Posts Tagged ‘paris’

Last Day in Paris

November 8, 2010

25th October 2010
Monday

A night in Paris

Today was our last day in Paris, so we tried to make the most of it. The night before, the shopping kakis had been talking non stop about going for another round of shopping which disgusted most of us. In fact, the shopping kakis only consists of 4 people generally – the china woman (LV got discount ah?), her sakai husband (Mr VAT – stories later!), one loud mouthed aunty who thinks she’s very sexy and the group leader – who is supposed to be in charge to make everybody happy but of course, failed miserably because she just wanted to shop for herself.

So, there are like 22 others who are NOT interested in shopping. And yet, the tour guide – useless and moronic again since the boss left on second day, preferred to cater to these 4 morons because he himself wanted to shop! He has been buying branded bags and bringing them home and sell them for a profit! Paris should bar such people from making their brands so easily available and hence affecting their prestige!

One of the tour mates bought a “faulty” branded bag. Can you believe it? Faulty? I didn’t know how “faulty” the bag is but she merely mentioned that the bottom of the bag already given way due to imperfect stitching. Sometimes, I wonder how could a prestigious brand like you-know-which-one could even pass quality control, selling a damaged bag?! So, she couldn’t sleep for two nights – because she bought it from La Fayette on Saturday and it’s not open on a Sunday. So she had to wait till Monday to get it replaced at the branch at Champs Elysees. We had to suffer for 2 mornings listening to her endless rattling of complaints, having to spend Rm5k for a damaged good and she wanted to SUE the company! I guess the problem was actually her for not checking the bag properly before leaving the shop!

The tour guide conveniently blamed the terrible jam and told the bus driver to go to Champs Elysees to shop instead of going to Sacred Heart Cathedral in Montmartre. Of course, we were really pissed! Anyway, we decided to make the most of it by walking away from Champs Elysees to River Seine and snap photos of the beautiful bridges. We walked past a Museum which was having the Impressionist exhibition. We had a good time watching the workers moving paintings of Monet’s to the museum while visitors lining up to secure tickets to get in!

We were on time to go back to the meeting point by 11 am, but as expected, people were late. Yes, you are right – the 4 people plus the tour guide were late! The tour guide only came 30 minutes later and pretended to be angry with those who were late. In fact, he didn’t really tell people where to wait and assumed everyone to know. So, there had been confusion and everyone was waiting all over the place. The bus driver was already pissed off because he was not supposed to park by the roadside! We had to get into the bus as soon as possible to avoid being fined. Then, the 4 idiots and some hapless elderly lady following them were late. We waited almost an hour for them – the hapless elderly lady was asked to follow them so that they could buy more handbags with their passports!

While waiting for those idiots to come, the lady who got her bag exchanged was cursing rudely and said, the branded boutique didn’t want to sell them anymore bags! The moment they got into the shop, the shop assistants already spoke to each other in French and said, do not sell to them because they had been to the shop on the first day itself and they remembered their sakai faces! Of coz the aunty doesn’t speak French lah. The tour guide followed them overheard the sale people saying that!

Also, who ask you to dress sloppily in Paris?? This lady wore a worn out polo shirt with a logo behind the neck – which I mistaken for ugly markings from temples, you know, usually found on shirts for safety. It’s a very hokkien thing lah. Haha! Don’t dress sloppily or like aunty going to the wet market when you are in Paris! Nobody will take you seriously! She ended exchanging the damaged bag for another model which cost her a few hundred euros more. So she was very unhappy!

Then, some of them mentioned that, when they asked the China woman, why is she buying so many LVs? The China woman replied that, she’s going to use it when she goes marketing! How obnoxious! Make all of us sick! I bet she’s making money out from the bags she bought. She just doesn’t have the look to wear the bags! The bags will wear her!

The driver had to make one big u turn to go fetch the morons in front of the LV boutique. When the driver was approaching – there they were, STILL snapping photos and posing in front of the boutique! The driver cursed in Slovakian – he’s a Slovakian. He doesn’t understand a word of French and understands limited English. So, you imagine the ruckus. Haha! We rolled our eyes when the sakais came up to the bus. The tour guide pretended to be angry and said that since we were late, we had to cut our visit to the Sacred Heart Cathedral short. This of course, made us feel very combustible (hou heng ah!)!

French are very fussy when it comes to dining

We proceeded to a quick lunch and then, made our way to Lourve Museum. We only had almost 2 hours to ourselves to go around the Museum. If only the fucking idiots were not late, we probably would have more time! We didn’t want to waste any more time and just go for those must-sees in the museum.

This is the closest I could get to Monalisa

We went straight to look for Monalisa before it’s being overcrowded with PRC people. There were a few groups of PRC people behind us, so I suggested that we wasted no time to go see Monalisa first before all these people ferociously snapped the painting with the flash lights, even though it was clearly written not to use flash in the area! They should have banned camera altogether! I was thinking, probably the Monalisa is not even real! Who could authenticate it, since the painting is behind bullet proof glass and we were standing far away to admire it? Imagine having thousands of flash light on it every damn day! I guess Monalisa just surpassed the late Lady Diana for being the most photographed woman of all times, albeit posthumously! I remember there’s even some rumours saying, Monalisa is actually Leonardo da Vincci’s female version of himself.

After Lourve Museum, we finally get the chance to go to Montmartre to visit Sacred Heart. Then, the stupid tour guide had to tell us his personal preferences – “Honestly, I am not very keen in coming here. Look at the people here! They are so poor and the place is so run down. I never liked it here!”

Then the Mr VAT guy had to add – “Since we are running out of time, we can just skip going to the church and head straight to dinner, then airport. But then, there are some people who just have to go to the church….”

Bloody fuckers! First of all, we don’t need your opinion on Montmartre! My pilot friend personally likes the place as he said buzzing with activities and life! We were there and find the place rather charming with its own character which is unlike the pretentious Champs Elysees! The souvenirs here are real cheap too. The way to the Sacred Heart Cathedral is paved with cobble stones – it’s actually a very old part of Paris which deserved a second look!

Mr VAT should shut the FUCK UP because of him and his sakai wife, we had to cut short visits to the museum and also the cathedral! He has NO FUCKING RIGHT to even speak! Speaking of them really make me fucking tulan!

The tour guide didn’t even have the decency to wait on one elderly aunty who has problem walking. She forgot to bring down her umbrella which also she used as a walking stick. I waited for her and told her not to rush when going up the cobble stones road because it’s not easy to walk on them.

The idiot tour guide was too busy kissing asses of the shopping sakais (of coz for commission lah, what else!) and hurried everyone to line up to take a group photo. We didn’t even give a shit when Mr VAT gestured us to join them to take a group photo. The four of us just walked away, ignoring them! Act of defiance for their selfishness!! If I had it my way, I would show them the middle finger!

Grandeur Sacred Heart at Mortmartre

The shopping sakais all went to buy wine – needless to say, the tour guide was earning commission from them because, he told us to specifically don’t be late when he himself was late for 15 minutes! Definitely counting his money for the amount of wine they purchased! These idiots didn’t even buy a single bottle of champagne when they were at GH Mumm and opt to buy cheaper wines! So we know what their taste is like!

As we walked towards the bus, we saw an elderly couple in our tour group with big shopping bags. So my friend and I went to help them carry their shopping bags. They asked us to wait for them in front of the restaurant as they wanted to go to the bathroom. Not even half minute, they were out. I asked them, “Wah so fast?” To this, the uncle replied, “Have to pay 50 cents ah! Expensive!” Then, went on to look for free public toilet. It’s understandable…. this uncle bought a RM30,000 Rolex at La Fayette, no more money to go to toilet! Hahaha! I insisted on helping them to carry their shopping bags to the bus while letting both of them running around to look for toilet. It was really funny.

After a hurried Thai dinner, we were on our way to the airport. Paris was almost grid locked due to Monday jams! As we were stuck in the horrendous jam, Mr VAT decided to chit chat with the tour guide on top of his voice.

“We buy things, we get to claim VAT. So does the local (French) get to claim VAT also ah???”

Aiyoh I tell you… really sua pah kao! (Jungle monkey!). Nobody will know he’s katak di bawah tempurung if he doesn’t open his mouth. We would simply leave him as someone who is so conceited and tried to please his wife with endless amount of shopping!

On the journey, we also overheard he was grumbling because there were no more space in their luggage. You should see how the two sakais packed and unpacked their luggage bags at the airport! It’s damn funny! I wished I had recorded them and put the video on youtube!

When the jam didn’t seem to ease, his wife said, “Oh, that’s great! We can stay in Paris for another night!”

To which, he replied disgruntledly, “Who is going to fork the bill?”

Then his wife sulked.

From there we know that, they spent money beyond their means. I surely hope that they would suffer towards month end and when the credit card bills arrived at their door step!

All in all, generally, it was quite a good trip, despite all the odds. We somehow get to see the better sides of Paris, despite being “warned” that it’s not a safe place!

One piece of advice though, when you are walking down the pavement, please do watch out. There are some dog poo everywhere! So, you don’t wanna step on dog shit especially when you are on holiday, do ya? Haha!

Magnificient Structures

November 4, 2010

24th October 2010, Sunday
Paris

We started the day early going to Versailles. The Royal Chateau is opened at 10 am, so we went earlier to get the earlier tickets. The tour guide did warn about the management might close the place for the day if there’s a demonstration. However, we were glad that it didn’t happen.

Grandeur view of Royal Chateau of Versailles

We were greeted by another tour guide. She’s a Malaysian, living in Paris for over 20 years! She’s really good for a change! We arrived at the gate of Royal Chateau of Versailles and we were in awe. Imagine a place built in the 1600s and still standing majestically in front of your very eyes! Our jaws dropped in disbelief at the paintings on the wall and ceilings furnished with hand paintings and carvings. It was indeed a magnificent sight to behold. I think most of us ended with neck aches after visiting this Chateau because we kept looking up the ceiling! LOL!

Pictures simply could not do any justice for Versailles. You have to visit this place yourself! I promise you will be in awe!

One of the many statues in Versailles

There’s a Murakami exhibition going on with his renowned plasticky dolls. If you ask me, the dolls really “pollute” the grandeur image of Versailles. The dolls are indeed an eye sore. My friends and I agreed that, they should not have placed the dolls there!

As usual, some of the people who were only interested in shopping, looked so bored to the core! They didn’t even listen to the tour guide. They looked for places to sit down and kept yawning. What morons! Might as well just drop them at Champs Elysees and shop all they want! There are more to Paris than shopping alone!

Laduree Macaroons since 1862!

As soon as we got out from the Chateau, there’s a little shop tucked in the small corner. I was so delighted to find Laduree there! Luckily, Ms Han informed me before hand about this shop, so I decided to try the macaroons there – the real deal! Priced at Euro14.90 for 8! That’s Rm61+ almost RM7.70 per macaroon!! Well, it was worth it though! The macaroons melts in your mouth and have crushed peanuts in most flavors, which I think reduce the sweetness in the macaroons.

We had our lunch at a Chinese restaurant, within 15 minutes walk from Versailles. When we grouped up in front of the Chateau for a head count, the tour guide explained that we would take a short walk because there is no parking at the restaurant for big buses. Upon hearing this, the shopping kakis groaned. “My God! 15 minutes walk? Are you kidding me?!”

I was utterly (100x) disgusted by them. Then I said sarcastically, “Yesterday shopping whole day never see you all complain? Now walk 15 minutes CAN DIE MEH???”

That shut them up real good!

Picturesque

After lunch, we went on for some photo stops around Paris. Of course, we also stop at the field overlooking the Eiffel Tower. It was about to rain when we got down from the bus but thank goodness, the skies remain gloomy but yet to rain till we got onto the bus. Then, we proceeded to take a cruise along River Seine.

Along River Seine

Cruising along River Seine, accompanied by Edith Piaf’s melodious voice is simply relaxing. Here, along the river, we get to see the buildings on both sides of the river banks. There are some activities going on along the river – fishing, people just sitting and relaxing, cycling, lovers kissing, people always waving at you even if you are not waving at them! etc. A friend said that, during summer, you would get to see many people lying topless along the banks of the river for sun bathing!

The Kiss by the River Seine

The highlight of the day is probably the visit to Eiffel Tower. We didn’t have to line up because we made prior bookings and managed to go up the elevator, after waiting less than 10 minutes. We were very excited like school children going to the zoo for the first time. Perhaps the shopping sakais were not too keen. Imagine stuck up there with no shop for the next 3 hours. Haha! Serve them right!

The magnificent tower

We went straight up to the second level and then to the third level, the highest point of the tower. It was a sight to behold. There is not many trees – everything is in shades of white and gray. But you could see the entire city was well laid out, not many tall buildings. Everything looked so lego-like and almost has perfect parallel lines!

The long queue to enter Eiffel Tower at 6 pm!

To add a cherry on top to the already perfect day, we booked a dinner at 58 Tour Eiffel and had our special dinner there! The night was spent with free flow of Bordeaux wine and camaraderie of close friends sans shopping sakais (we sat far far away from them!) What a perfect end for a perfect day! *

Foie gras de canard, marmelade griotte, cassis

Dos de cabillaud roti, asperges vertes, beuvre blanc

*Except some people trying to ta pao the wine because there were some leftovers.. so it’s a bit sia sui lah!

Shopping Mania

November 3, 2010

23rd October 2010, Saturday
Paris

Since shopping malls are closed on Sundays in Paris, the guide decided to take us on a one-day shopping spree today. I didn’t really like the idea but what to do, when there are so many brand conscious sakais in the group. A couple – let’s called her China woman and Mr VAT were all excited and kept asking questions. “LV Got discount ah? Gucci got discount?” From the way they asked questions, it’s obvious that they have never step out from the country. Which branded boutique would give discount?? Unless they are on end season sale? Maybe she assumed buying a genuine Louis Vuitton in Paris is the same like the  many other LVs she bought from Petaling Street! And yes.. all throughout the trip, she kept gushing over LV, LV and LV. I think she dare not say Louis Vuitton because she doesn’t even know how to pronounce it!

I quite like the La Vallee Outlet Shopping Village, in Marne La Vallee, a new town in east of Paris. It has small little quaint shops along a very, very long stretch of shopping mall – it’s probably 6x the size of Mid Valley! Here, you get most of the brands at factory outlet prices. I got a teapot from Bodum at probably 60% off the prices in Malaysia. For those who enjoy shopping, I gather this is a good place to go. The boutiques are in little cottages and it’s quite a joy to shop here. Nike are going cheap as well as other foreign brands like Zara, Massimo Dutti, Pull and Bear, etc.

After shopping in La Vallee, we went for lunch and again, proceeded back to the city, La Fayette for shopping. On our way there, we saw some demonstration going on there. The demonstration is not about pensions but, about animals’ rights. Well, this is the way of life for the French. They always go on strike most of the time that they probably could make a career out of it! No joke!

For animal’s right! Malaysia needs this badly as well!

At La Fayette, you probably see all the tourists mainly Asians making their money’s worth. You see long queues going to Longchamps, Gucci, Prada, Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent,  Louis Vuitton etc! Nobody lined up at Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Christian Dior? Because they are more expensive! I didn’t bother to shop. I ventured out from crazily crowded La Fayette and went to walk around the surrounding area – Clichy.

Here are some photos of the day:-

Many, many taverns

Many, many sidewalk cafes

Little French Girl

Moulin Rouge

Crossing the Road

We had dinner of escargot in buttered garlic and parsley

For people who would like to buy souvenirs, the best place is probably St Michel. I find that you get more choices at almost half the prices you get elsewhere around Paris! After all the shopping madness, we took the subway to St Michel where all the happening people are on a Saturday night. It was indeed an experience. French subway is already more than 100 years old! Instead of using steel wheels, they are still running on rubber tyres! The funny part is probably, you still need to manually open the doors by yourself in order to get in and get out! It’s a maze in the subway! There are many exits like the ones in Hong Kong!

A stop at St Michel

The road surrounding this area is paved with cobble stones, just like the ones in Macau. Even the names of the street were seemingly the same like Macau. I believe it’s not French, probably some influence of Portuguese. I guess that’s because Portugal was a powerhouse back then, other than Spain, leading the first exploration via sea back in the 1500s. A quick check on the internet reveals that, cobble stones are mainly used in earlier streets in European countries.

Latin Corner Cafe has a mean bouncer!

For girls who want to have a great fun night out, I suggest you go to Latin Café, along Rue de  laHuchette. Here, you get half naked men in g string, serving you like a queen! Our group consists of too many men, so we weren’t allowed in. so, I guess you need to go separately, and better – if all girls, you will get a place to sit in no time!

We just walkabout the place, and felt a little out of place. I guess we didn’t dress to the nines like the very good looking people we see along St Michel’s. I guess we need to visit this place another time sans the men in our group!

Paris in Autumn

November 2, 2010

22nd October 2010, Friday
Paris

Hearty Breakfast of Croissant, ham, bacon, sausages, salami and scrambled eggs with milk!

We went for breakfast begrudgingly and everyone was seen disgruntled by last night’s episode. Apparently, the tour agent’s boss was also in Paris and he happened to stay in the same hotel! We were very relieved and hoped to convey a message to the boss that, we didn’t like the tour guide.

Somehow, I guess the boss had a word with the tour agent and it was a 180 degrees transformation! The tour agent actually SMILED for the first time! When we got on the bus, bottles of water were distributed. Another bonus point! Actually, tap water in France is safe for consumption. Totally no chlorine smell!

The view on the way to Reims is breathtaking!

We made our way to Reims to visit a GH & Mumm’s champagne factory. The way the tour guide talk also took 180 degrees transformation! He joked and was polite, totally different from the first day when he was grumpy like he was post menopausal and conceited! We prayed really hard that the boss would continue to join us for the rest of the trip, so that we did not have to suffer his “Hyde” side. When he asked how’s breakfast, I was so bloody tempted to say out loud, “Why is there no banana peel or egg shells to eat?” just to mock him!

Visiting GH & Mumm

Well, we decided not to let yesterday’s incident to dampen our holiday spirit! I bought brut rose champagne (€33) for my sister and husband to celebrate their first year marriage anniversary, even though I was a month late. Heh! Apparently, we can only use the word “champagne” in Paris and no other places in the world. France had taken this case to courts all over the world; more than 700 times and eventually, won the case. “Champagne” from other countries should refer to as sparkling wine. I guess that was why I saw the word sparkling wine when I visited Domain Chandon in Melbourne 2 years ago. Each of us was given a glass of champagne – Mumm de Gramant blanc de blancs, which was said to be a “vintage”.

Reims Cathedral

After visiting the champagne factory, we stopped by to visit the Notre Dame cathedral in Reims. It was a smaller one compared to the rather magnificent Notre Dame in the city! Nevertheless, the architecture was simply breathtaking! It was backdated to the 12th century! This building made me feel rather sad for Malaysia. We can’t even keep a 100+ year old jail in-tact. No doubt prison is not a very nice place to remember by, but at least, it can fetch money for tourism like the Alcatraz in US! Our government doesn’t even want to know our own history and decided to rewrite history themselves! And they want to make history as compulsory subject to pass in school! What history? It can kiss my ass!

After that, we were already on our way for lunch. Lunch was at this small quaint French restaurant in Reims, also serving a 3-course meal. The fried potatoes and creamy mushroom and chicken were simply delicious but unfortunately, gave more pain to my already aching sore throat. I find the French can really eat despite their svelte figures. On our way into the restaurant, we saw two ladies having an 8 inch pizza EACH! We celebrated birthdays of our fellow travel mates for October. I guess it’s the way of the manager to apologize for the idiocy of his tour guide!

I’ve mistaken the crowd going into Louis Vuitton as protestors going for demonstration against the new pension plan!

The rest of the day was spent at Champs Elysees. Most of the tour mates were brand crazy so they joined the maddening crowd making a beeline to enter Louis Vuitton boutique. My friends and I on the other hand, do not conform to such herd mentality. No offence, but I really feel that LV, despite being such a prestigious brand, it’s just downright too tacky! You actually don’t see many locals using this brand! They probably spotted with more Chanel than LV! I think these people don’t even know how to pronounce Louis Vuitton correctly! Owning an LV bag doesn’t mean it would alleviate your social status! Like owning a DSLR camera doesn’t guarantee you great pictures! Same principle!

Hot stuff strutting down Champs Elysees

We were deliberating on which café to sit and contemplating the menu at George V Café when suddenly, a waiter appeared from the sheltered make shift al-fresco tent and said “Konnichiwa!” We laughed out loud and said that, we were not Japanese. He asked where we were from and we said “Malaysia!” almost unanimously. He reverted by saying, “Ni Hao!” and gestured us to go into the café. We obliged willingly.

One of the many sidewalk shops selling newspapers, mags, snacks & little knick knacks

We spent the hours away, sitting idly at George V Café along Champs Elysees, chatting, laughing and watched the world went by. I had my caffeine fix for the day, café au lait. We were also served mini salty pretzels. Parisians mostly dress in shades of black, grey and brown – contributed more subdued colors to the already pale city.

And to the stupid tour guide who said this is not a romantic city – eat this! I’ve taken so many pictures of couples being in love and kissing on the entire stretch of Champs Elysees!

Glad to say it was quite a relaxing and enjoyable day.

Prelude to Paris

October 29, 2010

When I told a friend, I am going to Paris, he thought I was going to SS2 Little Paris Restaurant for dinner. LOL!

I just got back from Paris, France two days ago.. well, there are a lot of things to write about but I have yet to find words to it. I guess there are some good and bad moments. I am glad the good moments outweigh the bad by many miles!

I will get to it in a jiffy! I need time to sort out photos and to think!

Here’s a photo as “prelude” to the Paris posts. Enjoy your weekend, people!

Classic Paris!


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