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1.25.2010

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Stephanie Perkins



I've decided to stay.

I mean, not really. But the dread of leaving grows. This is my last week in Paris, and I assumed I'd be homesick by now, but . . . I'm not.

Not even close.

I love that Parisians find nothing peculiar with eating dinner late, going to bed late, and waking up late. I love strolling the gorgeous boulevards and being surrounded by history and art. I love the scrumptious pastries and the strong coffee and the incredible wine. I love walking beside the Seine with my husband. I love sitting in the spots where my characters kiss and discovering future nooks for them to kiss. I love the yogurt in my fridge. The bakery across the street. The woman who sold me a postcard and then gave me a chocolate truffle. I love talking with friends until the bars close, I love that comics shops and movie theaters and bookstores are inescapable, and I love that everywhere I look, I find something beautiful.

I even love it when I unknowingly order gizzard salad and discover GIZZARD TASTES GOOD.

How am I supposed to leave? What happens when I return? Will New Stephanie retreat back into Old Stephanie, or will New Stephanie find a way to nurture this undeniable, unmistakable feeling of change?

I don't know. But I am happy here.




On Sunday, Jarrod and I visited the Mosquée de Paris, the largest mosque in France. The recommendation came via Laini Taylor via a "Pâtisseries of Paris" guidebook from her friend, Alexandra (who is visiting Paris this May!). This mosque is special because not only does it have a Marrakesh-like atmosphere of beautiful gardens and mosaics, but . . . yes! It has pastries.


Consumed in Laini and Alexandra's honor.


Here's our spread — hot peppermint tea with honey-drenched desserts of pistachios and flaky layers and coconut and sweet gummy fruit. Bliss!




After the mosque, we popped in the nearby Jardin des Plants. It's silly, because every time I pass one of these big gardens, I think, "This'll just be a quick pop in and out, since it's winter and nothing is blooming."

BUT LOOK:


IN JANUARY! STILL PRETTY!


And it's always like this. The gardens here are always still pretty. My mind boggles to think about them in the spring.

My favorite part of the garden was this . . . thing. (Okay, this will be tricky to explain. My apologizes.) It was a small hill with an alternating thick hedge/pathway that spiraled up into this gazebo.


No biggie, right? Well.


As we circled around the hill to the top, we discovered discreet holes in the hedges. At first we thought it was accidental, but NO. More holes. More holes. More holes.


Holes.


Then . . . we noticed the children. There were children hiding in the hedges. Underneath the hedges! Around the hedges and through the hedges and OHMYSTARS did we just find the most AWESOME PLAYGROUND OF ALL TIME? I mean, can you IMAGINE?? I would have given anything to have had this in my neighborhood as a kid!

But since the holes were child-sized, I had to content myself with looking and dreaming.


Just kidding.


OF COURSE I played in the hedge tunnels! Child Stephanie would be severely disappointed in Adult Stephanie if she did not.

So cool.

Today I returned to Montmartre, famous for being the home of France's Impressionist artists and bohemians, and famous for being topped by the white, cake-like Sacre Coeur. (It's also famous for the Moulin Rouge, which has turned into an expensive Vegas-style nightmare packed with American businessmen.) Montmartre is also the home of a beloved MODERN French figure — Amélie Poulin!


♥♥♥


As Amélie happens to be my second favorite film, a pilgrimage was required. This was, without a doubt, the cheesiest thing I've done here so far.

But it can't be helped. I mean . . . it's AMÉLIE. You know?

Jarrod and I were lucky enough to be guided again by our friend Manning, who used to live in the neighborhood. We started with lunch in her restaurant, Café des Deux Moulins. I was surprised to find the exterior so different from the version we saw in the movie! Remember how quaint the neighborhood looked?


Er, not so much.


(Ah, the magic of cinema!)

Inside, I must confess the food — among the things we ordered: foie gras, carpaccio, croque monsieur, croque madame, pommes frites, café crème, and a crème brulée named after our heroine — was only okay. (Though solidly GREAT by American standards. Ha!) And without the film's green and red color scheme, it certainly looked different.

BUT . . . NERD ALERT . . .


We sat in Nino's seat!!


If you look over Jarrod's shoulder, you'll see a gnome. It wasn't *the* gnome, but still. A gnome! And les toilettes had a gnome display, too. (I know. Weird but fantastic.)

Now, if you look over Nino's shoulder, you will find AMÉLIE:


♥♥♥


After lunch, we hunted down . . .


The produce stand!


Close-up of Monsieur Collignon's sign on top. (I think this is an original prop.)


Where she leads the blind man.


Sorry, that's a bad picture. I was jabbering and didn't look at it until later! Then we visited the carousel plaza where Amélie calls Nino on the payphone.


There is no payphone.


Also, it's TINY. Again . . . the magic of cinema and a wide-angle lens! The Sacre Coeur is in the background, of course. I'm not sure if you know this, but it was built just so Nino could run up the stairs a hundred years later.

I'm kicking myself that I didn't take a picture of the blue arrows someone had painted leading towards the top (!), but I suppose I'll live.


I look exhausted because I'm wearing the RED COAT again.


We also passed the street where Amélie and Nino are scooter-riding at the end, but I forgot to take a picture there, too. Argh! It's pretty though. You'll have to trust me. Then we ran across this, and even though it's weird to take a picture of a porno shop, THAT'S WHAT WE DID.


They changed the sign! Should I be ashamed to know this?


If you've never seen Amélie: (A) You've probably stopped reading this post. Sorry! Try me again next time. (B) You should watch Amélie.

And if you HAVE seen Amélie, you should watch this awesome alternate trailer*:




Now . . . off to enjoy my last week. Au revoir!


*Due to the number of people commenting that they've never seen it, I want to make it clear that the alternate trailer is nothing like the actual movie! The real film is a romantic comedy that verges on the magical. Not, you know, a horror film.

19 comments:

  1. I love living vicariously through you right now. And although I have not seen Amelie I did read the whole thing. And will probably watch it in the near future. I wanted to see it when it came out but just never got around to it.
    I hope your last week is amazing. And I'm sure when you come home, well, I'm sure you'll start figuring out a way to go back. That's what I'm sure of.

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  2. Oh! And I would've been pretty mad at adult Steph if she hadn't gone in the tunnels too. How awesome was that!

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  3. I haven't seen Amelie but I'm glad you had such a good time!

    Don't miss a second of the rest of your trip!

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  4. (My word verification is: biblepis. Oops!)

    Wonderful post! So glad you made it to the Mosque -- those pastries look awesome, and very different from the more French confections you've been taunting us with so far!

    Love the Amelie tour -- thank you! Have a wonderful last week!

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  5. This post filled my heart with joy. I LOVE Amelie! The part where she leads the blind man through the street always makes me teary. I listen to the soundtrack when I need an extra boost of writing inspiration! Thank you so much for taking these pictures and sharing your Amelie journey with us. What a great way to end my day! Good night!

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  6. This is the coolest way to spend time in Paris ever! I love it! Now I really really really want to take a trip there!

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  7. I now feel quite compelled to go rent Amelie, if for no other reason than to get your references. Enjoy your last week in Paris!

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  8. I love the picture of you in the hedge tunnel.

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  9. Yayyy hedge tunnels! Can we say, Paris's version of "Labyrinth?" (Only much happier and less unnerving...)

    Like Jessica said in the first post, I too very much enjoy living Paris through you, Stephanie. I hope you have a fantastically-wonderful-awesome-great-stupendously-amazing remainder of your time there.

    It has definitely been a blast tagging along with you from here. Au revoir! :-D

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  10. that is the craziest alternate trailer ever!
    On a related side note, i have a friend who named her duaghter Amelie because she loves the movie so much.
    It is indeed awesome

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  11. This sounds fabulous! No wonder you don't want to come home. And I would've been so disappointed if you hadn't crawled into the hedge tunnel/hole thing. Yayyy for being a kid at heart! Thanks for sharing!

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  12. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Amelie. It's one of my favorite movies. Thank you for sharing your pictures!

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  13. I LOVE AMELIE!!! I first saw it when i was twelve, and then when i told my french teacher, she asked me "isn't that a little OLD for you?"

    i watch it whenever i'm stressed or should be doing homework... such as now! thank you for inspiring me to watch Amélie again!

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  14. I hate you. Ok, not really. I love that you had the Amelie adventure, so freaking awesome! Best alternative trailer evor!

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  15. Okay:

    1) I find it impossible IMPOSSIBLE to believe that there are people in the world who have at this point in time not watched Amélie like, 30 times (comme moi).

    2) Given #1, I guess I don't have to say that I have taken pictures of everything you have taken pictures of in this post, exactly the same, except insert me in the places where you are.

    I am an Amélie nerd. The nerdiest.

    Thanks for the Paris memories.

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  16. O Stephanie I have loved every word of your travelogues.

    Have a wonderful last few days ...

    xo

    Lisa

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  17. Well of course you love Amelie. I'm starting to wonder if we were separated at birth. Or the playground. Or in time, or something like that. Hmm.

    And I got the postcard!!!!! Thank you!!!! It was such a surprise, and I am sad that I cannot send you a letter back before you return home.

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  18. I was just wondering today if you were home yet so I could hear all of the details of your trip. And - duh - why didn't I think to check your blog?? Okay, major retard moment. Well, it's because I never check blogs. In fact, I'm hardly on the computer unless I'm checking emails, and those even come on my phone now.

    Darling, I'm enjoying a belated recap of your trip. Amelie happens to be my #1 favorite movie of all time, and I'm so impressed that you even knew where to go to find all the cool sites. So jealous.
    Let's just move to Paris. (with Jeff and Jarrod of course).

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  19. I love Amelie! It's one of my favorite movies of all time! The music, the colors, the story - C'est magnifique!

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