Île-de-la-Cité & La Nuit Blanche

It’s been a little while since I have posted here. I’ve had a lot going on with my health, with having quit smoking and with the weather changes. I have a tendency to experience mild to moderate SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and with having given up so many coping “tools” what with not eating gluten and now not smoking, it’s an adjustment. Plus, today I stopped coffee for an as yet undetermined amount of time! I needed to — I can tell it is holding wellness back from me.

So yeah, I’m kind of bummin’.

To help me out of my funk, I went around the Île-de-la-Cité this past Saturday. This is the center point of Paris proper, and where the Notre Dame de Paris is located. I’ve decided not to put a lot of Wiki links in this post — I know it is possible for people to look up this stuff on their own and I wanted to focus on what I did that day.


I have had this post in draft form for a couple of hours now. I have THE WORST caffeine withdrawal headache ever and don’t really have it in me to post a lot of text. BUT, I want to post something, so here are some photo collages and photos I have uploaded to Flickr!

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First, I had a cup of café expresso at the Jaurés Café.

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Yeah, I’m off the java now. No more joe.  Maybe not permanently, but I need to heal my body still, so it’s gotta go. Now that I think about it, this was probably my last coffee in a café for a while…

2009-10--03 October - Ile de Cité - La Nuit Blanche

I took the M° Jaurés, Line 5 (Line 2 Jaurés is closed for repairs until December) to Gare du Nord where I jumped on Line 4 towards the Porte d’Orleans to M° Cité.

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I decided while taking photos of the Métro station at Cité that the metal and rivets interior reminds me a lot of the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz! Take note, too, that there are LOTS of stairs to climb at Cité. There is an elevator, and most use it. It’s on a timer, though, so you have to wait for it to arrive, then wait for it to close, then wait for it to go up. For me, I’d rather just trudge slowly up the stairs. I’m not too old yet for that!

I debated going on a tour of Sainte Chapelle. I still have not been inside of it, but unlike the Notre Dame de Paris there is an entrance fee. Also, as soon as I started walking towards it to decide whether I wanted to go to see it or not, I ran into a Tabac.

Oh yes, the tobacconist, which is a government-sanctioned store selling cigarettes and postcards and tsotchkes and which is often attached to a café. I had felt a little fed up with not smoking the past several days, and I decided to buy a pack of Pall Malls.

*insert suspenseful music here*

Guess what? I almost barfed when I lit up the first cigarette of the pack. I got queasy, the stench over powered me, and I got so lightheaded and nauseous, I thought I really was going to hurl. I am grateful that I did. Its had been two and a half weeks since I quit, and really I did not *want* to start smoking again, I just missed it *so much*! But, my body’s reaction let me know better, I was terribly ill-feeling, having an almost allergic reaction to smoking after just one, and I really felt so put off by the whole incident that I felt bolstered by my decision to quit. If queasy.

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What I wound up doing was walking to Place Saint-Michel and going shopping in Gibert Jeune, a four-story bookshop and papeterie. The shop’s trademark yellow awnings are hard to miss. I wandered for a couple of hours there and found a coloring-type book, Mon cahier de bêtises (oh, for cheaper than on Amazon! My copy was  5€ 10!) and a couple of sticker books with a character named Martine (this one and this one). I also got some things for my little son, J, whose 4th birthday will be in early November. He lives with his dad in the States.

After the bookstore, I went to the Square René-Viviani, which is just across the Seine from the Notre Dame de Paris and next to Shakespeare and Company, the famous English language bookstore.

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The Square is just next to the Eglise Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, too. It was closed for mid-day, but I had been in it before earlier this year when my eldest son was here to visit.

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It was a beautiful fall day with perfect lighting for photographs. I just took some photos of the outside of the church instead.

I then went to Shakespeare and Company, where the highlight of my day was speaking to the clerk in English. I bought, along with A Movable Feast and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, Julie & Julia, the book that inspired the movie I just saw last week. Or the week before. (Time blurs, non-caffeinated.)

What was fun was that as I purchased the book, the cashier asked me if I had seen the movie. I said I had. She then asked if I saw the scene in the bookstore in the movie. I said I had. She squeaked out a giggle and said, “I was in the movie! That was me, at the counter! I can’t resist telling people about it!” and she grinned. I told her I thought that was exciting and admired her opportunity. I don’t really even remember exactly what I said, I just knew I was thrilled to have a conversation with a human being and not feeling like a retarded person! 😀

I decided that maybe it was getting time to go home. Okay, what that really means is I had to pee, lol. I have this anxiety about finding les toilettes in Paris. Yes, one can pay for a coffee or soda at a café and use one there, there are indeed free automated toilets in these UFO-looking things around the city, and I know if I were truly desperate I would find a way to locate a restroom. Still, they seem to be more hidden and elusive than in the States, have different “rules” (often they are not free), and I get paranoid. I just want to do my business at home, if possible.

What this also means is that I get dehydrated. I don’t drink so I don’t have to pee and I can fade pretty fast.

I headed back towards the Île-de-la-Cité and thought I would snap a couple of pics of the Notre Dame de Paris. Then I saw it. A sign reading TOILETTES. Turns out there are free, clean, very well-maintained toilets at the Notre Dame de Paris! Right there in the square in front of the cathedral! Just go down some steps and down a long hall, et voilà! Who knew? I was thrilled and what it meant was that I had more time to photograph and explore. Okay, I was still thirsty, but at least I was not concerned that I had to pee any longer.

Ah, and this:


At some point before the potty, maybe even before I went to the Square René-Viviani, but after Gibert Jeune, I stopped to see if having a cigarette was as horrible as it had been earlier. I think this is the Quai de Marché Neuf at Pont saint-Michel. Anyways, it was beautiful outside. I walked down the steps at the Pont, there was a perfect place to sit for a moment. In the past, in a circumstance like this, I would have taken a smoke break! It was a perfect opportunity for this. I tried one more cigarette with the same results. In fact, I remember forcing myself to smoke to the final third of the cigarette before finally saying, “This is ridiculously disgusting,” and putting out the cigarette and throwing the butt away in a trash bin.

I’m glad I tried to smoke again. The results were devastating, just as they should be.

Photos of Notre-Dame de Paris
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Last, but not least, I headed back to the M° Cité. On the way, I decided to stop at the Marché aux Fleurs. The most wonderful shops are there and I got a couple of lovely cards, one for my mother’s birthday coming up in a couple of weeks, and a gift for PJ for Christmas, which I am not going to write about here as I want it to be a surprise.

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And then I went home. I think I spent about five hours out and about this day.

Later that night, PJ, his son and I went to La Nuit Blanche (“Sleepless Night”) in the Parc Buttes Chaumont. La Nuit Blanche is a city-wide arts event and this year a big portion of it was in our neighborhood! To see all the photos (a lot of which are pretty crappy, admittedly. My little Nikon Coolpix just does not handle night photography very well), you can go to my Flickr page, but here is one of my favorites:


Okay. That’s it for today. I’m pooped, still have a headache, but I am so glad I managed to post and caption these photos and tell the story that goes with them!

I hope everyone is doing well.

Over and out.

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11 thoughts on “Île-de-la-Cité & La Nuit Blanche

  1. Lauri

    I’m so proud of you for giving up the cigs and caffeine!!! Having a bad reaction to the cigs, while certainly unpleasant, is a good thing. It will be tough-going for a while, but I know you are a strong person, and YOU CAN DO IT!!! I’m pulling for you.

    I have one word for the travels in this blog entry – JEALOUS!!! You visited my favorite parts of the city. When I was there in 1999 (10 years is much too long to be away), I stayed near the Odeon Metro station, off Blvd Saint-Germain. It is within easy walking distance to the places you described. Yes, I was definitely being a tourist at the time, but I also took off by myself on a few occasions and just walked the neighborhoods, going into little shops where nobody spoke English… and I felt so comfortable. I wish I remembered the name of the little restaurant where I had THE BEST moules et frites, ever!

    I love love love your blog, Karin!

    • pariskarin

      Hi Lauri! I smiled a lot to know you came here & love the blog. It makes it worth it, yanno? It’s different here than blogging on a social networking site & it’s so good to know through comments that you are *there* and reading it. It makes it worth writing it. 🙂

      Thanks for pulling for me, and yes, I am *so glad* I smoked again and got so grossed out! That was actually like a weird kind of gift… I know in a couple of days the caffeine w/drawal will be better. What’s disturbing is understanding just how addicted I have been to caffeine! Oy! That’s an eye-opener. I didn’t think I was *that* hooked, lol. I already feel a difference in my body as it lets go of caffeine. Here’s to hoping I can clear it soon.

      I know *just* where you stayed — Sam and I walked around that area & even went to the Starbucks near there, lol. Not sure if that was there in ’99, ha! Here’s the thing I am learning: EVERYTHING is within really nice walking distance in Paris, lol! Okay, maybe not the edges of town and no, I would not want to walk all the way from the NE to the center, but the thing is that I *could*. It really is not so very far when it comes down to actual mile/kilometers.

      I’m so glad that this blog brought back good memories for you & L, you have to come BACK — 10 years is too long!

  2. Really nice photos Karin! Isn’t a fun city to just wander around?

    And please keep off the cigarettes. I finally stopped (for the last time) about 14 years ago and I know “you can’t have just one”. Throw that pack away and stick with it.

    Although I don’t think I could give up coffee entirely…

    • pariskarin

      Hi Shelli! I’m so glad you came by! I know about this: “I know “you can’t have just one””and so that’s why I was so shocked when I reacted the way I did. Never fear, though! PJ still smokes and I promptly gave them to him, he’s already smoked them and I am done, done, done! I LOVE reading about other people who quit for good so thank you for letting me know you stopped and it has been 14 years! Yay!

      Oh the coffee is a toughie, for sure, lol! I’m going to give it a Girl Scout try, though! I already feel better today than yesterday!

      Thanks again for the comment & hope to see you back soon. 🙂

  3. Karin – wow! You are an excellent photog! Gosh you make me miss Paris in a big way. I’ve only been twice and once was by accident (unexpected layover from Italy). Glad to hear about quitting the smoking but how you also gave up java I’ll never know….I’m more of a tea gal but I have to have my tea fix every day (or coffee).

    Take care and I look forward to seeing more of your fab photos and reading about your advantures in the most beautiful city in the world – that I’ve seen anyway!

    • pariskarin

      Hey Tiffany! 🙂 It is good to see you here! Your presence reminds me I need to update my link for you, but before I go to do that, I’m so glad you came by!

      Yeah, I don’t know quite how I’m quitting the java either, lol! I’ve been drinking Rooibos tea by the bucketloads, though, and allowing myself a little raw honey I got when I drove down to the south of France three weeks ago with my friend, Tess. That’s helping. I love teas, too, and I am trying to do a lot of herbals right now.

      Thanks for the kudos on the pics. I really do love getting out to take photos of this city — it seems like there is a good shot at every turn and I am grateful photography is now digital! 🙂 I can’t imagine actually having to use rolls of film and getting them developed. Oy! It’s a good era for photography, for certain.

      Be well, thanks again for coming by & I am going to go re-do your link now! 🙂

  4. PJensi

    Wow, i am SOOO impressed with your photographs. You have such an eye. If you can do this with your little Nikon, imagine what you could do with a real camera. Seriously, the café pictures and the Métro pictures are better than most professional shots you can find.

    Thanks for such an entertaining read!

    • pariskarin

      Hi sweetie! I am so glad you liked the photos, too. It really is such a good thing for me to do and to focus on. Going out to take photos just seems to set things to rights in my brain by its having a focus, and I love that. Thinking what I wrote to Tiffany up there, I know I can get whiny about the Nikon, BUT, just think! It’s digital. I can take scads of photos and it costs *nothing* to share them here and on Flikr (orrrr, well, I guess about $30 a year on Flickr, but that’s a bargain compared to the cost of film and developing, huh). I’m really thankful for that camera.

      I’m glad I could entertain you here, too. 😀 XOXO

  5. Pingback: Blog Stuff and Cabbage Baby « An Alien Parisienne

    • Reminicent of those scenes in Clockwork Orange where Alex gets violently ill thinking of doing bad things (and, sadly, upon hearing his favorite music) after his brainwashing.

      • pariskarin

        Ohhh yeahh!! I had forgotten about that scene. I need to see that movie again… or read the book.

        Yeah, kinda like that, lol.

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