Greetings and Salutations Internet!
As some of you know I recently went on a trip to Paris with a friend and with me I brought my advanced reading copy of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, aka AnnaARC. The reason why I brought the ARC as opposed to a finished copy is this, not long before I left on the trip I was talking with AndiABC’s and she mentioned that she’d really love to find an ARC of her favorite book, Anna and the French Kiss. I told her that I thought I still had mine and did a quick look and it practically lept into my hands off my shelf so eager it was to find a new home with Andi. We then made a deal that she’d read the first Harry Potter and I would give her my ARC and since I wasn’t going to meet up with Andi until after my trip to Paris I thought that I would bring the book with me so she’d have a book that had seen the sights that were mentioned in the book. And maybe a few that weren’t but were places that Anna and her friends would probably have seen at some point during her stay in the city. =)
Everything in bold italics is a direct quote from Anna and the French Kiss (my review).
First up was Sacre Coure Cathedral which sits up high on a hill and overlooks the city. It was our first view of the Eiffel Tower and was right next to my stairs (Rue Foyatier) and there was a pretty carousel at the bottom. After visiting Sacre Coure we stopped for some crepes for lunch.
“The sidewalks are crowded with students and tourists, and they’re lined with identical benches and ornate lampposts, busy trees ringed in metal grates, Gothic cathedrals and tiny creperies, postcard racks, and curlicue wrought iron balconies.”
This is such an apt description of Paris and the street where we found these crepes. Although unlike Anna I did not eat the nutella and banana crepe as I do not like nutella. Following lunch we took another queue from Anna and the gang and went to the Père Lachaise Cemetery
“The five of us – Mer, Rashmi, Josh, St. Clair, and I – are traipsing through the Cimetiere du Père Lachaise, located on a hillside overlooking Paris. Its like a miniature city itself. Wide pathways act as roads through neighborhoods of elaborate tombs.”
We saw several famous graves including this famous(?) crypt.
“Victor Noir. He was a journalist shot by Pierre Bonaparte,” St. Clair says, as if that explains anything. He pulls The Hat up off his eyes. “The statue on his grave is supposed to help…fertility”
“His wang is rubbed shiny,” Josh elaborates. “For luck.”
We also stumbled on this crypt which made AnnaARC sad for obvious reasons.
And no trip to Paris would be complete without a stop for some macaroons!
“The art museum is called the Louvre and it’s shaped like a pyramid and the Mona Lisa lives there along with that statue of the woman missing her arms.”
We turn a corner and – there it is – the River Seine. The lights of the city bob in the ripples of the water. I suck in my breath. It’s gorgeous. Couples stroll along the riverbank, and booksellers have lined up dirty cardboard boxes of paperback books and old magazines for browsing.
And then, as we’re turning our attention back toward the river, I see it.
The building is like a great ship steaming downriver. Massive. Monstrous. Majestic. It’s lit in a way that absurdly reminds me of Disney World, but its so much more magical than anything Walt could have dreamed up.
We have to cross a bridge to get to it. I hadn’t realized it was built on an island. St. Clair tells me we’re walking to the Ile de la Cite, the Island of the City, and its the oldest district in all of Paris. The Seine twinkles below us, deep and green and a long boat strung with lights glides under the bridge. I peer over the edge.
I glance back and find St. Clair toddling on the road, several feet away from the edge of the bridge. For a moment, I’m confused. Then it hits me. “What? You aren’t afraid of heights?”
St. Clair keeps his eyes forward, on the illuminated figure of Notre Dame. “I just can’t fathom why anyone would stand on a ledge when there’s a respectable amount of walking space right next to it.”
We have a perfect view of the entrance – hundreds and hundreds of tiny figures carved into three colossal archways. The statues look like stone dolls, each one separate and individualized. “They’re incredible,” I whisper.
“No there. Here.” He points to my feet.
I look down, and I’m surprised to find myself standing in the middle of a small stone circle. In the center, directly between my feet, its a coppery-bronze octagon with a star. Words are engraved around it: POINT ZERO DES ROUTES DE FRANCE.
“Mademoiselle Oliphant. It translates to ‘Point zero of the roads of France.’ In other words, it’s the point from which all other distances in France are measured.” St. Clair clears his throat. “It’s the beginning of everything.”
I look back up. He’s smiling.
“Welcome to Paris, Anna. I’m glad you’ve come.”
After my friend and I visited Notre-Damn we took the reverse route of Anna and Etienne and walked by the Sorbonne:
And the Middle Ages Museum as seen below:
We pass another enormous structure, this one like the ruins of a medieval castle. “God, there’s history everywhere,” I say. “What is this place? Can we go in?”
We also went to the Pantheon – the dome was hidden by construction stuffs so cut most of that out of my photos. =)
…but ahead of me the Pantheon shimmers. Its massive dome and impressive columns rise up to crown the top of the neighborhood.
St Clair glances at me from the corner of his eyes and smiles. “A pantheon means its a place for tombs – of famous people, people important to the nation.”
“Is that all?” I’m sort of disappointed. It looks like it should’ve at least crowned a few kings or something.
He raises an eyebrow.
“I mean, there are tombs and monuments everywhere here. What’s different about this one?” We climb the steps, and the full height of the approaching columns is overwhelming. I’ve never been this close.
“Who’s buried here?”
“Er. Rousseau, Marie Curie, Louis Braille, Victor Hugo -“
“The Hunchback of Notre-Dame guy?”
“The very one. Voltaire. Dumas. Zola.”
To get to the crypts you have to walk through the large upper level filled with columns and the dome but alas Foucault’s pendulum was down for some sort of repair.
Then you get to the stairs….which are described as such [St. Clair’s] mood changes the moment the stairs come into view. The spiral staircase down to the crypt is steep and narrow. My irritation is replaced by worry when I see terror in his eyes. I’d forgotten about his fear of heights.
When my friend Michelle saw the stairs to the crypt she laughed and said St Claire was afraid of these? They aren’t that steep? Michelle had just read Anna and the French Kiss (AnnaARC to be exact) and so it was all fresh in her mind. Later on I looked up the passage and laughed as well because there weren’t very many stairs and they really weren’t steep at all. The stairs in the Arch de Triumph were far steeper. It should also be noted that the stone wall was very smooth and not rough as described.
Behind the Pantheon is this building…
We’re standing in front of an absolute beast of a cathedral. Four thick columns hold up a Gothic facade of imposing statues and rose windows and intricate carvings. A skinny bell tower stretches all the way into the inky blackness of the night sky. “What is it?” I whisper. “Is it famous? Should I know it?”
“Its my church.”
“No.” He nods to a stone placard, indicating I read it.
“Saint Etienne du Mont. Hey! Saint Etienne.”
And no trip to the Latin Quarter with AnnaARC…where the Middle Ages Museum, the Pantheon and Saint Etienne du Mont is…is complete without a stop by this place:
And then the darkness gives way to white neon. An Art Deco font, burning into the night, announces arrival at the CINEMA LE CHAMPO. The letters dwarf me. Cinema. Has there ever been a more beautiful word?
It starts drizzling, so we pop into a bookshop across from Notre-Dame. The yellow-and-green sign reads SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY.
While there AnnaARC did something scandalous and shocking and her mother may not approve but I believe that Andi didn’t mind one bit when she saw.
Here are some other things that AnnaARC and I did while in Paris. We visited the Eiffel Tower
Went to see the Arch de Triumph
Where we climbed the almost 300 stairs to the top to check out the views
We went to Versailles and wandered the gardens and saw the hall of mirrors
Walked bridges over the Seine and saw lots and lots of locks
Finally paused with all the walking to take a picture of the cool metro station signs
Went to the Chateau de Vincennes which is your typical medieval castle and was just an amazing find that Michelle stumbled upon in the guidebook.
We also took the train to just outside the city and visited Disney Paris
Which was all decorated for Halloween
And no AnnaARC tour of Paris would be complete without a stop here, to this fountain:
“What are we doing?” His voice strained.
He’s so beautiful, so perfect. I’m dizzy. My heart pounds, my pulse races. I tilt my face toward his, and he answers with an identical slow tilt toward mine. He closes his eyes. Our lips brush lightly.
“If you ask me to kiss you, I will,” he says.
His fingers stroke the inside of my wrists, and I burst into flames.
“Kiss me,” I say.
So there is it…AnnaARC’s tour of Paris, if you want to see more of my Paris photos just head over to Instagram and search the hashtag #gailandthefrenchtrip. Now that you’ve made it to the bottom of this post you deserve a reward! Which brings us to the contest portion of the hour.
In the above photo you will see all that you can win…there are two tote bags, one from Shakespeare and Company in Paris and the other is the Anna, Lola, and Isla tote that you may have seen given out as promo for the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After (my review). Along with the totes are buttons from the series (see photo below), a bookmark from Paris – this is from the Middle Ages Museum and features a unicorn from one of their unicorn tapestries, and finally there is a book of love poems by Pablo Neruda which I bought in Shakespeare and Company.
He holds up a collection of poetry. Pablo Neruda. “Have you read this?”
I shake my head.
“Good. Because I bought it for you.”
“It’s on our syllabus for next semester in English. You’d need to buy it anyway. Open it up,” he says.
Confused, I do. There’s a stamp on the front page. SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY, Kilometer Zero Paris.
To enter you must be in the US (so international folks, its just too expensive to ship overseas) and use the rafflecopter below!