Friday, October 7, 2011

Getting lost in Paris

29 December... continued

After leaving Sacre-Coeur I had three immediate problems facing me. 1) I needed more cash. So an ATM had to be found. 2) I needed to find batteries for my camera. 3) I don't speak French, so asking random people for help was going to be difficult.

I knew how to ask for help, though. "Pouvez-vous m'aider, s'il vous plaît?" This and a smile got me all the help I needed. Not once did I meet somebody who was unwilling to point me in the right direction or give me the name of a store I could go into to find what I was looking for. In fact, the only rude person I encountered throughout my entire stay in Paris was at the airport on my way home. But that is another story.

Ok... so here I am, on the streets of Paris. I've reached the point where in my quest for an ATM and batteries I no longer know exactly where I am. And I am completely okay with that. I choose a direction and start walking. I worship at the alter of Parisian fashion every time I walk by an awesome window display.

Eventually I found myself approaching rue Saint-Denis. I didn't know anything about this street when I made the decision to turn and wander my way down its entire length. But it was certainly a fun and vastly interesting little discovery.

From Wikipedia:
The neighborhood around the rue Saint-Denis is now above all made up of sex shops, with the part situated between rue Réaumur and boulevard Saint-Denis notorious as a place of prostitution. Nevertheless, the street does also contain some clothes shops, bars and restaurants, as well as the church of Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles, a bank, and the Chambre des notaires building.

The prostitutes were fascinating to look at as I meandered my way down the street. I thought to myself, "how can I sneak a photograph of them to show folks at home?" But then my sense of self-preservation kicked in and I decided it would probably be better to not take pictures of the hookers. I really can't describe what made these hookers any different from the ones here or anywhere else I have been. But there really was a distinctly different feel and look to them. I guess my thoughts on that will have to remain in my head, where only the inner recesses of my brain can process what I saw.

This is the Porte Saint-Denis. Naturally, I didn't know that when I was taking its picture, but it was really damn impressive.

I eventually found myself in Les Halles, a really neat area that used to be a large wholesale marketplace but has been replaced with a garden above the underground shopping mall. I find malls to be a very neat place to go people watching, and this one was no exception. I also wandered into quite a few shoe stores, but did not find anything that screamed "TAKE ME HOME."

There was a metro stop underneath the mall, so I said I would call it a day and make my way back to Montmartre. I had walked a TON that day and my body had decided it was done.

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