Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | November 10, 2019

EU Go, Girl! Adventures in Europe: Part # 9

I am back in Paris for a few more days, and so have been continuing my touristic ventures. My first stop yesterday? Another laundromat. Ooh, la la! Very exciting! Well, perhaps not exciting, but certainly lovely to have fresh clean clothes to put on, especially my sweater, since I only brought the one and had been wearing it over mostly everything.

After my laundry was taken care of, I jumped on the metro to head to to l’Aquarium de Paris. My tourist browsing lead to targeted ads on Facebook, which is how I learned Paris has an aquarium, and since I love aquariums, I absolutely had to make my way there. I was joined by my friend Sage; she was a summer student in our shop last year, coming up from Ottawa for a four month stint in the region as part of her university coop opportunity. She’s now working on contract here in Paris, so I had a lovely buddy to hang out with over the last two days.

The aquarium is pretty great, and even though it was a chilly Saturday, it wasn’t too busy, which was so nice! I love aquariums, and so does Sage, so it was a really brilliant time. We even spent a good half hour watching the shark tank! After that, we had an early dinner near the aquarium at a place called Le Wilson, where we chose to have another of those course selection menus. Sage had a yummy mozzarella and tomato salad as her started, while I opted for the French onion soup. She had roast beef for her main, while I went with the roast chicken. For dessert, she had creme caramel and I went with my beloved creme brûlée. The platter menus are such a good idea and good value!

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A taste of the Rouen aesthetic. 

After that, it was home for an early night, because Sage and I were meeting up again today bright and early, to catch a train for a day trip to Rouen. It’s a charming little village with a sort of French medieval aesthetic, and is probably best known for being where Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) was imprisoned and then burnt at the stake. Our train left shortly after 7:30, so I hopped on the metro and made my way there fairly handily. I do like the transit here in Paris.

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The Donjon (dungeon) tower in Rouen.

The train takes about two hours to get to Rouen. As it was Sunday, many of the shops were closed, but we still found so much to do, and possibly since it was Sunday, much of it for free as well. This included our first stop at the Donjon (dungeon) – not, in fact, where Joan of Arc was imprisoned, though she was brought into the tower and threatened there before being kept elsewhere.

The spiral steps are a menace, but it was very interesting. There are examples of weaponry and clothing, as well as just some information about historical players of the time, such as “Charles the Mad”. They do escape rooms there, too, which might be fun for a group of 3 to 6 people who want to drop 105 euros on that kind of puzzle.

 

After the Donjon, we made our way to the market (stopping to get some macarons and “larmes de Jeanne d’Arc”, which are not tears but chocolate covered almonds) for later since a little shop was open only until noon. We checked out the produce and listened to the French singer for a bit, before finding the Joan of Arc church, which unfortunately did not appear to be open to the public today.

After that, we found a place for lunch called La Terrase where we got to do another platter selection, though Sage and I opted to just have a starter and main, and skip dessert, since we had macarons and chocolate almonds and also chocolates I bought in Belgium for later. Sage had a lovely prosciutto and butternut squash dish while I decided to give the oysters a go, and then she had a burger while I went with a magnificent duck in orange sauce. It was all very good, and I would definitely go back. The jazzy vibe of the place was nice, too.

After lunch, we made our way to a cathedral, another Notre Dame, this time of Rouen. I seem to be collecting Notre Dames this trip! It’s certainly very stunning, from the detailed intricacies of the outside, which must have been even more stunning before time weathered some of the precision away, to the stained glass and artistry of the interior.

We were going to go into the Musee des Beaux Arts next, but there was a little museum of iron works next door, and it was free, so we decided to check it out. It was very cool! It’s apparently “unique au monde” (the only one in the world), according to one of the staff – a little museum dedicated to work done in iron, from keys to art to tools and more, some dating as early as the first century! It was extremely interesting and definitely worth stopping in to check out.

We then moved to the Musee des Beaux Arts, and wouldn’t you know it, there was no cost to view the permanent collection today either. It was such a pleasant surprise, all the free things we got to explore today! The collection was also interesting, full of artists I hadn’t heard of but certainly talented, if not the “masters”, dating from the 1500s onward into the final collection floor of impressionists’ work, where I did know some of the artists, as Renoir, Monet, and Pisarro are featured there. There was even one of Monet’s earlier works, done before he began to work in the impressionist style for which he is well known. The Musee is also a LOT bigger than it looks where you start out, and it was a great way to while away the rest of this chilly afternoon in Rouen. I also especially liked a little room dedicated to Joan of Arc works – very appropriate for Rouen, I think!

We had hoped to stop at a coffee shop on the way to the train station, but it too was closed. We managed to find a machine that made coffee; not as nice, certainly, but it would do nicely. So Sage and I had hot drinks to go with our macarons (which we split so we could try four kinds) and our chocolate covered almost and my Belgian chocolate. It was a lovely end to a perfectly charming day, and I’m so glad I went and had such a lovely travel companion to join me!

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Travel is extra fun with a friend, especially once as nice and fun as Sage!


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