So…we ended with the Frasers on a cruise ship, heading for La Belle France, with a trusty Murtagh in tow, and a baby on board. I suspect, however, that even in the 18th Century, it would still take less time to cross the Channel than it will for Droughtlander Part Deux to end. Whatever shall we do with ourselves while we’re in Outlander Purgatory? (not to be confused with MyOutlanderPurgatory.com which you should all check out BTW, because 1. I say so. 2. It’s awesome; and 3. Tracy and Carol. That is all). There’s just one wee problem…
Season One is over and WithOutlander has begun,,,
I thought I would take this first stretch sans Outlander TV to talk about Gay Paris. I know, I know, no one wants to see Jamie Fraser in a powdered wig with a faux beauty mark stuck to his face. (Although, if I recall correctly, our Jamie resists that ugly temptation until Voyager). That doesna mean that there is nothing good about France. Au contraire, mes amies. France is a lovely country full of wonderful things, especially Paris. And no, all French people are nae rude…they only behave that way when they’re in England (‘tho I’m no quite sure how they got into Castle Leoch) :
Things I love about Paris:
Aaahhh Paris, The City of Light
What’s NOT to like about Paris? It’s beautiful, it’s romantic, it’s full of magnificent art and architecture! The history, the bistros, the shopping, the food…Need I I go on? So, with so much to see and do, where should you start? Here are this wee coo’s top 12 (just to be contrary, as coos are wont to be) recommendations (for humans) *Coo note: these 12 are “respectable” for all..I’ll get to my recommendations for those with more “singular tastes” a bit later.
1. Les Cathédrales: Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle and Sacre Coeur. There are hundreds of lovely churches, cathedrals and chapels in Paris, but ye shouldna miss these. No one can fail to marvel at these structures; their beauty is beyond compare. Don’t forget to check out the frequent chamber, chorale or medieval music concerts at Notre Dame (and the others). Absolutely magical. Just do it, you’ll be glad you did.
2. Les Bateaux Mouches (a “mouche” is a type of wee midgee, en français, in case ye didna ken that). Oui, they are touristy. So what? It’s a lovely way to see Paris. Go at night and you’ll understand why it’s called the City of Light. Magnifique et si romantique!
3. Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Do stroll along the most famous of Paris streets from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. If anything epitomizes Paris, c’ést ça. Stop at one of the many outdoor cafés, have a bottle of wine, or two, and take it all in.
4. Les Musées. This is a tough one. There are soooo many to choose from in Paris. The Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Centre Georges-Pompidou, the Jeu de Paume, the Musée Rodin…it can be a wee bit overwhelming. Moo’s advice? Pick one of the biggies I mentioned and decide in advance what ye want to see (e.g. specific works of art, special exhibits, etc), since ye could easily spend an entire week in the Louvre alone. Then pick one of the smaller, more “specialized” museums of something ye find particularly interesting (ye can find everything from museums dedicated to Salvador Dali and Edith Piaf, to space museums, music museums, natural history museums…the list is endless)
5. Le Shopping! (I didna make that up…ye can really say “le shopping”), window or real, if ye have plenty of clink, on the Rue Ste-Honoré. Ye can find everything from the ultra-hip (Colette, Damir Doma, Comme des Garçons), to French status labels (Goyard, Hermès, Chanel), to shops that are a bit less pricey but every bit as stylish. If you want to shop at places a little more down to earth, try the quartier Marais (in 3rd and 4th arrondissements). If you’re a serious Power Shopper, have a sense of adventure, and good right hook, then ye must go to the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt, the world’s largest and most famous flea market (it’s over 150-years old!). If ye canna find it there, you’re probably no going to find it at all, lasses).
6. La Tour Eiffel. Dinna argue with me. Just go, and go all the way to the top.
7. Les Cocktails. Do splurge and go for cocktails at the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz or Bar 228 at Le Meurice. So shi-shi!
8. Le Château de Versailles. Ok, not technically in Paris, but only a short train ride away. It’s magnificent and WAY over the top in every way. The Palais is truly a sight to behold and the grounds are amazing. Take some baguettes, a few bottles of wine (don’t forget the corkscrew!), a nice assortment of cheeses and fruit and have yourself a lovely picnic. Ye might just see Donas, Bouton and myself, if ye look carefully!
A verra cool way to spend the day. Here’s a link to the home page: http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage for more info. Be wary, though, lasses…if the King’s about, ye may want to hide yer nipples. He’s into inappropriate touching, ye ken?
9. E. Dehillerin (metro stop Les Halles). If you love to cook, this store will blow.your.mind. It’s also verra cool that probably every famous chef in the world has wandered the aisles at some point. It’s worth going to ogle and drool over the copper cookware alone.
10. Shakespeare and Company, For half a century, this world-renowned bookshop on the Left Bank (opposite Notre Dame) has offered food and a bed to penniless authors – the only rule is that they read a book a day. A kind of book-induced euphoria takes over as ye enter. Its wee nooks and crannies overflow with new and second-hand books (and they’re in English for those of ye that are French-challenged). Take note of the hand-painted quotations and the wishing well, then wander up the miniature staircase to the reading library in the attic. Shakespeare and Co. is the stuff of legends. A must for all book lovers. Go. You know ye want to.
11. Les Jardins Publiques, Cimetière du Père Lachaise, et ” Les Isles.”
Wanderin’ aboot Paris is one of my favorite things to do. If yer lookin’ for a little respite from the bustle of the city, walk around the gardens (they have lots of tasty flowers and plants to nibble on). Les Tuilleries, les Jardins de Luxembourg, le Jardin de Plantes (which is no just a park, but also a Botanical garden) and Le Bois de Bologne are all beautiful places to relax and eat some grass.
Cimetière du Père Lachaise. Ok..it’s a cemetary, not a park, but it’s beautiful and trés cool. Some verra famous people are buried here: Honoré de Balzac, Sarah Bernhardt, Maria Callas, Frédéric Chopin, Jean de la Fontaine, Molière, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Marcel Proust, and Oscar Wilde, to name a few. It’s a nice, peaceful place to ruminate.
In between the right and left banks of Paris are the Ile de La Cité and the Ile St. Louis. Ile de la Cité is the more famous of the two, since that’s where ye’ll find Notre Dame Cathedral and Ste-Chapelle. However, just behind the gardens of Notre Dame is the Pont Saint-Louis pedestrian bridge which leads to the the Ile Saint-Louis. It’s a lovely place to walk among the quiet courtyards of 17th-century mansions, shop in local boutiques or get some ice-cream at the world-famous Bertillon. Yum.
12. Le Fromâge! Le Vin! Les Patisseries! oh myyyy
From a wee coo’s perspective, I could write an entire blog just about cheese (the milk, ye ken)…particularly le fromâge français. These people don’t mess around…they take their cheese verra seriously! Did ye know that there are approximately 692 different kinds of cheeses in France (and that list keeps growing!)? Aye, ye heard that correctly. Six.Hundred.Ninety.Two. That’s a lot of fromâge. And it DOESNA come in pre-packaged, individually wrapped slices…can ye feel French people crossing themselves and makin’ the sign against Old Nick at the very thought!? No…in France, one goes to a fromagerie. The next time you’re in Paris, try the Fromagerie Laurent Dubois at 47 Ter. Boulevard Saint-Germain (taste the Roquefort with quince jam, yer mouth will love ye for it) and Chez Virginie on 54 Rue Damrémont (near Montmartre). They’re two of the best (I still have their business cards for the next time I go on holiday!). You will think you have died and gone to Cheese Heaven. Don’t be afraid to ask for a wee taste first to see what ye like (most cheese shops are verra accomodating, even to Sassenachs). Ye can also request smaller amounts when buying from a large wheel. Ye should plan to buy only enough to eat for a day or two, and then go back and try something else. Fergus will tell ye that that’s what the French do.
And what goes well with sublime French cheeses? Sublime French wines, that’s what. Aye, I ken verra well that in these days, ye can buy lovely wines from all over the world. But in Jamie and Claire’s time, France was the center of fine wine production, as I’m sure Jared will explain to ye next season.
There are 10 principle wine growing regions in France: Alsace, Bordeaux, Borgogne (Burgundy), Beaujolais, Champagne, Jura Languedoc, Loire Valley, Médoc, Côtes du Rhone and Provence. Personally, I prefer the hearty red wines from Borgogne and Bordeaux, but ye can find delicious wines to suit all tastes in France. I dinna pretend to be an expert (they willna let coos into the programmes to become sommeliers…can ye believe that? Hmmmphmm!), I just know what I like when I taste it, ye ken? If you’re feelin’ a bit confused about the intricacies of French wines, just follow this wee link for a nice, fairly short, overview of the regions and the wines they produce: http://about-france.com/wines.htm Slàinte Mhath! Oops…I meant A Vôtre Santé! (to yer health), or if you’re feelin’ a bit more informal: Tchin Tchin! (Here’s a wee bit of trivia for ye…do ye ken where “Tchin Tchin” comes from? Well, it’s from the Chinese expression qing qing (or tchin tchin), meaning “please-please” or “happy days,” which was historically used in China to invite people to drink. French soldiers coming back from China after the Second Opium War introduced it in France. However, this didna occur until after the late 1850’s, so Jaime should remind Claire not to use that expression during their time in France, ye ken? They willna know what she’s talking about, and we dinna want her dragged off to be burned as a witch again, do we?)
No one..NO ONE, does pastry like the French. I dinna care if you’re on a diet, if ye go to France, ye must eat the pastries (well, the pastries AND the bread). Bakers tend to specialize in one or the other in France, so make the effort to seek out a good Pâtisserie shop for the pastry and a Boulangerie for the bread. (This wee coo wouldna “steer” ye wrong in this…hehehe). Where to start with the pastries? So many classics to choose from.. the ones you’ve probably heard of: profiteroles (delicate cream puffs drizzled with chocolate), éclair au chocolat, macarons and madeleines of all varieties, pain au chocolat, beignets and milles feuille, and those you probably havena, but must try: pain au raisin (delicate viennoisse pastry spiraled with raisins and custard), croissants amande (croissants dusted with sliced almonds and powdered sugar, filled with almond paste resulting in a crispy, nutty, yet soft in the middle treat that will make you slip into a dream-like #PASTRYCOMA), chausson aux pommes (kind of a hand-held apple pie – NO not like our fast-food hot apple pies…don’t MAKE me stab ye with my horns!) and palmiers (made with a croissant-like dough, folded over and over and over with sugar, creating lots of flaky layers and a caramelized sugar crunch when you bite into them…simply sublime). I’m dying here right now…any of ye seen my drool bucket?
* * *
Ok, lads and lasses, those are the socially acceptable things to do in Paris. But there are other things to do, as well, ye ken?…Viens mes petits espèces de pervers…(et. non…ye may NOT ask me how I ken about such places. Hmmmmphmm.
Paris After Dark: The Adult and the Unusual
Deyrolle. Would you like to visit Master Raymond’s “secret room”…?. Paris has many unusual shops, but one of the strangest has to be Deyrolle, a 184-year old establishment on rue du Bac, not far from the Musee d’Orsay on the Left Bank. Tis no an apothecary, but a taxidermy shop.
The ground floor looks like a fairly ordinary small home and garden shop (apart from a couple of stuffed gazelles standing on their hind legs and dressed to look like humans).
But walking up the stairs is like passing through the stones. The second story appears to have changed no much at all since the store originally opened it’s doors. It’s dusty, crazy, chaotic, and crammed with stuffed animals of all shapes, sizes, and…poses. There’s also ancient wooden cases full of insects, shells, botanical prints and a variety of curiosities. Yeah…no, it’s creepy. Can we leave now?
Les Cabarets Français. Paris is verra famous for it’s burlesque/nude reviews, and sex shows. If ye’re lookin’ for the sexiest revue in the city, ye can spend the evening at the Crazy Horse Paris cabaret, which has been entertaining Parisians and tourists alike with its “Art of Nude” shows for over 50 years. Ye can also book a dinner-revue at the world-famous Moulin Rouge and enjoy a French Cancan show. The club is in Pigalle (the “red light” district, known for its strip clubs and peep shows). Aye, I ken it’s a wee bit touristique, but, c’mon!…Toulouse Lautrec used to hang out here! Other well-known cabarets in Paris are the Lido on the Champs Elysées, the très parisien Paradis Latin, La Nouvelle Eve, a belle époque-inspired music-hall, the exotic Brasil Tropical revue, and the glamorous Folies Bergères. (Ye should know that there’s lots of nekkid women in these shows…don’t bring the bairns. Unless yer French.)
Musée de l’Erotisme. Oh stop it…yer in Paris, for god’s sake! Of course, there’s a sex museum! Also located in Pigalle, the musée houses Alain Plumy and Joseph Khalif’s private collection of erotic artworks as well as temporary art exhibits by French and International artists. Visitors can also find sacred sex art objects, historical and contemporary erotic art pieces, antique sex education books, fetish photos, sex comics, rare pictures of brothels, anal jewelry, and chastity belts, among other things.
Sexy Lingerie! Like the food and the wine, les femmes Françaises do NOT compromise when it comes to lingerie. And, unlike in most other countries, lingerie shops in Paris dinna cater to men’s tastes…they cater to women’s. French women ken there is an art to seduction, and lingerie is an essential component of the game. If you’re looking for top-notch, beautifully-made lingerie, three of the best boutiques are Louise Feuillere (this is the best (and most fun) choice if ye want something truly unique). Madame Feuillere does lingerie sur mesure, meaning her pieces are custom made to fit your body. Stop by her workshop to see her pre-made pieces and get inspired, then work together with her to design something personalized to your taste!), Chantal Thomass (ye should know, this is one of the finest and most famous lingerie shops in the world. Chantal Thomass is credited for the trend “Dessous Dessus” (innerwear as outerwear) and is famous for cutting-edge, haute coooture lingerie. Their line is FAB!! But dinna go into CT dressed like a wee slob…they will nae pay ye any mind – think Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman tryin’ to shop on Rodeo Drive in her whuuure outfit). Ye’ve been warned. Finally, if you want something, ah, a bit more, as Mrs. Fitz would say,…(interesting, that is), ye must go to Agent Provacateur (their lingerie is of impeccable quality and are a wee bit on the naughty side! Expensive or no, I dare ye not to buy anything. All the sexy wee coos LOVE, LOVE, LOVE AP!). Ooh la la!
Go shopping at a Sex Supermarché
For more naughty fun in Paris, go shopping at a Supermarché de Charme Concorde. There are 4 of them (that I know of), all of which are located, surprisingly, in quiet neighborhoods of Paris. The Concorde supermarkets are huge sex shops offering over 10.000 different sexy items for ALL tastes. The atmosphere in these stores is much more…convivial (at least to wee coos), than sex shops in the US. (Why are American humans sae silly and prudish aboot these things? Just askin’). These stores attract a large and varied clientèle, straight, gay and other, who shop for everything from adult magazines, erotic DVDs and videos, sex toys, and aphrodisiacs to hot lingerie (not quite the same as ye find in the other boutiques I told ye about, ye ken), fetish shoes and accessories, all with the help of the friendly (usually not skanky) staff. (Shhh..these stores also feature ultramodern private viewing booths where clients can watch more than 3000 adult movies of all kinds, if yer into that sort of thing).
Les Clubs Libertin. Looking for a little more adult fun? Paris is home to (allegedly) more than 500 clubs libertins (aye, that would be sex clubs…for swingers, ye ken?) One of the most famous (said to be frequented by the rich and powerful) is Les Chandelles at 1 rue Thérèse. It’s kind of a legend, but caters more to the over 40 crowd. Another “club échangiste” is Le Mask, which has a slightly younger crowd (mostly 30 somethings). As the name suggest, they encourage people to wear masks, both for discretion, and to give the experience that “Eyes Wide Shut” feel. There doesna seem to be much “swinging’ going on…more a place to watch other people having sex (or having strangers watch you!) than swapping. Most of these clubs are private, so to even have a chance to enter, ye must be dressed properly (at least until ye get inside). Oh, and pants are discouraged for women, just so ye know.
Well, mes enfants, I guess that’s enough to to get ye started….what are ye waitin’ for? Vas-y! Paris is waiting…