So…I believe that I posted a while ago that I would blog about my experiences studying abroad in Paris whilst there. And…it has been two weeks and I still haven’t published a post on it! (However, I have on my French blog. Check it out here: https://rebbitwritesat.wordpress.com/).
Anyway, I shall give you a quick update on my stay so far in the City of Lights, pictures included bien sûr! 🙂
Took the 14-plus hour flight to Charles de Gaulle, with a layover in Philly. One thing that you should know about me is that I detest- DETEST– airplanes! It’s the combination of crying babies, people hogging leg-room, the frigidity of the plane itself, that makes me nauseated. Awful headache, awful appetite, I feel like complete shit.
But…gotta suffer before being rewarded! Finally- finally!- after a hellish ride, I arrived in Paris. Got my luggage, exchanged some dollars for euros, and was outta there; I was shuttled to my host-family’s apartment, and was greeted warmly by my host mom, Sylvie. Have a room all to myself, with a balcony overlooking the neighborhood.
Now, one important thing that an American (or any tourist/foreigner, in fact) should know is that Paris is divided into twenty arrondissements, or “districts.” Furthermore, the system is constructed comme escargot (snail-shaped), so that it “spirals” outward, from the 1st one in the center to the 20th at the exterior. Each arrondissement has its own distinctive identity, housing famous monuments, museums, and other places worth checking out. For example, the Louvre (1°) is in the heart of the city, while the Eiffel Tower (7°) hovers over the Seine. Knowing these sections will definitely cut down time researching places to explore while in the city.
Another important thing is le Métro. If you have a Navigo pass (or really, just tickets), you can go anyplace, anytime in Paris. Really know which line, direction, and stop you’re going to and getting off at, and you will be fine. I take the opportunity to take the Metro as much as I can, to see as much as I can.
So, what have I been doing so far these past two weeks here? Lots, of course, but let me break it down for you:
1) Latin Quarter (le quartier latin) (5-6°)- a neighborhood close to several hot-spots in the city (i.e. Notre-Dame, Luxembourg Gardens, Hotel-de-Ville), the Latin Quarter is one of my favorite spots to go to. Besides checking out the monuments, check out Gilbert Jeune, a famous librarie (bookstore) near the Notre-Dame. Think of it as a four-five story Barnes and Noble- it has everything! Granted, in French, but hey- isn’t that the reason why you’re in Paris? Got some excellent poetry works from Baudelaire and Apollinaire, as well as The Little Prince (le petit prince).
2) Les Champs-Élysées (8°)- filled with locals and tourists alike, the Champs-Élysées is my favorite neighborhood to visit. Its one-plus mile stretch from the Arc of Triumph to the Luxor Obelisk is teeming with shops, cafés, cinemas, and the like. Stopped at Ladurée, a world-renown patisserie which makes some of the most iconic (and very expensive) macarons ever, and bought myself those gorgeous meringue, cream-filled cookies. Costed me nearly an arm and a leg for such small delicacies, but my god, they’re so adorably fancy!
3) Les Halles/ Les Tuileries (1°)- although technically not near each other, I group ’em together, because whenever I frequent one, the other follows (in no particular order). The Tuileries Garden is just cute, a wide walkway with flowers, fountains, and an amusement park for the kids on the side. Les Halles is a market/center area of Paris; I once passed by an open-air market where people sold fresh produce, scarfs, and other “farmer-market”-like items. I enjoy going down Rue Saint-Honoré, which covers about eight arrondissements (aka super long!), and checking out the boulangeries, restaurants, and boutiques there. Bought some beignets and pains au chocolat at several of the bakeries- they were to die for.
4) Montmartre (18°)- went on a field trip/treasure hunt with my classmates on a Saturday, and had fun running up and down the hills of this quaint, bohemian quarter. Le Sacré Coeur church is stunning, at the zenith of the neighborhood and overlooking the entire city of Paris. Cobblestone roads, everywhere. I vow to return.
5) Bastille (4°)- When I think of Bastille, I automatically jump to the eponymous English band (which is not good, I know, but my god, “Pompeii” starts playing in my head and I’m gone). But no- Bastille of Paris is a symbol- the symbol- of the French Revolution, when it came tumbling down following the riots in 1789. It no longer exists today, but a tall “fountain” replaces it, called the Place de la Bastille. The area has an open-air market every Thursday and Sunday, and I happened to go on the latter day. I was dizzy with excitement from the huge, varietal selection of goods, edible and non-edible. Had one of the most amazing crêpes there- salmon and goat cheese. I’m hooked. Checked out the fromageries (cheese shops), poissonières (fish/seafood shops), the boulangeries, ethnic foods, clothing, bags, hand-made notebooks (one which I bought as a souvenir for a friend), and many more. I am planning to return very soon.
6) Louvre (1°)- Of course: who doesn’t know this iconic pyramid museum? The one which houses the Mona Lisa (La Gioconde in French)? Seriously, it would take more than one day, probably even more than a week, to explore the entire museum: it’s sectioned off into different “mini-museums,” some housing French and Italian paintings, others medieval relics and tombs. Essentially, I spent one day in one of the sections of the Louvre, but it was a pleasant, if rather bustling, experience.
7) La Sorbonne (5°)- this national and world-renown university rivals that of Oxford’s in England. Established in 1257 (aka super old), the Sorbonne is in itself a photo-worthy monument, let alone an institution for higher education.
Funny enough, so far during my month-long stay in Paris, I still haven’t been to the uber-famous Eiffel Tower (La Tour Eiffel). I’ve seen it from a distance, from the Champs-Élysées or the Tuileries Gardens, but I haven’t been to the quarter surrounding it. Granted, the weather has been rather gloomy so far: only one or two days have been sunny- the rest of the days raining! I still have a few more weeks, though, and I’m going to take full advantage of that! To conclude: À bientôt! I shall write back soon! 🙂
– The Finicky Cynic