Lyon to Lille to Paris in 48 hours


So my ridiculously crazy weekend started off with a definite boom. My friend Jessica left for Lille, France (where the Phoenix concert was) on Friday morning at around 10 am. The train ride takes a total of 3 hours so she had the day to explore Lille and get to the concert early enough to find a good spot. For me, I couldn't leave until the afternoon because I had a medical exam at 1:30 pm for my visa (a stamp that validates my visa so I can leave the country!). The plan was to take a train out of Lyon at 3:30, get to Lille at 6:30, drop my bag off at the hotel and meet Jessica at the venue around7:30, giving us 30 minutes before the concert started. Although the morning went well and I was very productive with errands and arriving at the train station on time, to my dismay, my train was delayed an hour and 15 minutes. This meant that I would probably arrive in Lille at 7:45 or exactly at 8 pm, ruining all of our plans for the evening. It was definitely annoying but I just decided to take it in stride and not stress to much over it. After all, what more could I do at that point? Getting angry or discouraged wouldn't make the train leave any earlier. Plus, I was simply thankful for the fact that my train was not canceled completely like 2 of the trains around that time had been.

After an hour and fifteen minutes of aimlessly wondering around the chaos-stricken train station, it was finally time to board the train. I pretty much fell asleep the moment I sat down. The times that I was actually awake, I was contemplating whether or not to drop my huge backpack off at the hotel or go straight to the concert. The concert was a 5 minute walk from the train station but the hotel would take an 15 extra minutes each way. I couldn't imagine squeezing into the tightly packed venue with a backpack that could fit a small person in it. When I got to Lille, it was 8 pm and the first act had already began performing. I got a quick bite to eat for dinner and I asked if the train station had lockers. They said "yes" which got me really excited until I realized that the lockers were out of order. By the time I left the train station, it was already 8:20 pm and I knew I had to just go straight or else I'd miss Phoenix playing too. After being lost for about 5 minutes, I finally found the entrance and to my surprise and utter happiness, there was a coat/bag check. All my worries were solved :-) At around 8:45, I squeezed my way through the crowd (bagless) and met Jessica who was excitedly standing in the front and center.

The concert itself was soooo awesome. Phoenix is great live and the music just felt so good. Unfortunately, we were standing in the front and center so a small moshpit had formed. I was not OK being pushed around and almost falling to my death multiple times. Therefore, I scooted back about 5 feet and the crowd was much more mellow. Jessica joined me 20 minutes later after getting her dose of moshing.

I don't have pictures of the concert...I thought it was too dangerous and too squished to try and lug my huge Nikon camera. Jessica has a bunch on her digital so once I get those uploaded, I'll post them on here.

After the concert, we went back to the hotel and got a good night's rest for our big days on Saturday and Sunday in Paris. The next morning, we woke up at 9:30, went to the Museum of Beaux Arts, had a quick breakfast, checked out of the hotel and ran after our train to Paris (we made it by 4 minutes). Although I didn't get a chance to see much of Lille, what I did see was beautiful. Lille is an hour north of Paris, close to Brussels so it has a Brussels feel to it (mussels and fries are a Lille specialty). Our train to Paris was only an hour long but Jessica and I used every minute of it to nap.

[Palais de Beaux Arts in Lille]

[How statuesque of me]

Once we got into Paris, we checked into our hostel, dropped our bags off and walked down Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. We stopped and shopped a little bit in some of the stores. It was Jessica's first time in Paris so her shrieks of "OMG!!!" and "Get out of here...look how beautiful that is!" were quite amusing and fun to be around.

[Jessica & me in front of the Arc de Triomphe]

After about 15 minutes at the Arc de Triomphe, we walked down to a famous patisserie (a dessert shop), called Ladurée. They are famous for their DELICIOUS macaroons so I ordered a large café macaroon. 4 euros for that baby. You bet I savored each bite of that macaroon, making each of the 4 euros absolutely worth it. If you've never had one, let me try to explain. French macaroons are not the same thing as those coconut macaroons that you and I see in grocery stores in the States. They are very different. For a more detailed description, read this blog entry: The Ultimate Macaroon. I can't really put into words what the mouth experiences when it takes a bit out of a macaroon but just know, it's heavenly. There's this flaky outside, mixed with a gooey inside that makes each bite wonderful, amazing, unforgettable. I'm sure you've seen pictures of French macaroons here and there. They are little round colorful circles. I'll try my best to bring some back but I'm not sure if that will make it past customs.

[Waiting in line at Ladurée]

[So excited for our goodies!]

[Anticipation is killing me]

[The 4 euro macaroon. It's a lot bigger than it looks]
After Ladurée, we met up with my other friend Jess and tried to find a restaurant for dinner around the Pantheon. We decided on this Greek restaurant that was a total mom & pop place. It was definitely authentic Greek food. I had tzatskiki sauce for an appetizer, moussaka (lasagna with eggplant instead of pasta) for dinner and fresh fruit for dessert. We talked about our weekend, enjoyed our food and just enjoyed each other's company. Looking back, I realize how "French" we've become--Unknown to us at the time, dinner took us 2 hours! That's something I never thought I could do before haha.
[Place de la Concorde]

[The city of lights <3]

[Oh, you know, just another hotel in Paris. No biggie]
By the time we got to the hostel, it was already 12 am. We went back to Champs-Élysées for a couple of hours and hung out a lounge. Around 3 am, we were exhausted and headed back to our hostel. On Sunday morning, we shared a Nutella crepe, drank some coffee and ate lunch around the Saint-Michel area. After lunch, we went to Notre-Dame. Then, we got some more coffee and took a stroll through the Luxembourg gardens. The leaves were changing and the day was beautiful and warm. People were sprawled out everywhere, napping, reading, studying or just enjoying the sun. It was beautiful.
[Our wonderful crepes being made]

[Notre-Dame on a beautiful Sunday morning]

[Luxembourg gardens. People resting, leaves changing]

[No matter what age you are, you're never too old to nap in the garden]

[Jess & Jessica soaking in the sun]

[Jess & me]

[Jessica & me]

[Jessica with cute little French boy scouts; look at the little boy's frown]
After the gardens, Jessica and I went to the Orsay Museum where they have a lot of art from the Impressionism era. That is one of my favorite styles of art so I got to see Degas, Monet and Toulouse-Lautrec. After about 2 hours of walking around, our feet were hating us and our bodies were absolutely exhausted. We were going to meet up with Jess at the Lafayette Galleries (huge shopping area) but it was closed on Sundays. Instead, we met up at the Eiffel Tower, took some sweet pictures and headed to a nearby café/restaurant for some dinner. For dinner, I had this DELICIOUS beef stew, similar to beef bourguignon, called pot au feu. It was tasty, hot, delicious, nutritious and everything I needed. Dinner ended around 7:00 pm so we headed back the hostel to check out, get our bags and make our way to the train station for our 9 pm train ride back to Lyon.
[At Musée d'Orsay]

[Les chambres des fêtes: The party rooms]

[Us girls in front of the Eiffel Tower]

[My delicious, mouth-watering pot au feu]

We all arrived in Lyon safe and sound. Although I was absolutely exhausted last night, I am so thankful for the beautiful weekend and all the wonderful memories I made with Jess and Jessica :-) Now, it's 3 days of normalcy before going back to Paris on Thursday to fly out to Prague on Friday.

Until next time, bisou <3


eileen said...

Ladurée! OMG! Ladurée is absolutely amazing! haha. i was actually able to sneak some back on my carry on. i had them gift wrap the macaroons i bought for my mother and since they come in a cute little box they survived just fine, but they dont have a huuuge shelf life, i think maybe only 4 days...
so then, im actually trying to get my hands on one of those cute little wedding cake toppers Ladurée sells, and i was wonderin' if you make ur way back to Ladurée if you could maybe bring one or send one;) ;) i would definitely definitely pay you back or send you money with shipping and for your troubles :D
oh and the crepes, did you have them at the latin quarter? i recognize the little pastel blue building, brown apron and ruddish workers ;) hehe.
musee d'orsay has the best degas section!!!
take and upload many pics of Prague! i hear it is AMAZING!!!! :D can't wait ;)

Anonymous said...

I need need NEED to have a crepe and a macaroon ( I think that's how you spell it in American English.