So it took me a little longer than I said it would. Sorry! There are just so many streets to walk down, so many croissants to be eaten, so many bonjours to be spoken, so many parks to explore….
But I’m back now. So let’s see, in no particular order, here are some fun little things I’ve done recently in Paris…
Here’s the story: In the 19th century, I guess they didn’t know how to bury people properly, so all the dead bodies were making everyone really sick. The French solution? They dug them all up and piled their bones together underground. And thus, we have the catacombs: a cold and damp underground network of tunnels lined with artfully arranged piles of bones. Human bones. Creepy, right?
Some cool little carvings that are also down there. Made by a guy who died trying to get out. The creepy keeps coming.
It was actually really neat to see. What was weird is that it of course felt really somber and eerie at first, but by the end I was almost completely desensitized to it. It made me feel bad, because obviously once upon a time, all these piles of bones were people with lives and families. They ate baguettes and got lost in Paris, like me. But by the end, I was ready to leave. Not because it was sad…just because you can only see so many piles of nameless bones before they start to lose their morbid appeal. As awful as that sounds.
We were discussing my catacombs in class the other day, and someone was upset that they had treated the bodies so disrespectfully. I guess if you think about it that way, the catacombs are nothing more than a glorified mass grave. My take on the situation is that there comes a point when you might have to put aside respect for the dead if the dead are killing the living. Ultimate, respect for the dead is all about respect for the life that once was there, right? And letting people die in the name of knowing exactly where your great uncle Jean-Pierre is buried seems pretty horribly disrespectful of life to me.
I think part of the reason I really enjoyed this has something to do with this little show I like…you might have heard me talk about it, oh, twenty times a day.
The weirdest part of the catacombs is that apparently some people just hang out in there at night. For fun. I tried to imagine why anyone would do this, and here’s what I came up with:
Okay, I’ve been in Paris nearly a month, but I FINALLY went to the Champ-de-Mars and saw the Eiffel Tower up close & personal.
Haha, okay, that’s a different kind of up close and personal. You know you’re in Europe when…
No, but really. My friend Hayley was in town, so of course we had to do the obligatory Eiffel Tower trip. I was way overdue for mine. You might recall that I did get very close to it on the Seine my first week here, but I hadn’t had the quintessential park experience.
Chi O does the Eiffel Tower!
It’s amazing how beautiful this thing is up close.
What I didn’t like about the park: There are literally dozens of men walking around with giants rings of Eiffel Tower key chains. They won’t leave you alone. By the time you finally make your way to the park towards the Eiffel Tower, you’ve been approached what feels like hundreds of times. And then, at the base of the tower, there are even more! More than anywhere else in the park by at least three times. You have to wonder…if I didn’t buy an identical key chain from the last 50 people who approached me, why would I buy one from you? I guess you have to admire their persistence. And I don’t mean to be rude. I get that this is how they earn a living, and that I’m sure they don’t like it any more than I do. But really, some of them should consider selling…I don’t know, macaroons or something. Or go really nuts and try pedaling, like, Notre Dame keychains. So original! Think of the business opportunities!
FASHION’S NIGHT OUT
This was a while ago, but I realized I never talked about it, and it was really neat to have gone in Paris! If I’m being completely honest, I was more interested in getting the free champagne all the stores were giving out than, you know, mingling with socialites and fashionistas and keeping my eyes peeled for Karl Lagerfeld.
It actually ended up being a really great night! It’s cool because it is sort of…equalizing. I saw everyone from American students like me who would happily live in J.Crew for the rest of their lives to terrifyingly chic Parisian women in head to toe Chanel to hipster guys who were probably there ironically to tourists in running shoes snapping away with cameras to young, “bohemian” French fashion bloggers (whose outfits probably cost more than my car). I saw girls in evening gowns, men in boring business suits, children in fur coats, students in H&M, and hipsters in…whatever awful ensemble hipsters are always wearing. (I’ve done a lot of hating on hipsters in this post…oops.) The people watching was prime, as I’m sure you can imagine. I loved that it wasn’t designed or marketed towards a specific crowd.
Party City is so déclassé, I get my balloons from Marni…
HANGING OUT IN FRONT OF THE LOUVRE
Yeah, I have yet to actually see a single work of art in the Louvre. But somehow, I’ve found myself out front by the glass pyramid plenty of times, and always stop to just relax and soak it up for a while. It’s often here that I have those moments where I have to remind myself that this is actually my life…that I can casually drop by the Louvre a few times a week, that my stroll home from school can take me past the Bastille, or Notre Dame, or the Eiffel Tower (depending on what campus my class is on), that I can pop into Ladurée for a snack whenever I feel like it, and best of all, that there’s no rush to enjoy all that Paris has to offer. It’s really such a treat to be able to live somewhere. Even though I know this semester will fly by before I know it, there’s no pressure to go out and see things every second of every day. I get to explore at my own leisurely place, à la les flâneurs, those members of the 19th century bourgeoisie who turned the leisurely stroll into an art form. (I believe the idea of the day was to set your pace as if you were out walking your pet tortoise, actually.) This is what I’ve done more than anything: strolled around, taking things in, getting lost, and eventually finding my way back. I cannot believe how phenomenally lucky I am to call this my life.
Other things I’ve been doing:
- Enjoying my friends’ discovery of a place that sells cheap and delicious pitchers of sangria
(and eating the fruit out of the bottom of all the pitchers, because I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t…)
- Going back to Versailles! This one’s getting its own post (yup, Versailles will have earned not one but two posts on my blog), because it was pretty much a perfect day.
- Eating more falafel.
- Visiting a cool bar in the Latin Quarter called Le Crocodile that famously has over 300 cocktails…I got something with melon liqueur in it, because as some of you might know, I have a little bit of a love affair with melon balls. This wasn’t as good as those, but it was tasty. And, uh, legal. So there’s that.
Cool table light + the remnants of my melon drink. They put a little gummy crocodile in each one, how cool is that?
- Taking the velib (the bikes all over Paris that you can rent and return to a different station) home from said bar. I have no pictures of this event, which is a good thing, because I no doubt would have died going against traffic, through St. Germain, at three in the morning, trying to ride a bike, taking pictures. But it was really fun! (Despite the fact that it took me about thirty minutes to figure out how exactly to rent a bike, so I saved approximately no time….)
- Started my official training plan for the marathon I’ll be running (hopefully!) in the spring…Luxembourg gardens makes double-digit distance runs oh-so pleasant…
- Being giddily delighted at various flower markets….so pretty.
- Plowing through a ridiculous number of books about Paris on my Kindle…I read in parks, on the metro, in between classes, while I’m eating. I can’t stop myself. Every one has some useful tidbit of information about this city and gives me dozens of new places to explore.
- And so much more. There’s just so much to see! I feel like you could live here for years without being able to do it all.
Be back soon…this time I promise.