24th May 2014: Evening in Montmartre
I was going to atted Yoshiki Classical concert in Paris on Sunday, so I made planes with a a friend to meet up with her over the weekedn so we could do some stuff together. We booked a hotel close to the venue, Le Triannon. I arrived in Paris in the evening of Friday the 24th and met my friend direcly at the hotel – the first thing we noticed was that the area was not the safest, but we could still get to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur to see it lit.
And also to see a nice view of the Eiffel Tower all lit up.
25th May 2014: Under ground, above ground
On Saturday morning we went to Catacombes de Paris, the Catacombs of Paris. The ancient quarries and mines of Paris became the final resting place of more than six million people. In the late 18th century it was decided to eliminate a good portion of the quickly-overcrowding cemeteries and graveyads of Paris and for a 1786 the bones were carried to the catacombs at night. Today they are consisdered a museum and thus managed as such.
After the catacombs we moved onto the Ille de la Cité, the “island of the city”, an island in the middle of the Seine, to visit Notre-Dame de Paris, our Lady of Paris, a magnificent Gothic cathedral built in between 1160 and 1260. In the 19th century an extensive renovation was carried out, and a few features were added, such as a the gargoyles and a replacement spire for the original one. We climbed the towers and were treated to a really cool Paris view before going inside.
Leaving Notre Dame, we headed our the Île de la Cité and passed by Saint Germain l’Auzeroix, which mostly dates from the 15th Century and used to be the church for the Louvre inhabitants.
At the Louvre, by the way, there was a humongous queue, so as both of us had seen it before, we decided to skip going inside.
We passed by the Luxor Obelisk, an Egyptian monument which is over 3000 years old, located in the Place de la Concorde. I’ve always found that name very ironic considering that many people were guillotined there. But hey, the obelisk is cool and all.
We continued walking up the Champs-Élysées until we got to the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile (the “Triumphal Arch of the Star”. Okay Paris. Okay.), which is one of the biggest triumphal arcs in the world. It was completed in 1840 and it honours the casualties in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
From there we took the underground back to the area of the Sacré-Cœur, which we could see at the end of the streets.
And to finish the day, we had some Japanese food because why wouldn’t we?
25th May 2014: Bad weather, queue & Yoshiki
On Sunday, we started off back in the Île de la Cité and we walked around Notre Dame on our way as my friend wanted a walk along the Seine.
We took the underground towards Les Invalides (Hôtel national des Invalides or The National Residence of the Invalids), a complex of buildings erected between the 17th and 18th centuries and that hosts the military museum and some notable graves, among them Napoleon’s.
Afterwards we took the underground to Champ de Mars, the long park where the Eiffel Tower stands. The Tower was built as an entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair exhibition and it was controversial at first (and rather ugly if you ask me, but hey to each their own). Eventually, it became so famous that it was not taken down as originally planned, and to-date it is one of the most visited landmarks of the world.
As you can see in the pictures, the weather might not have beent he nicest, but we made our best. We walked all through the Chaps to the Trocadero on the other side. There were very few people on the street so I convinced my friend to take a ride in the carrousel over there, because I’m insane like that. Soon after we had left, a group of random people decided to emulate us.
After this, we said goodbye. I headed off to Le Triannon for Yoshiki Classical, and my friend towards the airport as she had work on Monday. Yoshiki is one of the most important figures in Japan’s musical scene. He is the leader of the iconic band X Japan, and also trained in classical music. He wrecked his health when he was young, though, so he is not in the best shape. His recital Yoshiki Classical was meant to be a reimagination of some songs of his career, just him and his piano and some invited artist. I have to admit that it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been to, and I don’t regret attending one bit. Although this was my first concert alone, I didn’t feel strange in any way.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but this surpassed any and everything I could have thought of. Yoshiki is a wonderful human, and he spoke in English during the whole event – he is living in America now, collaborating with people like Stan Lee and Marilyn Manson to do more great stuff. For me, seeing him in person and playing his piano was a heart-bursting experience.