So here it is in some of its glory. I had the best time ....
WEDNESDAY NIGHT – MAY 7TH:
We all met up at the airport for our overnight flight to Paris. I pulled out Ciel-chan to take a picture before take-off to the shock of my sister Cassandra. I guess we have never taken a long trip together so she was unaware of my “doll issue”. I always carry dolls and toys with me on trips. It amuses me and adds a touch of whimsy to travel – I appreciate things like that (plus I’m a weirdo).
She is used to other odd habits on my part, so she adjusted quickly and even posed for a picture with Ciel-chan!
THURSDAY AFTERNOON – MAY 8TH:
We arrived in Paris after an uneventful flight and hopped into a super over priced cab to our rental apartment in the 3rd arrondissment of Paris (the Marais District). We decided to stay in an apartment because it was less expensive (woo hoo) and added a bit of authenticity to our experience. We were on a quiet little residential block with a little café on the corner and some odd shops along the street.
We arrived a little early and surprised the owner (whoops) during his afternoon nap, so we just dropped off our bags and told him we would come back when at the arranged time.
We walked around Marais and did a little shopping (very little – the dollar is getting pounded by the euro right now). Walking around we constantly had people yelling at us to come and get our nails and hair done – a person could develop a complex from it. It was like getting off the train on 125th Street and having all the hair braiding ladies pointing out how badly you need their services, except these were Men (I guess they were 1st or 2nd generation Africans)
We grabbed lunch at a bistro and had a very interesting dessert. It was some meringue confection that we all thought was amazing. I should find out exactly what it was some day, the waiter told us the name (he was cute), but I’ve forgotten it. Here are some of our first shots of Paris and that yummy dessert. The desserts were consistently tasty throughout the trip – but that should come as no surprise:
We headed back to the apartment to get the keys a little late (whoops again), but Johann (the owner) was really sweet about it, told us to have a fun time in Paris and vamoosed until Sunday.
The apartment was a little smaller than the pictures on the website indicated (which I expected) and the shower was in the bedroom!
But all four of us found it very quaint and it was certainly large enough for the four of us for four days.
For some reason we thought we were walking distance from the Eiffel Tower (we weren’t) and headed off to check out the Eiffel Tower’s evening light display…..
After four hours of meandering (yes, four hours!) we arrived at the Eiffel Tower. It is a really lovely structure up close like metal lacework, but we were constantly being bothered by men selling knock-off souvenirs (they would run whenever a police officer pedaled by on his bike). This is me trying to get rid of one of them:
We tried to get pictures of all of us in front of the tower (without just asking someone else to take the picture – we were FULL of brilliant ideas that day – I blame the long flight) and we were moderately successful:
Even Posey got in on the act (yes that would make two dolls I had with me)
We had a seat in the park to watch the light show:
After about 15 minutes of that we decided it was well past time for us to eat dinner, so our four hour trek ended with a 15 minute viewing – boy are we fickle!
Since we arrived during some sort of holiday weekend, Paris was emptier than normal and I think the cafes were closing earlier than normal. We finally found an Italian restaurant that was staying open and had some really good pasta before catching a cab back to apartment.
FRIDAY – MAY 9TH:
Since Linet, Laura and I were going to spend all day on line for the concert, Cassandra decided to go on a tour of Versailles (she didn’t want to go to the concert). Here is Cassandra at Versailles:
If I get a chance to return to Paris, I would like to see it for myself – it looks stunning.
The rest of us hopped on the Metro (which is very easy to navigate) in our concert gear – Laura in all black and wallet chains, Linet with her Mohawk and me in a strapless dress and red knee-high platform boots. We got a lot of stares on the train – I wonder why – hee hee. We arrived at the venue around 8:00 in the morning and settled in for a very long wait.
We passed the time by crowd watching, chatting with the people on line with us (met people from France, Spain, Germany, England and Japan), waiting in line to use the bathroom, and staring at my boots:
There was a ton of confusion throughout the day about where people were suppose to line up and that got really annoying after awhile:
We randomly had people coming up to us saying things like “I heard you guys were from L.A.!” (whaa??) and a girl ran up to Linet and said she recognized her from her myspace page and wanted to “friend” her (Linet – international myspace celebrity – hee hee).
Finally, finally, finally we are haphazardly let into the venue and we rush in to jockey for a good position in the standing section in front of the stage. Lo and Behold the J-Rock gods smiled upon us again (see the S.K.I.N. concert to explain the first time they smiled on us) and we ended up 2nd row on Ken’s side !!! I started to spazz out a little – I really adore Ken. I knew the possibility of me completely losing it during the show was pretty high – I was looking forward to it :o)
More waiting, waiting, drinking water, waiting, singing along to the Beastie Boys “Sabotage” (I wonder who picked their pre-show music) and some more waiting. Then the lights went down and we could see the guys playing “get out from the shell” behind an opaque curtain.. the crowd went wild – screaming and surging forward (there was definitely a lot of pushing and jockeying going on in the pit – I expected it – no big deal when it got me that close to L’Arc).
The curtain dropped and they proceeded to give us an absolutely kick-ass performance that ranks as my number one concert going experience (and I’ve been to a lot of fantastic concerts). I look forward to it being surpassed by future L’Arc~en~Ciel shows (crossing my fingers and praying to the J-Rock Gods for that)
FAVORITE CONCERT MEMORIES
The music – They are just so much better live. The albums just seem kinda muted in comparison to their live set. They play so seamlessly together and it was a joy to watch and hear them. After so long together some bands start to just sound boring, dragging out the same arrangements of the same songs over and over like some weird tribute band to themselves, but not Laruku. They sound incredibly fresh and they are constantly tweaking and changing their music so even older songs sound better and better over the years as they play with them. Another reason I love them – it never gets boring. I appreciate this even when they P'Unk my favorite songs (why do it to "Honey", whhhhyyyy ????!!!??? – hee hee)
THE SETLIST – it was fantastic! An excellent mix of their music over their 17 year career. Of special note for me were:
Honey (regular version) – I love this song and after they did a P'Unk~en~Ciel version of Honey I never thought I would hear this arrangement again, let alone get to see it live.
花葬 (Kasou) – A great rock song with cool bluesy elements and I love that when it came time to do the little spoken work / poem section in the song, Ken did it! Hyde of course used to do it originally, then Ken started doing it, but they have just left it out of a number of performances, so you never know what you will get. I was happy to hear Ken do it. Right before the gates opened for the show I turned to my sisters and said "They are totally not going to play it, but wouldn't it be great to hear Kasou?!"
Stay Away – Each member of the band took turns singing lead on this song. I love it when Tetsu, Ken and Yuki sing. Hyde always seems so proud of them – ha ha.
My Heart Draws A Dream – specifically Ken's guitar solo that opens the song. It is this beautiful dreamy extended solo that just makes you picture yourself on a moon drenched tropical island… it carries you away. I can listen to him play guitar endlessly.
あなた (Anata) – They closed the concert with Anata which I absolutely adore. I expected them to close with either the traditional "虹" (Niji) or maybe even a newer song like "雪の足跡" (Yuki no Ashiato). I swear this setlist was like they checked my ipod playlist for what songs to play.
SUPER GENKI KEN!!! – Ken was the centerpiece of the show for me. He had a massive grin on his face the entire concert, his MCs about eating in Paris (with pictures projected on the screens) were hilarious, he mimicked people in the crowd and pointed at a very lucky girl while he sang back up on "Pretty Girl". It made everyone in the audience feel like he really wanted to perform for us and I love that so many people were talking about how great Ken was after the concert. And … uhmm… he has really pretty hair … I'm just saying… it's a statement of fact not the ramblings of an obsessed fan… mmm.. mmm.. not all … it's so true its almost scientific… he has scientifically lovely hair … that's all I have to say about that (0_o)
Yuki's MC – I know he said only about five words, but it is always a special moment when Yuki decides to come out from behind the drum set and talk to the audience. Everyone around me just gasped when he walked up to the microphone – It's always cool when Yuki speaks (plus he has a fabulously deep and growly voice – love it)
Ken's Post Injury Comment – So at the beginning of "Seventh Heaven" they shoot out silver streamers from the stage and ken got hit with the mechanism and stopped playing. I noticed that the song sounded off and looked around for him and saw him kneeling with a roadie talking to him. Hyde walks over to check on him and then the entire band clears the stage. Some time goes by while we wait to see what happened to Ken and if they will come back again. Then (thankfully) they come back on stage and Hyde gestures to the microphone for Ken to say something to the crowd. He comes out with the statement that he had a bathroom emergency and says (in English!!) " one little one and one big one ….. three times" and then starts laughing at his own potty humor along with the audience. It was very funny in an extraordinarily immature way – very Ken.
Did I mention Ken's smile? (okay I spent a lot of time watching Ken – sue me)
I am looking forward to seeing the concert DVD since from our angle (and due to my obsession) I mainly watched Ken for two hours except when Hyde or Tetsu came to our side of the stage. I'm also wondering if any of us ended up on the audience footage.
After the show:
The lines for merchandise (and bathrooms) were sheer madness so we opted to hop in a cab and head back to the apartment. I regret not getting anything at the show, but I figure flying to Paris from New York just to attend the concert constituted a pretty significant L'arcvestment (get it L'Arc + investment – I'm an idiot) and I already have an order placed to get the concert merchandise I missed out on – the internet is a wonderful thing)
Outside the venue were a load of people selling counterfeit L'arc merchandise, we felt like these dudes were following us around Paris trying to get us to do our nails, change our hairstyle and now decorate our homes with bootleg Eiffel Towers and L'Arc Posters…. Weird.
It was kinda fun trying to hail a taxi in the sweaty state of disrepair I was in.. I probably looked like one of those girls who got a little too frisky in a hotel room after their prom, had to run out and can't go home in the limo – ha haa.
SATURDAY – MAY 10TH
We were suppose to get up really early to see as much as possible of the Louvre, but we were unconscious until noon – we were all exhausted. My legs were a little wobbly from jumping around in 4 inch platforms and Cassandra had spent the whole day walking around Versailles. We got out as soon as we could force ourselves and headed over to the Louvre.
Our first stop was a little bakery to get croissants and crepes for breakfast and then the grocery store for industrial size bottles of water. For some reason we decided it was a good idea to walk there (I blame … erm … the fact that people in my family think everything is walking distance for some odd reason). The weather was absolutely perfect the entire trip, so it would have been a shame not to take advantage of it I think.
There were three things on my “Mandatory Viewing” list: The Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
I have to say that the Winged Victory was my absolute favorite. We came around a corner and I saw her and I just gasped. I don’t know why this particular sculpture does this to me, but I just adore it.
Two things that I was surprised by at the Louvre were how gigantic their Egyptian collection is, and the actually architecture of the Louvre itself.
The Egyptian wing (wings?) were so extensive that we could have spent our entire time in them (and we almost did) I couldn’t believe certain things they had like Ramses’ sarcophagus – they must have some deal with the Egyptian government that allows them to keep it.
When I purchased our Louvre tickets I knew we would see some of the most famous works of art in the world, but for some reason I did not think about the fact that the Louvre was once a palace and is really a piece of artwork in its own right. It is covered with amazing murals and decorative features and sometimes the most impressive art was on the ceiling, not hanging on the walls.
We stayed until closing and headed out to find something to eat. We chose a café with the world’s worst waitress, but the most amazing dessert:
I wish I was eating it right now…
We got back to the apartment that night with a vague plan to go to a nightclub, but sleep beckoned.
SUNDAY – MAY 12TH
Our final day in Paris we decided to see Notre Dame… and not to walk to it!! We grabbed breakfast in the same bakery and headed off to the train. Of course we got some funny looks on the metro again, I wonder why ??
We hopped out the metro and quickly consulted our map before walking briskly and authoritatively on our way – to the wrong island! We walked about halfway across it before realizing we should have seen Notre Dame already.
With the help of some kindly tourists like ourselves we set off in the correct direction. At this point I think Laura believed we were conspiring to make her walk the length and breadth of France for our own sadistic pleasure. We managed to get lost in the middle of the Seine – a fantastic feat I think and if we hadn’t we would have missed this cool water spout :o)
Notre Dame was one of the more crowded locations we went to on our trip – full of tourists and people attending Sunday Mass. The tourists were herded around the perimeter of the cathedral’s interior so as to not interfere with the service. It is a lovely (if dim) church with amazing niches holding statues saints and clergy. I also loved the scrollwork on the front doors of the cathedral:
Though I quite liked the cathedral I have to say it wasn’t my favorite church in Paris.
I really liked the flying buttresses on this church (Eglise Saint Eustache):
and one day we were walking past a rundown looking gothic church (somewhere between our apartment and the Eiffel Tower) and we decided to take a quick look inside and this is what we saw:
A huge modern portrait that looked like it was floating above us. It was just totally unexpected and very cool. I wish I wrote down the name of the church to make my search for additional information a little easier. Oh well.
We got back to the apartment with enough time to pack away our last remaining items and relax for a few minutes until Johann came to retrieve his keys (we were on time for once!)
Here is my last picture in the apartment and in Paris – packed and ready to head home:
Wow – I cannot believe the Martin girls decided to run off to Paris together. Considering where we came from and what we have been through – it blows me away.
Thanks sisters for letting my crazy ideas become a reality. Next trip – Japan perhaps??