Cultures collide

On Saturday morning, Camillle and some of her coworkers/friends/brother planned on doing brunch together (a very un-French thing to do, apparently) and she was nice enough to invite me along. And oh, what a brunch it was. Let me tell you, the French know how to eat (…have I already written that somewhere else?). 
First you get bread with butter and jam served with tea, coffee, orange juice, or hot chocolate. I almost made the mistake of asking for the “preservatifs” which for a second I thought was the word for jelly, but then I remembered that meant condoms in French and I wasn’t about to yell sexual things inadvertently in front of several strangers again so soon. They also served little muffins that were the best I’ve ever had. But for real. 
Here’s the entree. Salad with a house sauce, fried potato wedges, raw fish (that freaked me out a little but I still ate it), scrambled eggs, a chicken kabob and what I think was Gouda cheese. Gouda is good. 
Okay, here’s the weird part. They also serve dessert after all that other food. You absolutely have to wait in between each course so you can digest some before you continue eating. I couldn’t believe the amount of food I was getting for one meal, let alone the quality. And meanwhile I’m learning French through cultural osmosis, surrounded by 11 Parisians. Anyway, the dessert consists of a fruit cup, a crêpe, and a cup of sour cream. A cup of sour cream? Yes. They call it fromage blanc here, which means white cheese. In order to eat this correctly, first you eat the fruit, but leave the juice. Then you pou sugar in the sour cream, and then the leftover fruit juice on top of that. Mix it together, and eat it like pudding. It was SO GOOD. Definitely a dish to bring home. The crepe you just open up, pour sugar on it, and then fold it back up and eat it from the outside in down to the point. Jeez. 
Me enjoying my brunch thoroughly. 
After brunch I split up with the group to go explore some more. Camille wasn’t going to be home until lat that afternoon so I had a lot of time to kill before I could get into the apartment, so off I went. I intended on first seeing Sacré Cœur, but I got super lost and ended up running into some of huge coolest things I’ve ever seen. 
I ran into the Moulin Rouge totally by accident. For whatever reason, I noticed there was a really high population of trans people in the area. 
A few streets over, I stumbled upon the Montmartre cemetery. Guys, I can’t even begin to describe how impressive this cemetery was. The lengths people go to to honor the memory of others is astounding and has led to some of the coolest architecture and art that I’ve ever seen. I felt bad taking pictures of graves so I didn’t, except for one: 
I recommend that everyone at point in their lives go to see this cemetery. It’s seriously the coolest thing I’ve seen so far. And I didn’t even know it existed until I walked in. And the weird thing? It was literally inhabited heavily by ravens and black cats. 

Creepy, right? 

It took a couple hours but I finally found my way up Montmartre to Sacré Cœur. You have to find your way through literally hundreds of tourists, all crowded around various trinket and souvenir shops, yelling about people bumping into them, watching mimes and musicians in the street, and betting on boxes into he middle of the street that they can tell which cup has that white square on it after having been thrown around by a gambler. Being a non-tourist tourist (aka a hipster tourist), I just shoved my way through people to get to the chapel. And it was beautiful. 
Sacré Cœur chapel
The view from Sacré Cœur of Paris. This city is enormous. 
After all that nonsense I was in desperate need of actual clothes and shoes if I had even the slightest desire not to look like a homeless person in Paris. I found a great thrift shop (magazin d’occasion here) and bought a winter coat, shoes, and two pairs of jeans for €27. Great! Total Parisian makeover. 
It’ll have to do. 
That night Camille invited me to have dinner with her friends. We had chips, bread, little weiners in croissants, and guacamole for an appetizer, chicken enchilada burritos as the entree, and fruit AND cheesecake for dessert (and there were plans to have chocolate fondu afterwards as well, but everyone was full). So now I can say I’ve had French-Mex. I’m also learning how to do the bises, which is where when you greet people you kiss next to the person’s cheeks instead of shaking their hands or hugging like an American. 
It’s too good to be true!
On Sunday, Camille and I wanted to tour around Paris a bit and I knew something I really wanted to see was the Notre Dame de Paris. I can’t even put into words how ridiculously huge it is, let alone the detail that went into literally every corner and surface of the construction of this 850 year-old masterpiece. I think if I took my mom to see it and walked inside with her, she would probably end up crying (she’s like that with grandiose religious things). Totally by accident I’d managed to make it to the Notre Dame on a Sunday morning, so they were having mass when we walked in. The center is reserved “pour les fidèles” and the sides are roped off for tourists to walk around as long as they’re quiet and avoid flash photography, which some people were ignoring to the chagrin of several church members. Here are some pictures. 
What’s with all these people getting married by all these gorgeous buildings? Oh well. Wedding photo count: 3. 
Charlemagne. 

A view of Notre Dame of Paris from father away. 

Camille and I went our separate ways again so she could eat dinner with her brother and I went out exploring some more. Everything in France is closed on Sundays except at Champs-Élysées, where all the tourists gather on Sunday afternoons to do shopping. The point of this is to let people have a day to spend with their friends and family and rest from work. Maybe we could learn something from the French! 

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