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Posts tagged Paris

Urinetown, The Musical

SOU's Urinetown slide showEarlier this year we took the kids to a play called, “Urinetown, The Musical” at SOU. The play was pretty good–very original and well executed by the SOU students. We thought the play was satirical, but after a few days in Paris we realized it wasn’t.

You see, in Urinetown people have to pay to pee. And in Paris, assuming you can even find a toilet, you frequently have to pay to pee. Sometimes the price can be ridiculous too. One place wanted 2 Euro per person. Imagine paying over US$3 just to pee!?!

At the previously mentioned Luxembourg Park we paid to pee. Then we paid to have our kids get into the playground area. Only then did we find out that you can pee for “free” in the playground area after paying to get in. They really stick it to the tourist who doesn’t know the peeing particulars in Paris.

Paris as a vacation destination is overrated. People who have yet to visit the place imagine a clean, classy town with lots of charm and beauty. Perhaps, by looking only at the photos I have shared so far, you have been thinking the same. The reality is that Paris is very crowded, not very clean, and the occasional charms are not around every corner. In fact, thanks to the lack of public toilets and people trying to avoid having to pay to pee, public urination can be smelled as you walk the streets. Not pleasant. There were other strange odors in Paris as well, but what can you expect in Urinetown?

Sacre-Coeur (part 2 of 2)

We walked through the interior of Sacre-Coeur. Photography was not allowed, but it looked pretty similar to the other churches we’d been through in Paris with very high ceilings. Walking mats had been placed throughout much of the interior which covered up the fancy floors. It reminded me of those people that cover their furniture in plastic. Sure it may keep whatever you are trying to protect in pristine condition, but no one gets to enjoy the protected item in the meantime so what exactly are you protecting it for?

Back outside we waited with hundreds of others for the sun to set. The police cut off access to the upper area which meant no one could get up. For some unknown reason, the public toilets up top were also all closed around dusk. So now we had hundreds, if not more than a thousand, people crowded up top with no place to pee.

The views of the church and Paris below got better and better. Musicians came out of the woodwork to entertain the crowds.

You can’t actually see the Eiffel Tower from Sacre-Coeur as there are a bunch of apartment buildings blocking the view. However, if you head to the side a bit and peak through some trees you can get the above view. At the top of each hour the Eiffel Tower does a light show for 10 or so minutes.

Sacre-Coeur (part 1 of 2)

Let’s see, where were we now? Oh yeah, we went to Jardin du Luxembourg Park for a puppet show (that was horrible). On an earlier evening the park was nearly empty, but not on this day. The park was packed with people willing to pay to let their children play on the equipment. I’d never seen such a thing. Of course my kids also wanted to pay to wait in line to ride on regular playground equipment as well so they did. Actually, I paid for them. And I paid to pee. More on that in a future blog entry…

After a rather miserable experience at the park we decided to follow the recommendation of the crazy New York lady and go to a fondue restaurant near Sacre-Coeur. We hopped on the Metro and made our way to the area. Amazingly enough we found the place. Unfortunately, the fondue restaurant was closed for a week or two for vacation. This was actually a situation we encountered in Copenhagen and Paris many times. Some restaurants just close up shop for a few weeks during the summer for vacation.

The Montmartre area, where Sacre-Coeur and our closed fondue place are located, had a different feel to it. Moulin Rouge is also in this area. The streets are usually narrower and more inclined compared to the other areas in Paris (and especially compared to the flat Copenhagen we had grown used to). I was reminded a bit of parts of the Cinque Terra in Italy but without the Mediterranean Sea.

We grabbed some food to go at a nearby shop and headed for the grassy hill leading up to Sacre-Coeur. We ate on the hill. Here I was reminded of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Not so much because we were on a steep incline with people walking up steps on either side of us but because of all the foreign hawkers of goods. Many weren’t selling wares as much as they were tricking people into having “friendship bracelets” tied onto their wrists. After the colored string was woven tightly around the gullible person’s wrist payment was demanded.

After eating (and watching sucker after sucker have to pay to be left alone after getting stuck with new wristwear) we climbed to the top where we had great views of the church and…

great view of Paris from the church…

To be continued…

Guidebooks for sale

We interrupt our normally scheduled blog adventures in Paris to try to make some room on my overloaded bookshelf.

Here is what I have for sale:

For those in the USA, shipping is $3 for the first book and $1 for each additional book. Ask if you are from outside the US about shipping rates. Email me if interested.

Walk to Jardin du Luxembourg

After the Eiffel Tower we hung out at the nearby Parc du Champ de Mars while the kids played in the playground near the southern corner. A lady from New York who was there with her small kids approached us. She hadn’t spoken English to an adult in a week or more it seemed and decided to take it out on us. After 15 minutes or so of non-stop chatter on her part we were wondering if we’d ever get away. Luckily, another lady from the states showed up with herĀ children who were much closer in age to the New York lady’s kids. The New York lady immediately ditched us to burn this other lady’s ears off and arrange play dates with their kids much to our relief.

We walked over to Rick Steves’ favorite Rue Cler to check it out. The place was dead and nothing special on a Monday. We ate lunch at Cafe du Marche which was OK.

Also based on Rick Steves’ recommendation (and those of someone else as well), we decided to head back to Luxembourg Park to check out the puppet show.

We saw a couple of puppet shows in Denmark that were really good and didn’t require any knowledge of Danish to thoroughly enjoy. Admission to see the Danish shows was free. As it turned out, the puppet show (guignols or Marionnettes du Luxembourg) in Jardin du Luxembourg was a huge disappointment. Not only did it cost almost US$10 for each of us to get in, but the puppet show is not the least bit enjoyable unless you are fluent in French. I take that back, even the French adults there didn’t seem to be having a good time. In fact, many people, in addition to ourselves, left at the intermission.

Anyway, back to our walk there from the Rue Cler…

We walked past the above Army Museum (Musee de l’Armee). In the background you can see the dome over Napoleon’s Tomb (Eglise du Dome).

We also walked past the outside of the Rodin Museum (Musee Rodin). Without even going in you can see The Thinker from the backside (pictured above). We saw a much smaller version back in Copenhagen.

The walk was pretty tiring after walking up the Eiffel Tower earlier in the day, but there were some cool sights along the way. For instance, we saw a window washer without any scaffolding; he was just on a rope.

I like the above photograph not only for the window washer but for the French architecture and clouds.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

I once sat alone in a room full of Rembrandts while in the same building the Mona Lisa sat alone in a room full of tourists.