Monday, September 26, 2011

Europe 2011 Day 2 - Cycling & Eating Like The French

Date: 8 April 2011
Early morning view of the River Seine

What do French people eat? French Baguette? French Fries?! Instead, we had a mission in France, to try out
1) Duck
2) Macarons
3) Escargot
We managed to accomplish all 3 today, and they all tasted wonderful!
Fountain of St Michael, with 4 persons who refused to move the 10 minutes I was there

Unfortunately, the day started badly when I realised that I had forgotten to turn off my alarm clock, which rang at 5:45am. Only 6 hours of sleep after being awake for 23hours. First, we took the train to Cite train stop. Once again, this required an interchange at Montparnasse. Interchanges here are not to be taken lightly, had to walk over 1km and climbed hundreds of steps. After arriving, looked for toilet but nobody knew where. Even asked the friendly policewoman and she didn't know where. Wonder where she goes to pee. Ended up at a gourmet cafe called Paul, lovely macarons here for €0.80 each.
Breakfast for Two: 4-cheese bread and a hot chocolate at Paul

Finally arrived Basilica Notredame, it was every bit as impressive as u can imagine. Inside was so peaceful and calming. Take your time to look inside. Paid €2 for a metallic basilica coin.
Basilica Notredame. The amount of people shown is actually very "uncrowded" compared to my 2nd visit 1 week later

Inside Basilica Notredame, where photography wasn't allowed but everyone was snapping away

Buy a candle home for €5?

Entrance doors. Rather creepy to see someone holding his own head

Can you see the 12 signs of the zodiac here?
We read beforehand that there is a row of shops selling plenty of souvenirs, which are one of the cheapest in Paris. Quite easily spottable from the entrance of Notredame. But more importantly, the very lovable FREE "Toilettes" was shining handsomely. Thank you to the French Government for deeming toilets as a necessity in life and no longer charge for its usage. After someone finishes using it, wait for 2mins for it to be self cleaned and dried before pressing the button and going in. After you have finished using it, just walk out without flushing, and the door will close on its own and cleaning begins.
Cheap souvenir shops outside Basilica Notredame
 After feeling relieved, we bought 4 mini postcard drawings for €2.60 and a magnet for €4.00. Too tired to walk anymore, we noticed a bicycle kiosk just outside. We've seen them before everywhere, but have no idea how to get one. This is part of Paris' Town Hall initiative to provide bicycle rentals all over Paris, each kiosk is only 300metres apart. First, you will need a 1-day subscriber ticket which costs €1.00. Use your credit card at the kiosk to purchase the ticket. Then, with your subscriber number in hand, you can then take the bike out of this kiosk, and return it at any other kiosk around Paris. Cost of usage is:
First 30 minutes = Free
1 Hour 30 minutes = €1.00
2 Hour 30 minutes = €2.00
If you are as KIASU as I am, we naturally tried to make it everywhere within 30 minutes. If you are thinking that you can return it to this kiosk, and then take a bike out again, think again. They do not allow you to return and take out a bike from a same kiosk within a certain time frame (Trust me, I tested it). Please give yourselves ample time to return it, as some kiosks may be FULL and you have no empty slot to return the bike to. For more info, visit Velibike Paris
Outside the Royal Palace on our bikes
With bicycle in hand, we cycled to the Louvre, and managed to find a kiosk just outside. Paid €10.00 to enter and got to see the great Mona Lisa. Honestly, this painting is overrated. Didn't expect it to be so small a painting, not that I am an art enthusiast. But the Louvre was enormous, too much for our tired legs.
Little kids on the way to the Louvre

My prized shot of the Mona Lisa

The amount of people trying to shoot Mona Lisa. Someone said that in summer, it'll be too crowded to enter the room

Sphinxes inside the Louvre
We then cycled to find Bourse outdoor market, which turned out to be very disappointing, only 20stalls. Feeling famished, we cycled to St Germaine, a bit hard to navigate because map didn't have all road names listed. Thus oveshot my 30min limit here as bicycle stands were full. Found a lovely restaurant called Cote Bergamote, 8 Rue de Montfaucon, and had starter + main set for €17.50. Ate snails and duck here, magnifique!
Starter: Escargot Main: Duck. Price: €17.50. Delicious!

Very tender duck

Roast Beef with Bernaise Sauce
There is a well-known Pharmacie Fouhety nearby on Rue du Four in St Germaine, supposedly one of the cheapest in town. Heard it's very crowded and you better have your list ready. What I didn't expect was, there was no electricity inside! Yet so many people were inside as if it were free and it was hard to wedge around in the dark. Brands include Decleor, Nuxe, Roc, Avene, Caudalie, and Vichy. The queue to pay was also horrendous. Upon exiting, 2 large African bouncers check your bags. How odd a place, but truly worth the savings made.

Finally back to hotel at 6pm, and we're ready to sleep by 8pm. What a tiring day again.

Related Posts:
Europe 2011 - Day 1 Arriving Paris
Europe 2011 - Day 3 Shocking Ourselves Silly
Europe 2011 - Day 4 Backbreaking Prague
Europe 2011 - Day 5 Royal Animals of Prague
Europe 2011 - Day 6 & 7 to Cesky Krumlov
Europe 2011 - Day 8: Top 5 things to bring home from Prague
Europe 2011 - Day 9 Guten Tag Munchen
Europe 2011 - Day 10,11,12 Dedicated to Munich (Part 1 of 3)
Europe 2011 - Day 10,11,12 Dedicated to Munich (Part 2 of 3)
Europe 2011 - Day 10,11,12 Dedicated to Munich (Part 3 of 3)
Europe 2011 - Day 13 Munich to Paris
Europe 2011 - Day 14 & 15 Going Home

No comments: