People are too harsh on les Parisiens. In any big city you’ll find people who don’t have the patience to deal with you, and I don’t blame them, because when you have a lot to do being polite isn’t first on your to-do list. Yes, I’ve come across people who were unnecessarily rude (like a woman in a boulangerie who didn’t want people taking pictures without asking her permission first), but Paris is way too big to be filled solely with people like that. More often than not, the Parisians I encountered were very friendly and patient with our touristy-ness.
I spent two weekends in Paris this month: the first with my soccer team and a friend studying in Paris, the second with my mom and her three sisters. I was pretty certain I’d be able to meet up with my friend studying in Paris, but I still can’t believe that I was able to meet up with my team, my mom and my aunts as well! It was such a nice treat!
With my team I took a Bateaux Mouches tour on the Seine; visited Versailles, the Louvre and Notre Dame; and went to the Champs-Elysées (though a friend and I decided to get crêpes and hang out in a park at the end of the street instead of shopping, which was much more relaxing and enjoyable for me).
I went to Montmartre with my friend who’s studying in Paris this semester, where we visited Sacré Coeur and ate at Le Café de 2 Moulins (if you haven’t watched Amélie, il faut! It’s a French film with quirky characters and a great soundtrack by Yann Tiersen).
While I was with my mom and my aunts, we went to the marchés aux pouces (flea markets) in Clignancourt, to Notre Dame (my third visit there, but I’ll never get tired of it, the detail and hauteur are absolutely stunning), to Montmartre (this time I saw the Moulin Rouge and the Moulin de la Galette in addition to Sacré Coeur), to the Marais (a good neighborhood for shopping), to Café de Flore (where people like Apollinaire, Simone de Beauvoir, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald used to hang out!) and to the Centre Pompidou.
I didn’t take as many pictures as I usually do because there were so many cameras amongst my teammates, my mom and my aunts that I just didn’t feel the need. Though looking back at the number of photos I imported on my computer, it’s more than I expected…anyway, below are some pictures I took to help me remember everything I did:
My team had a beautiful day at Versailles (this first weekend was much warmer than the second weekend I spent in Paris). While walking around the gardens my friend told me about a “mindfulness practice center” in France called Plum Village that I’ve added to my list of places to visit.
The detail on the Notre Dame always impresses me. I wish I remembered more from my art history class and years of Catholic education, though! I really need to review my old notes.
Sacré Coeur itself is amazing, but so is the view it has over Paris. It’s so high up on a hill that the Metro stops near it warn people that there are over a hundred stairs to climb to get out of the station. Not surprisingly, most people opt for the elevator. I love the Sacré Coeur because it manages to be simple and stunning at the same time. It’s not as overwhelming as Notre Dame.
When I visited Montmartre with my mom and aunts, there was a group of people who looked about my age wearing all sorts of bright colors and playing music on the street. When I saw the two kids in this picture dancing along to the music, I thought, why does it have to become unacceptable to dance in public like that when you’re older? Then I looked around some more and saw a small group of friends who looked closer to my age dancing, too. I think they had the right idea, because who really cares how other people may be judging you if you’re having a good time?
I had a fancy dinner at Monsieur Bleu with my mom and aunts the first night of my second weekend in Paris. We couldn’t believe the view we had of the Eiffel Tower! I ate Noix de Saint Jacques with gnocchi, spinach and des truffes noirs (a kind of mushroom). It was a perfect portion size, or would have been had the waitress not convinced us to order two foie gras as entrées (appetizers in the U.S.). I left the restaurant completely stuffed, but everything had tasted soooo good.
After seeing Sacré Coeur, eating fresh crêpes and shopping around Montmartre, my mom and I walked to the 2 Moulins referenced by the café that’s in the movie Amélie: Le Moulin de la Galette (as in Renoir’s Bal du moulin de la galette) and Le Moulin Rouge.
Then we went to dinner at a VERY small restaurant called Le Petit Parisien. The waiter is putting some “magic” pepper from an enormous pepper grinder on my aunt’s pot-au-feu. I don’t like pepper, but when the waiter said, “but it’s magic!” after I told him I didn’t want any, it was almost enough to make me change me mind.
We ate lunch at this café in the Marais, timing our shopping break so that we avoided the sudden downpour of rain. Our waiter was so friendly (and cute) that I would have been content to eat there for the rest of my meals in Paris! I ordered lamb and ratatouille (finally! I’d been wanting to try it for so long! Plus, my diet here is 99% bread, so I needed some vegetables).
Was super excited to see the Centre Pompidou. I’d heard and read so much about it, and the architecture sounded much different than anything else I’ve seen, and it definitely was! I found it very appropriate for a large city, because the graffiti sort of fits its industrial style.
I discovered my new favorite piece of modern art at the Centre Pompidou: Jean Dubuffet’s Jardin d’hiver. It’s a black and white room you can walk through, and different portions of the walls, floor and ceiling are raised. The lines sometimes trick your eye and make it difficult to discern whether you’re looking at something flat or not. My mom and I took LOTS of pictures inside it.
I’d love to go back to Paris again during my time abroad (especially because I still haven’t made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but also because there are still soooo many things in Paris I haven’t seen yet), but I’m not sure I’ll make it there, because there are so many other countries I haven’t seen yet! Not to mention other cities within France that I’d like to visit. But we’ll see!
Itinerary for this weekend: visit to Saint Tropez, hillwalking in the Esterel mountains, and probably a visit to Nice (I desperately need to replace my soccer ball pump, and possibly my soccer ball).