be leisurely housebound on Saturday morning by blisters – turns out walking everywhere to get to know a city has its disadvantages. Spent the morning apartment hunting online, which is proving harder than anticipated. A lot of the house-sharing adverts sound like cheesy dating website profiles.

Summoned the energy to leave my apartment, and headed for the Tuileries for a walk and some culture. Some of you might have actually listened to me when I went on my rants about how amazing Henri IV was because he built the Place des Vosges and the Louvre – you can only imagine quite how excited I was to see it again. It didn’t disappoint. I had actually anticipated going into the museum, to check out their sculpture collection and shelter from the rain. Unfortunately it seemed everyone else had the same idea and the queue was 2.5 hours long. Planning to go back on Wednesday after work, I think.

Hopped over the Pont Neuf and slipped into the Place Dauphine – it made me smile to see that no, the statue of Henri is not actually on the central axis of the square. It was a lovely, peaceful hideaway, if lacking the imposing presence of the Place des Vosges. Wandered around the Île de la Cité to Notre Dame, and again, the queue to get in was just intolerably long. It was nice enough walking past, but I plan to get up that tower at some point this year.

I did, however, find the most charming restaurant on Rue Chanoinesse, Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole. Gaudy and ridiculous on the inside, the outside has a seriously impressive wisteria snaking up the ancient walls, with stuffed parrots and cockatoos perched on the windowsills… Has to be seen to be believed. Conveniently situated next to an American-style bakery, Bertie’s Cupcakery. Didn’t try a cupcake but definitely one to go back to.

I returned to my favourite area, Le Marais, for some window-shopping and more exploring. I stopped at the Musée Carnavalet, which is (thankfully) much quieter than the Louvre and d’Orsay, to see the “Liberated Paris” exhibition – a selection of photos from the Nazi occupation and Allied liberation. The rest of the Museum is fascinating too – a huge number of artefacts from Roman Paris to paintings documenting the French Revolution to 19th and 20th century artists, including Picasso. The most-fascinating-yet-simultaneously-creepiest item I discovered there was a functional miniature of a guillotine on wheels, made of bone.

I also found the greatest shop I have been to yet in Paris, Merci, on the Boulevard Beaumarchais. It’s a veritable Aladdin’s cave of clothes, books, technology and homewares. Sort of a Parisian Urban Outfitters meets Muji. It set me off dreaming about apartments all the way home, as I stopped at every agence immobilière I came across.

This morning, the rain is incredibly depressing. More of the same, house-hunting, chilling out, and eating Speculoos from the jar. Is this the life?

S.X

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