I found that Paris is a lot like New York City because of the artistic and modern culture, except it does not have the towering buildings. Before going to Paris, my stereotype of the French people was that they were arrogant and not open to people who are different to them. My stereotype of them now is still that they are arrogant, but not closed-minded. Rather, they are very well-rounded, cultured people. They wouldn’t be so brilliant at art if they were closed-minded. However, their arrogance did turn me off a little bit. Of course this does account for all Parisian or French people, but a lot of people that I interacted with were stereotypically rude to me. I almost felt like they would hear my American accent and assume that I was an idiot. I have not encountered this problem yet in my travels and I was quite annoyed with how the French mostly interacted with me.
However, France offers a lot more than just the people. The bread and pastries are to die for. I could not get enough of them. The croissants are fluffy and buttery, and the bread is crunchy on the outside, but soft in the middle. The cheeses and wine are delicious and savory – even if they’re bought at a supermarket at the lowest price possible. If I would have not walked so much, I would have gained 10 pounds during my stay in Paris.
Cathy, Liz, and I were excited to arrive in Paris. Everybody perked up and dug to the bottom of their bags to find their best clothes that they packed. We visited the Eiffel tower on our first night. It actually was very impressive with its bright lights. We found out later that ironically the Parisians hated the Eiffel tower when it was first built for the World Fair and wanted it to be torn down. It was only supposed to last a few years, but it survived because the Eiffel tower was used during the World Wars as a radio tower.
The next day we visited Notre Dame Cathedral. I found that the Gothic architecture was darker and more intimidating than the Italian churches, which tend to be grand and colorful. I don’t have a preference for either type, as both are beautiful in their own way. The tall stain glass windows were incredibly beautiful and the architecture was great for photography! My camera and I had a blast walking around together.
We then made our way to the Pont de l’Archeveche, or the “Lock Bridge,” where all the lovers hang padlocks with their initials on them to show their everlasting love.
I was recommended by a lot of people to go to the Latin Quarter, which is the section of Paris right across the bridge from Notre Dame. This was my favorite part of Paris because it was fun, bustling with people, had cheaper restaurants, and great art galleries. We made sure to pick up some Nutella Crepes for lunch and have a glass of wine at a café while we were there.
One of the best parts of the day was finding a group of older people dancing on a pier by the river. These old people had some moves! They totally outdid any person my age at dancing – or at least anybody I know. Apparently Paris offers free dance lessons at one of the piers by the river during the night. I should have took advantage of the offer.
The next day we walked past the Louvre to see the infamous pyramid, but did not go in because Liz and Cathy have already been there and I decided that I would go in the future.
Instead, we visited the Musee d’Orsay. I have to say that this was one of the best art museums I have ever been to! It had an incredible collection of paintings including the artists of Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, and Cezanne. The museum, which was an old Train Station, presented them extremely well. One painting particularly stood out to me: “Galatee” by Gustave Moreau. I gazed at the painting for a very long time looking at the detail, colors, and textures of the artwork. It put me into a completely new world that was magical and calm.
Van Gogh was another that stirred my emotions. There is something about seeing the texture of Van Gogh’s paintings close up, rather than on a slide in an art history class, as you are able to see the passion used in his brushstrokes. I loved his use of colors and the thought behind his works. His paintings are literally “moving,” where you see how the world is often changing and never still. I almost felt like I could feel the air blowing through the grass and the sky spinning above me.
After the museum, we went to a park to relax and have some wine. You can not go to Paris without having some wine in a park.
I showed Liz the 5 steps of wine tasting: color, swirl, smell, taste, and savor.
One thing that I noticed about Paris is how everything is aligned perfectly. As I looked through my pictures, I noticed it more and more. The trees, lamp posts, parks, and architecture were all perfectly straight and rhythmic. I know that a lot of other cities also align things like this, but I found that it was more of a thing in Paris.
That night Cathy took us out for dinner because it was her last night traveling together. French food is just as extravagant and delicious as everybody says!
If you ever visit Paris, make sure to roam around at night. It has an incredible nightlife with people drinking wine by the water and playing music. And it is the city of lights, after all!
The next day Liz and I want to Versailles. It really was beautiful and extravagant, but way too touristy. The halls were packed with people and you could barely move.
I actually would recommend for people to skip the Palace and just go to the gardens. The gardens were my favorite part of Versailles. You can rent a bike to wander around them.
Liz and I bought food and wine for a picnic beforehand, which included baguette, goat chèvre, jambon, tomatoes, and grapes. It was probably the best meal we had in Paris and all under E10!
Now we are in Barcelona and have met up with my dear friend Kara from Rendola. We are having an incredible last few days in Europe. Our last day is on the 22nd. See you soon America!
And the ridiculous Katie and Liz photo…