I just returned from four days in the oh so lovely Paris. Although many people say that Paris is overrated, I absolutely disagree. It was everything I hoped for and more. I flew into Paris late Friday night, and successfully navigated public transportation to the apartment of my wonderful friend, Awa—who was generous enough to give me a lovely place to stay, in the center of Paris!
After four days, I realized I could spend forever in Paris just going to museums. Despite spending a couple hours each in The Louvre, Centre Pompidou, and Musée D’Orsay, I couldn’t get enough of any of them. As a side note, people who walk through museums taking photos of “the famous” works bother me. However, I admit to taking a few photos in Centre Pompidou because modern art can be ridiculously cool.
In Paris, I was constantly reminded just how small the world is. I managed to meet another Vanderbilt student while in line at the Louvre, ran straight into two DIS friends by the Eiffel tower and at Centre Pompidou. As I recounted these serendipitous encounters over dinner, one of Awa’s friends summed it up by saying: “the world is a village.”
On my first day in Paris I spent a couple hours in the Louvre while Awa went to bury herself in the library to do her work for her Masters. We met up later by a metro stop and went to grab burgers and beer for dinner with one of her friends. When my food arrived, I took the typical American approach of picking the massive burger up with my hands, and saying “I don’t even know how to eat this.” Their jaws dropped, and her friend replied “With a fork and knife!” I set down the burger, and slowly picked up my silverwear, eating the entire burger with a fork and knife, and marveling at how something I would barely notice was so different between the two cultures. I think eating it with a fork and knife actually ended up being easier than the alternative. I’d never considered it before, but perhaps eating so many things with our hands IS a little barbaric.
Later when we were walking in the streets and speaking English (because my French is terribly broken and inadequate for anything more than basic communication) we experience some of the infamous French hostility towards Americans. After passing a woman on the sidewalk, Awa looked over her shoulder and then at me, with the face of indignation. Apparently, the woman had not realized that she was Parisienne and said: “UGH! Let the Americans pass, they’re UNBEARABLE.” I had always thought that France’s dislike of Americans was overstated by people who had longstanding biases; now, I’m not so sure.
Because it was my first time in Paris of course I managed to get through tons of touristy things like Macarrons at La Durée (which actually are FANTASTIC, even though they’re ridiculously expensive); a walk along the Seine and the Champs D’Elysse; Sacre Coeur; Notre Dame and the Tuilerrie Gardens.
Despite all the tourist-y things that I have documented in photos, my personal opinion is that the best experiences are made my individual moments, and my favorite “oh so Parisienne” moment occurred when Awa and I were browsing a super cool thrift store that sells things by their weight. Because France is fancy, a huge selection of silk shirts is not uncommon there, as I was sifting through the rack of shirts, I held one up to ask her opinion. “Oh I like the color!” she responded. The shirt was Black, the color of choice for any self respecting European urbanite.
Lastly, I think it must be mentioned that the street performers of Paris are fantastic, I stopped to listen/watch nearly every one that I encountered, and was particularly impressed by this guy who was free style dribbling to music