overwhelmed by the la vie bohème feeling, we headed down the hill to find moulin rouge. you know, the famous red windmill that stands as a symbol for love, passion, art, and a carefree, crazy way of life. joie de vivre, as the french say.
we didn’t know where we were going, but we just kept walking. soon, we arrived to some main street and knew that we were getting close to the moulin rouge district (i don’t think it’s called a district. i made that up to describe the area around the red windmill).
moulin rouge + joie de vivre!
how did we know we were close? well, practically every store front was selling sex toys or lap dances or peep shows or something else kinky. like. for real. it was like a little tacky las vegas strip in the middle of beautiful paris. and, even though there were flashing neon lights and creepy, thick, red curtains hiding a sex theatre, somehow it was still beautiful paris.
or maybe i am just so enamored with paris that nothing seems wrong or weird. i was definitely caught up in the vibes. i will even admit that we discussed that one day we’d all like to go see some burlesque show… one that was as tasteful as possible, of course. just to have the experience.
and then… there it was. the red windmill. the moulin rouge theater. smaller than i imagined, but nevertheless, as symbolic as i wanted it to be.
a symbol of life, love, frivolity, freedom, artistry, and a meeting place for people of all walks of life.
“Nonchalance, light-heartedness and ‘joie de vivre’… these are the words that could best sum- up this unique period in the history of France. It was a moment of respite between two wars, a period of transition between two centuries, during which social barriers collapsed and the industrial revolution gave hope of a better life for all, in a rich cultural profusion of fun and frivolity. The middle-class mixed with the riff-raff; popular culture was enhanced by a happy disorder of joy and vitality. In this atmosphere, which favored artistic creativity, literary circles appeared and disappeared according to chance encounters, while painters and illustrators grew increasingly inspired by this joyful, sometimes outrageous but full of fantasy atmosphere that broke with the former rigid classicism of the period… The atmosphere fitted perfectly the appearance of the first cabarets, such as the Moulin Rouge in 1889.”
– from the moulin rouge website
having soaked up the crazy joy of this corner in paris, which extended throughout all of montmatre, we decided it was time for that beer we had been craving since lunch.
just a block away, we ducked into a cafe, sitting directly on a corner, sipping drinks and watching people passing by. we must have stayed there an hour or so. everything we did in paris took time. we never rushed for anything. and absolutely lived for the moment.
from art to history: a pause by the louvre
on the metro again – this time for a looooong ride – and headed back to the river area. time to soak in a little history. i really felt the need to walk past the louvre, to at least just see it. we will come back another time + go inside. but, i knew i’d feel incomplete without catching a glimpse of that big, glass pyramid.
little did i know, or expect, how beautiful the whole area was, with the old buildings completely surrounding it.
it was the perfect place to sit and take it all in. and snap some photos, of course. in addition to me feverishly taking photo after photo, there was a real, live photoshoot going on right beside us… complete with paparazzi and all. soooooo paris.
wandering the left bank to find some art of our own
when we left the louvre area, we had a mission. time to by some artwork. so, we headed back over the river to the left bank. this was the place to find art. to peruse the stands and snag a little piece of paris to bring home with us.
exclusive: beer on a boat on the seine
after we found the perfect little piece of art, and me getting yelled at by one man who owned a stand because i was taking a photo (what is it with me getting in trouble in paris?!), we kept walking down the left bank. i was shaking off my rebellious act, when kat, lina and i spotted a boat docked on the river below us. on top of that boat were some people relaxing in the sun and drinking beer.
we wondered out loud how they managed to get there, thinking that it was some fancy pancy place. so, we decided to take a closer look and walked down to the dock. it looked like a public place, so we climbed on board. we have no fear.
turns out, it seems that it was a public place, just waiting for visitors to come onboard. hoo-fuckin-ray for taking chances + making shit happen.
we sat in the sun (and the wind), sipped on our beer, and felt the joy of summer in paris.
our last evening in paris: family time
we wandered away from “the boat with the beer” because we felt the need for food. like immediately. we made it back to the 5th arrondissement, our home neighborhood, and plopped down at a cafe in a square. it was a very, very typical parisian cafe. everyone ate outside, drinking wine + beer with their dinner, kissing + snuggling, smoking, and taking their sweet time. all of the chairs were actually facing towards the building for watching the current soccer game on the tube. so, we ordered salads and duck and beer, and joined in the dinner vibes.
then, after a long, leisurely dinner, we decided to head off to kat’s favorite neighborhood bar for a night cap. (oh dear lord. i’ve always wanted to say that. and i did – and it was the perfect time + place to say it!).
just around the corner from kat’s apartment, and a few blocks from ours, is le pantalon (the pants). legend is that le pantalon used to be a brothel. whatever it was in the past, and the whole brothel thing made it seem exotic and parisian and rebellious, today the bar is a relaxed, funky, cozy place where you can get beer for 3-4 euros = super cheap. it’s a place to really just kick back and enjoy each other (and beer).
apparently, on this night, it was a super quiet and slow night. no rowdy, standing room only craziness. so, it was perfect for us to sit and chat – and be able to hear and understand each other better. plus, we snagged the super coziest spot in the bar.
somehow the hour got very late, and after enjoying a few cheap beers (after our other previous beers during the day) we all decided that it was time to say goodnight. so, lina and i headed off to our airbnb, longing for the bed and some sleep. we were absolutely exhausted. bushed. and a bit tipsy.
but, oh my god, had we lived life to the fullest all day long. c’est la vie!!
weekend in paris series //
day 1 → here
day 2.1 → here
day 2.2 → here
day 3.1 → here
day 4 → coming up tomorrow! (our last day. sad face.)