Woke up a lot during the middle of the night so I wasn’t feeling very refreshed. Justin and I set off for Montmartre to see a famous church called Sacré-Cœur, which is on a big hill overlooking the city. On the way, we stumbled upon a fromagerie and tried their samples. I had goat cheese covered in ash (sounds and looks gross but was so tasty) and some other really strong cheese that I didn’t hate but I didn’t love either. We also stopped at a cafe (of course) and it was super cute.
The outside of the church had all sorts of great gargoyles that double as rain spouts–would have been neat to see them in action, but that would have meant rain pouring down on me, so I’m not complaining about the little bit of sun we had at the time.
Inside the church my favorite part was the organ–they’re all pretty cool. There was a ceremony going on though, so it was a little awkward to be milling about while people were praying and priests were doing their thing and whatnot. After admiring the view from up high, I bought some Eiffel Tower key chains from one of the various merchants selling things on the different platforms of the steps headed down the hill. Why not, right? There were sketchy guys selling fake designer purses too.
As we got further down the steps we had to avoid the guys who try to put bracelets on you and then force you to pay them for it. They’re pretty aggressive, so even though both of us kept saying “Don’t touch me,” a guy ended up grabbing my wrist anyway. Fortunately he listened the second time I told him not to touch me (probably I sounded a little panicked) and he didn’t put a bracelet on me. I’m not used to this sort of aggression and it made me pretty uncomfortable. I guess they’re used to people not putting up much of a fight, so even if you tell them to go away, they don’t because most people just let them stick bracelets on them anyway.
After the church the plan was to head to the Moulin Rouge. That didn’t happen however, because my cousin and I had a break from common sense and ended up being scammed by people playing a gambling game on the street. I won’t go into detail because it makes me grumpy. But long story short, we ended up gambling and lost A LOT of Euros. Lesson learned on that one. Travelers beware! I learned not to carry that much cash on me and I also learned not to take my wallet out around any sort of street game. The people that tricked us are complete low-life bastards, but that doesn’t mean my cousin and I weren’t also idiots at the time.
We headed for the metro after that and went to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to see the Arc de Triomphe. I was pretty depressed and grumpy on the ride over, but seeing the Arc up close was so impressive that I cheered up a bit.
It started to get really windy and cold though, and then eventually started to hail and then rain (weather in France is SO inconsistent!) and I completely lost whatever bit of a good mood that I had. We walked down the Champs-Élysées, and it’s primarily designer outlet stores and whatnot, so I wasn’t really interested. We saw some golden-domed governmental-type buildings too, with more statues, but I didn’t take any pictures because I didn’t want my camera to get wet. I was definitely read to just head back to Claire’s apartment.
Later that night was our sushi dinner. Yes, sushi in France! We went to this cool Japanese restaurant that looked kind of like a cave. We ended up getting two sushi boats full of salmon–maki, nigiri & sashimi. I thought there would be different kinds of sushi, but I guess the Groupon we had only entitled us to salmon. Really, this was fine with me since it’s my favorite and it was crazy fresh. I also tried Kir Royale, which was pretty good. Tried to order a Mai Tai too, but apparently those don’t exist in France, and our attempt to get fruit juice and rum failed as well. It’s okay because we took some chopsticks and chopstick rests as souvenirs.
After dinner we went to a “club” which was really just a cramped bar in the basement of a restaurant with overpriced drinks. They actually had a Mai Tai on the menu, so I tried again…but that was also a failure. I got some blue, lemony drink that was totally weak. Alas. The music they played was random and horrible and there was definitely a male stripper dancing on girls around the corner from where we were sitting. It was kinda skeevy, but fortunately we couldn’t see him from where were sitting.
On the ride home (crammed into to Charlie’s Audi TT–great car but after the claustrophobia-inducing ride I spent crammed into the “backseat” I don’t think I can sit in one again) we stopped by the Presidential Palace, which is where Charlie works. We only drove by but it’s still pretty neat. We got to go down a private road because Charlie is a cop.