Good Times / Tourism / Travel

(Crazy) Weekend Wrap up: Bastille, Centre Pompidou, And Burns Night

Why helloooooooo!

Thanks for not having abandoned my blog in the last two weeks when I inexcusably went missing. I mean, not entirely without excuse, I’m working on setting up some penpal-ish things for my students, got a fever (not fun) and have generally been hopping about with lesson plans. This weekend, however, I had some pretty exciting, if not small, adventures, so I’m pretty keen on sharing them with you accompanied by a small gallery’s worth of photos. Ready? Let’s do it.

The big monument in Bastille's roundabout. Whabam, icon.

The big monument in Bastille’s roundabout. Whabam, icon.

So Friday, two of my friends were supposedly going to meet up with a friend passing through Paris in Bastille for a few drinks and dinner. (Friend never made it due to complications of some sort I believe.) In any case, I wasn’t overly sure that I wanted to go out after having had a longish week, but in the end I just sort of…felt like taking some pictures and wanted a walk around. So, I skipped dinner and decided to show up a bit late, and a friend and I took off to explore the Bastille area, famed for–can you guess?–Bastille day, along with the current big opera house in Paris, lots of bars and restaurants, and an overall very cool vibe.

Right off the roundabout begins the long street of restaurants, bars, and some cool clothing/trinket stores.

Right off the roundabout begins the long street of restaurants, bars, and some cool clothing/trinket stores.

We set off shuffling down one of the streets connecting to the main area of Bastille and just sort of continued to wind our way about, looking for cool things to photograph and getting to know the area. Once you’re a few blocks from the bars, however, it’s generally quite residential and tranquil, not a whole lot going on. But, we marched on where we could, and eventually were rewarded by…the sounds of live music. Band music. In the middle of the night? In Paris? Well, ok…

Lampshade Alley is how this street shall forever be known to me. If I in fact ever find it again.

Lampshade Alley is how this street shall forever be known to me. If I in fact ever find it again.

We followed the music around a corner of an alley and saw…strings of giant lampshades. Literally. Dangling like Chinese lanterns or something. Below a chunk of them was a small marching band playing Billy Jean and a small crowd watching. Naturally we shuffled over, and realized that in the store behind the crowd a massive party was going on. We were intrigued immediately and wanted to go in, but it looked kind of swanky-it was an interior decoration store and lots of people in there were, while not dressed to the nines, definitely in classier things than we were repping. So we strolled on, but another few meters down the way a doorway opening into a courtyard of more shops was lined with luminaries and there was yet another soiree going on inside a fabric shop, so we gave up and went in. The first party proved fairly unsuccessful, we just looked around and the marching band moved down to the courtyard, serenading us further. However after being bold enough to go into the second store, we decided to buck up and go back to the first. After all, they were handing out free edible and drinkable things. You don’t skip that opportunity!

Luminaries lured us down the path of wrongness...or at least the one where we pretended we were actually interested in purchasing things.

Luminaries lured us down the path of wrongness…or at least the one where we pretended we were actually interested in purchasing things.

And boy, were those edible and drinkable things good. We walked in and, to my relief, did see one or two more people wearing jeans–passerby like us who hadn’t planned on being there. It seemed to be an open house or promotional sort of thing for the store, so anyone could enter–although I assume they would have preferred us to actually be potential buyers, but hey, who are they to kick us out? So we got some free champagne, looked at fabric samples I would never put in my house if you paid me, ate some delicious mini appetizers served by waiters wearing jackets like Beast did in the Disney movie (not joking), and then my friend also grabbed a free glass of wine whilst we admired some of the decorations. And by the way, these drinks and food were actually fairly high-quality…the store was pulling out all the stops.

A table setup at the fancy party. Massive flower bouquets and free foie gras, tartlets, and alcohol. And juice for the kids.

A table setup at the fancy party. Massive flower bouquets and free foie gras, tartlets, and alcohol. And juice for the kids. Oh right, and the banisters in the background incase you actually wanted to buy things.

Afterwards we met back up with our friends and had a normal evening out just chatting and laughing for a few hours. Whoo! We made plans towards the end of the night to go the next day to the Centre Pompidou–Paris’ modern art museum.

The Centre Pompidou from the outside--not really your traditional looking museum, eh?

The Centre Pompidou from the outside–not really your traditional looking museum, eh?

Let me tell you my feelings about modern art. Not modern artists, but modern art–they’re mixed. Some things are very creative and fun to look at. Some things are very well done and require lots of talent. Some things, however, look like the exhibit we saw below that just irritated me to no end:

Absolutely ridiculous.

Absolutely ridiculous.

Yes, that’s right, you are looking at 3 blank canvases. That is the kind of modern “art” that makes me really irritated. And the Centre Pompidou has its fair share of that. However, there were also tons of creative exhibits and obviously skilled artists represented as well (and of course some classics, such as Picasso and Joan Miró). The museum itself is really quirky, built so that the escalators are in a large tube protruding from the building, and of course with all the modern art there are bright colors popping right and left.

Inside one of the tubes!

Inside one of the tubes!

Down one of the main hallways of the 1960's-present display.

Down one of the main hallways of the 1960′s-present display.

Taking a break outside on the balcony--you can see the escalator tube going up the building, as well as the square below.

Taking a break outside on the balcony–you can see the escalator tube going up the building, as well as the square below.

Overall, especially because I got in free, I thought it was worth going to visit, and it was at least a nice break from the thousand-and-one Renaissance paintings you’d see at the Louvre. Just going to pop in a few of my favorite photos of the art inside and then I’ll move on to the rest of the day:

The wall painting behind this lady was totally trippy when you zoomed in on it.

The wall painting behind this lady was totally trippy when you zoomed in on it.

Made my friend pose in front of a large screen that was playing random snippets from old black and white films. Think something was exploding here.

Made my friend pose in front of a large screen that was playing random snippets from old black and white films. Think something was exploding here.

First thing you see when you get off the escalator and go inside. Looked like a bunch of giant cogs, but didn't seem to move. (Did not test that theory.)

First thing you see when you get off the escalator and go inside. Looked like a bunch of giant cogs, but didn’t seem to move. (Did not test that theory.)

Only one of my friends had ended up coming to the museum with me, the others had chosen to skip and meet us later. So with a few hours to burn, we decided to just walk around the 4th Arrondissement and see what there was to see. This led us on a surprisingly successful romp around, locating several delicious looking venues as well as the National Archives and their gardens, which were really lovely although we didn’t actually go in the buildings. (Another time, perhaps.)

National Archives. So noble and serene-looking.

National Archives. So noble and serene-looking.

Some of the gardens outside the archives--really lovely and peaceful.

Some of the gardens outside the archives–really lovely and peaceful.

Following there and a cup of coffee, we walked back down to the 5th Arrondissement, my end of town, at which point I took pictures of the lovely riverscape to the best of my abilities. We decided to grab some dinner and I persuaded my friend to accompany me to a Syrian restaurant down my street that I have been DYING to try. I actually had my camera this time so there will be a full update and review of the restaurant coming soon–something I haven’t gotten to do in a while!

Ze Seine at night. Evening. Whatever.

Ze Seine at night. Evening. Whatever.

The Seine & back of Notre Dame.

The Seine & back of Notre Dame.

 

Along with that review will also be a review of our next venture, which was to the Highlander Pub for the celebration of Burns Day, a Scottish holiday dedicated to their beloved poet Robert Burns! The event involved drinking songs, Burns’ Poetry, lots of amazing Scottish accents, and haggis–which I have to say, people, gets a completely unfair rep as it is DELICIOUS. Stay tuned for that update coming soon!

 

A bientôt!

-Becky

 

 

 

 

 

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