I had high expectations for the city of lights; I’ve dreamed of visiting Paris for most of my life. At first, the city was almost underwhelming. I’ve been sick again, and we’ve had pretty gloomy weather all week. Nothing was impressing me like I thought it would; maybe it’s because I’ve been seeing romanticized images of Paris for as long as I can remember, maybe it was because my expectations were too high. Even visiting the Eiffel Tower was slightly dissapointing at first, and I was dissapointed in myself for feeling that way. However, I’ve found that much like Carol in my favorite segment of “Paris je t’aime,” it took me a few days to fall in love with this city, I just had to look at it in a different light.
My friend Shelby, who is in FPA with me at ETSU, is studying in Preston, England, and came to meet me for my first three days in Paris. We studied in London together two years ago and were very excited to take on another big city. While Shelby was here, we did all of the Paris must sees.
We started with le Musée du Louvre, and of course le Tour Eiffel. As I mentioned before, I wasn’t super impressed with the Eiffel Tower at first. Overcast skies set a bad tone, and a series of ugly chain link fence was blocking the grass in front of the tower, although we could never figure out why. However, we took a break, walked away, and came back after sunset. Then, I finally had my moment of awe for the monument; I definitely recommend viewing it at night.
Shelby and I stayed on Rue du Rivoli, which is famous for its shops, so we started our second day with a bit of window shopping before heading out of Hôtel de Ville. We wandered down le Champs-Elysées, where we had to make a pit stop at Ladurée for some macaroons.
After visiting l’Arc de Triomphe, we wandered towards le Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, only to realize it was only 2 blocks from our airbnb. The Notre-Dame was very impressive, it’s definitely one of my favorite sights in Paris. You just can’t go wrong with gothic architecture.
On Shelby’s last morning here, we headed over to Montmartre to check into my new airbnb. We spent the morning wandering the district, which of course included stops at le Moulin Rouge and le Chat Noir. We also wandered le Cemitière de Montmartre, where we spotted lots of cats among the graves.
Behind Sacré Cœur, I stumbled into a more quaint area of Montmartre that was one of my favorite places to explore in Paris. Full of cafes and artisan shops, this area lacked the tackiness and dirtiness (not to diss the rest of the arrondissement) that I had been seeing in other areas of Montmartre. I also happened across le Musée de Montmartre et les Jardins Renoir, where Renoir and many other impressionists lived and painted. It was a nice little green escape after so many days in the city.
My last full day in Paris was my favorite; it was my “Paris je t’aime” moment. I started the day visiting Sainte-Chapelle, where I was blown away by the amazing stained glass windows and detailed ceilings.
Afterwards, I wandered towards Musée d’Orsay in the rain. Don’t get me wrong, the Louvre is amazing and definitely worth a visit, but I was so much more impressed with the collection at Musée d’Orsay, which housed all of my favorite impressionist artists.
I ended my visit there with a stop in the museum’s restaurant (treat yo self). Its atmosphere alone was so amazing; above me, the ceilings were absolutely gorgeous, and beside me, the rooftops of Paris glimmered in the rain. The food wasn’t so bad either: risotto in red wine, with “pistache religieuse” and a cappuccino for dessert.
As I was walking back towards the metro, the sun finally made an appearance after a week of hiding behind the clouds. I ended my exploration of Paris in front of the Notre-Dame, finally getting to see some blue sky.
<<j’ai senti, à le même temps, la joie et la tristesse. Mais pas trop de tristesse, parce que je me sentais vivant; oui, vivant. Ça, c’était le moment que j’ai commencé à aimer Paris, et le moment que j’ai senti, que Paris m’aimer aussi.>>