King Tut

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I went to the King Tutankhamun exhibit the other day. It’s only replicas but I really enjoyed it. I learned a lot and they did a good job with displays. It’s so fascinating to think that bout one hundred years ago, with little technology, they discovered a three thousand year old tomb! It was barely touched, most not at all, by grave robbers, unlike most other tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

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The mummy itself was encased in two sarcophagi and then four large boxes and then put into a room with barely enough room for a person to stand between it and the walls. It took months for them to remove it all.

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Every room was jammed with treasures and walls depicting the Kings’ life. Every piece was intricately designed and ornamented. The gold alone is stunning!

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The tomb was filled with gifts for the afterlife as well as the deemed necessities. Jewelry, servant representations, ornaments, chariots, boats and the list goes on. Sadly, there were three small sarcophagi for his three children, none of whom survived. The fact that he married his sister may explain some of that. King Tutankhamun himself, wasn’t even twenty when he died, most likely from an infection from blowing out his knee.

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Gives a whole new meaning to toe socks, eh?

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Anyway, if you ever get the chance, I recommend it!

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O’Kari Hammam

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This is the courtyard before you go into the Hammam and Spa. Yeah, it’s as awesome as you think.
I decided to go to the Hammam for several reasons, the most pressing being my neck has been in bad shape for over a week and I was in desperate need of a massage. Massages aren’t cheap in Paris and for a smidgen more I could make a pretty great day if it. There was a list of other justifications but I won’t bore you with the details. Also, I asked Gita what she thought and she said “Do it!”. I was so smart to ask her, non? I didn’t go for the Birkin of packages, but a Prada nonetheless. All in all, I have to say, it was worth every penny!

Karima is the lovely proprietor of the Hammam. She is a gracious and welcoming host. The ladies who work there are equally lovely and talented at their jobs. It was a exquisite day!

The interior is peaceful and serene and decorated to suit the intention of the spa. Karima has integrated her homeland of Algeria’s culture and tradition of Hammam and a European spa. The décor feels calm, nurturing and relaxing. You can smell the subtle fragrance of essential oils throughout the spa. The lighting is soft and gentle and the colours are soft earth tones accented with deep jewel hues.

First you disrobe and then enter the Hammam. The steam filled room smells lovely and is relaxing. There are gorgeous silver bowls for you to splash water over your body, scooped from the ancient looking small fountain at the back. The room is tiled, with wee twinkling lights overhead. You are to stay in the Hammam as long as you can stand it, go cool off and then return, back and forth. Different from North American experiences, you are nude throughout the day, but it’s a women only establishment and to be honest, I didn’t fret about it in the least.

When your time in the Hammam is done, you are taken for your treatments. The treatments are done in a communal stone and tiled room. It’s beautiful and purposeful. You are often rinsed all over with water, which feels heavenly, and this can be done due to nature of the room. You lie on a heated stone slab, which one would think could be uncomfortable but it’s not. It’s was relaxing and the heated stone felt great. Every inch of me was exfoliated, scrubbed, buffed and polished. The water was always the perfect temperature. I almost melted into the stone, I was so relaxed.

One of the other reasons I chose O’Kari was all the products are completely natural and made in front of you. Since I tend to react to, well, anything chemical, this was fabulous. I had a facial and hair masque, both effective and soothing. After, you go to the small pool or bath. You then alternate between the cool bath the the Hammam again. This was bliss. The bath was cool but not cold. There must be minerals in the water as you can feel tiny effervescent bubbles surround your body. It was like bathing in champagne.

As you go back and forth from pool to Hammam, you’re brought delicious house made lemonade. There is softly playing Arabic music in the background as you sit back and simply float. After a time, you’re brought to another space, where you receive a wonderful massage, and lovely, lightly scented oil is rubbed into your skin, making it soft and supple. About this time, it’s entirely possible that you may drift off for a moment or two!

There is no rushing here and it’s perfect. It was an incredible and unique experience and I’m the better for for it. Thank-you to Karima and her talented staff for such a remarkable day. As I walked away, my only thought was I want to live there.

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Jardin du Luxembourg

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It’s one of my favorite gardens and not just because Hemingway used to walk there, although, I admit, it does add to it’s appeal!

It’s a beautiful green manicured garden, with plenty of shade. It’s one of the few places you’ll see runners in Paris, usually on the outermost path. However, most people just wander.

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There’s loads of green space, albeit only one or two are permitted to walk on. There’s many trees with benches and the ubiquitous green metal Parisian chairs. Whether you want to sun or keep cool in the shade, there’s many options and views.

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Personally, I love to find some shade, pull up a chair and alternate between reading a book and people watching.

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There’s many people who have their lunch here, but I recommend bringing your own…the prices from the vendors in the Jardin are outrageous! Most bring sandwiches from one of the boulangeries surrounding the gardens entrances and there are many toting their sacks from McDo (the French call it mick-dough) from across the street.

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There’s many activities that take place here, hence the excellent people watching!

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There’s the usual; solitary readers, couples strolling, friends chatting and families playing.

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However, there’s a myriad of atypical activities too. There’s tennis courts and basketball courts. There’s tai chi classes and discussion groups.

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For children, there’s several playgrounds (separated by age groups), yet another Parisian merry-go-round and the infamous marionette shows! I didn’t go to see it, but as I walked by, I could hear children laughing uproariously and shouting directions to the puppets on the stage. The shows seem to surpass language barriers as not all the shouts were French but I distinctly heard German and English hollering as well. There are also regular pony rides, which I imagine many parents succumb to in order to remain sane. The begging would be incessant after seeing these two lucky girls enjoying their ride!

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Last, but certainly not least, is the still practiced tradition of sailing sailboats in the pond. You can rent the boats for a reasonable two euros for a half hour. They come with rubber-tipped stick used to push off the boats. The boats are mostly decorated by country flag and colors (no Canadian ones, as far as I could see!) but I did spot a vicious looking pirate one, complete with skull and crossbones once. I overheard (alright, eavesdropped) one Parisian father explaining the process to a visiting tourist and his son. He said that he used to come on week-end to sail the boats with his father and now he was doing the same with his son. When Shmoe saw the pictures I took of the sailing, his first comment was “oh, that’s so seventies!”, which would be be time of his childhood.

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Despite being a city with a long history and iconic, permanent landmarks, it does seem to ever be evolving. It’s nice to know that, even with all the changes, some things remain the same.

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Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Haussmann created this park over what was once a garbage dump! It’s a lovely, quiet park with trees, hilly paths and rocks to climb. There is a gorgeous and unexpected waterfall, a small lake and a re-creation of a Roman temple.

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La Droguerie

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This is one of my favorite stores in Paris. I’ve never bought anything though because I can never make up my mind what to buy – I want it ALL!

I found it accidentally a few years who when I got lost looking for a Naturalia store near Les Halles. Who wouldn’t want to go check out that colourful sign?!? It sells wools, threads, notions, fabrics and so much more.

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Some of my favourite things are the walls of jars (which I already have an affinity towards) full of beads and buttons of every size color and shape imaginable. I have actually considered buying a huge box of “beautiful stuff” and shipping it back!

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I have taken pictures of this store before, but they’re all back with my laptop. I asked, as I always do, and the proprietor was happy to allow it. However, this time, it was a Saturday and the place was packed. I couldn’t find an employee, so remembering they were congenial to photos, I took a few as I wandered about. I spotted the proprietor coming out of a back room and asked if it was okay if I took a few pictures. She grumpily replied, ‘No, not today.’ and waved me away. Oops. I’m assuming the large crowds and busyness of the day was the reason she declined. Oh, well. I got a few in anyway!

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Petite marche des puces

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I went to the Aligre flea market the other day. There’s a big one in St. Ouen that’s enormous (it’s where Shmo and I went in our first date). I’ll post in that one later. This one is much smaller but very “Paris”. I was actually looking for a pot but no luck.

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There’s fruit and vegetable stands to one side, down for at least a block. The vendors are not shy, shouting out ‘Madame’ and trying to catch your eye. They shout out that their produce is the best and their prices too. Many have small samples of their fruit, freshly cut, on a knife for you to sample. They wave them at you, hoping you will visit their stall.

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Then there’s the other side! It’s full of everything from books to vases to clothes to jewelry. Some may not be legally procured, I’m guessing, but no one seems to mind. There is a stall draped with fabrics, some richly jewel-toned and some laces, so delicate, it’s like spider webs across your hands as you stroke it.

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There is a myriad of items to be haggled over. Vendors keep a close eye on their wares, while simultaneously chatting with their competitors. If you linger over a piece, they will quickly cut short their conversation, and come to start to bargain with you. It’s difficult to resist pulling out your wallet at that point!

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You find some, you lose some

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While out shopping the other day, I came across these fantastic ateliers on the rue de Rivoli. It’s full if installation pieces that are unique and interesting. No pictures allowed inside unfortunately. A very cool and unexpected find!

On the other hand, I managed to lose a beautiful blouse I just bought (j’aime les soldes). Sigh.

Check out the funky door, doesn’t it make you discover what’s beside?!?

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