It seems some people are very eager to hear what happened with the lady I met at Jim’s dinners…so I am back with another installment of “Sabrina Goes to Paris”. If you need to catch up..
So…where were we? Ahhh yes…what did happen to the girl with the smile? We will get to that shortly.
Monday rolled around and I decided it was time to “tourist”. So off the the Eiffel Tower I went.
I expected to see it and be blown away…to feel like I was finally HERE (here being PARIS!). Sadly I saw it and felt nothing. Legitimately nothing. How could I feel NOTHING??? I found myself a bench to sit on and watched the other tourists squealing and taking happy joy joy selfies. I started to wonder why I had come at all. What if I wasted all this money, and almost 30 years of dreaming, on something that I didn’t enjoy at all? I sat for some time in front of a beautiful manicured, fenced garden thing.
Side Note: The French are quite bizzare (IMO) in that all their gardens and parks are so beautiful…but the grass is almost always off limits. Including the kids playgrounds I saw. It always looked beautiful and green…but as someone who loves the feel of grass between my toes and picnics under trees it did confound me a little.
Autumn is my all time favourite season. I didn’t even realise it was something that happened in Australia until I moved to Melbourne. My first year here was spent watching the leaves change from green to red & gold and eventually fall to the floor in piles of brown crunchy leaves that beg to be kicked and tossed and thrown. It was magical. So naturally Autumn was the time I was going to Paris. It would be even MORE magical.
And honestly…walking through Paris it was magical. But at that moment at the Eiffel Tower I felt so down. Eventually I decided to go back to my apartment and eat cheese. I started walking along this wide pathway. It was lined with trees. The colours of autumn were all around me. Just through the trees I could glimpse bits of the Eiffel Tower. I put my headphones in and started listening to music while walking along…
If I could bottle up the sea breeze I would take it over to your house
And pour it loose through your garden
So the hinges on your windows would rust and colour
Like the boats pulled up on the sand for the summer
And your sweet clean clothes would go stiff on the line
And there’d be sand in your pockets and nothing on your mind
Then all of a sudden the light breeze turned into a big gust of wind…and it started raining autumn leaves. I started to tear up…but scrambled to get my phone out to video it because it was so beautiful. As soon as my phone was out and I had video rolling it not only stopped. But there was no wind at all. I kept waiting and eventually put the phone in my pocket and started to walk again. As soon as I started walking again, another gust of wind showered me with autumn leaves. Again I raced to get out my camera….ok so this went on for about ten minutes. I was getting increasingly frustrated. I just wanted to share with everyone the leaves floating & falling & twirling.
Eventually I stopped. I didn’t come all the way to Paris for YOU, I went there for ME. 33 years of lonelieness and sadness and heartbreak and abuse and being poor and loosing everything, including myself. I went to Paris for ME. The universe decided it was high time that I realised that.
I put my headphones back in. Took a quick picture. And started walking. The breeze blew, the leaves fell, the Eiffel Tower was just visible and I was in Paris. I cried most of the way home. Happy tears. Sad tears. Tears of gratitude. Of anger. Of loneliness. I cried because everything was beautiful. I cried because I needed to cry. No one paid any attention, and I was grateful.
I caught the metro home. Went to the supermarket to buy soup & fresh bread. Walked along my beautiful street. Up the stairs and into my beautiful little medieval apartment and heated up my soup and ate almost an entire baguette with it. I then set my alarm as the next morning I was suppose to meet up with two of the ladies I met at Jim’s dinners to head out to see Monet’s Garden before it closed for the winter.
Sadly I set my alarm to pm, not am. With the other ladies not having a french mobile they couldn’t text me. I missed out. When I woke up I was pretty upset. Then just as I was about to skype my babies the internet dropped out. Let’s just say Tuesday was a COMPLETE WRITE OFF. I had to wait at my apartment so someone would be there when the tech support came as the company had been bought out or something and they had switched from one service to the other…but I didn’t speak French. Neither did the tech people. So then I waited for the owner. I was a very unhappy camper that day.
So unimpressed with the day…but my landlord complimented me on my pretty peignoir set (thanks Audrey Scarlett Vintage!)
Wednesday I slept in. But then I decided it was time to see some of those Parisian museums. I headed out and walked along the Seine down to Musee d’orsay. I then lined up for over an hour to get in. But It was sooooooo worth it. Everything was beautiful! There were rooms filled with Art Nouveau furniture.
There were beautiful sculptures. There was a tiny replica of the Palais Garnier that was cut in half so you could see all the inner workings. There was a mini Paris under glass so you walked over the top of it. I also found my new favourite painting….
L’Origine Du Monde (The Origin of the World) by Gustave Courbet
Not only was this amazing portrait taking pride of place in a room, in a well known museum…not only was it available for purchase at the museum shop…but there were even French school kids walking into the room being taught about the artists. Oh France…I long to be in you again. But the tourists were HILARIOUS! They would walk around the room trying not to look at it…until they got to it and then they pretty much put their hands to their chin and looked like they were pondering the piece seriously or leaning in close to look at the brush strokes. Folks…it’s just a vaj…and it’s here for you to look at. As long as you keep your pants on, no one cares if you are staring. Hell knows I did. It is MAGNIFICENT.
I enjoyed this museum so much. Everything was amazing. It was also amazing to be in a room FILLED with Degas….not just one or two (like we have here in our major galleries) but an ENTIRE ROOM. It really did blow my mind. I had never seen Degas bronzes. I absolutely fell in love with each artist all over again when walking into a room filled with their pieces.
My favourite Degas – La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans (The Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer)
I also fell in love with this portrait of Madame Gautreau by Gustave Courtois
My feet were aching, and my plans to go to the Louvre after d’Orsay were fading fast, when I realised my entry ticket also got me into their behind-a-velvet-rope exhibition “Splenders et Miseres: Images de la Prostitution” Which was a collection of images of sex workers, sex work paraphernalia & pornography from 1850-1910. Could you get more up my alley than that? (not a euphemism…but have a feeling it will be now).
Splendeurs et Miseres: Images de la Prostitution, 1850-1910
There were rooms with red velvet curtains that were 18+, business cards of sex workers from that time period, sex toys, porn, GAY PORN as well as beautiful nudes. So many artists worked with sex workers for nudes as they were often the only ones willing to get their kit off. But the best thing in the whole exhibition was this…
An antique sex chair!
I got busted taking this photo. While the rest of the museum allowed photography, this exhibition didn’t. But I just pleaded ignorance in English and now I have a photo of an antique sex chair. Apparently it can be used in multiple ways…with multiple people. The only downside I saw….it was upholstered. How would you ever get that clean??? In fact I want to know who had the job of preparing it for exhibition! “Hi Susan…you are a wizz with restoring our upholstered pieces. Think you can get the jizz stains out of this 100 year old sex chair?”
After that I spent a long time in the museum shop looking at the book that accompanied the exhibition. But sadly 45 euros was too rich for me. Instead I settled for a small postcard sized print of “L’Origine du Monde” and headed outside. It was then I realised there was no way I could stand up any longer and started to feel unwell. Paris, sadly, is not a cure for chronic & mental illness. Then BEHOLD…a whole bunch of bike taxis! Without thinking I approached one, tried to explain where I was going and negotiated the price up front. I then went on the scariest ride of my life…
This was just as we started…before it got terrifying!
When we got to my stop she told me (in french) it would be 30 euros. The price we had agreed on was 20. Thankfully I only had 20 euros on me. She yelled at me for a bit in French before taking my money and leaving.
As I was walking down to my street I saw the 12.90 euro special sign at the cafe on the other corner of my street. Realising I couldn’t be arsed cooking (or even reheating) something I went and sat down. Before I knew it I had upgraded my menu several times and 23 euros later (realising then I could have bought the book, caught the metro & eaten soup at home and only been 2 euros worse off) I was chowing down on an amazing 3 course meal!
First up “soupe à l’oignon” (aka French Onion Soup)
Now i have to admit….until not that long ago, I thought French Onion Soup was a dip flavour. So nothing could prepare me for the amazingness of this dish. A soup of caramelised onions, topped with crispy bread and covered in cheese then toasted? Only the French could come up with something that amazing. It was heaven.
My main was a rare duck breast with crispy skin, the most delicous peppercorn sauce and potatoes fried in duck fat. My mouth is watering just thinking about this dish. It was probably the best & most delicious thing I ate in France.
Last up was Crêpe Suzette. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. First off I thought they were going to set fire to it…and they didn’t. Which thinking on it now, given my clumsiness, is probably for the best. Maybe I was just too full to enjoy it…but it was soggy and the sauce wasn’t what I hoped it would be. But I ate it all and then stumbled the 50m to my apartment. I checked my email as I was trying to organise to meet up with the girl with the smile…but she was having problems with the shooting. I had offered to meet her to help with the shoot that day, but she said she would be biking around. My hips+bike=hip dislocation, hospital & the end of my Paris adventures. So instead I told her to let me know when she was free and drew myself a hot bubble bath…
The apartment had the worlds best bath. The perfect depth and length for me. It certainly helped my feet.
This day marked one full week in Paris. It was flying by so fast and I felt like I hadn’t done or seen much of anything. What I had done, had left me exhausted. But there was still so much left to do and see.
And….I am going to leave it there. I know some of you are desperate to find out what happened with the girl with the smile, but you shall have to wait. I promise I am not trying to draw this out. Promise!
Miss Fairchild xoxo