Tag Archives: Paris

à bientôt

I’m not sure what to say. What do you say at the end of the greatest adventure of your life?

As you read this, I’m likely somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Likely feeling wistful, heartbroken, and already nostalgic. Likely plotting my imminent return.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m so incredibly excited to go home, see my family, and in January, to go back to New Orleans and resume my wonderful, equally charmed life there. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to leave Paris. It’s one of the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever said.

I recently read a book called “Paris Was Ours”. I had originally spotted it last summer in an Anthropologie store, of all places, and made a mental note to read it sometime. Well, the book turned out to be a compilation of memoirs written by authors who have, at some point and in some way, loved Paris. None of them arre true, born and bred Parisians–some were born here but left, others have an enduring on-again-off-again sort of relationship with the place, still others, like me, have borrowed it for a time. Claimed it as their own, if only for a moment.

Paris Was Ours.

I remember not quite getting the title the first time I saw the book. Paris Was Ours? It sounds vaguely romantic and weirdly possessive, kind of a strange way to express one’s love for a city. I didn’t give it much thought, until I read the book. But now–now I get it. I get it because Paris was ours. Paris was mine.

It’s difficult to explain. This is perhaps the most humbling city I can ever imagine living in. My oft-mentioned favorite guidebook, Let’s Go Europe, says “Paris will charm and bitchslap you with equal gusto”, and my God, are they right. I’ve never been anywhere so simultaneously enchanting and difficult. I spent the first half of the semester not entirely sure how I felt about Paris. One moment I was convinced it was heaven–say, as I took in the view from Montmartre or wandered through Luxembourg Gardens on a sunny day. The next, I was left feeling like I’d been doused with cold water after the taunting words of a shopkeeper or an especially brutal shove from a fellow pedestrian. Ouch.

Somewhere around the time I returned from Italy, though, things clicked. It wasn’t a gradual realization–it was sudden. I just knew that somehow, at some point, Paris had snuck its way into my heart, never to leave again. I felt, suddenly, like I got the city. Like it got me. No other place has ever made me so acutely aware of how very small I am in the world, but weirdly, in Paris, that’s empowering. Never have I felt like I have grown up so much in such a short period of time. This is dumb and cheesy and probably has come from the mouth of many a young twenty-something upon their return from such a trip, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt so confident about who I am and what I want in life. (To be honest, I’m still not totally sure–far from it–but I guess I feel closer.) I think, for some reason, I love Paris all the more because I had to fight for it. Because it wasn’t instant and simple. It was something I had to earn. And it was so, so worth it.

What’s actually terrifying to me is that I was thisclose to not going abroad. And what’s even more terrifying is I don’t know that I would have regretted it as immensely as I should have, because I would have had no idea what I was missing. Which is everything. The world. The experience of a lifetime. The perfect flaky croissant. A thousand walks down St. Germain. Hundreds of miles around Luxembourg Gardens. Drinking wine beneath the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower. The most exquisite crême brulée, a plate of fresh pasta, a late-night crepe. A million laughs and priceless moments shared with friends on bridges in Venice, beaches in Nice, at small, dimly-lit cafe tables in the 6th, on grassy hills in Montmartre. This semester has been made up of thousands of precious memories I wouldn’t trade for the world. I can’t imagine not having had them. Here, at the end, what I am most thankful for are whatever twists and turns of fate led me here when I myself was once so certain I’d be spending the fall in New Orleans, as per usual. And I love New Orleans, in a really big way, from the bottom of my heart, all-encompassing, ridiculous, unconditionally, love love love it kind of way. But I have seven semesters of that. I only have one of Paris. I wouldn’t even have known it, but not going would have, no doubt, been the worst mistake of my life. God knows these past four months haven’t always been easy. In many ways, going abroad was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. But I can say, with 100% certainty, that it has been the most rewarding. For better or for worse–and I do believe it’s for better–I will return to America a different person. A person who belongs to Paris, and to whom Paris belongs. Because somewhere in the midst of everything, somehow, through the highs and lows, the ups and downs, Paris became mine.

I had a lovely last night in Paris. Dinner was eaten at what is perhaps my favorite restaurant yet (Les Editeurs in the 6th, if anyone’s interested). I had a quintessential French feast of French onion soup, a croque madame (sans jambon), and–what else?–crême brulée for dessert. It was raining in the most pleasant way possible—a Midnight in Paris rain–and, lo and behold, as I entered the metro to take line 10 home one last time, a musician was playing “Si tu vois ma mère”. (The song plays in the opening credits of the movie, a compilation of stunning and adoring shots of Paris–of places that, I am proud to say, I now know personally and can lead you to by foot, metro, or car.)

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a tear. It is one of the writers featured in Paris Was Ours who best describes this sense of nostalgia tinged with loss I’m already feeling:

“…and one day we knew that no matter where we might find ourselves in the world, Paris would be an ache in our hearts.”

Always, for the rest of my life, there will be a part of me that misses Paris when I am not here. Goodbye is too hard to say, so, instead, I will end this most wonderful of journeys not with the slightly more definitive “au revoir”, but with a simple “à bientôt”.

See you soon, Paris. I’ll make sure of it.

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we’ll always have paris

Remember when I (briefly) quoted the Marseillaise when I was talking about my Berlin trip the other day?

That’s because two weeks ago in French, we did an obligatory learning/singing of the French National Anthem. Needless to say, it’s been stuck in my head ever since.

I remember when I was younger, my dad used to lament the fact that The Star Spangled Banner (try translating that one into French for your professor, by the way–ROUGH) didn’t sound cheery. “Like the Marseillaise.”

I must say, the Marseillaise definitely sounds cheery–peppy, patriotic, appropriately dramatic at times, catchy and sing-songy at others. But it turns out that it’s actually an incredibly bloody, gory, violent song. Let me share some brief translations:

“against us tyranny’s bloody standard is raised”

“they are coming into our midst to cut the throats of your sons and consorts”

“let impure blood water our furrows”

Okay, France.

In any case, la Marseillaise playing on constant loop in my head for two weeks has got me thinking a lot about one of my favorite movies, and more specifically, one of my favorite scenes in that movie. One of the first indicators that I’d gotten over what were sometimes rough early days with la vie français was when I started feeling sad and defensive when faced with reminders of the Nazi occupation of Paris. (Not that that happens often…just when I was in a museum or taking notes in class or something.) So, the clip I’m about to share is just another reason to love Casablanca even more–I can now appreciate this scene with my new sense of on-loan patriotism.

It’s impossible to decide who I like most in this scene. Victor Lazlo for his unbreakable, earnest devotion to defeating the Nazis in every possible way? “Stick my neck out for no one” Rick who allows his loyal musicians to play the Marseillaise in a room full of Nazis, openly defying them? Ilsa, so evidently consumed by her inner struggle, but here so clearly full of admiration for Lazlo? Or Yvonne, who’s finally seen the light and proved her French patriotism? If I’m being honest I probably like Captain Renault the best, just because he’s there, and as any fellow Casablanca fans know, one of his many glory moments immediately follows this scene. “I’m shocked–shocked–to find that gambling’s going on in here!”

Okay, I’m getting carried away. I’s just so beeaaauuuttiiffulll. I could watch this movie over and over again. All day. Every day.

Vive la France, indeed.

an afternoon on the tuileries

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I recently spent a spare (and unusually sunny) afternoon wandering through and around the lovely Jardin des Tuileries, nestled in between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, which marks the beginning the Champs Elysées, which stretches, famously and beautifully, to the Arc de Triomphe. So I was basically right in the middle of one of the most visited, most beautiful, most well-known areas of the city, and it was delightful.

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The park’s looking lovely this type of year, which just a few lingering brightly colored leaves silhouetted against skies that are usually a wintery dove grey, but on this particular Friday, managed to retain some vestige of that summertime blue I miss so much.

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A ferris wheel is all set up as part of the small Christmas market at one end of the park, ready to offer anyone willing to fork over the ten euro fee what I’m sure are stunning views of the city.

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The shops on Rue de Rivoli, which runs along the non-Seine side of the park, are beautifully adorned for the holiday season.

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The hot chocolate and the Mont-Blanc pastry I enjoyed n at Angelina were divinely decadent, much like the building in which they were served.

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I visited L’Orangerie, where Monet’s wall-sized murals left me feeling serene and full of awe. (I had to borrow some photographic evidence.)

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And as I made my way home, the sunset over the city was positively breathtaking (and amusingly patriotic, for both of my most beloved countries).

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I’m feeling pretty blissfully lucky these days, and equal parts thrilled and devastated that I’m going home so soon. I seem to fall more and more in love with Paris every day.

paris, je t’aime (beaucoup)

a few things I ought to be doing…

  • schoolwork
  • unpacking
  • tidying up my room
  • laundry
  • (at the very least) writing a post on recent adventures

a few things I’m doing instead…

  • browsing Pinterest & Etsy for Paris-themed art
  • downloading books about Paris
  • daydreaming up ways to come back to Paris
  • making myself prematurely nostalgic for life in Paris
  • eating clementines & drinking peppermint tea

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I have nineteen days left in this perfect place. Now, how to make the most of them?

on the homefront

So, I’ve been traveling like crazy and therefore have lots and lots to share but little time to share it! Don’t worry, though, I’m here to promise you and myself that I’ll be fully caught up by the time I leave for this weekend’s trip.

In the midst of all this traveling, I did manage to spend a weekend in Paris! Well, at least in France. There were some memorable day trips involved.

The first weekend in November, my friends Eric and Jimmy came to Paris. I love when people come to visit because it gives me an excuse to do all the touristy things I love and also helps me to check some of my other must-do tourist stops off the list.

For starters, I went to the top of Notre Dame! Happily, there were lots of gargoyles, and the view was gorgeous–one of my favorites so far.

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Unhappily, no, I didn’t see Esmerelda or the Hunchback. Disappointing, Notre Dame, disappointing.

We also went through the cathedral itself just in time to witness some intensely Catholic people in the midst of an intensely Catholic ritual.

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Creepy.

No, what was actually happening was the revelation of the alleged crown of thorns–yes, the crown, the one Jesus wore when he was crucified. Well, with all due respect, I somehow don’t think the crown was made of spotless sterling silver…sooo…that’s awkward.

I also finally went to Cafe de Flore, one of the most well-known cafes in all of Paris and former gathering place of lots of famous artsy tortured writers.

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The boys were inspired by the spirit of Hemingway and ordered whiskey.

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I was inspired by the lowest possible price and the color pink and ordered a Kir. Don’t lie, Ernest, I’m sure you did the same thing at some point.

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We ended up doing something of a walking tour of Paris one night, and because it is Paris, I of course saw or noticed things I’ve never seen or noticed before.

For instance, I finally did what I have dubbed the “death dart” through the traffic circle surrounding the Arc de Triomphe to get beneath the thing. There’s no delegated crossing place, so basically you just have to say a prayer, run out into the giant no-lanes-no-rules circle while dozens of cars speed by and swerve around you, and desperately hope for best. It’s exhilarating, and I never want to do it again.

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Oh wait, except once we got to the middle, admired the giant structure, and paid our respects to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, we had to go back. Oops. Forgot about that. At this point just moving in was looking like a viable option. (I’m happy to report that I both made and survived the return trip, though, and am not writing this from my perch by the tomb.)

That night, I also got to see the last Eiffel Tower light show of the night…which, little did I know, is extra cool because they turn all the lights off except for the ones that are sparkling…so it’s like Eiffel Tower: The Dark Knight. Or something. I don’t know. It was dark and cool and edgy. I liked it.

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Other weekend activities included following the Rose Line through the city…some of us were more excited than others to finally find it.

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But we had lots of fun tracking it from Montparnasse…

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through Luxembourg Gardens…

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and all the way to Saint-Sulpice.

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The famous church is where the best part of the journey awaited us: this sign.

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HAHAHA! Little do these church people know, Tom Hanks is always right. Thus, there is a Rose Line. And it is here. (See: The DaVinci Code if you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

The Tom Hanks fun continued that weekend with an extra special French day trip: to Normandy!

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(See: Saving Private Ryan if you don’t know what I’m talking about. But please, please tell me you know what I’m talking about.)

My inner American History dork came out in full force on this excursion. However, my knowledge was sadly sup-par, and I spent a significant portion of the day BBM-ing my dad, who actually knows what he’s talking about and could give me the real play-by-play of how D-Day (and WWII for that matter) unfolded. Thanks, Dad!

Let me tell you something funny about visiting the beaches of Normandy, though. The French don’t want you to do it. They hate Americans being patriotic, I guess. Our trip involved a train to Caen (that left from a different train station than SNCF told us, thanks for that), a shorter train ride to a small town outside Caen, and then a bus ride to Omaha Beach. Where, at 3:30 in the afternoon, our bus driver informed us (literally as the doors were closing) that no more buses were coming that day, so we were stranded in small-town Normandy. Uh, great. He then sped off, leaving a small crowd of nine or ten very confused Americans in his wake. HEY BUDDY, remember that time we saved your scrawny French derriere in WWII We were unimpressed. Very unimpressed. And let me just say, I imagine if that if the French had pulled off an incredibly courageous and daring wartime feat comparable to the Allied Forces landing on the beaches of Normandy and, you know, fighting off the Nazis, there would be government-sponsored trains running every five minutes to the site of said feat. And everything would be forever preserved in solid gold. And encrusted in diamonds.

I really do love, you France. All in good fun.

All American patriotism aside, though, I really do think it should be a little bit easier to do what we were trying to do. After all, it is a pretty important site in, you know, WORLD HISTORY. Anyway. It was worth it.

The beaches were beautiful in an incredibly solemn way. Maybe it was just knowing what happened there, but it was almost haunting.

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(Didn’t stop us from snapping a few tourist pictures. American and proud, y’all.)

We also visited the D-Day museum by the beach, which was small but cool. I think my favorite part of the day, though, was visiting the British cemetery. (Because, oh wow, shocking, the rest of the day had been so easy! But the American one was closed.) Still, even though it wasn’t the final resting place for fellow American citizens, it was incredibly moving and really very upsetting to stand among the graves. Fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, young and old, my age, my sister’s age, my dad’s age…it was really incredibly difficult to fathom the losses so many people faced that day.

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Normandy was definitely on my abroad bucket list, so I’m really, really glad I got to make the trip. It was worth every little bit of difficulty the French put me through to do it. (Kidding, kidding. Sort of.)

Another recent day trip was to Rouen! Which any fellow art history dorks might recognize as the home of the Rouen Cathedral, which Monet famously painted multiple times in a series that experimented with the changing qualities of light. Others might know the small city as the site of Joan of Arc’s (or should I say Jeanne d’Arc’s?) death at the stake. So, that’s whimsical and artsy, too. No it isn’t.

Here’s the famed cathedral.

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And see the cross? That’s where Mademoiselle Jeanne d’Arc was burned. Alive. So. Ahem. That’s…awkward.

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All drama aside, Rouen was a really cute little town…that somehow, with a population just over 100,000, still gets to have an Hermes?

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That seems sort of unfair, Hermes. But whatever. Whatever.

I spent most of my day in the Vieille Ville, which was really charming because the architecture is almost entirely that style that I think is called half-timbered (but I’m not sure) but definitely looks like this:

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I liked it. It’s the kind of city I would love to see at Christmastime, because I already felt like I was walking through a little gingerbread village. (A gingerbread village with an Hermes.) Charmed.

Aside from walking through the streets, highlights of the day included the cathedral…

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…an especially delicious apple pastry (just embracing fall)…

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…and a visit to the museum that houses the second largest collection of Impressionist works (behind the Musee d’Orsay, obviously, holla…). As cool as it was to actually see some of Monet’s (haha I just typed Money’s…) Rouen Cathedral paintings in Rouen, I think my favorite thing I saw there was the temporary exhibition installed in the stairways.

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It was cool. It made me smile and wonder how on earth the artist did that. And hey, if art does that, it’s doing something right…right? Maybe I’m just on serious art overload over here.

All in all, it was a great day. It’s consistently amazing to me how different the rest of France feels from Paris. I was told several times when I first arrived here that there’s Paris, and there’s the rest of France…and there are Parisians, and then there’s the rest of the French. Very different. I get where they’re coming from. And I am so, so grateful to get to experience it all.

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Plus fall.

landmarks & bones & fashion, oh my

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…


CATACOMBS


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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?


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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.


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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.


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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.


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🙂


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:

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EIFFEL TOWER

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.


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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.


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Chi O does the Eiffel Tower!

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It’s amazing how beautiful this thing is up close.


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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


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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.


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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.


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Party City is so déclassé, I get my balloons from Marni…


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HANGING OUT IN FRONT OF THE LOUVRE


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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


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(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.


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  • Eating more falafel.


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  • 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.


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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…

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  • Being giddily delighted at various flower markets….so pretty.

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  • 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.

Tess


recent eats

I’m overdue for a post, so I was going to just do kind of a general thing talking about cool things I’ve done recently. But then I started going through my pictures, and I realized all I really want to tell you about are the amazing things I’ve eaten recently. (I know, you’re shocked.) Hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you about some of the non-foodie things I’ve done in Paris…but for now, here’s food to drool over.

Berthillon

Last Saturday (September 10) was awesome. It dawned warm, sunny, and beautiful, and I was loving life despite the fact that the entire right side of my body felt like it had been hit by a car, thanks to a full-force collision with a cobblestone road I’d experienced the night before. Oops. There’s not a lot to say.

Anyway, the day was great. My friends needed art supplies for their classes, so I headed out with them to pick some up. This was nice because I got to wander around a new part of the city (and, for that matter, see the inside of an authentic Parisian art shop–’twas impressive). It got sort of hot, but the walk was very pretty. We got to walk across the Seine, which is pretty much my favorite thing ever.

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But what I really need to tell you about it is ice cream. More specifically, the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Our walk took us here…

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Berthillon. Home of the world’s most perfect ice cream. People, I’m not even an ice cream fan. I mean, I’ll eat it. But I’ll almost always choose some other sugary treat first. Even when things are served a la mode, I skip the ice cream. It’s just not my thing.

All of that changed last Saturday. Ladies, and gentlemen, meet my perfect little cup of icy goodness.

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Chocolate and salted caramel…of course. The best part is that this picture makes the scoops look bigger than they were…they were really about the size of golf balls. That’s perfect for me. I love my dairy, but dairy does not always love me back. (I know, you can only imagine how well the French take this.) So by the time I had finished my two scoops, I was perfectly content. More than content. I was over the moon. Berthillon is very famous, but it more than lives up to the hype. If you’re ever in Paris, go here.

L’As du Fallafel

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Here’s another place that’s hyped about and has absolutely earned it. I don’t have any story to go with this one. I’ll just give you the facts, which speak for themselves.

1. It only costs five euros.

2. It’s the best falafel I’ve ever had. Ever.

3. I’ve been there twice in one week.

4. It’s in the Marais, which is the Jewish district of Paris, but is also apparently a very popular place among the gay men of Paris. (A little bit of challah and a little bit of fabulous? You knew I was going to love it.) Not to mention it’s adorable, with the narrow cobblestone streets I love (when I’m not falling into them) and tons of charming little shops and restaurants.

5. The first time I went there, I’d just run 10 miles. I could still barely finish the giant falafel special.

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HOLY DELICIOUSNESS.

Aux Merveilleux de Fred

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Aux Merveilleux de Fred is an adorable patisserie in a mostly residential area in the 15e arrondissement. The shop is gorgeous and sells the normal array of breads and croissants and such, but they’re best known for their meringue, which comes as absolutely no surprise.

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To make their most famous treat, they roll balls of meringue in flavored whipped cream (either coffee, white chocolate, or chocolate), and then dust it with crystallized coffee, white chocolate shavings, or chocolate shavings. The result is quite possibly my favorite sweet treat I’ve had in Paris so far. I got l’impensable, or the coffee flavor. Of course.

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I don’t know what to say. It was heaven. I’m pretty weirdly obsessed with meringue anyway, but this took it to a whole new level. And despite the large size and decadent look, it wasn’t too rich, thanks to the airy whipped cream and perfectly light meringue. It was very sweet, but I think the coffee flavor helped keep it from being too tooth-achingly sugary. The adorable box it came in scores the place some major points as well.

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I’ll be back.

Chocolat Chaud from Pâtisserie Viennoise

Paris is pretty much the place to be for hot chocolate. Each cafe and patisserie seems determined to outdo the next in their quest to create the perfect cup of rich, sweet chocolat. Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to a winter of finding the very best one. So far, I’ve found a very authentic option at the Pâtisserie Viennoise on Rue Ecole de Médecine in the 6th arrondissement.

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I know, the to-go cup (a concept the Parisians really aren’t interested in getting behind) doesn’t exactly showcase this thing at it’s aesthetic best. But that almost suits it. This was a no-frills hot chocolate from a no-frills shop. The whipped cream was exactly that–whipped cream. I don’t know that it had any sugar in it. But it was pretty awesomely decadent, especially when it started to mix with the hot chocolate, which was the hot chocolate for any dark chocolate enthusiasts out there. I tend to prefer my chocolate almost bitter, and this was almost too much for me. (Don’t worry, it wasn’t.) I asked for it sweetened, and it still tasted like VERY dark chocolate. It was incredible, and I’d recommend it to anyone who can’t stand milk chocolate. (Don’t worry, I can.) I’m really glad I got to try it, because while I probably prefer the standard melted candy bar Parisian fare, this was unique and incredibly delicious. You could tell it was the real thing. The pastries all over the tiny and adorable shop didn’t look too shabby, either.

Flan from L’Autre Boulange

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My friend Emily lives near this boulangerie and was raving about their pastries, so we went in there the other morning hoping for a standard flaky croissant or perfectly sweet brioche. As I was picking out my breakfast, though, a man in line told me that I needed to try the flan. “It’s the most famous in Paris,” he reassured me. This made sense, because there was a display case spanning an entire wall of the place dedicated exclusively to flan. Of course, after that, I had to have some. (I’m guessing I’ll only live in Paris once in my life, so I think it’s appropriate to have flan for breakfast every now and then.)

The verdict? It was delicious. I don’t really know much about flan, but this almost tasted like…fancy vanilla pudding in tart form. I love vanilla pudding (weird, I know), so I loved this. I’m no expert, but I’d believe that it IS the most famous in Paris!

Sadly, these treats are the exception, not the rule. Food is EXPENSIVE here, so the average day looks something like yogurt for breakfast, a grocery-store made salad for lunch, and soup or microwaved eggs (I’m not even kidding, they taste like sponges) for dinner. 90% of the time, I’m eating like any other college student who has no access to a kitchen (breaks my heart). But the rest of the time, I remember I’m in Paris and that I’ll hate myself forever if I leave one single gastronomy stone unturned.

Aaannddd, to finish things off, here’s my dinner from the past two nights.

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Because sometimes all you need is a baguette, cheese, and chocolate. Not to mention some wine that went unpictured. 🙂

I promise I’ll come back tomorrow and talk about something besides food. Au revoir!