Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Paris - La Cinémathèque Française And La Grande Arche De La Défense Plus A Few Things Thrown In For Fun

It is now December 27, 2012.  We had several adventures planned for today BUT we had squeezed in two of them yesterday (Champ-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe) and we ended up not going to some of the things we had planned.  It became a fairly light day as far as sight-seeing goes.

We had every intention to go see the catacombs and got all the way there, then saw the line.  It wrapped around the block.  Yes, I said block.  We stood in it for a little while and it didn't move.  So we discussed it and decided we would rather 1.) save the money for something we both really wanted and 2.) go somewhere that we could actually go into immediately.

We didn't really have a backup plan. So we walked across the street to a cafe for coffee and looked in our guide book and Paris Museum Pass options.  We finally decided on La Cinémathèque Française or the French Cinema Museum.  The website is not in English and neither was anything there, but they did have English audio guide that was included in the price of the ticket. 

We got there and the doors were unlocked so we went in only to discover that they didn't open for another 30 minutes.  Seriously, Paris, if you don't want Americans to come in then don't unlock your doors!  Unlocked doors means you are open!  So we went back out and wandered for a little while.  

We found this photo exhibit with famous French people and vegetables.  Really.  I have no other way of explaining it.  It was interesting and it killed some time.  There was a garden nearby too so we wandered in it.  Frankie made a new friend.

The scarecrow and Frankie in Yitzhak Rabin Garden Paris

By this time the cinema museum was open for real and we went in.

La Cinémathèque Française Paris

They had a coat check and we walked up to leave our jackets and the man behind the counter was extremely rude.  He just kept saying this one word in French to us in a gruff manner with a scowl on his face and pointing.  We had no idea what he was saying so we just started walking towards the direction he was pointing.

As it turned out, even with the Museum Pass we had to stand in line to pick up a museum ticket to show Grouchy Coat Man so he would take our coats.  I mean, is this a huge problem, people who have no intention of going through the museum coming in and just leaving their coats?  Has it become such an epidemic that they have resorted to this measure or is it just a French thing?  We will never know.

I really didn't know what to expect, besides the fact that I just knew I would be bored.  Movies are Frankie's thing and I usually just go along to keep him company.  Plus, I couldn't take photos, so I was hoping we wouldn't be there long.

As it turned out, it was fascinating!  It gave the whole history of how cinema came about and had great visuals.  I took more time listening to the audio guide than Frankie did!  I really wish pictures had been allowed in there because there was so many interesting things.  They did have an old movie poster enlarged in the lobby that I snapped a picture of.  I just had to take a photo!  I needed my "fix"!

Poster at Cinémathèque Française

After the museum we found a restaurant called Hippopotamus.  They are all over Paris and France.  It is a fancy-ish burger joint.  They had the formula that I have described earlier.  It is like a combo meal where you can either get 2 or 3 courses for a set amount.  The choices are less, but the price is cheaper than ordering off the regular menu.  I took a picture of the menu at Hippopotamus so you could get a better understanding of what I mean.  We were lucky in that our waitress spoke English and was happy to translate for us.

Formula Menu at Hippopotamus Paris

Let me share with you the two most interesting items that we had ordered.  Frankie ordered some spring rolls and the Hippo burger classique de Charolais, which came with fries.  In fact, just about every meal came with fries.  Charolais is a beef cattle from the Charolais region of France.  If you want to see what they look like before (way before) they become the picture below then feel free to click here.

Burger and Frites Hippopotamus Paris

I ordered the chicken breast but instead of fries, I asked for green beans. It was simple and good.  I opted for a dessert instead of an appetizer.  My choice was the crumble formage blanc citron.  I wasn't sure what it was...why do all my food choices start with that...and end with....but I ordered it anyways???

I knew the word for cheese was formage.  I speak fluent cheese, by the way.  And that blanc meant white.  So white cheese....for dessert?  It is actually a very simple French cheese that is a lot like a thicker yogurt and to this they added some sweetened whipped cream with some lemon zest and crumbles on top.  

Had I known it was like yogurt I would have order one of the other choices.  I don't like yogurt just plain.  If it is in something that is ok, but not like this.  I ate it anyways but it was just a personal taste as to why I didn't like it.  The parts that were not formage blanc were good!

Formage Blanc dessert Hippopotamus Paris

We had plans to go to the Disney store on Champ-Élysées to see if there was something I could purchase for my sister as a souvenir.  She loves Beauty and Beast, which is set in France, so I was hoping they might have something she would like.  

We got there and there was a line out the door!  What!?!  I don't think so.  We are not going to stand in line to get into a way over crowded store to be pushed around and not even be able to look.  Sorry, sister, we will find you something else.  I promise!

After the stress of seeing that line we needed coffee.  (Any excuse.)  We went into a place where this bread was not decoration.  You could actually buy it for consumption!  Cool!

Baguette Paris

We were going to get on the metro to head to our next place to visit when we saw these guys dancing.  They were very entertaining!

We were on our way to see La Grande Arche de la Défense.  It was one of those things that if you are in Paris for only a few days you probably wouldn't have time to go see it or you have possibly never even heard of it.  We were in Paris for over a week so we had plenty of time to go to the places that are a little off the beaten path...and I do mean just slightly off.

La Grande Arche is a modern triumphal arch built to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution in 1989.   It is massive!  We chose to not take any tours inside but just enjoyed the outside.

Full View of La Grande Arche de la Defense Paris

Steps of La Grande Arche de la Defense Paris

Ceiling of La Grande Arche de la Defense Paris

We didn't do much else this day.  Walked a lot.  Ate supper.  Went back to the hotel.  Sometimes you just need days like that.  I would like to leave you with the awesome view from the Grand Arche all the way to the Arc de Triomphe which is just over 3 miles away!  Tomorrow's plans include getting on a train and going to Versailles Palace and also a boat cruise.  As soon as I can get the photos all organized for December 28th I will get that post up and running.  Until then, ciao!

Frrom La Grande Arche de la Defense to Arc de Triomphe Paris